The Circuit: Young kids’ app use, Syria surveillance, China-U.S. investment

LEADING THE DAY: Experts are split on whether the trend of young children using tablets and smartphones is helping or hurting their development, The Washington Post reported. Experts estimate that tens of thousands of kid apps are offered on Apple and Google Android devices, and that more than a quarter of U.S. parents have downloaded an app specifically for their child.

For more on the debate, check out Cecilia Kang’s story in today’s Washington Post.

U.S. probes surveillance tech in Syria: The U.S. Commerce Department is trying to determine whether Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., was aware that its equipment and software were being used by the Syrian government, The Washington Post reported. If the Commerce Department finds that Blue Coat knowingly violated licensing rules, the report said, it could fine the company for as much as $1 million.

China appeals for investment in face of probe: Chinese officials asked Washington not to “politicize our economic cooperation” as the U.S. government looks into the ways that Chinese companies may or may not be used by foreign governments for intelligence gathering purposes, the Associated Press reported. Earlier this month, the U.S. government named China and Russia in a report on foreign governments that are using American infrastructure to try and obtain high-tech data.

On Thursday, the House intelligence committee promised to investigate how companies may play a role in the actions described in that report.

Yelp files for IPO: Yelp has filed for its initial public offering, bringing the Internet recommendations site into the ranks of recent high-profile tech IPOs such as Groupon and LinkedIn. The company filed to raise as much as $100 million in an offering scheduled for 2012, according to documents the company filed with the SEC.

Lawmakers voice SOPA opposition: While the Stop Online Piracy Act has a lot of bipartisan support, it’s also garnered quite a bit of lawmaker opposition — particularly from California politicians, who are joining Silicon Valley opposition to the bill.

Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday on Twitter that Congress needs to “find a better solution” than SOPA, adding the hashtag “#DontBreakTheInternet.” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has also publicly voiced his opposition to the bill. And earlier this week, several representatives from California and other states sent a letter to the House Judiciary committee saying that while they agree with the spirit of the bill, they think it is overly broad and could damage the technology industry.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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