Young Children and Computers

In recent years, the consumer and school markets have become deluged with software products for children—products of dramatically varying quality. Following are three examples of highly rated programs for three- and four-year-olds. These were rated for content, user friendliness, adult management features, strength of support materials, and value for the cost, rather than being examined for outcomes on children’s learning.

Age Group


Brief Description

Three years and older

Reader Rabbit’s Ready for Letters

Includes matching, sorting, patterns, letters, and word meanings in five activities. These are Grandma’s Kitchen, Mix & Match Bedroom, ABC Bathroom, Picture Parlor, and Grandpa’s Workshop.

Kid Pix

Easy-to-use graphics and writing creation program. Mouse is used to draw, dribble paint, stamp letters, erase, and create shapes and backgrounds. Keyboard is used for word processing. Children can record their voices along with the drawings and writings.

Living Books

These storybooks have approximately 12 pages. The story is presented and each word in the text is highlighted as it is voiced. Each page includes contains 10 to 20 objects that are activated by clicking on them. Examples of stories are Just Grandma and Me, Arthur’s Teacher Troubles, Arthur’s Reading Race.

Four years and older

A to Zap

An alphabet book of 26 open-ended activities exploring letters, letter names, words, numbers, counting, and other concepts.

Bailey’s Book House

Children explore alphabet letters and sounds, play with rhyming words, manipulate prepositions, construct stories using preset lists of characters, settings, props, and actions, and create and print their own cards and invitations.

The Playroom

Children explore numbers, time, the alphabet, and other learning concepts. In one game, children type words that are shown on the screen. When the word is completed, the program pronounces each phoneme and highlights each letter.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement