[FoRK] Children and digital/computer medium

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Fri Dec 6 08:08:38 PST 2013

Cannot answer based on recent experience (luckily...).  First kid was born
about the same time as the first digital cell phones (we borrowed a pager
from my employer so I could be notified when something was happening...);
by the second, digital was relatively affordable, but still significantly
less reliable in non-urban areas than analog.  You certainly won't have to
worry about moving from a black&white to a color computing environment....

Based on the generalities of small kids and computers, I hope, draw/paint
programs worked well for our kids -- I'm sure there are several modern
equivalents to KidPaint.  The older was a ridiculously early reader, so he
enjoyed Microsoft Word as well.

Figure out a good way to save the kids' work -- ugly art and incoherent
writing is still charming -- and if you're especially kind, send copies of
the best to grandparents.

Don't assume passwords will keep kids out -- they're very good mimics and I
would expect that some smart kids could repeat a parent's entry of a
passcode or password.

When they get older, figure out what the current equivalent of "The Logical
Journey of the Zoombinis" is.  It was, hands-down, the best educational
game ever; boy 1 adored it and would have played it for days at a time if
we let him; not quite as popular with boy 2, although he recently had the
opportunity to meet the game's author at a college interview and I was
surprised just how much he remembered of the game's details.

Ken Meltsner

On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 8:05 AM, SK <sk.list at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> Having two kids aged 3 and 1 I am increasingly getting anxious about the
> right way to introduce them to electronic/computer medium.
> My 3 year old (almost 4 actually) is already introduced to iPad but is
> restricted to about 2 hours of screen time (TV/iPad) per week and never in
> a bulk of more than 30 minutes. I did this more intuitively than through
> any logical reasoning.
> However, when I look at the road ahead, I am vexed by questions to which I
> have no answers, questions like:
> - what is the max screen time that is actually OK?
> - is it OK to reduce this to zero (assuming my angels do not scream her
> head off)
> - what is the good age to expose them to a computer?
> - what is a good age to explain concepts about computing?
> - Is TV better or iPad better for allocated screen time:
> big-screen/small-screen vs. sedative/involved balance
>  and many more.
> Does any of you know of good books/research/theories in this area? I would
> appreciate any pointers.
> Thanks,
> skn
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