Here’s another area where parents need to be thinking ahead: I don’t want my children to purchase their first computer as adults and have no idea how to manage the computer. I have our computer locked down pretty securely. Our children don’t have their own computers, they use them on a limited basis, we only use computers in a public place, and I have aggressive blockers for objectionable content. Still, those are all actions that I have taken on the behalf of my children. I also want them to learn to take responsibility for themselves.
So I’m thinking ahead. Last week we spent some time talking about ad blockers, how they work, and why we don’t want ads on the computer. My goal: I want them to realize that they don’t see ads when they are on the computer because I (or their father) has deliberately blocked them. Eventually, I want to teach him how to use this software. For the moment, I just want him to know that ad-blocking software exists, and that you have to deliberately use them.
Today we talked about viruses, how they work, and how people often (though not always) bring them on themselves. This was mostly a discussion with David. He wanted to do some research on endangered birds, and I want to teach him that curiosity must always be tempered with self-discipline. (Not all curiosity is good to satisfy. Sometimes we should turn away from those things that make us curious.) At his level, this means evaluating internet addresses before clicking on them, and being careful not to click on any link that looks interesting. He has been doing research with me sitting next to him, so I can watch what he needs to know.
I’m thinking about making this a deliberate study. I’ve already got several lectures on internet research and evaluating sources, but that was for an older audience. As I think about internet safety, I’m realizing that there is much I can teach appropriately on a seven year old level. This is important, and David in particular is at an age where he’s very interested in everything I say on this topic. I want to take advantage of his developmental interest and lack of knowledge. He may not be as receptive as he gets older.
What other skills do they need to know before they’re adults purchasing new computers for the first time on their own?