The emergence of computer technology has led to increased educational and interactive experiences for children. A study conducted for the “Future for Children” project at Princeton revealed that 70% of the 1000 parents they surveyed agreed that the Internet is a place for children to discover “fascinating, useful things.” In order to keep kids on the right track here are a few tips to help your child get the most out of his or her computer time.
Limit Computer Time:
Adults occasionally view computers as an educational yet cheap babysitter, while children sometimes see their computer as an on-call friend. As a result, some “kid-users” may have a more difficult time interacting and socializing with their peers and are at greater risk for obesity. To prevent future problems, limit your child’s computer time – and stick to your guns.
Spend More Time Offline:
As children grow up and become increasingly more curious about the world, they may want to spend more time surfing the web. By age 10 many children are already familiar with e-mail, chat rooms and instant messaging! Set rules prohibiting your child from going online without you being present and encourage your child to use offline educational programs that have been pre-loaded onto your computer with your approval. Microsoft Word and Excel can be taught to children at very young ages, giving them tools to express their words, practice math and organizational skills.
Girls at Work by Erik Hersman
Make Computer Usage a Group Activity:
Computers can sometimes have an isolating effect on kids and adults alike. To foster the development of increased social skills, encourage your child to share their computer time with you, their siblings and friends (not online). This additional contact will also help to improve social interaction, increase verbalization as well as etiquette like taking turns and sharing.
Seek Out Quality Content:
While plenty of “computer brain candy” serving little or no purpose is out there on the web, there are also a multitude of websites with plenty of games and activities that can enrich your child’s experience online. Look to sites like NASA (kids.msfc.nasa.gov), Sesame Street (sesamestreet.org), ASPCA Kids (aspca.org/aspcakids/) and Martha Stewart’s crafts for kids (marthastewart.com/kids) for inspiration.
Monitor for Strains and Pains:
Speak With Your Children About Computer Usage:
Even if your kids aren’t teens, you’ll need to speak with them about the ways in which they are using the computer. Are you encouraging them to use programs that generate a creative spark or improve learning, or are your children just playing mindless games? It is crucial to let your child know that while games are fine on occasion, the bulk of their computer time should be spent on more productive endeavors.
Emphasize Online Privacy:
Jessica Mcintire is the mother of four, and a writer for technology sites.