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How To Raise A Computer-Savvy Child

Clueless about computers? How do you safeguard your child's future by ensuring she isn't? To many parents today, computers are no longer a mystery, but they are not exactly super knowledgeable about them - which is what kids today need to be, in their computerised world of the future.

And as technology is racing ahead so fast, they had better start being adept at it now, or they will find it hard catching up with the changes. To help your kids ace their computer skills, one of the first things you do is to get a computer at home or ensure that your child has access to one on a fairly regular basis. Many schools have computers for students' use and computer clubs they can join if they are seriously interested in computers.

Here Are Some Ways To Increase His Interaction With The Computer

Some parents who want to familiarise their child with the computer are not sure where to begin, so they decide to enrol him in computer classes. While classes may serve the purpose and increase your child's basic computer knowledge, you might want to explore a few other options before forking out that kind of money.

Firstly, every child should develop a basic knowledge of the word processor. The most commonly used programs today are Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Try switching on the program for your child and teaching him to open and save files and delete words, then let him figure out the rest. It is important to provide your child with a reason to work on the word processor and one way of doing this is to encourage him to keep a personal diary on the computer, where he can jot down daily happenings.

Start With The Basics

Once he has gained a certain mastery of the word processor, the next logical step is to start him on e-mail. If you have an Internet connection, e-mail is almost free. After all, with so many free e-mail software out there, all you are paying for is your Internet connection. When it comes to video games, your child can be hooked for hours. As far as possible, try to ensure that your children stay away from violent games. Instead, have them play mind games like Chess and Scrabble, or general games of skill, like Pacman.

Seek And Ye Shall Find

Being computer-savvy does have other advantages as well, such as with school projects. Remember the good old days when we had to run around with our parents looking for magazines and encyclopaedias every time we had to submit a project in school? Well, the Internet has changed all that. Research has become much easier, thanks to the innumerable sites on the Net. We are now in the information age, and your child should be able to draw on the infinite amount of information the Internet has to offer. Have your child log onto a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo and search for the information he needs. He is sure to find a few sites that will be of tremendous help.

Freebies, Competitions, Website!

One of the side benefits of having a computer-savvy child in the house is access to the myriad of free stuff that is being offered on the Internet. Who doesn't love receiving freebies? Something else that will keep your child interested, once he has a firm grasp of the basics, is creating his own website. It is relatively easy and a basic one can definitely be made by an older child.

Sites like Yahoo offer free space, and they have a website builder which helps you through the entire process. You can choose a background, color, font and page format from the various options available. Once your child has settled on a look for the page, you can help him with what he wants to display on his very own site.

The Cyber Patrol

While there is, undoubtedly, a wealth of information on the Net, not all is what you want your child to see. Any time a parent lets a child surf the Net, there must be precautions. First in line for home protection comes from your Internet service provider. Most major online services have set up easy-to-use parental controls which save you a lot of headaches.

They offer controls you can set that determine the level of Internet and e-mail access your child can have. These controls allow you to customise chats, downloads, newsgroups, e-mails and general web access for your child's account. You can even select adult content "block out" filters that have been designed for kids under 12 and teenagers.

Bringing Out The Big Guns

For more control, install a web-filtering software package. This serves as "on-line watchdog" that constantly monitors and blocks access to adult sites and "hot spots': They let you set up a custom vigil for specific words and topics. Like words describing human genitals; "erotic" or "sex": There is also the problem of filtering programs that work too well.

These may block your child from legitimate sites that he needs to access. No service or technology can provide absolute cyber safety protection. If your child is computer-hip, runs around with Internet-savvy kids, and is determined to visit adult sites, he will find a way.

You can build a nearly airtight wall of protection around your home PC only to find out that your child has been walking across the street to a friend's unguarded system. The bottom line is that once your child is computer savvy, the world is his oyster. As for controls, no technological band-aid approach can replace what you taught him, and the strong bond and relationship he has with you.


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