• As I sat at my computer writing an article my 9 year-old daughter asked me how long I was planning on using the computer.  She had a friend over and said that they needed to work on a project for school together.  I saved my work and handed the computer over to her – in our family doing homework is the computer trump card. Her friend got on the computer and started typing away at lightning speed. I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by her ability. My daughter seemed impressed, too as this friend whipped out her keychain memory stick and retrieved some files to add graphs and other charts to their presentation. She worked with a few other programs on the computer (PowerPoint, Excel, etc) and her ability to synthesize the report was pretty impressive. Remember she, like my own daughter who has nowhere near that type of computer ability, is only 9!

    They do take computer classes at school but I could see that I had been unintentionally doing my daughter a disservice

    Clearly this young girl has some serious computer savvy.  And I know that there are children out there who can program and perform other advanced functions at a very young age. My own children are far behind on this front, and I am somewhat to blame because my fear of internet predators has caused me to limit my children’s access to the computer. They do take computer classes at school but I could see that I had been unintentionally doing my daughter a disservice. My own fears and belief that she would eventually learn all she needed to know had put her behind the technological curve, though she is academically advanced.

    When children are young their schoolwork tends to be very traditional.  But somewhere between third to sixth grades homework assignments begin to be computer based.  I realized that soon enough my daughter would feel that her typing skills and computer savvy were lacking.  Learning to use a computer is like learning another language (computer language) and the younger you get started the easier it is and the faster you adapt. It’s like trying to master any language, where immersion is always best.

    So how do you balance computer savvy with internet safety? Teach your children the basic safety rules regarding cyber bullying, not downloading files from unknown sources and others you can find listed in our Playdate article, Internet Safety Tips. I’ve learned, and hopefully not too late, that the younger you get children started the more that computer knowledge will become second nature to them. Use online training manuals, typing skills programs, and if you don’t know your way around computers then this is a good opportunity to learn with them. But don’t be discouraged when their skills surpass your own.  Because I guarantee it will happen sooner than you think!