Getting Started Step by Step
Some Basic Rules
For most parents who are just starting
with computers, there's a simple rule: concentrate on experiencing
the new technologies—not necessarily understanding them.
You don't need to understand electronics to get cash from
an automatic teller machine. You don't have to be able to
build a car to drive one. You don't need to understand all
that makes up a computer to see how your child will use one.
A quick trip to an electronics store, a
public library, or an Urban League office can introduce you
to computers, a wide variety of software, CD-ROMs, and online
networks. People here are used to working with beginners.
Once you begin to experience cyberspace, as the online world
is called, it gets much easier to navigate.
Do Your Homework
Learning and playing with new technology
can be integrated into your everyday life. When you go to
the mall, spend ten minutes with the computer display in the
toy store or electronics store. Ask your school to set up
a parent night or weekend so parents can see and learn. Ask
teachers or librarians where in your community you can go
to use a computer connected to the Internet.
Learn With Your Child
Computers can offer one of the best, most
fun, and most challenging journeys that parents and children
can share. Remember, studies show parental involvement is
an important ingredient for educational success. Your goal
is to learn and experience as much as possible with your child-and
make it enjoyable.
Be a Good Guide and Monitor
Your job (just like in other areas) is
to explain, guide, make the rules and enforce them, and keep
the whole thing focused on positive learning and fun. One
of the best things about this new frontier is that it gives
you rich, new opportunities to learn and play together with
your child. Here are some tips:
Side by Side:
You can help your child have a positive
and balanced experience with the computer. The best approach
is to start the process together. Set aside a regular time
to work on the computer with your child. If he or she has
had computer experience, let your child take the lead. It
can be a great boost for self-confidence-at least for your
child! Ask your child to explain what he or she is doing and
why. Go down the highway-together.
Talk with your child about what students
are doing on computers at school, whether you have one at
home or not. Ask to see what they have created on the computer.
And invite friends—yours or your child's-to join in,
The Time Factor:
Since you and your child are already strapped
for time, perhaps the first place to look is television time.
Family, friends, homework, school, and outside play are all
very important for the healthy development of children, so
try to shift TV time to computer time. (This shouldn't be
that hard: studies show that children who use computers watch
Monitor Computer Time:
Keep the computer in a family area rather
than in a child's room-at least to begin with. Keep an eye
on the clock, and watch the phone and credit card bills (that's
where charges for commercial online services or purchases
show up). Check in regularly on what your child is doing.