Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where in heck should we put our computer?

Computers have become just about the most important item in the house. Everyone wants one in their "space" or they want privacy when they are IMing, blogging, creating their web space, texting friends, e-mailing, gaming, working, surfing-you get the idea. Placement is very important, especially when it comes to young users of the computer and the wonderful world wide web.
I do not think that kids should have their own computer in their room. The internet is a world of its own and it is just too temping for a child to explore things in that world. Parents have boundries for children in the real world. It should go double for the cyberworld due to the fact that any and everything is available at the touch of a mouse.
We have a 5 year old son who has been using the computer and the internet since he was about 3 1/2. Some of you may think that is very young but we know that it was going to be the world he would grow up in. He needed to know how to use it. (And when we go to the library, he is the kid showing other kids how to get to the cool kid sites.) So, needless to say, our computer has always been in a public place.
When he first started, we converted a large closet into a computer room. It had high foot traffic past it so he could ask us questions and not go into a new site without us seeing it. Now we have the "family office" in the kitchen. This works out great because the kitchen is already a room that people are hanging out in. Mom can look up cooking shows and watch them as she cooks. Dad can look up car stuff and be right by the car if he needs to go look at it. The kids are in a space that everyone shares.
Another thing we did at first is give everyone their own profile. Mom and dad's profiles have a password so the only one to click on is our son's profile. We let him pick his own profile icon (Transformers) and his own wallpaper (Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends) and his screensaver (Chicken Little). He is still too young to really spell out stuff in any search sites so we have helped him find the sites he likes and bookmark them to the desktop. Some of them have icons that match what the sites is about, such has Noggin or Cartoon Network, several have the same Internet Explorer icon. But don't worry, they figure out fast which icon is which fun site. You can change the icon or name if you wish but our son has figured it out with no problem.
The one thing we did not expect is how fast he learned stuff. He can change is icons, wallpaper, and screensaver. He found transformers on e-bay, which lead to You Tube. We like the site but there are non-kid stuff on it too. Yeah, we had to block some sites already so he couldn't get to them. We simply have to keep an eye on him and where he goes and it has been a fantastic learning tool for him, and us as well. It is a way for all of us to find what we want and share it with the whole family.


DaniGirl said...

Oh, I never thought of setting up a separate user account for the kids, nor sending their favourite internet shortcuts to the desktop - good tips! Thanks!!

Kerith Collins said...

yea...this works great...until he learns to read and figures out what Google means...