I work with preschoolers. I work in preschool classrooms. 90% of the children I work with on a day-to-day basis are from 3-5 years old.  The few others are either toddlers at the centers and siblings in the homes; or children approaching six as they take an extra year in early intervention.

I understand parents and teachers struggle with when to teach kids proper terminology and anatomy.  I understand that you teach your child to use “breast”, “uterus”, “vagina”, “penis” and “anus” those words may show up as descriptors on a self-portrait he brings home from school, or, worse, a picture of the mother pregnant, with all accompanying labels.  It’s your choice to teach your child “esophagus” and “trachea” or just “throat” at this stage.  But as my mentor is fond of saying about preschoolers, “Too much information sinks the ship of wonder.”  Let them explore light and rainbows and refraction without going into the physics. 

Yet I think there are few people out there who would ardently argue for early exposure to unnecessary evils.  Certainly if a loved one dies, you have to approach the subject of death with compassion.  If children grow up in a neighborhood where they see guns in the home, then the topic can be handled with tact.  But even in the case of the child exposed to too much too soon in the home and neighborhood, let school stay a safe place.  Especially in preschool.

Why then did I see a child watching a youtube video titled “Stick Figures on Crack”?   Regardless of the content, do you want to be the one to explain crack to the precociously early-reading child, or to his parents?  My personal distaste for computers in the preschool classroom aside, if you are committed or obligated to have computers for the children to use, you are also in my view obligated to provide or find age-appropriate games.  Computer game manufacturers are quite adept at providing many early learning games.  Their actual education value I may question, but at least they’re developmentally appropriate.  Many children are adept at surfing a site like www.nickjr.com or www.pbskids.org, and can navigate their way to games starring their favorite characters.  I’m confused why, with such arguablu appropriate and free content on the web, I managed to glance at a screen and see  5 year old playing a bartending game on www.y8.com!  A game, which, I should mention, I now cannot find myself.  Oh, quipped one teacher, they’re not supposed to be on that.  Oh, really.  It’s another teacher’s view that the kids can be on a site that features such games as “Drunken Masters”, “Osama Sissy Fight”, and “Staggy the Boy Scount Slayer II”, not to metion 269 games in the category “Blood”, just as long as a teacher is monitoring them to make sure they find okay games. 

As there may be 18 children in that room, I doubt it makes sense in anyone’s resource book to have 1 teacher dedicated to monitoring computer gaming.  And because that supervision clearly does not happen (or didn’t today), the kids find adult things to play. 

Just as we lock up the cabinets containing cleaners and sharp knives; just as we put on high shelves the breakable materials; just as we do not leave available broken toys with sharp edges, we should not make accessible toys, or games, or websites that may be harmful to the children.  In that carefully controlled environment free of peanuts, can’t we determine what they’re viewing through the computer screen?

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