I love my computers. I could write a sonnet about their glowing screens and the snazzy way that I can load the pictures from camera onto it. Boy, they’re a blessings and a half! Especially since I take more photos than most would think is humanly possible.
We have two computers. One desktop which is in the living room/office and a laptop which is often on the front porch or the kitchen. How do I love thee, computers? Lots. In many ways, computers are my window to the world. Thanks to all of the projects that Josh and I tackle at the house, we don’t get out much and we also have all but stopped watching television. The phrase, “I’ll Google it for you” or “Let me ask Google” has escaped my lips almost daily since we purchased the thing. The internet is an ADD sufferers paradise. The Net encourages us to leap from blog to ad to search engine to recipe site to song lyric search. I’m hooked, y’all. I’m hooked on a feeling. I’m high on believing. I love my computers.
Recently, Josh and I were enjoying some front porch sitting and began to discuss just what we were going to do about the computers once there were children in the house. What about the internet? What programs do we need to install to help make the Net safe for innocent eyes? Judging by some of the popups that sneak through… we may need a fancy-pants thumbprint-reading padlock on the thing. Laws-a-mercy! There is so much to think about.
We want our children to recognize computers as the wonderful reference tools that they are but also be kept safe from the frightening NC-17 world that is but a click a way. We decided not to let the children have computers in their bedrooms and to keep our desktop set up where it is — in a high trafficked area of our home. We will certainly send them to college with laptops or whatever totally gnarly technology exists in the shining future. We plan to cruise the Best Buy for naughtiness-blocking software on the off chance that our curious children Google something like “shoelace” or “apple” or “beach” or –insert some random search word here.
Where are the computers located in your home? What rules/parameters have you set around usage? What concerns do you have about your kids (future kids or metaphorical kids are cool, too) using the internet? How have computers changed/improved/affected your children’s lives?
Fishing Guy - Lacy: Very nicely thought out, the problem can cone with young ones. I have one computer in its own room. I’m able to get away from it at times but it has truely become part of my life.
The computer is a tool and i use it constantly at work to design and communicate. It makes work so much easier and I’m happy for its benifits.
Rosa - I also love my computer and will sonn invest in a laptop! Just like you, I take soo many pictures…
My computer is in the office, at home. We use it for many things (downloading, uploading, surfing, looking for information, etc…).
CrossView - We definitely use our main computer in our house. “Google” is so amazing! The desktop is in a central location. You can’t go anywhere in the house without seeing it. Of course, that increases the temptation to pop on, too! LOL!
My girls both have laptops. BUT- they’re not online. The 19-yr old will be soon, though, since she needs it for college and her job. Until then, they both use it for their writing and music and games and just to stay technologically savvy. And it helps pass time on long car rides when I control the radio. Mwahahahaha!
Michele - Lacy,
Visibility is the key!
When my boys were young the internet was even harder to monitor. Now you can set up your browser (please tell me you are using Firefox) to monitor for naughty sites. Back then we chose to put the computer smack dab in the family room where any and all could see what you were up to. Computer time was limited by age. We never really had a problem. Things would pop up once in a while but otherwise my kids were not much interested in porn. They spent most of their time playing games with their friends across town.
As they got older (late teens) their friends would come over to the house, they would make themselves a lan network and play games. They would all get together and build their own computers. I had no problem with this because a lot of times I got a new computer out of the deal. Plus, think of the skills these kids were learning.
At the present time, these boys are almost all in the computer industry in one way or another. There is my oldest who makes computer maps (think google maps) for the local utility company, one friend programs games, one is a Cisco network admin, one is an analyst and one odd man out in the healthcare industry. I think he does pharmaceutical research. Not too bad for a bunch of computer nerds who would rather hang out in my family room gaming then anything else. Or it could have been the food. They usually showed up around dinner time.
So, worry a little but not too much. It really is all about the values you instill early on.
warren - We only have computers in public areas and the kids only use them when we are around. They are young so mainly only go to pbskids.org. As they get older, I will probably write some code (I am a programmer) to keep an eye on things and block foul stuff. I know such programs exist already but I like to control what they see (plus I have the skills to do my own). Anyhow, I think the biggest secret is to be around when they are surfing. Accidents may still happen but on-purpose likely won’t.
Julie at Elisharose - We have both a filter and a password on our computer. That way, they can only play with permission. Also, the computers are in the den in front of God and everybody. There is no covert computer usage in our home.
Tipper - Like you I love love my computer!! We have 2 at our house. One in the girls room-which is NOT hooked up to the internet-there they can play games, do homework and listen to music. The other is mine in my office-and we don’t allow the girls to use it unless they have permission.
Jennifer - Takes monitoring. Great tool for children. Love your first picture !!
gingela5 - That’s a good idea! Right now, since we have 0 children and won’t for a couple of years, we have our desktop in a back room/office and our laptop usually stays out in the living room.
Laurie - No laptop here. Not sure if I really need or want one. I was usually on top of Lindsey when she used the computer when she was younger. Kids do need to monitored. It’s certainly a good opportunity to teach good values, morals and what is and is not acceptable to view.
Christina - In the office. When my kids were young, it wasn’t a necessity to have a computer…. we did, but it wasn’t the focus. It sat in the living room.
Now the computer is part of daily life. ( MY daughter calls to ask me how to use her computer! LOL)
Robbyn - Oh wow, the computer was a major source of contention as our daughter got older. So I made it very simple. It went right into the living room where anyone could see it at any time. This was before we moved into this house and have an office, which can’t be seen all the time unless we’re in here. By then we had an honor system, but it proved too tempting to dishonor, so ended up with coming up with this and that, but it was never as easy as when it was simply in the main living area. Passwords and all the other things are things kids can learn to get around, truly. If we have to do it again, it’ll just be in the main living area, off in a corner but visible. And one rule we had was that if we weren’t home, it didnt get turned on. But it did, despite the rule, so we disconnected the phone cord when we were gone. This was about the ony thing in our household we had a problem with with our daughter, maybe because she’s an only child and it was how she wanted to stay in touch with friends the most, which was fine with us to a point. One must was that she could use facebook, MySpace, whatever, but we had to have a list of her passwords. We seldom went into her accounts, but did occasionally to make sure the passwords were unchanged. The antidote to kids always being on the computer? Having plenty else to do, and not having all the bells and whistles as far as electronics. It’s a tool, and can be a good or bad one. I wasn’t nearly as worried about what my daughter would be seeing as I was of her inadvertently giving out private information about herself on the internet that would make her a target in real life.
Ok, now you can call me a mean mom 😉
YDavis - Hi Lacy I wanted to let you know that your Dustin, Logan & Remington got a “dog/cat tag” from my girls. Please visit my blog to find out what it’s all about.
jess - Wow great post. “The internet is an ADD sufferers paradise.” ok, that totally made me laugh out loud. I can so identify.
As far as protecting youngters from the internet, I can only look to my sister Jen as an example since I don’t have any kids yet, and she’s got 240 of ’em (okay, it’s 6). BUT, what she does is rather than invest tons of money in programs, blockers, and restrictions (even though they do have some simple spyware and pop-up blockers), she invests tons of *time* in HEART discussions. She and Geoff have raised their kids to guard their eyes if they even see something/someone even *slightly* immodest. They’ve trained them to have a desire to avoid going places on the internet (or anywhere for that matter) that may lead to unholiness or tempation. It’s not that the kids are scared to do ungodly things because they might get in trouble, it’s that the kids have such a sweet relationship with their parents and with the Lord that they don’t want to look at anything or participate in anything that might be displeasing to either of the afore-mentioned. You ought to ask her (jeneralities.com) for more thoughts on this issue. I know that the ideals and techniques that they have seen be successful in their parenting style have worked for MANY families. Sorry for looooong comment (and the fact that I can’t even speak from experience yet!!).
love jess! 🙂
CC - No rules yet. We won’t allow computers in bedrooms for sure. I think my husband plans to have a good reference code source so that he can go back and see whatever the kids have been on. That way their access to good sites isn’t limited, but they’ll know that anything they go to may be witnessed by parents too.
Barb - Got me here Girl! We didn’t have them when our kids were at home. Too much $$. They had to use the school or libraries. Our daughter & SIL keep their’s in their bedroom with access to the GKids only when they are in there too. Their laptop is only used by the Gkids at the kitchen bar when Heidi iscooking or right there..(this was my observation from my visit there last winter… and it seemed to work pretty good.) Both Heidi & SIL are in the Education system so they work at home alongside the kds…”doing homework, research, etc” together.
Good luck with this one, Lacy.
Ann - Since we only have furkids, I have no advice. Although, I did catch our furboys surfing for “naked yorkies” one day. I can’t talk about it yet.
Paulette - My kids are on their own now, but I think having the computer in a shared family area is a great idea. We never had problems with them on the computer, but they really didn’t spend a lot of time on it except for school work, because they were busy with sports and other things that kept them busy.
Question…I remember from a previous post that you said a friend sent you the picture in this post, as well as a few other pics. Any idea where he found them? Or better yet, where I can find them? 🙂
Dawn - I know what you mean. Our internet was acting up all week. Drove me crazy especially without a phone. We have our computers in our loft that is open. I am not sure what blocks we have on them but the kids know what they can and can’t do, what is safe to download and when not to open attachments. We have not had any trouble with our kids so we are blessed.
Lynnie - I’ve tried to delay the onset of constant computer use by my kids (they’re 3 & 4). I figured “real world before computerized world”. Though actually, we do simple things like type out stories, and look up the odd question, like what do skate eggs look like. I figure that when they start asking to use the computer on their own I’ll show them. Kids learn so fast. When the time comes, we’re definitely keeping the computer right here in the side of the living room and warning them about anything dangerous out there!
Applie - We have several computers. Two are in the livingroom. One is for internet and office use. The other is for children’s games. All computers are out in the open. No one is allowed to have them in their bedrooms. On the computer with the internet, we have a parent guardian.
We also have another computer in the back room, that is only good for the garbage. I have no idea why we have it. LOL
I have a laptop, that I use for school and a few other things. We can access the internet with it. The kids are not allowed ot use, but once in a great while I’ll let my son on there for about five minutes. LOL
Aly in GA - Great questions, Lacy. We have 2 working computers in our home (I say “working”, because my husband is a computer programmer and refuses to recycle any of the dinosaurs we previously used.) Both are in public areas, which, as others have said, is the key!
Our desktop is located in the upstairs bonus room, which is our computer/TV/”library”/guest room. My laptop resides on a desk in our living room – where we hang out the most. I can do my digital scrapbooking and keep an eye on the kiddos at the same time. Or, they can use it, while I make dinner, and it’s all out in the open. At this point, I cannot foresee a time when I’ll allow computers in the boy’s bedrooms. We have an open door, open communication, open heart policy in our home, and I don’t want that to change.
As for computer use by our boys, that’s a sticky situation. As I mentioned previously, my husband is a computer programmer, and I’m more than a little computer literate. Our 8 year old has been effectively using computers since he was 3, playing a game called “Contraptions” – which REALLY freaked out his preschool teacher when he came to class correctly using such a big vocabulary word for such a little guy! Since then he’s progressed to internet-based games, but we have parental controls installed on his IDs on both computers. On the advice of my best friend, whose son is a year older, when J *does* get his own computer, we’ll be installing “Buddy Browser” – http://www.buddybrowser.com .
J’s main computer use is through the online Disney community, Toontown. In hindsight, I’d advise against it. Although it’s a safe, fun atmosphere, it’s like crack cocaine, I swear! All J talks about, to both family and friends, is “Toontown” and his character. We’ve really put the kabosh on his Toontown time, much to his dismay. Our elementary school has set up a Homework Now site, as well as a Student Resources page on the school’s website – both with many fun (yet still educational!) links that inspire the children to learn more through safe computer environments.
One of the quickest lessons I’ve learned about kids and computers is that computer restriction is a more effective punishment than a timeout ever was! I can take away J’s TV time, allowance, even his Legos. But when his computer time is lost, he howls like you cut off a limb. Finding their currency is our key to non-physical discipline.
Glad the early voting tip helped y’all. I voted weeks ago, and I’m glad I did, as the lines around here are staggeringly long! But that just shows how important this election is – here in GA on a local, as well as national, level.
Peace and Blessings your way!
ToilingAnt - I have a laptop for work and I sometimes use it as a DVD player if I want to watch something by myself (a movie in bed, for instance), but for the most part, I use it during the workday and then it’s off at night.
Our desktop is in a public place (living room) and Girlie is only allowed to use it when we are around. There has been some talk of a computer in her room, but I am campaigning hard against that idea!