Children and Computers: Generating a Parenting Policy
There have been some interesting comments on my last couple of posts – this is an answer to some of them – just as a description of where I am when it comes to computers.
What place should computers have in the home?
I have various vague policies and practices, and am interested in what people think about children and technology.
My first instinct is that staring at a screen does no one any good – be it a TV screen, a movie screen or a computer screen. Fans of computers (such as myself) like the interactive element, but younger children I think should not be interacting with the media, really.
My children know about internet safety and keeping their names secret, and the school reinforces this message. The Scottish curriculum deals with skills over content and critical thinking skills are embedded from early on. The only interactions they have, potentially, are in “Club Penguin”, although they don’t really hang out there.
They tend to use the computer to access complementary materials from the BBC to go with TV shows they have watched. There might be a game to play, or trump cards to print, or back episodes to look at again.
The only other use is for research, but I ensure that there is no cutting and pasting. They have to read and take notes and attribute sources. We also have discussions about the reliability of sources – and they are well aware of that issue – because of the number of obscure things that I turn out to be the top hit on – so they should not trust anything they read, largely.
So saying, this is all at a very basic level.
On a couple of occasions I have had my son write for this blog, just to give him a sense of audience.
Computers are only used in public areas.
Notably, unlike for adults, computer use for children is not a solitary activity. Usually it is in a help-with-homework context, or with another child that they want to watch a show or download an activity with.
As a parent, I try to use the computer when the children are in bed, or when I am cooking or baking and waiting around the kitchen, although my eldest has rebuked me for blogging too often. I excuse myself on the grounds that I am modelling commitment to writing and reflection, and reading and thought. He could well have a point though. I also often write blog posts just after the children have eaten and they go off and play.
This could be why my kitchen has a chronic untidiness problem…