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 noggin.com – 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…..
sincerely,
four_ones

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.

ProBo

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).

Ralle

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 “nick.com” or ” cartoonnetwork.com” 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.

Trey

Chris,
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)

Thanks,
Dave

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,
Max

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