With technology developing at such a fast pace, today’s society is becoming increasingly digitally focused. Where ten years ago children would rarely use a computer other than to play games occasionally, children nowadays use them almost every day and for various purposes. As classrooms become more integrated with interactive whiteboards and tablet computers, school work is increasingly required to be completed on a computer rather than hand written. In secondary schools most children are now emailed their homework assignments. It is becoming more and more necessary that children should have access to a computer at home.
But when is the right time for your child to have its own laptop? We are very aware of the risks that are present when children use the internet, and naturally parents want to protect their children from exposure to inappropriate content and online bullying. However, if they are unable to adequately complete their studies, not having access to a computer could have a detrimental effect on their education. So what is a parent to do?
Most households these days will have multiple computer devices, from tablets to smartphones and laptops. Gone are the days when a single PC was shared between a family. And whilst it might be simple enough to allow your child to use your laptop to complete tasks, there is always the risk that they could interfere with your own documents, access inappropriate content online, or even damage the computer itself – we all know how clumsy children can be! Surely it would be safer for both of you to let them have their own laptop?
Of course, laptops are expensive and intricate pieces of machinery. I would never recommend buying a laptop for a child that isn’t old enough to understand this, and treat their technology with the care it deserves. If your child is going to be taking their laptop to school or to friends’ houses it is a good idea to get a good quality laptop bag or sleeve to keep it protected.
When it comes to online exposure, there are various ways you can protect your child. There are various software options that restrict access to inappropriate sites, and many come with time limits and other intelligent ways to monitor what your child is doing online. Whilst they deserve a level of privacy, it is reassuring to know that you can be sure they aren’t doing anything inappropriate.
You might want to consider setting some ground rules with your child before they are allowed to use their laptop, as many parents do with gaming devices. Children can and do quickly become immersed in their online world, and it is your responsibility to ensure that they spend time doing other activities and socialising outside of the realms of Facebook. By limiting the time they can spend on their laptop you can be sure they are maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The great thing about a laptop is that you can physically take it from them when their time is up, and store it out of harm’s way.