A leading U.K. expert has urged schools to ban children under the age of nine from using computers because the technology is damaging their brains, The London Sunday Telegraph reported.

Speaking at a conference of childcare specialists Saturday, Dr. Aric Sigman, a psychologist and author, said technology affects children’s attention spans and is harmful to their under-developed brains.

He said statutory rules introduced in 2008 which recommends toddlers be introduced to computers as early as 22 months of age is "subverting the development of children's cognitive skills."

"There is evidence to show 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 said.

"The big problems we are seeing now with children who do not read, or who find it difficult to pay attention to the teacher, or to communicate, are down to attention damage that we are finding in all age groups."

The Early Years Foundation Stage or “nappy curriculum” suggests computers should be introduced from 22 months and that from 40 months children should be able to "perform simple ICT functions, such as select a channel on the TV remote control and use a mouse and keyboard to use age-appropriate software."

Primary schoolchildren have at least one ICT lesson a week and computer use is widespread.

Debate about the benefits of introducing children to technology at a young age is mixed.

Research evidence shows that technology can help children's learning, social development and health. A number of studies in the U.S. show that age-appropriate software can help language development.

Sigman said that even though screen technology can assist learning, children should be introduced at a later stage.

"It must be introduced and used judiciously at much later ages — ideally at least age nine — or it can subvert the development of the cognitive skills and curiosity it was intended to foster and enhance," said the author of "Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives."

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