Every day, our society becomes more and more dependent on technology and computers. It seems inevitable that at some point, your child will need to learn computer skills in order to produce homework, and ultimately, to enter the workforce. Knowing that your child will need these skills and that most of their higher level schooling will require computer produced documents, you will have to decide if or when to get a computer for your child.
More and more schools are beginning to provide computers at school. However, due to budget restraints, most schools only have a computer lab that is a shared resource for the entire school. Depending on your child’s situation at school, the time they receive on a computer may not be adequate to learn the skills necessary for the future.
Computer knowledge will undoubtedly be a large part of your child’s long-term future. It is this inevitability that has resulted in schools building computer classes into their curriculum. As mentioned above though, the time that most students actually receive on this vital skill are likely not sufficient. Because of this situation, as well as the dependency on the Internet for many other aspects of family life, most households already have a home computer. However, if you have a large family, and computer time is already at a premium, it might be time to consider getting a separate computer for your child or children to use for school purposes.
This decision is often not taken lightly as the expense is quite substantial and having one computer, let alone a second machine for your child is not practical. If this is the case, and you’re concerned your child is not receiving enough computer orientation at school, try to speak to their teacher and work out a time where your child can use the school computer, either before or after regular school hours. As well, many local libraries have computers available for use and are provided free of charge. Not only is this a good option but it also a great, not to mention quiet learning environment.
So if you do intend to get a computer for your child, there are a few questions you should ask yourself and a few rules you’ll want to establish before jumping right in.
Where do you want the new computer located?
You should decide where the new computer will be setup prior to purchasing it. Do you want to be able to help and supervise your child when on the computer? Will they need privacy and quiet to complete homework properly? Once you’ve decided where the computer will be, you’ll need to ask a few other questions. For example, do you have room for a new computer? Depending on available space in your home, you may need to purchase a laptop instead of a desktop. As well, you may require a new desk to house the computer on.
Will your new computer be requiring Internet access?
If you do need internet access, will you require a parental safety program to monitor access to certain sites? This question should be asked in conjunction with computer location since the best way to monitor what your child is doing is to have them in the same room as you. It would be a good practice to discuss the dangers of the Internet with your child as well to make sure they understand the concerns you have and the threats the Internet can pose. Also, you’ll need to determine how you plan to connect the computer to the Internet and whether the room you choose is wired to accommodate this. If not, you will need to ensure the computer is wireless compatible.
Be sure to set time constraints
Discuss average homework expectations and time requirements for assignments with your child’s teacher. You can base your time limitations loosely on this number. There are a number of other things on the computer that can occupy your child’s time such as games, social networking sites, and instant messaging. Once your child has completed their necessary computer time, you can allow them some flex time but be sure to enforce this time limit. If the computer was purchased for school needs, make sure that your child understands that. Any other use is a reward, not a right. Also, by enforcing these rules, you can encourage your child to pick up a book and read, or get together with friends at the park for some exercise.
Determine your family’s computer requirements
Before purchasing your new computer, discuss what specific needs you and your children will have for it. For example, if your children will be using the computer primarily for school purposes, you will need a writing program of some sort. Older children may need software to create presentations or artwork, requiring you to purchase more full-featured software programs relevant to your child’s needs.
In all likelihood, your child will require a computer during their school years. With this information, not only will you be able to determine the best way to go about selecting a proper computer to fit your needs but you’ll also be able to determine the best way to monitor online safety and maximize family time well ensuring that your child develops the computer skills they will require for the future.
Eronne Ward is a mother of three, guardian to kids in need, activist for the protection of children online and runs a children’s entertainment and education website – [http://www.cackleberries.com/]
If you want some great resources to reward your child with, make sure to check out Eronne’s parenting club where you can receive access to free stuff for your kids and more helpful parenting tips – The Cackleberries Club [http://www.cackleberriesclub.com/offer2]
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