Computer use for children is as commonplace today as working on the farm was in the past. That is why parents need to know how to help their children use computers in the proper way as well as to protect them from any negatives that can easily be found in the virtual world. When today’s children reach adulthood, many if not most of them will work with computers in their jobs. Most schools provide access to computers but, understandably, many parents feel that a computer at home will be of educational value to their child.
Proper Supervision is the Key
The key parental responsibility regarding computers and children is supervision. Keep a close eye on your child’s computer use. One way to do this is to limit their access to it. If you haven’t already invested in a computer, before you do, decide how it will be used, for what and when, and make sure your child understands these ‘rules of use’. Start your child on software that is ‘beneficial’, such as educational software. Most of these are now sufficiently game-like to grab the attention of the uninitiated for hours. Or, at first, you could insist that the computer only be used for school projects.
Once children have been exposed to ‘real’ games, they are less interested in other types of software, and you’ll probably be fighting a losing battle if you try to insist that the computer is only to be used for educational purposes. The best way to manage this is to limit access time and, as always, supervision is the key.
When you’re buying a new computer, ask the hardware provider not to load games onto the hard drive. If games are offered as part of the purchase package, ask for the discs to be supplied separately. In this way, you have more control over what games your child can play.
Computer games do have their uses. They are a powerful source of behavioral modification and can be used as incentives or rewards. However, they have this power only if the child doesn’t have free access to them at all times. By keeping the discs safely out of reach, you retain command.
Delete any ‘adult’ or violent games from your hard drive, even if you don’t possess the disc for it and will lose it forever. Of course, your child may have access to unsuitable games at friends’ homes. If you know that computer games are on the agenda during a visit, a quiet chat with the parents usually helps.
When supervised, computer games have their share of benefits. They can act as a tutor. Word processing or a fun typing program sometimes helps even the most unmotivated with pencil and paper to become productive on screen. As well, computer games can help the disorganized to plan. Hand-eye coordination and speed of reflexes can be honed. High-quality graphics can incite creativity.
So the news isn’t all bad. Some experts believe that playing computer games excessively is unlikely to do most children harm, any more than playing other games. Parents should retain control, becoming more flexible over time as a child shows he or she can make good choices whether you’re around or not. The best 3 tips for parents about computer use for children is to supervise, supervise, supervise!