The International Consumer Electronics Show is such a glitzy celebration of technology that it was striking to see a set of panel discussions here Tuesday exploring whether electronic connectedness is valuable for children.

Are computers and electronic toys providing creative new outlets for kids to play, socialize and learn? Or does staring at screens all day addle the developing mind and hinder critical thinking skills?

It’s a little of both, judging by the commentary at this first “Sandbox Summit” at CES. The trick, participants said, is for parents to intelligently monitor their children’s use of computers and communication devices.

One panelist, Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review, said parents should think of technology as another material that children have to learn to explore, much like a sandbox.

There’s good reason to ban PCs from children’s bedrooms. But arbitrary rules may be counterproductive.

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