Does Not Compute

This morning while browsing Facebook, I noticed that someone had posted a link to a new study regarding children's Internet usage, along with a question: "Do your children 0-5 surf the Web?" In a nutshell, the study says that 80% of children under five use the Internet on a weekly basis.

Then of course there were the responses. "Our 2 year-old does not, nor does he watch TV," one mom commented primly (and then probably went to prepare an organic, sugar-sodium-and-preservative-free breakfast while reading her child passages from Leo Tolstoy). Another person said, "You have got to be kidding! What ever happened to parent-child interaction?" (and then probably got off the computer to spend a minimum of ten straight hours of quality time interacting with her little darling).

I was surprised at the number of strongly negative reactions to kids using the Internet. And then I was mildly pissed off that this is just another way for moms to be self-righteous and holier-than-thou. Because let's face it, y'all, we all know moms like that. Maybe you are one (in which case, you probably shouldn't even read my blog, because I know you'd hate me in real life).

I'll admit it: my kids not only use the Internet, they use it all the time. And because of that, they're whizzes at it. Seriously. My two older sons have been using a computer since before they could even purposefully direct the mouse. I honestly credit this game for helping them both learn their alphabet ... and this one for helping them learn shapes and colors (since all they have to do is push the space bar, even Coby plays these). Now that they're older, they can navigate the computer like pros. I've made it very clear which sites are acceptable for them to go to, and those are marked in a "Favorites" folder that they can access themselves. And if we're in a situation where I'm busy and can't monitor them as closely as I normally would, I let them go to a site like Kideos, which is kinda like a children's YouTube: everything is appropriate and kid-friendly. 

I really don't understand why everyone is up in arms about kids using the Internet. I mean ... it's the 21st century. Literally almost everything we do is linked to some sort of computer technology - and it's only going to keep advancing. Don't we want to encourage our children to be tech-savvy? It seems to me that it's a valuable skill that will serve them well as they get older. But then, I see the Internet as a tool for learning and information, not as (just) a useless time-sucker.

I guess I feel this way because my kids don't generally use the Internet for stupid stuff (although I'm not gonna lie, if I hear the "cat flushing the toilet" video one more time ......). Mostly they're playing educational games, or reading/listening to stories on Starfall. Colin, who'll be six in June, has a YouTube favorites list that includes videos about pipe organs, volcanoes, carnivorous plants, the occasional Taylor Swift song, and various medical procedures. (It's pretty bad when your five-year-old teaches you what a laryngoscopy is.) He has learned so much from the Internet. And Cameron, newly three years old, is right on his heels.

No, no, heavens-to-Betsy no, the Internet (or TV, or whatever) should never replace books. My kids and I still read multiple books a day, and if given the choice, they'd most likely choose story time over anything else. But what I'm saying is, technology is not our children's enemy. I wouldn't let them spend 3/4 of their waking hours in front of the computer, but then, I wouldn't let them spend that much time with their nose buried in a book either. It's all about balance.  

So what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Are your kids allowed to use the Internet?  


  1. I live by: "All things in moderation, especially politics and religion." I think this applies to child Internet usage. The Girl is 3 going on 13, and she and I surf those crazy Internetz with mad skills. She knows it's there. She knows what it's for. She's not quite to the skill of using it herself, but I'm not going to deny that it's there. It's a great tool, when not used as a babysitting tool. Nothing wrong with using it to your advantage. Or to their's, you know?

  2. I think I would be more likely to let my daughter use the computer if we had more than one. At this point, I fear the breakdown of my laptop too much (because it's also my primary work computer as I work from home) to let her have at it. Haha! But, if I had a desktop or another computer around, I'd probably let her. :)

  3. Okay, I am very opinionated on this one. My kids learned a lot from the internet and TV when they were little as well. It helped them practice their ABCs, then adding games, etc. Now that they are teen/tween age they learn culture and stuff they would never learn in school. Like from the Travel Channel - 'No Reservations' and 'Bizzare Foods.' Or life lessons from 'Dirty Jobs,' 'Hoarders,' 'Secret Millionaire' and 'House Hunters.' Or even from some sitcoms like 'Modern Family.'

    I absolutely hate when upity snobs say they don't let their kids watch TV. Well those kids are probably ignorant babies! LOL.
    My kids might watch a lot of TV but they know a lot about the world.

  4. Ok, in hindsight that might have sounded a bit harsh with the name calling. And I spelled uppity and Bizare wrong. Guess I watch too much TV, LMAO!

  5. Computers and the internet are in our kids school. Using the internet is part of life and it should be expected that kids use it. Of course, there are some crazy things out there on the old interwebs but there is also a wealth of information and they can learn so much.

    I say, let the kids use it but just limit the time and make sure they get outside and run and play.

  6. My 3.5 year old plays games and loves watching videos (movies to him) online. I think it helps with eye hand coordination and he plays educational games. When he gets to school he will be using the computer, so what is the problem with a little time on the computer? Obviously i don't want his fat head in front of it ALL the time, but seriously..its not hurting anyone. And thank sweet baby Jebus for the tv or I would lose my mind. Nothing wrong with some cartoons while there are three hot pans boiling on the stove and an oven on. TV has probably saved quite a few trips to the ER! ;-) I say eff the moms who are being pretentious and continue to do what you do. Some people really need to get the broom out of their heineys!

  7. Agree. We are an ever evolving society. All things in moderation. Let's take a lesson from WALL-E (one of my favorite cautionary tale). I think throwing a baseball, surfing through Kideos, and making breakfast food out of Play-Dough is all very important reguardless of how useful these skills are to grown-ups. Great topic. :)

  8. I agree with you...balance is the key. Plus the "real world" is a technological super highway! All 4 of my boys love being on the computer. It's such a great tool and additional source of information. I thought you voiced your opinion on this topic very well!!

  9. I think there's something sort of hypocritical about someone posting on FACEBOOK about kid's internet usage. Anyway, my kiddo is 5, and he watches tv, plays online, plays video games, and I doubt his brain will rot out any time soon. In fact, at this point, I consider these vital skills that are necessary to, ya know, live in the world.

  10. I think it's a good thing. I grew up without a computer (our family didn't own one until I bought my own my first year of uni!) and was always disadvantaged for not knowing computer skills.
    I also had an ancient history teacher who would relate things back to PC games so the boys would 'get it'- saying 'It's like in Total Warfare Three'....
    Internet use when properly monitored and in moderation can be a fantastic tool.

  11. Navigating the Internet to find information, learn new things, and share new ideas is as important as any other skill the kids will learn in school. Someday they'll be paying their bills, keeping personal records and conducting business online. The more we connect with other cultures and other countries, the more we can understand and cooperate to make the world a better place. How can that be bad?! A parent's job is to teach them responsibility, whether it's in the local community or on the Internet.

    Ummm.....will someone please help me down off this soapbox? ;o)

  12. I think balance is really the key. I have a 6 and 3 year old. Neither of them use the internet regularly (they watch tv though...I'm not uppity or self-righteous). The main reason they are not on the computer is because we only have one, and it is downstairs. Neither child wants to be downstairs by themselves. And I don't want to just watch them play computer games. However, I have nothing against them. BUT, I also am a teacher. It is very disturbing to hear kids talk about playing Halo 3 and killing each other (in Kindergarten). I personally do not feel like our very young children are ready to handle all venues of technology (especially when a game is rated for a reason!). Kids come to school and act out the different (very violent) things they are witnesseing as a game, and they don't see it as a problem to talk about how they are going to kill each other. This is my soapbox, and I am sorry to be on it, or if I am offending anyone.

  13. Amen and Amen! Thanks for posting this!

  14. Great post!
    Here's my deal. I'm retarded and perhaps even too lazy. But my kids just don't know HOW to use the computer. They WANT to, but we only have laptops, with no mouse. So that little pad is too difficult for them to figure out. I know Starfall is totally awesome and stuff, but I suck at Momming and don't play on their WITH them. BUT, that's beside the point. Point here is, your kids are super smart and you're absolutely right, technology isn't going anywhere. They may as well know how to use it.

  15. Everything in moderation. I mean too many fruits and veggies will give you the runs for cryin' out loud. Too much pure oxygen can impair brain function. Whatever.

  16. My 3.5 yr old daughter LOVES YouTube for watching Ann Margaret and Elvis and I lose my play time on the computer because she is busy playing games on Nick Jr. My husband jokes that we all need our own laptop...
    So, I see nothing wrong with it. I think you are right. Balance.

    And THANK YOU for the new sites to let her check out!!! I will feel so much better allowing her on that kid you tube jammie. Surfing in YouTube can get SCARY!!!

  17. We don't have Internet @ our house (long story...that makes me cry daily) but my girlies have been on the computers for years now (they r only 7 & 5). Playing w/ games we check out of the library. Some for fun & computer literacy (peggle/bubbletown etc) some for learning (sesame st/Dora/Carmen sandiego etc). We use the computer just like we use the tv & books & board games & heck just play in help us learn, grow & become efficient in our lives!
    Our rule of thumb.....if we as the parents are able to use it, the kids should to. So all those FB-ing parents that were all crazies about their kids using the Internet....maybe it's time for u to log off!

  18. I don't let my kids use the internet, but that's only because I don't let them touch my computer, lest their grubby little fingers break off the keys (this has happened multiple times on my old laptop - which my husband now uses). I plan to set up a desktop that will be for their use, for games and homework (in the future) etc., we just don't have the space right now. But in general I don't object at all to letting kids use the internet - but I also have the tv on practically all day so I'm nowhere near one of THOSE moms.


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