art education

Kids online

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Not long ago, Fran├žesca enjoyed typing random letters into a text editor for about ten minutes a day. Now that she is nearing five years old, that doesn’t satisfy her any longer. She learned how to use the mouse, and she’s beginning to understand how to use the Safari web browser. She can spend an hour on-line without a break.What to do? This is the point where Hanneke and I have a choice. We can take the computer away and have our kids grow up in a “traditional” pre-internet household. Or we can let them go online and accept the consequences.

I am of two minds about this. One view is that the kids should be able to grow up in an internet-free home, the way we grew up. The opposing view is that the kids should go online because the internet is part of the world we live in — keeping the kids away from it would be like refusing to let them learn to read or write.

I am torn between these two views, but I am leaning toward letting her go online because:

  1. Our kids will come into contact with the internet no matter what we do.
  2. By guiding her internet use at home, we can help Fran find and be involved in the positive things on the internet; for example, looking at artwork by other children her age.
  3. The internet is intensely stimulating, of course. My response is that we need to make our “off-line” home environment even more fun, more stimulating, so that the internet is not such a magnet for the kids.

Anyone else out there with similar problems / opportunities?