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?