In today’s world it has almost become compulsory to have a working knowledge of computers. You hear bewildering stories of fourteen year olds who hack into thePentagon computers, or teenagers who create software worth millions and are touted as the technological giants of tomorrow. Most schools teach computer programming as a regular part of the curriculum. It is impossible to prevent children from becoming computer savvy (and we don’t want to either) but then it becomes incumbent upon parents to be aware of all the ramifications of having computer literate children.
Computers have certain advantages and disadvantages.
|Advantages of computers||Disadvantages of computers|
|Convenience||Too convenient. It helps to reduce more basic skills like spelling and mental calculations.|
|Teaches important new skills||Is bad for eyesight and contributes to obesity.|
|Connects with the rest of the world through the internet.||Tends to cut the child off from people around him, as he stays busy with the computer.|
Computers are excellent learning tools because the multimedia makes education fun as well as informative. Infact computer training institutes especially for children are mushrooming all over the country. There are also many CDRoms available, specially designed as learning tools for children of different age groups. They teach through games, activities and multimedia. They are excellent in the classroom, and home, as a supplement to the normal teaching process. The problem begins when the use of computers spills over into the child’s leisure time. The time that should be spent with family or in healthy physical activity or in reading or some other hobby is spent at the computer. Also a computer tends to isolate a child making him less social and interactive.
Similarly, the usefulness of the internet is not in doubt – you can find almost anything here. That in fact, is the problem – you can also find the worst kinds of hate cults, pornography and sadomasochistic cults on the net. Further, surfing is addictive, as many adults have discovered. It can lead to retreat from the world of reality into the world of virtual reality.
The third aspect to computers are computer games. Most parents welcome these as keeping the child occupied and happy – and after all he is only playing a game. Unfortunately the maximum games on the market (and certainly the most popular) are those that teach violence and war. They are about conquest and battle strategies, whether intergalactic or on this planet. Or a child ‘plays’ sports like football without enjoying any of their real life benefits. And of course there are thousands of card games that teach children all they need to know about gambling. There are a few games that teach coordination and thinking skills but not only are they few and far between but you have to really look hard to find them. The effort however is worth the while. Check out the different games available before you let your children loose on the gaming circuits.
Computers and the internet are very useful educational and recreational tools for children but they require careful monitoring and parental awareness in order to manifest their usefulness safely.
What can you do :-
- Try and put him in a school with a good computer education curriculum. If your school does not have this facility yet, try and mobilize support for its introduction.
- Spend time on the computer together surfing family sites or using family oriented programmes. Check out the Reviews for the web sites that both you and your child will enjoy.
- Make sure that the computer is placed in good lighting conditions and that the child is taught to take an eye break every 20 minutes.
- Follow the rules for good online safety.
- If your child is into programming, make sure you discuss and stay abreast of what he is learning. Once a gap between the two of you appears in this respect, it can not easily be closed and you will not know what your child is doing.
The top players in children’s computer education.
1. IT LEDNIA Family Club : Learning through Exploration, Discovery and Adventure(LEDA) is envisaged as the neighbourhood training center. Most of the 350 centres are based in housing colonies. It aims at not only making the child but the entire family IT savvy.
2. IT KIDS : started by two Chennai -based entrepreneur, it has over 50 franchisees, mostly in the south and the west. IT Kids has three parts to its curriculum – computer technology, academics and value education.
3. Future Kids : Another Chennai based institute, it has a specialist training center and courses designed for kids.
4. Fourth R : This is a group headquartered in the USA with over 300 centres in 37 countries. It has 30 franchisees in India with the head office in Chennai.
5. ZED point : These are community-learning centers aimed at education and information needs of children, students, executives and housewives. These centers support various programmes telecast by ZED channel.
6. Planet IQ. : This has 3 centres in Calcutta and one center in Delhi. The objective is to use computers as a learning tool to complement school education.
7. Mayecha Infotech Pvt. Ltd. : Another Calcutta based center with over a decade’s experience in imparting computer education. The institute has a personalized learn with fun methodology that is aimed at building up a child’s confidence.