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When to Give a Child a Computer

Because it’s never too soon to encourage macular degeneration

By Jeremy Greenberg Mar 24, 2012 6:42PM

This past weekend we finally decided it was time to give our twin, almost-4-year-old sons a PC (when they get old enough to become pretentious, I’ll consider a Mac). They had mastered scrolling, pointing and clicking, as well as fighting over whose turn it was to scroll, point and click—they were ready.

Beyond basic navigation skills, there are a couple of important considerations for determining when your kids are ready for a computer. We realized they were ready for something of their own after it became clear that touch-screen tablets were too easy for them to manipulate. Part of my justification for buying a tablet last Festivus was that I knew my kids would benefit from the great educational apps. We even set up a page populated with activities just for them. But in a matter of days they’d figured out how to leave their page, find the Netflix app and stream movies. I’m sure glad I took Archer out of the queue. We gave them a computer both to better control what they could access and to keep them from hogging my wife’s favorite new toy.

We also determined that they were ready because they no longer flipped out when things buffered. It used to be that if YouTube or Netflix took a moment to stream, they would act like junkies who just found out that their dealer’s car broke down. But now they know a swirling circle in the middle of the screen, or a buffer bar filling, just means they have to throw toys for a minute or two before their favorite distraction is served up. The patience to wait for things to load is a basic computer skill.

The final determination was my parental competitive streak. Despite the profession to which fate condemned me, I'd much prefer it if my sons become more like Bill Gates than Bill Murray. So I figured as soon as possible, I’d give them access to advanced technology—or in this case, an Acer.

What is your child’s favorite app or website?


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