29/02/2012 07:05 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Children As Young As Three To Be Taught Computer Skills - Before They Can Read

Child learning computer skills Getty

Children as young as three could be taught computer skills – even before they can read.

Scientists are working on a computer coding tutorial programme for three to eight year-olds to help them "express themselves".

The team behind it say learning to programme computers is as important to children in the 21st century as writing was in the past.

They stress that children must "be able to create with new technologies".

The same team have already released a programme for eight to 13 year-olds, but now they want to roll it out to even younger children.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers - working under the umbrella of the Lifelong Kindergarten group - released Scratch in 2007.

This taught youngsters how to assemble games and animations using simple colour-coded blocks of instructions.

Now they plan on releasing Scratch Jr this summer – but some of these toddlers won't even be able to read and it's opened up a debate on whether it's too much too soon.

"What's most important to me is that young children start to develop a relationship with the computer where they feel they're in control," he told KQED.

"We don't want kids to see the computer as something where they just browse and click. We want them to see digital technologies as something they can use to express themselves."

Scratch Jr will use lots of bright primary colours and feature voice-over commands to simplify the learning process even more.

However, it's still likely to attract criticism. Although one expert in communications explains that there's no evidence to suggest that exposing children to computers is counter-productive.

Ellen Wartella, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, told KQED: "There is no evidence of harm, although there are a lot of complaints."

What do you think? A great way for children to learn or too young?