86

My own upbringing and later career has followed much the same trajectory as you describe, so this is something I too have pondered quite a bit. But as you've already noted, we are indeed no longer in the 90's. I'd argue the technological progress in the intervening decades have rendered that frame of reference obsolete. Unlimited access to devices was by ...


38

Let me expand on my pithy comment above. It sounds like your son has taken an active interest in programming. I too spent "hours and hours" doing exactly the same sorts of things that it sounds like your son is doing (though I didn't have the luxury of the internet back then!). Rather than this work being a waste of time, it's actually building the ...


25

My situation is very similar to what you describe: we have multiple kids ā€” one of whom is 9, one slightly older, and one slight younger ā€” I grew up with mostly "unlimited" computer access (though for me it was the 80s, so no interwebs ā€” I didn't even have a modem); and I, too, struggle with the disparity between what I was allowed to do (or should ...


22

In addition to all the other answers, I'd like to concentrate on the addictive behavior you described. Gaming addiction is just as real as drug addiction and very dangerous because many games, especially "harmless" free of charge mobile apps, are specifically designed to be as addictive as possible. Teenagers (which is an age your son is ...


19

The screen is not the problem. I believe we're dealing with a XY problem here. Surely screens are damaging our children irreparably. Breathe. Relax. Grab a cup of tea and consult the wikipedia list of moral panics. We've been worrying about the effects of new evil stuff on our children since forever. Listening to the devil music (Blues, Jazz, Rock and roll,...


17

Short answer: use Qwerty. Long answer: it depends: Why do you want to introduce Dvorak? Hear me out -- I think Dvorak is great but the mere fact that it's not the universal default makes for a difficult reality. First: The difference lies in typing comfort, not speed. There is no noticeable speed difference between Qwerty and Dvorak, provided that the ...


17

What should I do? Do not engage in a power struggle with your son. It's a lose-lose situation; it will cause him to resent you if you win, and it will cause untold damage for both him and you if he wins, because it will teach him something damaging. Power struggles aren't the way successful people achieve their goals in the real world unless the issue is ...


16

A laptop is a good option, but the downsides are that it's quite expensive and usually rather fragile. (And kids will use them to play games instead of program.) I'd suggest you instead pick up a Raspberry Pi. They're cheap, tiny, designed to be messed around with, usually come pre-loaded with an Operating System designed to help rookies learn programming ...


15

I know Dvorak is faster, but I would say Qwerty. My logic is that 99% of the keyboards she'll run across in her life will be Qwerty. It's not worth the trouble to type amazingly fast on 1% of the keyboards, but have to sit and painfully peck on remaining 99% keyboards. Even if she could always carry a keyboard with her, it still will limit her (think ...


12

As you say in your question, the beneficial part of your access to computers was your early exposure to programming and other productive computer skills, and the part that you are concerned about is over exposure to screens as a primary source of entertainment or distraction. I think that already contains your answer, you should allow as much access as they ...


10

Step 1: talk to him about this. He's 16, which means he's fairly close to being an adult and probably at least somewhat responsible. Let him know what you think is acceptable and what is not, and make some rules about computers in the house. Make sure to explain why you want to monitor his activities and block access to certain sites. This could include ...


10

Short answer, yes but ... (Disclaimer - I am a programmer, and for a hobby I run a video production team composed primarily of teens and preteens ) Yes, it can be a good investment, but for half the price you can set him up with a compact desktop system that is more likely to survive the abuse it will receive by virtue of its owner being 9. Software for ...


10

You're saying you want to change your mind and take the computer back, but I'm assuming from your open question (and from that it in general seems like a sensible thing to do) that you'll also be open to suggestions on how to help him find a more constructive use of his computer time more in line with what you had in mind when you bought it. I find your son'...


9

I've always been the computer geek of my family and it was probably easier in the days when we only had one computer per household (I have three of my own now. And spares!). I've not been a parent, but from a kid's perspective... Engage don't spy. Talk to your kid about what he's doing. Computer programming is a very useful life skill in this day and age. ...


9

I exposed myself to a lot of terrible things whilst growing up and spending a lot of time on the Internet - things that I feel still affect me today. I had absolutely no supervision on Internet access from the age of about 8, although I greatly wish I did so I might not have seen and done what I have. I believe the best solution is in putting the computer ...


9

Please discuss your intention with his parents first Iā€™m sure whatever you choose to get your nephew will be amazing and life-changing in all sorts of ways, but please be sure to discuss your plans with his parents up front. There are some important aspects to consider: will it be internet connected? Will it have Parental Controls? Who will have the Admin ...


8

Love the video, but I don't think that strobe flashing is good for him. The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation is: Avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months. Having said that, there are times in which a video is far better than the alternative: stress from excess tiredness, frustration with a ...


7

There are several reasons not to do that: Infants have very simple minds that can easily be overloaded by too much information. A psychedelic, high-contrast video can do more harm than good. Infants develop best, if more/all senses are used together. That is why those famous toys you hang over their beds look funny, play music and are in range for the ...


6

I've found myself in very similar situations with my 4 year old son. He's also fascinated by electronics, and anything mechanical. We'll start projects together, but invariably after a while I'm working on it on my own, and he's gone off to play some other game. I've concluded that it's not particularly helpful at that age to try to hold their attention ...


6

I think the first thing he should become familiar with is typing. Obtain a typing tutor program - in the US "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" is a common one for example - and have him practice enough that he is able to touch-type at least moderately. If he's used to texting this shouldn't be too hard. The second things is to become familiar with word ...


5

I daresay that the keyboard layout is not an issue for typing speed for 99% of population. Correct typing on a qwerty is fast enough, trust me - I know, since I work in IT and don't type properly, and it is fast enough (>400 characters per minute). Use the standard qwerty layout, but make sure your child learns to type properly. There are lots of ...


5

Snipping and bending wires is a fun game in and of itself. :) If you want to find projects where he can actually build and modify simple electronics himself (with some help from you), your best bet may be to move toward materials that are easier for little hands and short attention spans. There are lots of options for playing with circuits that don't ...


5

I may be able to bring a new perspective to this discussion. Although I am not a parent, I was a child prodigy on the computer. I taught myself HTML when I was 8, and I learned tons of super useful skills from the ages of 10-16 that helped me start a career without a college education. Did I get exposed to a lot of porn and other inappropriate content? Of ...


5

I spent much more than 2h15m programming when I was a teenager (not every day, but I bet there were weekends where I hardly did anything else). Sometimes I programmed late into the night (my mom was pretty liberal about bed time, as long as school didn't suffer). There were also days I spent reading. Other kids spend equal amounts of time making music, or ...


4

I am lumping computer, tablet, and smartphone usage roughly together in this answer, both because it's rare for a child to be using only one of these devices, and because their applications (internet, gaming, social media) significantly overlap. My general goal is to teach ways to responsibly and productively use technology, enforce limits when they aren't ...


4

Instagram is essentially a social network, with an emphasis on sharing photographs. (Think of Facebook, but instead of saying "just had a delicious burrito for lunch," you'd post a picture of it and caption it "my delicious lunch burrito.") Users have followers, and they can choose who to share their content with and who they want to ...


4

Premature optimization is the root of all evil and perfect is the enemy of good. You are optimizing a toddler for typing speed. Why go halfway? Drop dvorak, get a chorded keyboard and teach gregg shorthand. Unless you are a stenographer, thinking about what you type is far more important than how fast you type it. If your goal is to build a better ...


4

Baby Einstein, which used to hold 90% of the "Educational" video market, was forced to offer refunds (link) and change their advertising to reflect that their products do nothing. This article cites The Journal of Pediatrics when stating that "for every hour of baby-video viewing per day, children ages 8 to 16 months knew six to eight fewer words than those ...


4

I've asked this question about TV, but this seems a little different. According to Brain Rules For Baby: How to raise a smart and happy child from Zero to Five TV for kids under the age of 2, screen time can decrease attention span and lead to trouble focusing. I can potentially see this because of the way that content on TV is edited and paced. Lots of ...


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