Computer Access for School-aged Kids
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Computer Access for School-aged Kids
My daughter just asked for Webkinz for her 7th birthday. I don't know
much about them, but when I went to the Webkinz site, I was a little
by the fact that I'd be intentionally introducing my daughter to online
There do seem to be some security and privacy safeguards in place, but it
makes me feel uneasy, especially in light of all of the scary Myspace
hear in the news.
Do you think Webkinz is safe, or is it starting down a slippery slope of
in other, potentially less secure online environments? Thanks for your
Webkinz is set-up to entirely cater to kids without the worry
of predators. In fact, it is SO scripted, that when you have
the opportunity to interact with your ''friends'' (kids that
you will specify to interact with. You set this up yourself
so that your daughter can have her pet interact with her best
friend's pet), it is pretty boring to an adult. There are
only prespecified lines of ''conversation'' you can use. A
pedophile would die of boredom with this. We actually played
a game on webkinz with another participant (or it could have
been automatic). It was strange knowing there was someone on
the other end of this interaction that we didn't know.
Several players of other games sent messages asking my child
if they wanted to play pool or something else. I do feel that
it is completely safe and I think your child can gain skills
in using a computer and navigating with a mouse, etc. There
is alot to gain, but like any other electronic media - in
We got an old Mac so our 9-year-old daughter can play educational
and set it up in her room. Now she wants to write books on it. But
our printer isn't
compatible. So my husband wants to connect her computer to the
internet so she can
e-mail anything she'd like to print to one of our laptops. He also
thinks she needs to
learn how to research things on the net and have access to sites
like PBS Kids or
Disney. Everything I've read says don't let kids have internet
access in their room. But
my husband (not a great reader of women's magazines or parenting
articles) thinks I'm
the victim of exagerated dangers. So what do other people do? How
do we give her
safe access to the internet?
Not sure what to do
My daughter's school just had an info night on this very topic.
These are the primary tips that were suggested:
Parenting Tips for using the Internet*
*excerpted from www.theteachersguide.com
- Keep computer in family area to better monitor your child's activity
- Regularly spend time online with your child to learn about his or her
interests and activities
- Teach your child to end any experience online when he or she feels
uncomfortable or scared by pressing the back key, logging off, and
telling a trusted adult as soon as possible
- Establish an atmosphere of trust and understanding with your child by
not blaming him or her for uncomfortable online experiences
- Discuss the difference between advertising and educational or
entertaining content and show your child examples of each
- Establish strict rules for ordering products (and then monitor credit
- "Talk back'' to Internet Service Providers and content creators to let
them know what you want and expect from them in keeping kids safe online
Of course, this is mostly geared toward teens but I think they are good
rules to live by. My daughter who is 5.5 uses the internet to go to
Disney Playhouse, but she just thinks it's part of the computer.
Ultimately, I don't think it's ever too early to teach your child safety
and rules regarding the computer, and I do agree that the computer with
internet access stay out of the bedroom. Good luck!
Better safe than sorry
You are right that your child should not have internet access in her
room. You should be aware of what your child is doing online. The
internet can be a wonderful, educational tool, but it can also be
dangerous. Children need to be taught not to give out any personal
information whatsoever. Pediphils will pretend to be someone in a chat
room that is the same age with similar interests as a child until they
lull them into a sense of security. Then, once enough contact
information has been exchanged, the child may want to meet this online
friend. The scary part is the arrangement might be without your
knowledge, and then the child never comes home. This is the extreme of
what could happen with unsupervised internet use. The minor issues
would be your child having access to material that is not acceptable to
your family's standards. If the main thing her computer needs to be
used for is printing, set up a wireless
network with a print server. Let her have internet access for
research purposes and other fun, good uses where you can see what she is
up to. I hope I don't just come across as an alarmist.
When I was teaching at a middle school in another state, the police
department conducted an internet safety class for the parents and they
told us about real-life situations where children have been kidnapped
and assaulted or murdered by people they ''met'' online.
I'm with you. Don't give your nine year old internet access. It's the
black hole of time, from email to Club Penguin, to computer games to
itunes.... It's so much better for her to read, draw and play with
other kids, in person! She'll have plenty of time for internet research
later, or she can do it on your laptop occasionally if needed. Kids
will come up with a million good reasons they ''need'' the internet, (or
a cell phone), but think about it- up until 10 years ago, no one had
Not a ludite, really.
We have a 10-year-old and I agree with you that limiting the exposure to
the internet is the safer way to go. Our son has a computer in his room
also but internet access only in our ''computer room''/office, where the
door is always open. In your position, I would use (and have used) a
flash drive (a ''memory stick'' kind-of-thing that connects to a USB
port) to transfer any documents to another computer with a printer
attached. They're really cheap and reusable.
I would recommend checking out www.commonsensemedia.org. Besides for
rating and reviewing all media from a developmental perspective, they
also have an internet safety guide which you can download for free. You
can find this on their website under ''resources'', then ''parent tips''
and under ''managing media''.
We have 2 kids: ages 8 and almost 11. Our only computer is in the
living room. We don't get online very often. I don't see the need. If
your daughter needs to print something, have her save it then print it
out when you get a chance later. Also, what is wrong with writing
long-hand? My daughter, the older one, has been doing that for a few
years now. They do not ''need'' access to Disney or other sites. How
about getting her more programs to use on the computer.
Our computer is in the dining room, and we are all in and out of the
room. My 10 year-old has been using the internet for the past couple of
years, and probably averages about 2-3 hours a week.
She goes to the American Girls website, the Scholastic site, and has
looked at the Harry Potter site, and some of the places on the American
Library Association list (a good place for info).
When she's had to research topics (a bird report, a native american
report) she's also used the internet. In the past few months, she's been
emailing friends. I basically think this works fine, and I like how
happy she is to write to her friends(to my mind she's developing
literacy skills and she doesn't spend much time on the phone yet.) She
goes to her regular sites herself, and when she does a search, we help.
If we want them to grow up to be independent learners, they need some
freedom. Of course it is a matter of age -- what works for a
10-year-old, wouldn't be appropriate for an eight-year-old; and of scale
-- an hour is very different than three hours (not a problem in our
house as there is too much competition for the computer.) looking for
Limits on 8-year-old's Computer Use
Speaking of Pokemon, my almost 8-yr old son has a fairly new Pokemon
gameboy, that (it seems) he would love to spend the day playing. We made
a rule that he can play an hour a day - we just picked this time limit
randomly, with his input. We are just starting a "no TV on school days"
(today was the first day of school, and so the first day of no tv)
for him and our 6-yr old daughter...I'm just wondering what do other
parents do re: TV, video games, computer games, etc...
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