The age they begin is entirely up to you. Lots of kids start playing around online as young as the toddler years, but many parents wait until kids are in elementary school to get them started. Some parents worry that if they don't introduce little kids to the internet, their kids will be left behind once they start school. But that's not necessarily true. Even though there are wonderful learning apps and sites for young kids, the best thing for their development remains the same as its always been: talking, reading, singing, making eye contact, and supporting their curiosity provides the essential foundation for all learning. Keep that up, and your kids will have no trouble figuring out the online world. If you want your young kids to use the internet, these guidelines will give you and your kid a strong start:
- Sit with little kids -- at least at first -- so you can explain what they see.
- Find age-appropriate sites and apps with high learning potential.
- Instill the idea of balance early by putting a time limit on your sessions. Some apps, such as YouTube Kids, allow you to set a timer which shuts down the program.
- Avoid just-before-bed computer time. It can be stimulating and interrupt sleep.
- Use the internet to bond with family and friends by videochatting with a program such as FaceTime.
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