Yesterday my son was watching a DVD on my laptop: Curious Buddies Dance Moves. Yes, he is 3.5 but he just adores those annoying little puppets. I say “annoying” because I cringe at marketing videos to infants. But my guy is far beyond infancy now and the Curious Buddies are a frequent choice on our weekly trips to the library.
Anyways, Husband calls me into the living room saying “come and look at this”. Our son had found the Google search page (it’s my home page) and was entering the words “curious buddies” in the search engine by reading them from the DVD case and typing them in by hand. He hadn’t figured out the “enter” key so he was stuck. I was pretty amazed! He said he wanted to find more Curious Buddies movies…
Daughter started using the computer when she was about 16 months old (that’s her in the photo above, right around that age). One of her favorite games was the Alphabet Game at Fisher-Price Online Games. While it definitely wasn’t the only influence, she did learn the alphabet by the time she was 22 months and could then use a keyboard fairly well. About a month before she turned 2.5 she mastered the mouse and from that point on there was no looking back. She also quickly mastered our old Nintendo ’64, playing games that required one to not only become familiar with a virtual world (navigation) but also required that one memorize various sequences of button-pushing to perform moves with the controller.
It’s hard for Son to follow such an act. And with his large size and speech delay (which is hardly noticable now), it was easy to peg him as the “strong and slow” type. But he continually amazes us with these little flashes of brilliance (at 19 months he knew most of the alphabet; this from a kid who had, at that age, never muttered even so much as a “moo moo” – but he could point to any letter you asked). He has started recognizing words, and he has recently begun asking us how to spell certain words. I’m guessing he won’t be too far behind his sister when it comes to reading, and I’m hoping we can keep him out from under her shadow. In the meantime, he can Google to his heart’s content!
PS – I know there are some who think that screen time is not a healthy part of a young child’s development. My own feeling is that computers can be used responsibly or abused (like anything). I’ve watched my children as they’ve explored computer games, DVDs, and video games and while they certainly have their behavioural issues, this is not one of them. They go through phases where there is lots of screen time, and then periods when the machines gather dust. But importantly, even when they are really into a certain game or device, they never let it get in the way of going outdoors or engaging in some imaginative play with each other (in fact, one of my biggest peeves is seeing DVD’s playing to an audience of no-one, or getting ready to lose it with the annoying video game music only to find out the game was long abandoned and the kids are off exploring somewhere else in the house or yard; turn things off when you’re done, people!).