What do your kids do on the computer?

Tracy chose not to introduce Anna to computers until she was about five — and is now catching up on all the web has to offer school-aged kids

By Tracy Chappell
What do your kids do on the computer?

Photo by Courosa via flickr

Anna is growling.
“What’s going on, Anna?” I ask.
Silence. Then another growl, growing in intensity until it turns to a shriek. Something slams against something. I decide to scoot in and survey the damage (or potential for it).
Anna is on the computer — my old, outdated laptop which now resides on our dining room table for the kids’ use.
We started exposing Anna to the computer later than many people we know did with their kids. My perspective was that Anna will spend a great deal of her life sitting in front of a computer screen, so why rush it? She didn’t need it for anything — she was doing just fine learning and playing the old fashioned way — and in those early days I didn’t want her messing around on the computer I used for work. Besides, I had a feeling she’d get frustrated with it, and I didn’t want to introduce something new into our lives that was bound to cause volcanic eruptions.
But after I got a new laptop (Anna was just turning five), we loaded up the old one for the kids and Anna now enjoys various games and activities. I expected her to need a lot of help, but it’s funny how quickly kids pick up on how to work the mouse and play the games. She can become really engrossed and, yes, at times she gets really frustrated if she can’t get it to do what she wants, but it’s definitely turning out to be more of a positive than a negative.
Anna also got a LeapFrog LeapPad at Christmas as our first foray into the world of handheld games (she’s almost six now). She definitely gets frustrated with it, but we don’t have many apps on there yet (I had no idea the apps would be so pricey!). If you have a LeapPad, I’d love to know what your kids play on it and if you think it’s living up to the hype — I’m not sure it is for us.
At three, Avery is starting to show interest in what Anna’s doing on the computer and playing with Anna’s LeapPad when Anna’s not around (shhh). I don’t know why, but I’m less concerned with her exposure to the computer — it’s a second child thing, I guess? In fact, I wonder if the computer might be helpful for Avery, who is less interested in soaking up knowledge the traditional ways that Anna enjoyed.
I know so many kids who are computer whizzes long before five, especially with more families getting iPads. Are your kids in that category? If you have kids this age, how much time do they spend on the computer? What do they do? Anna is usually on and, but what are some of the best websites for kids out there?
 Photo by Courosa via Flickr

This article was originally published on Jan 26, 2012

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