As parents buy new computers and other technology, it's important they keep their children safe and help them maximize learning.
Here are some ways to maximize learning while using technology and making sure your children stay safe:
- Spend time online with your children. Talk to them about potential threats and help them find child-friendly sites. Make sure the computer is in the family room or kitchen rather than the bedroom. In addition, find out what parental controls are offered through your Internet service provider.
- Show your work. Remember when your math teacher asked you to show your work when you solved problems? This is still good practice, especially when your child is doing research using the Internet. Ask him or her to show you the websites he or she used when searching for information for a school project. Look at the sites together and talk about how your child knows whether the information is reliable and accurate. For example, can you tell from the website who the author of the information is? If so, what are the author's qualifications? Can you find the date that the information was written or posted?
- What are you talking about? Kids have many outlets for creative expression these days, and one of the most popular is social networking — sites that encourage peer-to-peer communication. What is your child doing when he or she blogs? She's offering her opinion on something that's important to her. In fact, many children use social networking sites to talk about homework. There are two things you can do to ensure healthy social networking. First and foremost, teach your children safe Internet practices and find out which sites they like to visit. Then, ask your children what they're writing about — what's important to them right now — or ask them to show you how you can join their social networking "circle" so you can see when they update messages.
- Knowledge builds knowledge. One of the most important things that help children as they're learning to read and ultimately, reading to learn, is having background knowledge. The Internet is a great place to build your child's understanding of the world. A simple search on a keyword that interests your child — dinosaurs, ecology, sports cars, Paris fashion — will get you and your child started on a journey of discovery.