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Cyber Awareness: Big Technology in Little Hands

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some childhood Internet experts are advocating children as young as two, three and four learn about the dangers of the Internet.
“We know that there is such a great deal of brain development going on under the age of five, particularly under the age of two, that screen time is really detrimental to their development. We know that human interaction is going to be much more valuable to them."
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some childhood Internet experts are advocating children as young as two, three and four learn about the dangers of the Internet.

What an expert from Community Partnership of the Ozarks says is that children two and under really shouldn't have screen time at all.

Erica Harris says there are two major factors in keeping preschool children safe on the Internet.

“As an early childhood professional,” says Harris. “I wouldn't recommend young children spend much time in the Internet or with screen time particularly for children under two."

Still, some parents either like their children to be technologically savvy or to use these devices as a sophisticated nanny.

For that reason, the creator of online site Savvy Cyber Kids thinks preschoolers should be Internet aware. 

Harris disagrees.

“Certainly it is not going to hurt to talk to your child about being safe online and what that means,” says Harris. “But for most children under the age of 5 they don't understand that there's a person on the other side of that computer or that they are in danger.”

Harris suggests keeping technology away from children under the age of five.

“The number one recommendation would be to prevent exposure to the Internet and to screen time in general,” says Harris.  “We know that there is such a great deal of brain development going on under the age of five, particularly under the age of two, that screen time is really detrimental to their development. We know that human interaction is going to be much more valuable to them."

Harris says children under the age of two shouldn't really have screen time.

“But, if they are going to have screen time and they are going to be on the iPads and the iPhones and the computers,” says Harris. “Parental supervision is the number one way to keep those kids safe."

Harris says there is another way to let kids get their hands on technology without having them wade into the murky waters of the Internet.
“Picking some child appropriate apps that don't involve the Internet,” says Harris. “And don't allow them to access other human beings that you don't have any control over that filter, which would be the best bet."

If your preschool children are allowed to go on the Internet, Savvy Cyber Kids has some tips about protecting their identity and limiting where they are.

Harris says the best two remedies for preschool kids and beyond are limiting access and parental supervision.
 
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