Almost from the time he could walk, Jase has been using a computer. We started him out with toddler games where you click on things to hear a noise or see something happen. He graduated up to preschool games that taught numbers and colors.
In kindergarten, they began going to the computer lab weekly. By this time, Jase was playing video games on the Nick Jr site on the computer (not to mention games on the Wii or Xbox). At 8, he knows how to search on Google and Amazon. In school, they are doing PowerPoint presentations and typing up research in Word. Often their homework involves going to a website to practice math or spelling or to do research.
Yep, there is no separating kids from computers nowadays. They are well adept at using a mouse almost before they can even hold a pencil. And don’t get me started on their ability to use an iPad better than I can.
Now, my husband and I have discussed our kids usage of computers, but we haven’t installed monitoring software or anything. The kids’ computer (yes, they have their own) is in our office. They are usually only on it when we are in the room, so we can monitor what they are doing.
Because they are still young (5 and 8), we have not had to worry about them entering personal information beyond their name and age. They don’t go to sites that ask for their address or birth dates. They can’t install any programs on the computer themselves – which means they can’t download anything either. They do not belong to any chat groups. They don’t instant message or have any personal pages, though they do have an email account. It is a shared account between the two of them. The only ones who know the address are family and my husband automatically gets a copy of incoming messages. They don’t know how to post pictures.
While I know they don’t or can’t do any of the items that most parents need to worry about, I do know that we need to plan for these things. We know we will need to change things as they get older and become more computer-literate. Because really the Internet can be a dangerous thing for kids. And of course, it can be a great learning tool too which is why I don’t mind them using the computer even if it is only to play a game.