Does Your Child Need a Home Computer?
According to government statistics over two thirds of UK households have a home computer with internet access. But if you’re in the third of the population who don’t are you putting your child at a disadvantage?
Some studies have shown that kids who get to school age without ever having any computer experience find it hard to grasp computing concepts at first, but that there is no long term developmental benefit to early introduction. But what about when your children are at school and need a computer for homework and the internet for research?
Finding Local Computer AccessMany local libraries have computer terminals, and some offer free internet access for users. Your local council will be able to tell you where your nearest library is, and what services it offers. Some libraries also run computer courses to teach users how to use the computer, how to use the library and how to use the internet.
If you don’t have a library within reach most towns now have internet cafes that charge a small hourly fee to use their computers and internet access. Internet cafes are used for everything from playing computer games to homework to keeping in touch by email. They vary massively in comfort and also in the speed of internet access but are open later than libraries so often more accessible.
A Computer for HomeworkIf your child tells you that they need a computer to complete their homework it can be hard to argue with them. Most schools will have some kind of computers available for use by the pupils and if they really do insist that some projects are presented as digital files or typed up then they should provide the equipment for the kids to use. No school can insist that their students have a home computer, unless they are going to provide one.
Library computers will be more conducive to homework than internet cafes which are louder and more distracting. This does mean that your child will have to plan their homework better than their class mates as it’s unlikely they will be able to have access to a computer at all times.
The Advantages of a Home ComputerAs well as ease of access, a home computer has the advantage of having a familiar set up, making it easier to use. You can also save work more easily (on a public computer you will either need to save your work to a memory stick or email it to yourself) and work on it in shorter bursts.
A home computer also has the advantage of being under your supervision so you can see exactly how much computer time is being spent on homework and how much time spent playing games or surfing the internet.
Without a home computer your child will undoubtedly feel left out of conversations about websites and games, especially as trends change so rapidly by the time they’ve discovered on fad all their class mates will have moved onto another one. However this won’t necessarily cause them any long term anxiety and there are advantages to a less computer driven life.