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Children under 9 years old 'shouldn't use a PC'

Psychologist believe screens damage brains

Children should not be allowed to use a PC until they are nine years old, as one psychologist believe it could damage their brain, which is still developing at that age.

Dr Aric Sigman told The Telegraph that evidence shows that "introducing information and communication technology (ICT) in the early years actually subverts the very skills that Government ministers said they want children to develop, such as the ability to pay attention for sustained periods".

Sigman was referring to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which were introduced in 2008 and set out 12 IT-related goals children should reach by the time they hit five years old.

These include being introduced to a computer at 22 months and being able to "perform simple ICT functions" including using a mouse and keyboard at 40 months.

"There is a conflict between multitasking and sustained attention. These things cannot and should not be developed at the same time. Sustained attention must be the building block," he said.

Sigman, who also wrote 'Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives', said we "risk infantilising the child's mind by spoon-feeding it with strong audio-visual sensations".

"Children might be interested in alcohol, hand guns and pornography – that doesn't mean we should give them access to these things," Sigman said, dismissing the argument that because we are surrounded by PCs, children should be giving them at an early age to get used to them.

The Liberal Democrats had promised to scrap the EYFS if they got into power. Whether this will happen now the coalition government is in place remains to be seen.

The Department for Education spokesman told The Telegraph it had not made a decision on the future of the EYFS.

"Ministers are looking carefully at how best to strengthen the early years framework. We're clear about the need to cut bureaucracy to free-up front line professionals in supporting young children's development."

See also: Gov't to scrap schools technology agency


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