Are You Cyberphobic?

In other words, are you afraid of computers? I ask this because I have been spending a lot of time lately on my own computer. No, I have not been blogging or emailing or chatting, I have been learning something new. I have entered the world of digital video editing and along with it a whole gamut of new learning curves.

The topic brings up the relationship between home schooling and home computing. A lot of home schooling families use their computer for purposes such as: Email, in order to communicate with teachers (if enrolled in a DL program), Word Processing, and some even have On-Line Courses that must be taken on the home computer, either downloaded or live via the Internet. Then there are home schooling parents who are teachers themselves and have a number of other home schooled students that they must communicate with regularly. In addition to this communication, they must also log on to provincial web sites in order to record provincial learning outcomes of these very students.

micro5.gifFor most folks, the computing purposes stop here. Most are comfortable with only learning the basics; only what they need to get by and only what is absolutely necessary. And for many, that is perfectly fine. But, what about our children? How much should they know? And who, pray tell, is going to teach them? Questions worth pondering. And no, I don’t have any answers. I can; however, share with you what we do.

WHAT WE DO and DO NOT DO

Firstly, I have no interest in teaching my kids how to use email. Yes it’s incredibly easy, so why not start with that? I will explain. Lately, I have observed that both my 8 and my 10 year old are much more excited to receive something in our real mailbox, postmarked and personally addressed, that they can open and read. They can tuck it away in their special places and re-read when they wish.

Secondly, writing a hand written letter to a special friend is a grammar lesson in itself. These are times to put away our grammar work books and practice what we have learned. That said, I see keyboarding as a valuable and separate skill that can easily be taught through, no other ,than a software program on the computer. Though keyboarding is neither needed nor necessary at this point, I can see this being a valuable skill around the seventh or eighth grade. I remember learning to type (yes, on one of those retro typewriter things) in ninth grade. 

Thirdly, I have no use for computer games. Software is easier than books, but is passive, not active. They are image, not word based and similar to television (visit Unplug Your Kids to discover many benefits to avoiding image based activities). On the other hand if the software can reinforce learning, such as Timez Attack , I will occasionally allow the kids a few minutes on these types of games. They can, after all, reinforce those times tables or addition facts and liven up a dreary math lesson. Use discretion & common sense.

Last, but not least, I do not allow my children on the Internet (self explanatory I hope). However; occasionally we need to research various topics (such as “Where do marmots live?” or “What does a banana leaf look like?”….not necessarily in that order) and we will use the Internet for that.

So, if you find yourself in the cyberphobic category, relax. Other than learning the basics, you probably won’t be required to teach much more than that in the children’s younger years anyhow. The computing world changes so rapidly, that whatever is current now, could be very different indeed, if not obsolete, in roughly 5 years.

In the meantime, happy computing.

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1 Comment

Filed under Learning, Technology

One response to “Are You Cyberphobic?

  1. Thanks for the link to my blog Cheryl!

    I totally agree with you about “real mail” vs. email. I have not written much about this (just very briefly here: http://unplugyourkids.blogspot.com/2007/03/
    first-robin-of-spring-return-to-simpler.html) but you are right.

    A real piece of paper that arrives in the mailbox with a pretty stamp is infinitely more exciting than an email. It is a shame that we so infrequently write real letters anymore in our society.

    I think that the type of information that we share in a real letter maybe more banal, yet more personal and poetic somehow. Would we email someone to tell them how the weather is making us feel, or about the spring flowers that we see blooming in our gardens? Probably not.

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