is a myth that children MUST learn how to use the computer. This is a skill
that will no doubt help him later on in life, but it is also something
that can be picked up later on. Using a computer is literally child's play - it is the programming aspect that gets a bit complicated. So if your child is not computer inclined, don't push him to understand technical terms. However, if he shows an interest in learning how to use computers, encourage this interest. Don't look at the computer as an end in itself. Look at it as a means to help increase your child's general knowledge and sharpen his skills.
If you have
a basic PC at home, you could get your child started on the Paint programme.
Show him the basics; show him how he can open and close the programme.
Familiarise him with the toolbox and show him how he can select colours.
Let him learn the rest by practise. His drawings don't have to make sense
- they could be nothing more than nonsensical scribbling, but this is how
he will pick up.
This is one
of the easiest ways to familiarise your child with the computer, the keyboard
and other controls. Most children love playing computer games, and such
games also improve hand and eye co-ordination. However, it is equally important
that your child indulges in some physical activity as well, and computer games should be supplemented with something more physical like tennis or swimming. Enrol your child in a sports class, and when he returns, let him rest, eat, and then sit in front of the computer. This will inculcate discipline.
This is a common
yet needless worry amongst most parents. Watching television is not exactly
a social activity either, but parents tend to worry more about the influence
of programmes on a child's mind than about the anti-social aspect. Computers, on the other hand, do provide opportunity for bonding, especially by way
of computer games. Get games that are required to be played with an opponent.
Encourage your child to call his friends over to play computer games.
If you are
unfamiliar with the computer yourself, now is a good time to learn. Sit
with your child and explore the programmes together. You will be delighted
to see that he picks up faster than you do! Get your child interactive
Are you uneasy
with the thought of letting your child browse the Internet? There is a
vast amount of information out there, and adult sites constitute barely
3% of these sites. It would thus be a shame to discourage your child from
net surfing. Instead:
Take your child
to a few sites you are familiar with, and once the window is open, let
him browse through those sites.
software that blocks access to porn sites.
Teach your child
how to send e-mail to his grandparents, cousins or uncles and aunts.
child to search for information on class projects on the net.
teach a very young child to connect to the net on his own. If you have
a cable connection, hide the navigator button in a folder instead of keeping
it on the desktop.
The number of
hours a child spends in front of the television has declined for the first
time in years. One of the main reasons is the Internet, and the other is
computer games. Children are spending more time in front of the computer
than the TV, and that's a fact. Does your child seem to know more about
using a computer than you? Probably. Does that make your child computer
literate? Probably not. Before you try to assess the computer competency
of your child, think about what "computer literacy" means. Is it the ability
to talk techno-speak and impress (or even scare) parents? Is it the ability
to operate a computer and run applications to complete a task? These are
simple definitions in a domain that has an incredibly varied set of skills
should look at computer literacy as the ability to apply computers and
related technology to thinking critically to solve a problem, creating
a solution and ultimately producing a product. That product may be a document,
a presentation, a device or some other outcome. There is an old theory
that has recently regained the right to be discussed seriously called "Multiple
Intelligences". One of the biggest proponents of this theory is Howard
Gardner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The basic idea
of the theory is that every child must be taught differently, because children understand the world in different ways. Some examples of the different
types of intelligence include linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical,
spatial, bodily kinesthetic, and personal. Gardner suggests that classrooms
be filled with apprenticeships, projects and technologies, where students
can develop true understanding through hands-on applied learning, and be
given the opportunity to develop their learning style under whichever intelligence
best suits them. In a digital world, where computers allow children to
develop a learning pattern based upon their own intelligence in a non-threatening
way, full-frontal, asynchronous teaching environments cannot-and do not-grab
their attention. Does your child need to have logical-mathematical intelligence
in order to become computer literate? Absolutely not. So what can you do
to teach your child appropriate computer skills? Most importantly, make
sure that your child is learning how to apply technology to help him or
her think critically, problem-solve, work collaboratively and ultimately
use a variety of technologies that can help them invent, create and ultimately
produce. While there are good software packages available to develop these
skills for all types of intelligences, finding the right titles is the
A lot of kids
are getting online these days--sharing data about acid rain, talking about
social issues, meeting adults as well as kids, and learning about other
cultures. There seems to be one of everything on the network. Just like
any other form of media, the quality of this massive collection of information
is uneven and unverifiable, and just like any bookstore, there is both
good information and smut. Computer networks hold tremendous promise; however,
it's also home to people who don't have good intentions, who use their
own anonymity to hurt others or their technical knowledge to steal from
Not only are
there unsavory individuals lurking out there in cyberspace, there are whole
Web sites waiting to entice the immature, the easily swayed, and the vulnerable.
Hate groups, for example, have discovered that the Net is an effective
place to reach vast numbers. Some Web pages can teach your kids many useful
and fun things, but bomb-making is probably not high on your list of activities
for a Saturday afternoon.
By now you're
shaking your head and pulling out your elected official's phone number,
but wait, let's try to the put the problem into perspective. Generally,
yes, it's safe for kids to use the Internet. To tell children to stop using
these services just because crimes are being committed online would be
like telling them to forgo attending college because students are sometimes
victimized on campus. The number of sites on the Internet considered objectionable
is somewhere between 1% - 3% (depending on your definition of "objectionable"),
which leaves about 4.5 million other sites which are interesting and educational.
Getting to the objectionable material also takes some sophisticated technical
know-how. Unlike the bookstore where a child can just walk in and pick
up a book from a shelf, the child who downloads pornography from the Internet
has as much intention for mischief as the child hiding in the garage with
a Playboy magazine in hand.
difficult issues which need to be discussed openly in your home. Can children
be prevented from accessing materials which are controversial? Is preventing
access even desirable? What alternatives do we have or could we provide?
How do we talk with children about these issues? How and by whom are community
standards set? Unfortunately, much of the publicity related to these issues
has only dealt with potential dangers--and has not encouraged reflection
on creative solutions.
which gets the most exposure is the use of programs which block offensive
sites, so it may be helpful to describe how these programs work. First,
each of these programs are set to screen out certain words which are likely
to appear on "adult" sites. On it's face, this may seem like a good idea,
but beware, the same programs which screen out sex sites also screen out
sites related to Essex, England, as well as those related to breast cancer,
sexual harassment, sextons, "keeping abreast of new ideas," and so on.
Second, the programs screen out specific web sites which the company determines
are "unsuitable." Keep in mind that sensibilities of the software company
may not match your own. One company, for example, screens the Heritage
Foundation web site because it feels the organization is too conservative,
while another screens the National Organization of Women because it feels
the organization is too liberal. What's more, purveyors of both pornographic
and other sites inappropriate to young people are clever at using words
with double meanings that may appear innocuous to an electronic scanner,
and filters can screen neither graphic elements containing explicit words
or pictures nor email messages from individuals who mean to do harm.
In the end,
filtering programs simply don't do the job. Not only do they fail to block
all objectionable site, they also take away the defining role of the parent
in children's education. A child who downloads pornographic or hate sites
can only be corrected by positive family influence and parental willingness
to instill a constructive value system through family communication. No
filtering program is necessary for a child who has learned to say "no"
to sites she knows are inappropriate for her.
children are exposed to technology at a young age, parents often find themselves
lagging behind their children in computer skills. Surprisingly, this may
be the key to your involvement. What better way to learn about the Internet
then to do so alongside your child? They'll most likely pick it up more
quickly than you do, of course, but along the way you'll have the chance
to see, and take pride in, your child at work. Search for information related
to your child's homework together and get to know the "friends" your child
has on-line, just as you would get to know her other friends.
In the end,
the truth is that only YOU know the standards you want your children to
follow, only YOU can judge what's acceptable for the ages and maturity
levels of your kids, and only YOU can decide if your kids can handle anything
they see or if you might want to enlist some help. Take time to review
the resources and tips combining supervision and communication, which thoughtful
parents have used to take advantage of the Internet as a resource while
protecting their children, and HAVE FUN WITH IT!
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- The Indiaparenting Team