The Internet For Dummies
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Humans are better teachers than computers are. It’s not a good idea to stick a young child in front of the internet. How young is too young? There are many different opinions on this matter, but younger than age 5 is too young.

At young ages, kids benefit more from playing with balls, clay, crayons, paint, mud, monkey bars, bicycles, other kids, and especially older siblings. Computers make lousy babysitters. If your young children use computers, choose their programs and websites carefully, and limit their screen time.

Internet access is more appropriate for somewhat older kids (fourth or fifth grade and older), but your mileage may vary. Even so, you should limit the amount of time that anyone, especially a kid, spends online. Do you remember those old sayings “you are what you eat” and “garbage in, garbage out?" What your brain devours makes a difference.

As human beings, kids need to be able to communicate with other human beings (what a concept). Too often, kids who have difficulty doing this prefer to get absorbed in computers — which doesn’t help develop their social skills. Existing problems in this department grow worse, leading to more isolation. If you’re starting to feel like your child is out of touch and you want to put the machine in its place, here are some quick self-defense tips:

  • Keep a private log of all the time your child spends in front of the screen during one week.

  • Keep your kids’ computers in public places, like living rooms and dens, so what kids do with them is visible to the family. Keep your kids’ smartphones charging overnight in your bedroom, so they don’t intrude on your children’s sleep.

  • Help your child find a hobby that doesn’t involve a screen. Encourage them to join a team, form a band, or create some artwork.

  • Have your child set aside one computer-free day every week.

  • Make your child have meals and conversations with live human beings (that would be you and the rest of your family), face-to-face, in real time.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John R. Levine is a recognized technology expert and consumer advocate who works against online fraud and email spam. Margaret Levine Young is a technology author who has written on topics ranging from the Internet to Windows to Access.

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