Micah and I both have a lot of business to take care of on the computer. Jobs, callings, hobbies, and even simple chores (like meal planning) often have us on the computer for a couple of hours a day. And our children have taken note. More especially, the older one. It isn’t surprising, really, but it is a little exasperating. Like when he claims it is his turn to use the computer when I’m in the middle of sending a round of important e-mails or typing up a press release. And then he climbs into my lap, commandeers the mouse, and informs me that I had a long turn, so he gets a long turn, too.
It drives me crazy. Just a little bit. Not only because it makes it so much harder for me to work, but because I don’t really want the boys to feel like they need to be on the computer all the time. Despite my poor example. And yet this is the world they are growing up in. Using a computer is a necessary skill. I’m just not sure the best way to go about teaching it to a 4-year-old.
We decided that giving the boy an opportunity to use the computer, for a limited time, well-supervised and with strict parental controls, and then gradually allowing him more freedom as he grows up is the way to go. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to teach him to be safe online, to show him that it can be a tool as much as a toy, and that it needs to be used responsibly. We set up an account for him on our laptop. He has one hour a day to do whatever he would like with a handful of websites, a game of chess, photobooth, a folder of pictures, a word processor and a few other things. So far it is going just fine. He has fallen in love with the chess game, laughing maniacally every time his pawn “captures” (he really means “is captured,” but he doesn’t know that yet), and insisting I come look at every word or string of numbers he types.
It’s only been a couple of days, and some of those days he hasn’t mentioned his computer time, so it isn’t really easy to tell how things will go, but I feel pretty good about it (perhaps especially because he hasn’t mentioned it every day). I am able to take care of my computer-centric business more efficiently, and I feel like we are on the right track in introducing our children to this big, crazy world wide web.
But I’m curious about how others of you handle it. Are your kids computer-crazy? How do you regulate usage, or do you give them any time at all? I’d love to hear other opinions.
ps Simon and I played Trivial Pursuit today (as you can see in the picture) and he won.