In the past, Claire has had only passing interest in computers and video games. She had tried some Wii games and mildly enjoyed Wii Music and Wii Fit, especially the Yoga exercises. And she kind of likes playing some non-competitive kids games on the iPhone and iPad. But seemed to find most games frustratingly difficult, and did not have much interest in the big desktop computer, our iMac, with its tricky mouse and keyboard.
But Claire has recently discovered the joys of playing web-based kids’ games on the big computer. Her interest seems to have grown since kindergarten started. She has computer class once a week and has gotten comfortable with the mouse and keyboard. She says the hardest part is logging in.
At home, she started playing web games related to books and TV shows. She started out with Fancy Nancy and moved on to Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan on Nick Jr. Since Kai-Lan, Claire started exploring other games on Nick Jr, including Dora the Explorer and Fresh Beat Band.
Kit and I were concerned about a couple of things with this new enthusiasm for the computer. One was that all her “clicking around” (as we say) and generally messing the computer could delete/damage/send/export our stuff. She could delete a file, send an unexpected email, post gibberish on Kit’s Facebook feed, and so on. So we set Claire up with her own account where can’t touch/delete/damage/send/export our stuff. She likes having her own account and always logs into it to do her games.
We were also concerned about “exploring” the internet in general. But the computer is right here in the loving room where we can see what she is up to, and the account has some nice parental controls built in. Claire really just sticks to nickjr.com, etc. so this has not been a problem so far.
We were also concerned about how much time she would spend on the computer. But on weekdays, she only has about 30 minutes of free-form time to herself before bed, and she often uses that for computer time. She just doesn’t have more time available than that. On weekends, she has more time on the computer, and much of that is borrowed from time she would otherwise spend watching TV. Personally, I prefer seeing Claire do mentally active, creative computer games over sitting, just watching TV anyways. Let’s exercise those brain cells! This is within limits, of course. If Claire is like me, she may one day want to stay up all night doing “computer”, which is not always a good thing (yawn).