Kids today are getting used to computers at a very young age. We are always delighted when little Johnny can work the buttons on some technical gadget in the home.
What is more, many parents are just glad that their children are sitting at home peacefully in front of the computer rather than whining or playing in the street where no-one can keep an eye on them.
That said, parents are blissfully unaware of the sort of information that their child is accessing through the computer. They do not suspect that the machine in their home has gone from being a toy, or a source of knowledge, to an object that essentially drives a gulf between the child and their parents, especially those parents who work. Gradually, children are spending more and more time on the computer.
Parents often become extremely distressed when their child is totally absorbed in playing on the computer.
Certain pedagogues have accused computers of diminishing children's knowledge of lexicology as it has been found that children cannot adequately recall certain words.
Doctors have also criticised the computer for spoiling children's health and well-being.
So, what should we do?
Get rid of all home computers? Put a stop to technological progression? No, obviously we cannot do these things. It is impossible. In one survey undertaken with children, we were able to uncover some of the facts. From the 30 children who were questioned, only one child claimed to be obsessed with the computer. That said, half of the children referred to computers in their answers, despite the fact that they did not consider themselves to be technically minded. Regardless of their age, children are gradually speaking of computers in their everyday conversations.
What do parents tell you to do?
- Unplug the computer; talk; go out.
Mum cooks and dad goes on the computer.
Should parents punish their children and how?
If children do something wrong, then you can punish them for a short time. You could forbid playing on the computer or watching television for example.
When you punish your child, it should be done fairly with absolutely no physical violence. A better way is to take away the child's privileges, like their computer or pocket money for example.
What do you like doing?
Playing on the computer and watching television.
I love playing on the computer, but I like doing other things as well.
What rules should be imposed on children at home?
Children should be able to play on the computer for 2 hours every day.
I should have the right not to be disturbed when I am playing on the computer.
As we can see, the computer has become an essential part of children's lives. How big a part this is, is very much dependent on us, the parents.
Computers can help children with their studies. Computers can develop a child's creative abilities and expose them to the vast and fascinating world. However, this should be under one condition: that parents and their children use the computer together and that parents help their kids to find websites about animals, nature, technology and any subject that the child may be interested in.
Parents must show their children that they can draw, play, write letters, find friends and interesting information through the computer. With the help of their parents, children can create their own sites and take part in different competitions. Parents must familiarise themselves with computer games and forbid any games that involve shooting and killing. They must also teach their children to be safe when working on the computer so that they do not ruin their eyesight or hurt their backs from a bad posture. If parents show their children that the computer can be a source of help and wisdom, then it will be beneficial to them.
In contrast, computers can take over a child's life and become a substitute for reality. They can teach them cruel things, feed them harmful information and expose them to a world of violence and terror.
The computer can be a kind helper for our children or a terrifying monster that destroys their lives. What it turns out to be is dependent on us, the parents, who can influence the ways in which our children use the computer.
For Perusal and Discussion with your Children:
Imprisoned in the Computer
- “Volodinka, go outside and play! It is such a beautiful day out there” – Mum exclaimed.
- “We can go fishing tomorrow. I've been meaning to take you for ages”– his Dad chipped in.
Volodya, however, sat motionless at the computer and didn't utter a word in reply. The alien army had landed; intent on destroying the Earth. Flying saucers were circling round in the air. Volodya fired at them with his new, powerful weapons!
- “What are you up to on that computer Volodya?” his Grandmother yelled.
- “You haven't been outside for three days! Turn that box off and come with me to the market. I could do with a hand!”
- “Oh get lost!” said the boy. “The Earth's being destroyed. Aliens have forced their way into the town.”
- “I'll turn off the electricity in a minute and then all the enemies will disappear!” exclaimed Grandma.
- “Help, what can I do? If Grandma turns off the electricity, I won't have time to finish the game. Help me wise computer” Volodya pleaded. To Volodya, it seemed like the computer understood him. The picture of the street on the screen seemed to draw nearer to him. Suddenly, an alien appeared from behind the corner. He drew forth his weapon and took a vicious shot at the boy. Volodya felt as though he had fallen flat against the wall.
Volodya was unsure of the events that followed. He was vaguely aware of running, shooting, saving someone. When he came round, he found himself next to an old fortress. The boy felt so tired and scared. He laid himself down on the grass by the stone walls.
- “How strange that it doesn't smell of anything there,” thought Volodya. The thought of the sweet, delicious smell of flowers suddenly popped into his head.
- “Never lie down! The game forbids it,” the metallic voice of the computer screamed.
- “But I want to lie down on the grass” exclaimed Volodya “Even though your grass is really uninteresting. It's artificial. There are no beetles, ants or different-coloured flowers. There's nothing to like here.”
- “You don't need to like grass,” boomed the metallic voice. “Gather your armies for battle.”
- “No! I don't want to fight anymore. If only you knew how amazing the river can look in the summer. The way you can splash around in the water.”
- “I don't understand” the computer interrupted. “Water spoils everything.”
- “Bonfires are incredible” the boy cried. “The flames skip about and sparkle.”
- “I don't understand, where is the blaze?” the metal voice sounded worried.
- “Don't worry, I'm just dreaming” sighed Volodya. “I'm dreaming about going fishing.”
- “You must fight” the voice of the computer trembled; but then said;
- “Tell me about fishing.”
- “I haven't been fishing for 100 years! I've been fighting with you all the time.”
- “That's impossible! You weren't around 100 years ago and I've only been here for two years” exclaimed the computer. The boy simply waved his hand in reply.
The voice then fell silent. Pictures started to appear on the screen, each one more interesting than the other – tombs with sparkling treasures, underwater kingdoms, cosmic stations. The boy closed his eyes and started to dream of the smell of his mother's perfume.
Suddenly, everything started to swim in front of his eyes and Volodya saw in front of him the worried faces of his mum, his dad and a strange lady in a white coat.
- “Thank you doctor, for bringing him back to life” exclaimed Volodya's mother.
- “Don't worry - he has come round now” replied the doctor. “He needs to get some rest at home.”
At that, Volodya begun to get worried.
- “No! Please! I don't want to rest at home! Dad - you promised that we could go fishing tomorrow.”
“But you are too weak!” the doctor exclaimed.
“Never doubt the seriousness of a man's words,” Volodya's father winked at his son.
Computer and child: Questions for discussion
- Why can't the boy tear himself away from the computer?
- Why does the boy get bored of life in the computer world?
- Tell us about what happens when a person cannot live without a computer.
- Tell us about what a computer cannot give a person.
- Do you come away from the computer if there is something else that you need to do?
- What can we do to make sure that people don't become obsessed with computers and how can we prevent them from becoming a substitute for our real lives?