How To Teach Your Kid Computer Basics (Safely)
Today’s (and tomorrow’s) kids will grow up with computers as a constant feature in their everyday lives. Getting comfortable with computers isn’t just a matter of convenience; it will have a real impact on their recreational, social, and professional lives down the line.
We’re not suggesting that your four year old needs to start programming before kindergarten if they are to have any hope of success. Computers don’t spell the end of childhood, but the sooner they start learning to work with computers the more seamless their transitions will be at all stages of life.
Also, there’s the possibility that the startup they get going in your garage at the age of twelve will make them billionaires before they’re thirty, and you’ll want them to remember the loving parents that fostered their early interest in computing.
So here are a few tips on how to teach your kids some computer basics, safely and productively, without shoehorning them into a tech-based career but while giving them the tools and the know-how they need to build their own success in the Computer Age.
1. Use Age-Appropriate Hardware for your Kids’ Computer Education
Depending on how young you’re starting, you might want to seek out special keyboards and/or a mouse designed for the under-5 age set to use. Even older kids might appreciate some cool color schemes and the personal touch of having “their own” computer stuff. For younger kids still working on their reading skills, colorful keyboards with larger letters and numbers can help kids more easily identify the symbols they’re after.
The better the hardware they’re using is suited to their age level, the more engaged they’ll be in carrying out their first computing tasks.
2. Find Online Lessons or Native Software That Speaks to Their Interests
The number of free and dirt-cheap educational computer games for kids available is staggering, and they come aimed at the full range of age groups with themes from wildlife to outer space to princesses and dragons.
Almost any game that requires interaction with the computer will help teach them the necessary skills, and there are games and websites designed specifically to teach kids about computers—how they work (for older kids) and how to use them (for all ages).
http://www.minimouse.us/ – great for learning mouse control
3. Explore the Web With Them and Explain Things As You Go
You know our stance on this: neither computers nor the Internet are inherently dangerous or harmful to kids, and casting them in a negative or fearful light does way more harm than good (it doesn’t really do any good). So go online, talk them through a search engine, show them how websites work, and tell them how to be safe.
Every week or so, it seems, a picture pops up on my social media account of some classroom doing an experiment to see how far a photo will go online. Maybe try something like that yourself, or set up other “experiments” to show kids why it’s important to watch what you post and where you visit.
Keep all your efforts fun and light-hearted, and tailor it to your kids’ age(s), and you’ll find teaching them computer basics an absolute breeze.
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