Web Guide

Parents Online “Assistant” to the World Wide Web

What’s At Stake?—Why are computers important to your child? The information age is developing fast and is here to stay to help us utilize the new informational channel it has created.  Children and young people are among the first and the most active groups to use this new form of media. Many parents are ready to help their youngsters to manage this new informational channel when others, especially older people, hope that these new changes are just an era that will eventually disappear. However, computers are here to stay and they are definitely changing the way children learn, play, get information and they also help our growing future citizens to get ready for their work    life. Here are some statistics to help us understand what impact computers have in our lives:

  1. By this year, an estimated 60% of new jobs in the United States will require technological skills and vast knowledge of computers.
  2. In the early 1990s, people with computer skills earned 10-15% in salary more than people without these skills.

Information age has already strong foot in our children’s life since they are already using computers and the World Wide Web (Internet) in their schools, libraries, homes, and other communities. To measure this impact statistically here are some facts to show us:

  1. It has been estimated that already 3 years ago, nearly 10 million children were online either at home, at school, or in other communities.
  2. For the 50 million children now in U.S. school system, 27% of individual classrooms have internet access and 78% of schools have at least some kind of internet access.

Per statistics parents do understand the importance of computer skills since nearly 89% of parents believe computer skills are important in educational success.

We, the ParentsDirect Team want to emphasize the importance of the computers and the Internet. This Assistant is our creation to help parents to understand what it takes for our future hopes to succeed in their lives. We fully believe in the profits that information age will bring to us. This new era is here to stay to assist us to raise our children to have better general knowledge and vast expertise in the area they will choose to develop in their lives. By having computer skills and knowing how to utilize the internet, our children will grow to be more successful citizens.

We also understand the danger of the internet and computers and want to help parents in understanding how it works and how to make it a safer informational channel for our children. The internet is safe if used with parental supervision and with help of software that filters out the Internet indecency. Many parents face the fear of Internet because they feel like  the development is so fast that us parents have hard time keeping up with the fast development. Especially since our children learn more and more about computers and Internet every day. They sometimes have better knowledge of it than us parents do.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t put our fears in the way to stop our children from learning and developing. Simply by setting some basic rules for and with our children, our fears can be put aside.

Teaching your child to use a computer can be a very challenging job to do as a parent, since there is so much to learn. It may seem like too much to handle. But really, it only requires some common sense, some basic experience, basic rules and sensible guidelines for children.

What can we do as parents to help our children with this new development of information age?

  • At School: Make sure our child’s school has the appropriate technology and it is being used to help learning.
  • At Home: Make sure our children are involved in useful, safe, fun and educating activities online.
  • In the Communities: Make sure that the education and technology needs of all children are being met. We can help in meeting the need by contacting the library, school boards, city council, and county, state, and federal elected officials in our area.

What possibilities do/can the computers and the internet offer for you child?

The most important fact is that they can help our children learn variety of skills just by using information resources and technology. These important skills are: problem-solving, fact-gathering, analysis, using the computer for writing and programming (just to mention some of the key skills)— which all of these are the type of skills that employers seek from their future workers.

A new world can open and vast general knowledge can be build for our children by using the computer and the internet. The global distances will become smaller since the computers can unite hundreds of children around the world to share their knowledge and opinions for example in a school project. Email offers an instant way for your child to share his or hers opinions and experiences with other children around the word. Only thing is that you want to monitor the emails to make sure that it is only harmless kids stuff and the situation is safe for your child. By using a internet filtering software you can also make sure that your child won’t receive any unwanted emails. Children with special needs can also participate in socializing and learning by using the computer and the Internet and have fun.

What are the negative situations that may come up for your child from using the computer and the Internet?

Computer alone can’t teach your child and guarantee a success in school life. Children still need the old-fashion individual attention and guidance from a teacher and their parents. Computers are just a new way to help the learning. Computer time should not be taken from the quality family time that children need or from the time that is needed for the children so that they can take care of their responsibilities such as homework

Computer should not substitute time that children need to spend outside playing, socializing and taking part in activities. We don’t want to raise our children to be the slaves of the computers when they grow up. There are so many other important aspects in life that children need to be a part of and grow up with. They need healthy and strong relationships with their parents and other important people around them, especially adult role models who will  and need to give the children the structure and guidance in their lives. The internet is not a baby-sitter and by abusing it its positive factors will turn to be negatives.

What can computers and the Internet do for you and your child?

They can be an effective and great way for you to spend more time with your child on educational and recreational activities. Researches have shown that parents involvement in a child’s education is one of the key factors for success. Computers also offer a way for you to connect with what your child is learning in school and be involved in general. Computers and the Internet can also help you teach and expose your child to information, experiences and educational subjects that you value.

Computers and the Internet are a great way to stay in touch actively with your child’s school activities and schedules, teachers and homework assignments. Schools are now starting to offer parents these options via e-mail and school websites.

When Is Your Child Ready?

Very little researches have been conducted on how information technology affects children at different ages and when is the “right time” to start various activities. It is important to remember that children differ in their development and maturity. Always use your own judgment and common sense in valuating your child’s emotional development and ability to do and start new activities.

Ages 2-3:

Computers do not play much of a role in your child’s life at this age. It is good to get your child custom to seeing you using the computer. By doing this your child will already learn that computers are a fun and interesting thing to use. There are also software for children to use for playing and learning. Put your child on your lap and use the computer and software together with your child. Guide your child’s hands to use the keyboard and the mouse and take your time showing your child the interesting new things that come up on the computer screen.

Ages 4-7:

Children at this age can begin to make greater use of computer games and educational software. You can start exploring online children’s sections together with your child are this age, especially with the little bit older children in this age group. Remember to be there always when your child is using the computer so that you can be the role model for your child and set the rules. When your child starts to use the email having him or her use the same email address that you have so that you can monitor the correspondence.

Ages 8-11:

This is the age when your child begin to use and experience the computer directly and appreciate more fully the potential of use of the Internet. Your child can learn to utilize online encyclopedias and downloaded pictures and graphics in their school reports and projects. You want to make sure that the guidelines and rules for using the computer and the Internet is safe and that you closely monitor what your child is doing with the computer. As your child grows older and gains more independence it is important that you stay on top of the situation and give him or her guidance on how to use proper materials. It is also important that you teach your child what online advertising is all about and what is the idea behind it because children at this age are being targeted by many advertisers. Make sure that your child does not have an access in credit cards and instruct him or her to get your permission before ordering or participating in online activities. It is also important to teach your child what anonymity means in cyberspace and why is it important not to give any personal information out. Keep on eye on the time that your child spends with the computer because you do not want to let that get it out of the hands.

Ages 12-14:

At this age children start to use the more sophisticated research resources of the Internet for example searching information from magazines and newspapers online around the world. This is an age when the children also start to be interested in chatting online. If your child shows interest in this, it is very important that you monitor these chats and educate your child about the dangers of  these chat rooms can offer. Only allow your child to participate in chat rooms that you know are safe and set up a time limit for chatting. Also make sure that the rules you set up for your child are still in play and your child understands why. Educate your child more about laws that apply to online behavior and what may happen if these laws are not obeyed.

Ages 15-18:

Children at this age start to be more interested in the job opportunities, colleges and university information that internet has to offer. Keep in close touch with your child and discuss about the information that your child finds from the web. Let your child explore and experience on their own and to satisfy their hunger for freedom. By having an mature view in the situation and talking actively with your child you can ensure an open relationship with your teenager. A relationship, where the trust and respect comes from both you and your child.

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