Should I allow my toddler or preschooler to play on the computer?

Real Mom Problem

“Should younger kids play on the computer? At which age? Computers are a way of life now but I don't want it to consume them.”

by witedove1 witedove1

Quick Tips

  • 1. Computers can teach toddlers about shapes, colors, letters, and numbers as well as cause and effect
  • 2. Critics feel hands-on interaction is more beneficial than computer time
  • 3. As with any screen time, moderation and supervision are important
  • 4. Computers should be used to supplement standard learning tools; not replace them

Real Mom Solutions

There's no escaping computers these days. They're part of our daily life (plus they're fun!). But should our toddlers be using them? See what the moms of CafeMom have to say!

They're Never Too Young to Try

  • i_am_tish

    My son was 9 months old when I started letting him fiddle with the paint programs. Now I can't keep him off...he's 5.

  • Tala21

    Oh gosh, my daughter was just 6 1/2 months when she started playing on our computer, and then my laptop. My husband and I finally had to just give her a laptop that we don't use anymore. She loved playing with that!

  • workingmom3

    I think the sooner they are interested the better. The computer is a great way of learning. I only allow them 1 hour per day, usually ever other day. But it's great for my kids!

  • MommyTo2Boyz

    I think it's a good idea to start them learning about computers early. They are going to need all the experience they can get.

Toddlers Don't Need Computer Time

  • kathy727

    I am a teacher, Kindergarten for 6 years. Personally, I have seen benefits and negatives to computers with small children. It goes along with my TV beliefs. My 5 year old can watch TV or play on the computer 2 hours a week. And he's fine with that. The only benefit to computer games at the toddler level is mouse proficiency (which is not that hard a skill to acquire). The majority of software I have seen is basically skill and drill at the school. And since I'm guessing most of us are involved with our kids, they're getting that information from you, so a computer isn't really necessary. Maybe when they're older, (first grade, and up) I can see it more, but not really at pre-K.

  • lilskymist

    I do not let the kids use it much at all. They have to earn their time and it is very limited. Around here we do not start until right around 5 years.

  • gacgbaker

    I am not against them, I am just not a personal fan, but I don't do the TV thing either. I think kids can learn if they are used right, but they also can learn if you don't use them. I think it can be too easy to go way over board with them, so I just draw the line at none.

Computers Can Help Toddlers Learn


    My kids are about 3 when they start. It actually has helped them learn to read. They start recognizing words like "games, start, go," etc.

  • joy1toy

    My 2 year old loves playing on the computer. She does Elmo games and we have a toddler and preschool game and she knows her colors and numbers and ABCs from these games.

  • ddrevia

    My daughter -- she is 16 now -- started playing on our first computer -- a Compaq -- back in 1992 when she was 1 year old. Now at 16 she can whiz through the computer and files. She was building web pages at 9 using html and now she can wipe a hard drive and re-install the OS system. They are sponges and there is no telling what they can accomplish at such an early age!

  • RobynS

    I wouldn't let him play for hours at a time, but computers are an important part of our society today, so it's good for toddlers to learn.

  • textbookcase

    I think computers are a great learning tool when used in the proper context and under adult supervision.

Limit Time & Monitor Activities

  • EMSmom360

    Sure, I let my kids play on the computer but not too long. I limit their time on it and monitor acceptable sites too. I would rather have them play outside with friends or go places than sit in front of the computer all day. I let my younger child; who is 3 years old on the computer as long as I am there with her. I don't see anything wrong as long as it is fun and their time is limited.

  • mommarini

    I have let all my kids play on the computer as soon as they were able to type on the keyboard. We now have a two hour rule for the computer - two hours a day. I have to say though it is the first thing I take away if they get punished. They would spend all day every day on it if I let them.

  • desertmommy

    I don't think there is any harm in it if it is supervised and doesn't consume them. My 5 year old likes the computer, but I only let her play educational games. She would much rather go run and play though, so I guess that's good. Just like everything else in life - "in moderation."

Use Computer Time as a Reward

  • amylynn91403

    Computer games are a special treat if they have been good all week.

  • praisinghim2day

    They earn "normal" game time by how much time they spend on the educational games. For every half hour of educational game time they spend, they get 10 minutes of "normal" game time. But most of that time doesn't get used. They really enjoy the educational ones!