One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a parent with regard to technology (especially computers) is how soon to let your child start using a specific product. Is it possible to start too soon? Is it possible to start too late. Many geeks think it’s never too early to get started. I subscribe to a different philosophy, however. I think it’s never too late.
Children learn quickly. Their minds are like sponges. They’re also more susceptible to being drawn into the use of computers, video game consoles and gadgets in an unhealthy way. For these reasons I think the earliest a child should start using any such devices regularly is 5 years old.
I’ll admit, I want my children to start using computers at an early age because I want to see them excel. I want them to have “mad computer skills” but I don’t want them to form unhealthy habits with their computer use.
Monitoring computer use has it’s benefits but moderation is the best way to prevent any injury to their precious brains and bodies. Many adults (including myself) suffer from some for of RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) due to improper ergonomics or overuse of computers. This is something that can occur in children as well. This isn’t something that just parent of technically savvy children need to be concerned with; it can happen with children who are musicians too.
I see 3 major causes that can lead to RSI in children:
- Using equipment designed for adults
- Improper use of equipment
- Overuse of equipment
Each of these causes can be mitigated if not eliminated by doing a few simple things like getting keyboards and mice that are designed for children, showing your children how to properly use a computer (posture, hand placement, etc.), and limiting the amount of time they use computers or gaming consoles.
I am in no way an expert when it comes to diagnosing or treating Repetitive Stress Injury so please take my advice as an expression of concern and not professional counsel. If you think your child (or yourself) suffers from RSI consult your family physician and seek their advice.
Symptoms of RSI include:
- Pain in your back, neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands
Again, consult your family physician if you children complain about pain. The best treatment for RSI is prevention so be safe and limit usage.
For more information about RSI please consult the following links:
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