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Critics: Kids suffering from computer overkill
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The big push to get young children geared up for the high-tech future is meeting some opposition. Critics warn there may be too much screen time at an early age.
They clutch teddy bears in one hand and a mouse -- the computer kind -- in the other. Kids catch on quickly. So the thinking behind programs like Computer Tots is, the sooner they surf, the better.
"It's no problem. They know what to do," said Annette Gorelic of Computer Tots.
But a new report released by the Alliance for Childhood called, "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood" takes issue with that reasoning.
"Anyone who thinks computer are going to solve educational problems or accelerate intellectual development, the evidence is just not there," said Colleen Cordes of the Alliance for Childhood.
The report goes so far as to call for "an immediate moratorium on the further introduction of computers in early childhood and elementary education."
If that recommendation sounds drastic, consider some of the risks cited in the report. Too much time at the keyboard, researchers say, can cause early eyestrain, repetitive stress injuries and emotional detachment.
The information fuels the debate over how much money schools should spend on high-tech education. At the New Century School in Atlanta, children use computers from the get-go. By fourth grade, laptops are on every desktop.
"Not being afraid of technology is key to our children being able to succeed in the future," said Greg Morse of the Atlanta school.
Child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan said teachers and parents need to set practical guidelines.
"Keep it limited ... maximum of half an hour a day in the early years. And then it can go up higher as they get older. Because we want the kids learning from interaction. So teach the skills but don't abuse the privilege."
Children still need old-fashioned play, but the reality is that computers are here to stay. So if there's a child with a mouse in the house, the message is: moderation.
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