Friday, July 12, 2013

Sharing A Laptop? That Was Easy!

Kids and computers. Computers and kids. The topic seems to be popping up more frequently in our home. After the girls are in bed we sometimes watch a movie, leisurely lounging on the sofa we talk about our day and quite honestly discuss things we save for when we aren't in the company of the girls. For us, there is no set age as to when a child is ready for a tablet, computer, or cell phone. We tend to air on the conservative side, as many children we know already have their own devices, but we definitely value the role technology has in our lives and want the girls to enrich their lives with it as well. We take a bit of a balanced approach and don't limit "screen time" to a set number of minutes, but we value being active outside, gardening, reading for 20 minutes a day, writing in our journals, and being crafty in addition to allowing time on the computer. It works for us and my general rule of thumb in regards to parenting is not for me to judge others, but recognize what works for some, may not work for others. I personally love engaging in conversations about technology with other moms and gain insight and tips that may work for us as well.

Back to the computer talk between Josh and I, it typically sounds like this. Do you think they are ready? Well, they easily navigate our device, of course they are ready. But... will it create a divide, do you think they can share a laptop? It would be nice for them to have their own computer. Yes, their own computer means hands off our computers! 

Now of course a decision like allowing the girls access to a computer, not to mention one they would use primarily as their own, does not come lightly for us. We sat down and had a long conversation with the girls about it. I never want a device to become a behavioral modifier with false threats of having it taken away in order to get them to do something we need them to do. Time on the computer is closely monitored and I've taken time to bookmark our favorite educational websites. There is something wonderful about savvy educational sites that allow the girls to believe they are playing when really they are growing their skills in a particular subject area, like math for example. Eventually I see them editing short movies, writing papers for school, completing research, and making slideshow presentations to compliment whatever they are currently studying. The laptop has also proven to be a great learning tool for personal discipline and sharing, developing their sense of give and take. More times than not I've found the girls engaged together with the laptop, which doesn't come as a total surprise to me, but delights me none the less.

Onto the laptop that we chose for the girls. I partnered with Staples in the process and we chose a Toshiba laptop. One of the highlights of our decision was for us to all become more comfortable with the Windows8 operating system. The laptop was ready to go when I removed it from the box, I created a MS account, and connected it to the internet in a snap. It was a bit of a learning curve learning where all the menus are located and how to access them, but I was amazed at how quickly the girls got right down to business. It's really no secret that we have a deep rooted love for all things Apple in our home, but let's be honest the majority of the world operates on PC's. Being well versed in both operating systems is a huge bonus for our entire family (I use a PC for my part time job). Plus, I need to know exactly what my blog looks like from Internet Explorer, teehee. Another part of the process was that I learned a lot through the Staples website, browsing various models and what they come loaded with versus what you have to buy after market. They always seem to have a sale going on, which is a total plus for me (I'm a bargain hunter) especially with Back To School just around the corner! We will go into the store when we shop for school supplies, as my girls are the ones that like to touch everything before buying.

There's a funny part to this story. One day last week a Staples truck pulled up out front of our house and the driver stepped out to hand us a small package (clearly not the laptop). The package contained our very own Easy Button. Yes, as you would imagine, when you press it "That was easy" comes joyfully out. My 6 year old in particular has become quite fond of the easy button and she presses it at the funniest times, like for example when I call her to eat a meal that I prepared and all she has to do is sit down and enjoy it. If you need to lighten up the mood in your house, I suggest making your way to Staples for your own easy button.

Link:
 Staples' Laptops (selection and sales always changing)
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Disclosure, Staples provided me with a Toshiba Laptop and Easy Button for my review. All words and content ideas in this post are my own. 
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