David Mandl on Mon, 17 Apr 2000 18:11:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> "Computers Rot Our Children's Brains"

[Observer UK news]

Computers rot our children's brains: expert

Anthony Browne, Health Editor
Sunday April 16, 2000

Computers can rot young children's brains, a parenting expert warned
yesterday. The warning is set to alarm parents who believe they must
introduce their children to computers at ever younger ages. 

Dr Jane Healy, an educational psychologist from America, told a conference
in London that instead of helping to advance a child's knowledge,
computers can stunt the healthy development of a child's mind, reducing
attention span and hampering language skills. Parents who feel guilty
about not buying their child a computer and expensive 'learning software'
will be relieved. 

Healy told the Parent Child 2000 conference that parents should limit the
time youngsters spend using computers and watching television. Rather than
living in an 'unchallenging, two-dimensional world', they should interact
with others around them. 

Demolishing the hype of what she calls the 'technology-pushers', Healy
condemned the conventional wisdom that declares every child must have a
computer at home and in school. Studies have shown that children under the
age of seven are likely to be better off without them. 

Dr Healy told the conference: 'It is playing with the parental hormone,
guilt, to make them believe that if a child doesn't have a computer by the
age of three it's not going to get a job. 

'But quite to the contrary, it is limiting children's physical development
and taking too much time away from what they should be doing.  They are,
in fact, damaging the brain development in the sense that it's going to
make it harder for them to learn at school.'

In the US, schools spent more than $4 billion on computers last year, and
the market for 'edutainment' software is growing at about 30 per cent a
year. Tony Blair has promised to connect every UK school to the Internet. 

Rye College in Watford runs lessons for 18-month-old infants, using
software aimed at the very young. They learn about shapes, colours and
simple words. At two and a half, children begin programming and basic word

But Healy said: 'Most of this software ... is doing more harm than good.'

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