Kids And Computers: An Introduction

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We all spend most of our day looking at screens for both work and leisure. And, as a result of the growing importance of the Internet in our lives, now even children are starting to spend a good chunk of their day in front of a computer screen. Because of this increased usage of computers amongst children, parents are now starting to wonder what the best way is to introduce their little ones to these machines in a safe manner.



To help you teach your child important IT and computer skills, here are some useful tips for ensuring their introduction gets off to a good start.


Start With Games


There are now lots of computer games that are aimed at very young children, from as young as two-years-old even. It’s a good idea to buy one or two of these games and let your child or toddler spend about thirty minutes each day playing on them. This will help them understand how to navigate on the computer or laptop using either a mouse or touchpad. Some games will even get them used to using a keypad. In these early stages of using a computer, it’s a good idea to always supervise your child and help them with the game. While you are watching them, you can make sure that they are safely using the computer and don’t ever navigate away from the game onto unsafe websites or programs. You should also tell your child to be gentle with the mouse, touchpad, and keypad. Otherwise, they could end up damaging them!


Independent Use Of The Computer


Once your child is about four or five-years-old, they will be ready to use the computer independently. It is important that you give them this freedom to use the computer or laptop away from your supervision, as it will show them that you trust them and it will also give them the confidence to use the machine on their own. There are some programs and software that have been designed to help young children develop their computer and keypad skills, which are suitable for children to use without adult supervision.You can also buy programs that give you the chance to make your own wallpaper and carry out other creative tasks. Kids can use these to help develop their artistic skills and talents.



Get Parental Controls


Of course, most parents are worried that their children – no matter what age they are – will stumble upon material that is age-inappropriate for them online. For instance, they might accidentally navigate to a website that has some pornographic, violent, or rude content, which is most unsuitable for young eyes! To ensure this never occurs, you should install parental controls onto the laptop or computer that your child uses. You can install browser parental controls, which let the Internet browser block certain content and websites. There are also lots of apps, such as Netflix and YouTube that have special child-friendly versions of their accounts and apps.



Advanced Computer Skills


Once your child reaches the age of about eight or nine, they will probably be quite adept at using the computer and various programs and software and will be confident in all the basic skills. Now is the time to help them develop their skills and move onto more advanced practices. Of course, I mean advanced by children’s standards! You don’t need to turn them into IT geniuses just yet! But now it is worth setting your child up with an email account. At first, you shouldn’t give out their email address to anyone, but you can use it to contact them, for example, while you are at work. Encourage them to reply so that you can see how good they are at using an email account. It could also be worth buying some advanced games for your child that use various design skills. For instance, there are lots of games that require children to build their own theme parks and cities. These are a great way to introduce your child to computer graphics and how they work.



Learning Code


Computers have their very own language which is used to program them and ensure they run correctly. This is known as code. It is now being taught in most schools across the country as it is now used in most jobs and careers. If your children are going to get anywhere in life, they will certainly need to have a basic grasp of code and how to use it in numerous situations! It’s a good idea to try and teach your child code at a very early age. As with most new languages, they are easier to learn the earlier you are exposed to them. There are now many free websites that can teach older children how to code from scratch. It’s a good idea to sit down with your child to go through these sites together. Then, you can brush up on your skills as well! More often than not, these sites will teach the basics of JavaScript, and will then move on to talk about more advanced coding languages, such as PHP.



Online Security


As well as helping your children learn about the basic uses of computers and their programs, it is also important to inform them about the importance of online security. Tell them that they always need to protect their computer and various online accounts with a password. Ideally, they shouldn’t use the same password more than once, as once one has been stolen or lost, it will put all the rest of their online accounts in jeopardy. You should also warn your child about the dangers of speaking to strangers online using apps and various online message boards and chatrooms. It is impossible to tell exactly who somebody is online and, a general rule of thumb is that you should try and prevent your child from talking to other online users even if they do seem genuine.


Follow all of the above tips, and your child will end up successful on computers!

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