With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and blogs, many children and teens are asking their parents for their own computers. Although many kids have Internet access through their phones, most want the freedom of using a computer in their own private space.
While a computer has many benefits, some parents are concerned about whether their child is ready for a computer. After all, nearly every parent has heard horror stories about teenagers meeting serial killers or stalkers online. Additionally, many parents feel they may not be able to accurately track their child’s whereabouts and online activities if a computer is in their child’s bedroom.
For parents whose children want a computer, there are several important things to consider before deciding if a child is ready for a computer in their own bedroom.
First off, consider the age of your child. Does she already have a cell phone with Internet access? Would having a computer in her bedroom offer her additional freedoms she does not already have?
Is your child already driving unsupervised? Does your child have a job? If your older child is already making the transition into adulthood, she may be ready for her own computer.
If your child is fairly young and still very dependent on you, however, the timing may not be right.
Next, talk to your child openly and honestly about why she wants a computer. Does she plan to use it for Internet chatting? Does your child want to be able to play an online game, such as World of Warcraft, without distraction from younger siblings? If your child is an older teen, does she feel like she needs a quiet place to study and do her homework uninterrupted?
If your child is young and simply wants a computer to be cool and better than her friends, she may not be ready for the responsibility. If your child’s reasoning is sound, however, she might be ready.
Discuss the role of the Internet in your child’s computer use. Does your child only want a computer so she can be online alone? Does she even plan to have the Internet?
If your child only wants the computer to write papers for school or to play games, you can get away without having Internet access enabled on the computer. This is an ideal way to let younger kids have a computer without the stress or anxiety of knowing what your child is doing online.
Finally, talk with your spouse about how they feels Are they ready for your child to have Internet access or a computer alone? Does he/she feel that your child is mature and responsible enough to have a computer?
This is a big family decision and your spouse should be on the same page. If either one of you feels uneasy about the choice, consider waiting a month and then reevaluating your feelings on the subject.
If your child is responsible and mature, you might find that she is willing to wait until you feel comfortable with her having a computer. If it becomes a big issue, she may not be as ready as she thinks she is for the computer.