Computers and Kids – Important Habits to Establish

Computers and Kids – Important Habits to Establish
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 and computers
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:

If you think that adults are the only ones developing carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive motion injuries and eyestrain from computer overuse, think again. Pediatricians are seeing a greater number of physical ailments in their child patients resulting from computer usage. Have your child take regular computer “stretch” breaks (set a timer), and encourage them to blink more (make it a game) and also to rest their eyes by looking at other things around the room every so often (post interesting things on the wall near the computer desk to attract their attention).

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:

Younger children sometimes mistakenly assume that everyone online is a friend. It’s your job to teach even your little ones some online “stranger danger” basics and remind them to not share any personal or family information when surfing the Internet. That includes information about your address, where your child goes to school, names of siblings and friends, addresses, phone numbers or anything about you or your spouse. For tips and suggestions visit mychildsafety.net/internetsafety.html.While parents need to take some precautions, it should be stressed that when appropriately used, technology can serve to benefit and enhance your child’s life. By utilizing age-appropriate websites and programs, children show greater reasoning skills, increased creativity and finer motor development. By coming up with a digital “game plan” and seeking out the best content possible, your child’s computer time is certain to be much more fun, educational and productive.About the author
Jessica Mcintire is the mother of four, and a writer for technology sites.
As a content contributor for  proxy  secure browsing sites, Jessica recommends that parents research the security available from surfing the Internet via a proxy IP address.

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