kids and computers

kids and computers

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.

4 thoughts on “kids and computers

  1. Hi guys!

    I think it is great to help our kids learn the skills that will enable them to succeed — in fact, I love seeing them enjoy the things that I enjoy.

    Kaiya is a whizzzzz at the iPad. We sold ours a while back to get a new 2.0 version (which we haven’t done yet), but it was really cool to see how intuitively she was able to adapt to the device.

    I think that limiting what they can do and how long they can spend are very important rules to set though, but every child/parent will have to come up with something that fits their family.

    Anyway, I hope you guys are well. Take care.

    -Chad

  2. We try to limit Asher to a few minutes a day. This doesn’t always work. I know it’s not beneficial to have a lot of “screen time”. I figure, he’s going to learn it quickly and already has so, why expose him too much? Yes, he has his own account. And, he’s already learned how to go back to the family accout. His favorite thing? Google earth map. Could be worse I guess

  3. I think you guys are on the right track. With Conan working in IT during our early years we’ve pretty much always had a junk computer for the kids to use, so we haven’t had the problem of sharing computer time. We have the admin set up so they can only access the websites we ok, and have found good tools for kids to learn to use computers with (Scratch for programming, Google Sketch-Up, etc). Now that Neils is older he has garage band, and iphoto, imovie, idvd to use with his camera. I think it’s good practice for adulthood… but everything in moderation. You guys are great parents! I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

  4. Wow, I hadn’t even thought about this yet. Our rule is that neither Samuel nor Caleb are allowed to touch our computer. But if Samuel goes to school next year, then he should probably have some understanding of how it actually works. I’ll have to think about all this. I like how you put it, though, a little at a time and growing as he gets older makes a lot of sense.

    How fun that Simon plays chess! I’ve been teaching Samuel about it on my chess set, but he really just likes moving the pieces around wherever he wants them.

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