Are Computers for Kids?

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Eric emailed to ask me what age I feel is good for a child to have their first computer, or access to one. He feels that it depends on the child in particular, and their level of responsibility. Personally, I feel there’s much more to it than that.

I personally believe that the younger the better when it comes to exposing kids to computers and technology. If you supervise and guide them, it can be an amazing learning experience, and not just about how to use a computer. Using a computer requires logic, and logic is a skill that the child will carry with them throughout their life. Video games are a great learning tool, and way to pass the time. However, I strongly feel they should be supportive of the child’s computing experience, not the sum total of what they do.

I want to share with you a couple of emails I received after I posted the One Laptop per Child Video.

Hey Chris, I’m Krrose27 on the irc.
I’m 16 and got my first pc at age 5 which was given to me and my sister from our grandparents. For many years I did gaming. I then setup a geocities website and started web design about age 8 or 9. I now have taught myself php/mysql and run a test server out of my room and own two other webservers. I took up Java programming about 2 years ago. I now am taking pc support at my high school which is pretty much kids who work with the schools network specialist and help him with the school computers. I recently built my first pc and love everything.

I got a 2 year old at the house who has received his mother’s old laptop and he has a blasty blast on it. He frequents – a website associated with the cable channel noggin. He definitely watches what I do on the computers and attempts to mimic it. He is already learning how to point and click. He is learning…..

I was watching when you recorded the video about children and technology. I being 16, have grown up with technology all around me. My schools have always had computers, and my family got our first computer when Windows 98 came out. All I really did was use the internet, but I was amazed by how information could be sent across the world in seconds. I have explored technology, mostly computers, as best I could. Since my mom is now single, and not very tech savy, I am self taught mostly. Most of what I know is from exploring my family’s old emachine ( As I said, my moms not very tech savy) Anyway, I found an interest in animation and started using Flash. After that, I started exploring website creation and other aspects of computers. Since computers are my future (I plan on being an animator, 3d design or something like that) I spend a decent amount of time on my computer. My mom is single, so we still used our emachine from 2002 ( about 215 mb ram, 20 gb hd) which limited me in what I could do. My mom bought my a used Gateway (which is amazing compared to our old one) laptop, and now I am able to watch your feed! This new laptop has really set me free and is allowing me to get closer to my dream career. I think that a computer for a teen who is interested in technology is an investment in their future. Anyway, I got to go to bed, its getting late.


They are definitely for kids (defined as below the age of 18). I have been a webmaster since I was 15. My website is now ranked 20k on alexa which is pretty good.

Anyway. I have been with computers since I was born. My dad owned this thing called a “spectrum”. Later we got an actual PC running DOS. and later we got some sort of windows. My dad tought me lots of stuff on how to use the computer for various things and I really enjoyed that. I also just sat there looking what he did and learned a lot from that. All in all I think that everybody should be introduced to the computer as soon as they can. Maybe just looking at it at the beginning but later act on their own. I believe everyone is going to use computers in 20 years (when the very old geezers are dead and we rule).


Hello, Chris!

When i was about 3-4 and mom had an old 95 laptop given to her and dad showed me how to use ms-paint, ever sense then i have loved computers i already had a thing for tech but i was hooked (probably the reason i loved tech was mom and dad would get a lot of tech related movies)

then dad was walking into the house with a box, it had a desktop in it! it had windows Me on it, so then we would get on the Internet i would go to places like “” or ”” and still i used ms paint,

Then a few years later… we went to a gas station and i saw a older HP tower (it had Win 98 on it) and i asked “what are you going to do with it?” and he said “throw it out, it broken” or something like that, and i got it… dad and i got the keyboard off the Me machine and put than on the 98 (wile mom was not using it) it ran a def rag and then it worked! it did not have Internet though, still good for me so then i played with it finding the windows lay-out and what not so then i got a keyboard and mouse of me own (before i started playing with it)

a few years later I had a guy give me another Win 98 machine it had all the stuff for it then last year a Friend gave me an IBM x20 it was a good little laptop i left it on my bed left for a few hours and came back turned it on and the screen was cracked 🙁 then i still used it until the power pack started to fry (and made a creepy sound) and so i took the screen out and (knowing of the price) i was going to fix it but about “$564” for new stuff seems a little high so… then a few mouths ago i was trying to get the old ones to work… them we got a Friend to take some old computer parts and build me a computer here i am 11 years old with an 600 Mhz i know its not much but is better than nothing so i am very into tech now an when dads computer breaks i am his first resort and i hope to get another laptop soon. (this person might give me another on! (better than the last)) and i can even build a computer i have not build one yet but have completely dissembled it and put it back to gather again and i know HTML pretty good so i want to start making homebrew for the PSP and the start making apps for the computer then when i get experienced enough in programming i will try to make an OS i have good plans for one.


Just wanted to spread my story which was when i was five years old i got a Thinkpad 701C which had 32MB of Ram and Windows 95, it never had a taste of the internet for its entire life but it lasted 7 years due to that fact, i’d say just because i had the experience of that laptop is the reason why i know how to use techonlogy so well because this might sound nerdy but like when some kids were out playing football and stuff i was inside just tinkering. And boy did i get scared when the stupid thinkpad errors in teal come up that just read Error #4324 and it’s just like the battery is low if you find the manual.Later I got. 2000: Think 600 128MB Ram. 2003: Compaq 1800T 320MB Ram. 2007: HP dv6000 2048MB Ram (with idiotic vista taken off but still in virtual machine)


Hey Chris,
I just watched your video on the right age to be brought into computing. I am twelve years old and got my first computer at eleven. Now my Dad has always been an enthusiast like yourself (he is a database designer). I have been using computers since I first started mixing words to create sentences (about three years old). I did not play games heavily, but rather used the computer as a tool, not a life waster. I think computers have benefited my life heavily and using them at a young age (as young as possible) definitely helped me. There are people at my school who are just bad kids, and not being educated well made them be that way. I have always thought education was crucial to the way my life is and computers helped with that. I think you are a genius in asking the community this question and it hit me as you did so. I am one of the more educated kids in my grade (not trying to be conceited) and know computing to a higher level than anyone in my school (including the IT department, I outdo them). Once again, I’m not trying to impress you or anything, but rather tell you how computers can benefit a child’s life and make them more successful. I am a Mac, Windows, and Linux user (primarily Mac and Linux, but I do heavily use Windows for many things). One more thing, I would like to ask you how computers have benefited your life and how you can project those benefits to children.

Thanks in advance,

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40 thoughts on “Are Computers for Kids?”

  1. Pingback: Library Stuff
  2. My thought also depends on what is available on the computers for the child, like someone very young I say no internet access unless it’s for school and would need someone keeping an eye where they go, it doesn’t take much to accidentally type in the wrong address and getting something completely different and inappropriate. For those that are old enough to take responsibility, I’d say there’s restriction on how much computers is used, and what on the computer is used. Depending one’s entire life on a computer is not too healthy cause sooner or later, you’re going to need exercise, more heart attacks are caused to those that don’t exercise and spend life all day on a computer than those that don’t. I do think that Computers is a necessary skill in life to comprehend to get better jobs and life styles, but shouldn’t be a main NEED. like for example if I were to have children (you also have to realize that over time technology becomes more and more advanced and more and more complicated/accessible to things that shouldn’t be available to children, but for an example and time being I’ll give my opinion what I would do.) I would like for my children to start on computers early to learn colors and shapes and what not, begin to interacted with a screen of vibrant colors, but obviously nothing too big you know? Keep it simple till I say about 5 years of age, when they begin to learn their alphabet, I’d also be teaching them to type, the sooner they learn the faster they will become, and I believe that by typing, it’s more effienct, effective, and your brain processes the data more quickly, which allows them to learn more words, grammar, and to organize ones thoughts, they say the best way to learn a language or to even be able to spell a word, you “say it, read it, write it” so that you see it, hear it, and learn to familiarize it, I still suggest not internet, but would add some games to interact with once in a while. about 10 ish, I’m assuming work is going to be needed to be done on the computer for school projects, presentations, speeches, and what not, sooner or later the child will need to know how to research info, so with supervision around this time would be okay to add internet but only with a password that the one person over seeing all activities on the computer would know. I also believe by helping your child interact with the computer, you’re bonding with them, teaching them, and learning from them as well, plus will keep you up with the times on technology yourself. by the time the child is in High School, I’d say be more open with the internet with them, less supervision, but still passworded and safely adding blockings on certain sites that contain specific words, the only problem I see with this is biology class, or anatomy class… sooner or later, the child will need to learn these things, though I do wish that it wasn’t done so soon/young in age either like elementary school, cause really, I think by having that knowledge, you’re just asking for the child to do something you don’t want them to do. Does anyone else notice how more and more children at like the age of 11 are having sex, and doing drugs and etc? I believe the root to this main problem is being taught about a world that they are going to end up more curious about and would want to test themselves… and then there’s peer pressure.. but I’m getting off topic…. anyway… so basically that’s my thoughts on the subject, my stomach is growling too much for me to concentrate on my conclusion thoughts… i mean.. I know I had some.. but A.D.H.D. is being evil…. Peace.

  3. Well my first PC knowabouts was in grade school back in the mid 80s it was a Apple IIe i was playing learning games on it like Number Muncher and Organ Trail (sorry if i miss speld that) now my first pc that i owen was a IBM PS2E running windows 3.1 i tought my self every thang on it now fastford to now i am sit ing on my XP typeing this and doing little stuff for people like reinstaling OS and doing HDDs and other stuff like that

    thanks for reading this


  4. Couldn’t agree more! I was one who held back on getting my kids involved with electronics, and it took some serious work to get them up to speed later. Looking back, I realize it was a mistake and computers, and other electronic gadgets, are excellent learning tools if used and supervised properly.

  5. Hi Chris. My name is Any and I live in the uk. I saw your post about “Are computers for kids”. I would say a resounding YES to that. The younger they are exposed to computers and the whole environment surrounding technology the better chance they will have in modern society. I am 42 and I remember my careers teacher at school way back in 1978 when I was choosing subjects to study to grade level. He avised me not to waste my time with “Computer studies” as it is a passing fad that will never catch on due to the sheer costs involved in eqipping businesses with mainframes!! Anyway, I now work in a warehouse picking and packing!! and dreaming of a career in I.T. I’m desperately trying to catch up. Needless to say, my children have grew up around computers and gadgets and are completely confident in uning them!

  6. Chris, like you I was introduced to computing with the Vic 20. It was around 1994 or 1995, either just before my senior year of HS, or just after, before I had a PC itself. I had a basic programming class my junior year with just old monitor and keyboards (dos based) connected to the classroom’s server. Heck, i was the only one Mr. Quarles trusted to shut the server down when he was absent.

    Now, my nephew is nine years old, and is pretty good with windows.I don’t know if he’s ever seen the inside of a computer as my brother in law and sister are not as technical as I am. He was browsing some sites at the age of six. Now his parents are kind of strict, but still allow him and my niece to still be kids. As in if they do bad, they get punished.

    I know a lot of kids have tech around them 24/7 nowadays, and it seems as soon as they can walk they can grab the mouse. Maybe this will lead to a lot more people being interesting in programming various things than my generation.

    I’m just wondering when you and Ponzi have kids, how old will they be before you let them use the computers.

  7. Kids are wired differently than adults so are able to assimilate the information and technology at a much faster rate. As long as they have not been poisoned to ideas and reasoning, they are able to see things in ways that older people are not. I would say that the earlier the better but make sure you provide some supervision. Just like society today, if you don’t provide the mechanism for kids to have something productive to do, they will be destructive. If you don’t watch em, they will explore things that you don’t want them to.

  8. Of course they are!

    A colleague of mine had his son explain that the father was using the mouse wrong, as the son used the mouse turned 180 degrees with the tail down. I watched as he expertly right and left clicked in this configuration. That was 10 years ago. The kid did finally get how the mouse was normally used. I was concerned about what the orientation would do to him, moving the mouse left had having it move right, but he’s good now.

  9. Both my parents took computer classes in college, but my dad went beyond and got a business degree in computers. When i came along, my dad. Our budget was a bit tight and our first computer was a Acer 486. I was 5 and very interested in the computer and i remember sitting on the floor of our computer room watching my dad work on the computer, i mean like tear it down, build it back up and upgrading it. then i wanted one of my own and that Christmas, my dad, well Santa as you say bought me an Oregon Scientific Laptop. i loved it well but i told my dad i needed more, so for my 7th birthday my dad bought me my first computer to work on and from there, i started working on computers and up till now I built my own computers and as I’m typing this, it was built by me. I Agree, age don’t matter when a kid is to learn how to use the computer, it’s as Chris says it, it’s how you approch it. because not only i gained knowledge of computers at home, i also gained it in school, grade, middle and high school now, as well as the Boys and girls club made good practice on my skills as growing up i repaired the computers and kept it nice and running and helped my fellow peers and friends on their problems.


  10. My son is 5. He loves using Photobooth and taking digital pictures with a camera as well. He likes The key is moderation. He’s an active kid and we make sure he gets plenty of “running around the neighborhood with other kids” time.

  11. I personally took my nephew in front of the pc when he was 1 years old, and with judge. My nephew, male, was vey happy to do it. Around, there are games and peripherals thought just for the kids and I bought them. At 1 years old he already able to shut down the pc and use his switch buttons (!8C925022BC6009BC!595/). The impact was and it is positive. The kid enjoy much to discover everything, including the human being’ logic (the adult remain embarased to see how much fast improve the abilities of the kids), that the pc help to improve and to excite. The are documentaries, expert that clarify how kids deal positivelly with their logic from the early age. I suggest also a good book that clarify u the positive impact of the games on the human beings’ mind. Avoid to read anything from journalists that hate technology because they will never deal with it.

  12. I got my own computer at the age of 2. Dad built me one when I was about 7 or 8. Got a mac at 13, and its been good ever since then. Started programming back at 10.

  13. I think that kids should get a laptop at a responsible age. If you got a laptop for your child and heshe is under the age of eight, I hope you got the waranty! You can buy your child a laptop at the age under eight, but i think just let them have acess to a computer, not have one.

  14. i got a computer a like 5 or 6 or 7 or something like that and i used it for games no internet by 8 i started getting on my bros computer and demanded one of my own ps my bro needed my screen for my game computer so i never used it again

  15. I started using computers when I was about 4 but I really did not start to explore the computers till’ 2nd grade. Ive been in to them ever since.

  16. I’ve been using computers since I was about…2-3. My Dad would always throw me on that Now I’m 14 and I build my own PC’s..Q6600 Quad’s FTW! (or Q9450..since there coming out soon..45nm FTW!)

  17. I was 9 when my father bought me and my sis a atari 2600 in ’80. Later in ’84 my parents bought me coleco vision but it the following year that I got a commodore vic20 and saw useless code on a B/W tv but played zasson and donkey kong.

  18. I got MY first computer when i was around 5. It ran windows 95 I belivev. I reccomend getting a colorful keyboard with easy to understand symbols on the keys if it is for a young kid. Also, get a rubbermaid computer desk, (like the kind that looks like hollow plasic like little tikes playthings.)

  19. I think this is cool im 10 going on 11 and i have my own computer its a Amd athlon Dual core processor 2 gigs of ram and i started learning about them about 5 years ago now i almost know how to build one and on top of that im learning about each device and what that device or mechanism does. In my personal opinion i think it doesn’t matter when the kid starts learning.

  20. i didnt get really into computers/video games uintil about 2 years ago and im 13. I had been exposed to technology when i was younger but not enough to really say that i knew anything about a computer. Right now i try and explore the capabilities of what a computer can do, but my exploration is at a limit due to my extremely bad computer.

  21. im 15 now
    i got my first computer when i was 14, 500 gig hd, 2 gig ddr2 667mhz of ram, 512 meg geforce 7600 gt gfx card, witha pentium d 3.0 duo core processor. i build my first computer at the age of 9, and have been into them evevr since,betwen the age of 9 and 14, i was using the familys pc , ubilt my myself, i think computers are for anyone wh wants to use them. aslong as they stay away form the darker side, which is always fun :P.

  22. i´m 14. Now I´m lerning C. And i have a commodore 64. My first computer was a chilly green with an AMD Athlon 1,91 GHZ 32 Bit and Windows 98 and only 256 of Ram.
    A computer only for Browsing it is…. I ruined that computer and I learned what a computer contains.
    Do not ruin your computer. It gets too expensive. gg
    greetings from Austria

  23. I was 2 years old, so I don’t remember what computer I first had, but it was some Apple computer. Then when I was 4, I got a Bondi Blue iMac which was beautiful, then when I was 10 or 11, I got a dell dimension E310.

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