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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Computers 'good for three year olds'
toddlers using computer
Starting young is the best way
Introducing children as young as three to computers helps them understand technology and develops their creative skills, researchers say.

A study of 14 UK early learning centres - containing computers, educational software and specially designed furniture - found children appreciated information and communication technology (ICT) when it was used for real-life purposes.


It's not just a question of having computers but of how you access them, make them relevant and use them to help children develop

Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford
The report, for computer giant IBM, says computer-based activities must be integrated into the curriculum as a whole and should be linked to projects such as making birthday cards and illustrating stories.

The study says the use of computer suites, as set up in many primary schools, is not helpful because children need to see ICT in a meaningful, everyday context.

"It's not just a question of having computers but of how you access them, make them relevant and use them to help children develop," said report author Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford from the University of London's Institute of Education.

The research also found the introduction of computers into nursery schools also helped the members of staff.

"To have a tool like this in nurseries is a boost to their professionalism and self-esteem," the report said.

Good example

Professor Siraj-Blatchford - together with John Siraj-Blatchford from the Cambridge University's Faculty of Education - carried out the research for IBM to assess the success of its KidSmart scheme.

The programme was launched in the United States four years ago and has now been extended into Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East, with 125 centres in the UK.

screen pad
The adults at nurseries also benefit from the use of ICT
The centres are mainly located in deprived areas, as the company tries to play a part in reducing the digital divide between children from low-income families and those from more affluent backgrounds.

The settings include playgroups, nurseries, family centres and nursery classrooms.

Speaking at a launch of the report in London, E-commerce Minister Stephen Timms said: "The KidSmart initiative is a welcome example of a collaboration between industry and public sector helping to address the key issue of skills development."

"It helps children begin to develop important skills and familiarity with new technologies for later life and represents a step towards bridging the digital divide."

See also:

07 Nov 01 | Education
02 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
04 Nov 00 | Education
02 Nov 00 | Education
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