Short background: My husband is a computer geek. While I was taking a shower one day, he taught DD how to use my laptop. How he did this in ten minutes, I have no idea, but the fact remains that she learned how to use it to access Starfall.com.
My mother, thinking that this was just the cutest thing ever, came to visit and brought with her a brand new laptop that she had purchased just for DD. My husband set it up for her, secured it and taught her how to open it, turn it on and open Starfall.
I was a bit upset at first because DD is WAY too young to be using a computer or really to be engaging in much electronic media at all, but DH and DM have both talked to me and mostly convinced me that since she's able to use it properly and knows how to read and spell a little, that I should let her have it so I made rules about limiting its use.
For those of you whose children use the computer/internet, what sorts of health risks are you concerned about? I am trying to limit her use to 30 minutes per day but she doesn't ask for it every single day. I must shamefully admit that it is the best babysitter ever when I am trying to get dinner made for everybody. I have heard things about computer use affecting children's eyesight. Are there guidelines as to what is safe computer usage for very young children? Is it different for children because their eyesight is still developing?
I know the best thing would be just to keep her away from it, but it would break her heart (not to mention DM's and DH's) and I do have to admit that her reading and spelling have drastically improved since she got it.
I am just a tad bit jealous that granny bought DD a computer. Wishing my mom would do that.(Or spend any money what so every on DS) however that is not this thread.
I think as long as your DD is happy, healthy and not on the computer 24/7 she will be fine. Knowing how to use the computer is a vital skill in this world. My son is 10 and has his own laptop, takes online classes and runs circles around me.
If she has the skills for starfall, your dh probably taught her how to use the computer by saying "you want to play with this? Okay, be gentle."
I'm the tech coordinator for an elementary school so I try to stay current on how little kids are using computers. I'm not aware of any well-documented health risks. Keep an eye on ergonomics.
Even though my job is to support kids using technology, I really don't think little kids should be using it that much. DD is 4.5 and her screen time includes maybe an hour of Starfall a week and maybe 1-2 hours of DVDs a week. Sometimes more if she's going through a yoga kick and wanting to do her yoga DVD every day. I'm content with that. A bit more would work for some families just fine. 2 years old is pretty young for online games, even starfall, but if she can comfortably and confidently navigate it and it isn't taking time away from other more active and imaginative activities, then why not? It really is great to be able to take a shower and know your kid is engaged with something safe, enjoyable and educational. Commonsense.org is a great site to help parents decide what media is appropriate for their families.