Tips for Parents
Here are a few of the most popular tips we've given parents over the years!
 

Internet Safety for Kids - A parent's guide

posted Apr 6, 2010, 1:39 PM by TexasTechies .org   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 3:01 PM ]

You don't have to be a computer expert to keep your child safe online. As parents, we want our children to be safe and responsible while using technology.   We will have succeeded when each child can recognize and minimize the three main risks associated with all connected technology (i.e., iPods, instant messaging, chat, computer games, game consoles, cell phones, text messaging, webcams).

The three main risks associated with all connected technology are:
  1. Inappropriate Contact –Teach kids how to recognize and protect themselves against contact with cyber-bullies, hackers, phishers, and predators. People aren't always who they say they are. Teach kids to keep away from Internet strangers:  the Internet is a place to enhance existing relationships, not a place to meet new people.
  2. Inappropriate Content- This includes both content that is viewed and content that is uploaded by kids. Help kids understand that the Internet is forever: everything they post online is tracked and stored and will follow them to future job interviews and college entrance interviews.
  3. Inappropriate Conduct – Because the web environment can feel anonymous, some youth become dis-inhibited. Teach kids that the Internet is a public forum: anonymity is a myth. Help them be the good person online that they are when they’re off line.
Once children understand these core risks, three simple guidelines will help parents provide a safe and healthy experience online.

About Texas Techies: All of the email and Internet-related concepts in the software used during our classes are completely simulated, so children learn how to use the Internet in a safe environment without actually going online. Young children should never be online without adult supervision, an important safety factor reinforced throughout our classes. For more information about Texas Techies Computer Classes, please contact us: info@texastechies.org or 361-774-7454


Quick Facts

Your kids’ personal information and privacy are valuable — to you, to them, and to marketers. Fortunately, there are ways you can safeguard that privacy when your kids are online.

  • Check out sites your kids visit, and see what kind of information the sites ask for or allow kids to post.
  • Talk to your child about the risks and benefits of disclosing certain information, especially in a public forum.
  • Take a look at the privacy policy, which should say what the site does with the information it collects. Then you can decide how you feel about it.
  • Ask questions. If you’re not clear on a site’s practices or policies, ask about them.
  • Be selective with your permission. In many cases, websites need your okay before they’re allowed to collect personal information from your kids. 
  • Know your rights. For example, as a parent, you have the right to have a site delete any personal information it has about your child.
  • Report a website. If you think a site has collected or disclosed information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the FTC.

Whether to study or socialize, play games or learn something new, it’s likely your kids are spending time online. And as a parent, chances are that you’re spending time thinking about ways to make sure they make smart and safe choices when they do. Among the many choices they’re faced with online is how to deal with their personal information.

Kid can be anywhere!

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – COPPA – gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids. Any website for kids under 13, or any general site that collects personal information from kids it knows are under 13, is required to comply with COPPA. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces this law.

Thanks to COPPA, sites have to get a parent’s permission if they want to collect or share your kids’ personal information, with only a few exceptions. That goes for information sites ask for up-front, and information your kids choose to post about themselves. Personal information includes your child’s full name, address, email address, or cell phone number.

Under COPPA, sites also have to post privacy policies that give details about what kind of inf

ormation they collect from kids — and what they might do with it (say, to send a weekly newsletter, direct advertising to them, or give the information to other companies). If a site plans to share the child’s information with another company, the privacy policy must say what that company will do with it. Links to the policies should be in places where they’re easy to spot.

What Can You Do?

Your kids’ personal information and privacy are valuable — to you, to them, and to marketers. Here’s how to help protect your kids’ personal information when they’re online.

Check out sites your kids visit. If a site requires users to register, see what kind of information it asks for and whether you’re comfortable with what they tell you. If the site allows kids to post information about themselves, talk to your child about the risks and benefits of disclosing certain information in a public forum. You also can see whether the site appears to be following the most basic COPPA requirements, like clearly posting its privacy policy for parents and asking for parental consent before kids can participate.

Take a look at the privacy policy. Just because a site has a privacy policy doesn’t mean it keeps personal information private. The policy should tell you what the site does with the information it collects; then, you can decide how you feel about it. Remember, if the policy says there are no limits to what it collects or who gets to see it, there are no limits.

Ask questions. If you’re not clear on a site’s practices or policies, ask about them. If the site falls under COPPA, the privacy policy has to include contact information for the site manager.

Be selective with your permission. In many cases, websites need your okay before they’re allowed to collect personal information from your kids. They may ask for your permission in a number of ways, including by email or postal mail. Or, you may give your consent by allowing them to charge your credit card. In addition to considering when to give your permission, consider how much consent you want to give — in many cases, it’s not all or none. You might be able to give the company permission to collect some personal information from your child, but say no to having that information passed along to another marketer.

Know your rights. As a parent, you have the right to have a site delete any personal information it has about your child. Some sites will let you see the information they’ve collected. But first, they’ll need to make sure you really are the parent, either by requiring a signed form or an email with a digital signature, for example, or by verifying a charge made to your credit card. You also have a right to take back your consent and have any information collected from your child deleted.

Report a website. If you think a site has collected or disclosed information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

More Tips For Parents

Talk, and talk often. Make sure your kids know what information should be private, and what information might be appropriate for sharing. When they give out their personal information, they give up control of who can reach them, whether it’s with a marketing message or something more personal. On the other hand, sharing some personal information may allow them to participate in certain activities or to get emails about promotions and events they’re interested in.

Depending on what they do online, also remind your kids that once they post information online, they can’t take it back. Even if they delete the information from a site, older versions may exist on other people's computers and be circulated online.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids from Expert Village

Know what sites your kids go to. Talk with your kids about the sites they like to visit. Do some exploring on your own to get to know how the sites work and what privacy settings and controls they offer.

Make agreements. Be sure your kids know what your family has decided is okay — and not okay — to divulge online. Consider writing down a list of the rules your family has agreed on, and posting them where everyone can see them.

Let your kids know you’ll keep an eye on the sites they visit. One option is to check your browser history and temporary files, though keep in mind that older kids may know how to delete these files or keep them from getting recorded. If you’d like more controls, check to see what privacy settings your browser offers or consider software that offers a range of controls. Visit the GetNetWise website to learn more.

Know how your kids get online. Kids may get online using your family computer or someone else’s, as well as through cell phones and game consoles. Know what limits you can place on your child's cell phone — some companies have plans that limit downloads, Internet access, and texting on cell phones; other plans allow kids to use those features at certain times of day. Check out what parental controls are available on the gaming consoles your kids use, as well.


Sage Advice: Child Safety on the Internet

The article below is from Edutopia, The George Lucas Educational Foundation. It provides sage advice for parents about internet safety for kids.

How do you teach your kids to be safe online?
My son, age 13, started going online with me while he was still a toddler. He would sit in my lap while I was doing searches and such. As he got older (5-6) and wanted to go online, I began talking with him about the Internet sites he wanted to visit and about what information he should share while online. Also, my husband and I chose to place our computers in the living room in plain view so we can monitor his online activities.

~Denise A. Garofalo, Mother of a 13-year-old boy, Newburgh, New York

As a parent, your job is to personalize the remote messages on Internet safety your kids hear in school, to make the subject important in your home and to your family. Print a weekly report of your child's online activity and look over this report with your child. Question him about any sites he visited that you are uncertain about. Talk about the activity that isn't in dispute with comments such as, "I see a lot of history sites. Is that because of your report on Alexander the Great?" Let him know you are aware of (and care about) what is going on in his life.

~Robin Scott, Mother of an 11-year-old boy, Birmingham, Alabama

No one can deny the presence of technology within our schools, our places of employment, and our homes. The 21st century has imposed technology as a mainstay within our society; now, we must examine how to facilitate a relationship between our youth and technology. How do we teach our children to be safe online? Although at first glance one may think that this is a difficult question to answer, it's actually quite simple: parenting.

First, we model our behavior online. Children's learned behaviors tend to mimic those of their parents or caregivers. If we use the Internet ourselves in a responsible way, we are modeling good behavior for our children. Second, parents must monitor their children while they are using the Internet. With parents present and involved, children can learn which places are safe and which are unsafe.

Just as we teach our children to practice caution before leaving the house and riding their bikes to explore the world, so, too, must we teach them to protect themselves in this 21st century, where technology is ever present.

~Atiera Ransavage, Educator and mother of a seven-year-old girl, Stockton Borough School, Stockton, New Jersey

I continuously tell my kids that they have to be careful with the words they choose when talking to friends online. I also tell them that any pictures and words they post on their Facebook or MySpace accounts can and will be used against them. If they wouldn't say it to their grandmother, then they shouldn't be saying it online to their friends. I have no tolerance for bullying (be it cyber or face-to-face).

What I have found in talking with my teenage son is that a lot of kids talk trash about one another online. Some do so in a joking, funny way, but others do it in a quasi-bullying fashion. As we know, things that start small can turn into big, ugly, hurtful situations for kids. My son was a victim of cyberbullying, and I nipped it in the bud.

Because we do communicate and ask questions and because my son does talk about things, we as parents were able to address this and resolve the problem before it escalated into something bigger.

In addition to using netiquette and being appropriate online, children have to screen their friend requests in Facebook. They need to know who is requesting them as a friend and why before they confirm someone as a friend.

Last, I tell them that there are online predators who know all the tricks to lure them in. The scary thing about the Internet is that people can take on different identities and become someone else!

We had a situation in out hometown in which two middle school girls were talking to a "boy" online. They became suspicious when the boy wanted to meet them at the local Domino's Pizza. The girls alerted the school administration, which then alerted the local authorities. The police and the FBI set up a sting. When the "boy" went to the Domino's to meet with the two girls, he was arrested on the spot. He was in fact a 28-year-old male who lived in town. Be cautious, and be careful!

~Lita Motroni, Parent of a boy in middle school and a boy in high school, Business and secondary school special educator, Scituate, Rhode Island

As a parent, I use a sophisticated proxy server named Integrity Online to filter search requests for my household of surfers. Between children, friends, and cousins, there are users ages 2-18 searching the Internet. Integrity Online has faithfully prevented many "oops" incidents for many years. This service is understanding enough to provide rapid review of requests so you can unblock legitimate sites that are being blocked.

As a public school teacher of information technology, I use a free, Web-based bookmarking utility called Portaportal. I teach more than 500 students annually, and we use the Internet for supporting research and developing digital art projects.

Long URLs are a problem for students to type in to get to the learning activity. Using Portaportal allows students to get to sites quickly so they can begin the lesson. Additionally, Portaportal minimizes the tendency of students to wander off into regions of the Internet that aren't approved, because they are clicking only on links preapproved by the teacher.

As a parent and a teacher, I actively educate my family and students on the need to be aware of the potential for good and evil on the Internet. We engage in regular and robust discussions about the places we visit on the Internet and the appropriate uses of technology.

~Michael W. Hurst, Rigler School, Portland, Oregon

Online safety has a lot to do with parent involvement. First, we allow Internet access only in public places such as the living room, the kitchen, or the family room. Second, online and email contracts between child and parent are vital. I received this idea from a friend who used it with her daughter, and now our oldest daughter (age 10) has signed one with us.

It not only opened doors to many discussions but also helped her understand the responsibility that came with this new-found "freedom." Included in the contract is the understanding that Mom and Dad will always have full access to any of her Web and email accounts. We access her accounts throughout the week and help her navigate through spam and email communications with friends while giving her guidance -- even when not asked.

~Kim Haugo, Library media specialist and mother of two girls, Osseo Area Schools, Maple Grove, Minnesota

Today's students have no fear about doing stuff on computers or online. Though this confidence can lead to safety issues, there's a lot to be said about being free to try and learn something new. Adults always taught me not to experiment with computers. They assumed that I would learn first what to do and then do it, which has led me to be incredibly cautious about everything to do with computers and stuff online.

~Stephanie Saez-Hamilton, Technology trainer, Hillsborough Schools, Tampa Bay, Florida

We are a new independent school for students who have learning-style differences such as dyslexia or Asperger's syndrome. All have at least average intelligence. We do have one alum who is now earning all A's at his high school.

That being said, our kids can find unauthorized sites quicker than lightning. Such sites are everywhere. We do have parental controls on, and we have a list of which sites they can access. However, the negative sites seem to be more colorful, engaging, and attractive than the approved ones. Some of them would make you ill.

Whatever you could do to make the educational world safer would be a tremendous boon to this community.

~Kathy Farrell, Head of school, Vista Preparatory School, Andover, Massachusetts

Teach them not to reply to people they do not know. Talk about possible scenarios that they might encounter online. And, most important, listen to your kids when they talk about their issues. Don't preach or try to fix problems, because sometimes they just need to talk about their feelings. If you don't listen to them, they will find someone who will.

~Linda Rowland, Teacher, Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School, St. Helena, California

It's simple -- micromanage their every move! No violent games, no pornography, no crap. My kids use the Internet for research on topics we discuss ahead of time, and then we go to relevant Web sites together.

Also, while you're at it, get that damn TV out of your kid's bedroom! I was a "good" kid, and I watched all kinds of garbage on TV when no one was looking. Peace!

~Craig Cooper, Assistant principal, Hazen High School, Renton, Washington


SOURCES:
http://www.onguardonline.gov/
http://www.fbi.gov/fbikids.htm
http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-children-online-safety

http://momreviewers.com/featured/tips-to-keep-your-child-safe-when-using-the-world-wide-web
http://www.softwareparental.com/tag/child/

http://www.ikeepsafe.org/

Enhanced intelligence, reasoning skills and understanding early!

posted Jul 13, 2009, 3:18 PM by TexasTechies .org   [ updated Jul 13, 2009, 3:22 PM ]

Importance of Technology Literacy in 21st-Century America
U.S.A. Technology Advantage, By Kimberly Bunch

Teachers and students have incorporated living in a tech world into the classroom. Thereby, making their experience a richer one that is enjoyable. Technology has enhanced intelligence, reasoning skills and understanding. Kids' have more confidence and independence of thinking for problem solving. The drop out rate has decreased from the average 20 to 25%. Students want to go to school and learn, thanks to having technology in the classrooms.
 
Technology has been officially incorporated in the mainstream public schools, and is changing lives. Every form of ease for students learning and knowledge development is assisted with the use of computers, hardware devices, software and other forms of tech tools that build comprehension IQ scores in the life of the average American student(s).
 
School Systems
The future depends on our students. They will need to increase their technical skills in order to produce ground breaking new inventions in all areas, especially for: medical, military and scientific. Teachers are using software to help students with every subject in schools.
 
All U.S. students in public schools from K -12th grade use some form of software in their education. Using the Internet for classroom assignment research and basic understanding of critical thinking, problem solving, knowing digitally skills and daily texting; makes student multi literate, communicate efficiently and collaborate visually, along with basic skills just for academic standards from their basic understanding and knowledge of use of how they are living with technology by having incorporated it into their lives.
 
Students need schools that will challenge them and technology does that. It is remarkable the majority of students that developed confidence, knowledge for a better richer life by having been educated in the age of technology. It will change their lives for the better as long as they are in schools that incorporate technology into the curriculum. Having an advanced understanding of how things work produces better individuals that are self sufficient and they will know what they want out of life.
 
Every school is required to incorporate technology into the classrooms. A smart desktop into their class. Teachers can use electronic grade books, diagnostic testing and other forms of instruction to monitor and modify student daily progress. Smart desktop technology gathers and analyzes data for the teacher or even for students use in collecting certain information. Teachers
help establish a basic understanding of what is required, expected and needed in their classroom's. One of the most important actions schools and districts take regarding new interventions is to collect data on them to see how well they are working, to raise student achievement.
 
Schools need teachers that want to use technology to better the lives of their students by enriching their minds and the students by making learning easier with the use of computers in the classrooms and other learning equipment that will help teacher and students alike. Student that are going on to careers once they leave school must have been educated with an advanced understanding of technology to succeed in finding employment in the working world.
 
America is always looking to improve and advance understanding and knowledge in any given area . The School District is always working towards improvements with every aspect of how children learn and what they are learning. Data analysis help with knowing what areas to improve by providing the necessary information needed to make the correct changes or choices in planing and incorporating technical skills.
 
Disabilities
Any form of disability is assisted with some form of modern technology to help the person/student with their disability. Disabled Students can use computers to help them better understand a given subject. Which helps in teaching these students just as with all the other students in public schools. For the Special Ed
students are using software that is at the individuals pace. Thereby, assisting them with the best frame of learning; to enhance their understanding and development achievements.
 
Teaching Platforms

Encarta Class Server and other forms of platforms that help teachers to electronically manage the five major area of teaching: curriculum standards, lesson plans, content, assignment and assessments. Students can access their assignments wherever there is Internet access. With classroom servers students can complete assignments and receive teacher comments that help students stay on track and motivated towards their schooling curriculum.

 
Technology has changed lives. Learning has become easier with the use of the Internet and all the other gadgets, software, e-mail, texting and digital instruments that connect us to the rest of the world. Everything you ever wanted to know is right there at your fingertips. In the future by using this sophisticated technology will enhance the knowledge and understanding on a global level; making the future better for all mankind for future generations to come.
 

Is your child ready? Computer Literacy is a must!

posted Jul 13, 2009, 2:56 PM by TexasTechies .org

Computer literacy is a must for children in today's age, here is some information about computer classes for kids...
 
Although it has been a really long time since the computer was developed, the computer has become an object of great importance to day, be it any workplace and any profession. The uses and applications of computers are vast and un-ending. Computer literacy has become a pre-requisite while appearing for almost every odd interview. Since it is a known fact that today’s children will grow up to become responsible adults of tomorrow, they must be introduced to the basic technology that currently rules the world. This article will provide you with all the essential information you need to know before you enroll your child for computer classes.

What are the various types of computer classes?

Many schools and colleges offer computer classes for children. These classes are safe and reliable since they are designed specially for the children considering their ages and the distinct learning and grasping speeds. In case you fail to find such a computer class for your kids, there exist several virtual classes that offer computer lessons over the net. Also there exist several computer-teaching software that is sold in the market, in case you fail to find a suitable virtual classroom as well.

What is the suitable age for children to enroll them for a computer class?

Your child is ready to learn basic computer skills when he/ she is ready for the preschool. However the computer skills that would be taught to a 4 year old will be different than the elder kids. In case your child has an inclination for a career in computers, make sure you enroll him for the advanced level computer classes as well. This will give him an introduction to the syllabus that he will be taught in further professional courses.

What are the things that I should look for while selecting a computer class for my child?

Most importantly you need to check whether the class that you are registering for is a reliable one. Ask for an introductory session to give you a brief idea of the content that your child will be exposed to. Check whether the location of the classes seems convenient and safe for your child to visit regularly. Interact with the teachers/instructors and see whether they seem well prepared and pleasant. Ask what the teacher student ratio would be and whether your child would get personal attention. Check the number of computers in the class and make sure very child gets a personal computer while working in the class.

What if my child finds the computer classes too boring?

To avoid this problem, enroll your child in a computer class that has a good balance of education and entertainment. Monotonous theoretical knowledge can also sometimes make the children lose interest. Choose a class that offers plenty of hands on experience for the students.

What sort of things will my child learn in a computer class?

Depending on your child’s age, the computer classes usually start with basic computer skills like using the mouse, the keyboard, painting and drawing, simple pre-school games etc. Elder kids are then taught the functioning of the computer, the use of important software, and of course browsing the Internet. Advanced levels also offer various computer languages like C, C++ and knowledge of latest animation and graphics software.

What are the benefits of computer classes?

The first and most important benefit of having enrolled your child in a computer class is introducing him to technology so that he is comfortable with it. Computer skills, and proficiency at using the mouse and keyboard are known to enhance the hand-eye co-ordination of children. Having sound knowledge of basic computer software is nowadays a pre-requisite for any career, providing this knowledge to your child is like preparing him for the future.
 

A parent's guide to video and computer games

posted Jul 12, 2009, 12:51 PM by TexasTechies .org   [ updated Jul 18, 2009, 4:31 PM ]

babycenter 

A parent's guide to video and computer games
by Kevin Simpson

Electronic games dazzle us with cutting-edge graphics, excite us with seemingly boundless possibilities, and probably frighten us with the power they have over our kids. In our house, my 7-year-old son Zach has searched for dinosaurs, paddled the Amazon, explored the human body, learned Bible stories, and played 18 holes at Pebble Beach. And while he's no hard-core gamer — he'll still sometimes choose a box of 64 crayons over 64-bit graphics — I'm aware of the huge influence these games can have over him, for better or for worse.

As the market and influence of electronic games continues to grow, parents need to understand a few basics, such as why our kids are attracted to these addictive games, what they can learn from them, and how to avoid some inherent pitfalls.
 

Why kids LOVE electronic games

Lightning-fast processing speed, thundering audio, tantalizing graphics — certainly they're part of the allure, but they're really just window-dressing around the most elemental attraction: control. "Many kids, on a minute-to-minute basis, are told what to do, what to wear, what activities they can or can't do," says Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children's Software Revue. When they get their hands on a mouse or a game controller, they can do things that they may not be able to do in the real word, he notes — such as race cars, explore haunted houses, play sports with the pros — heady stuff for a 5-year-old.

 

Choosing good games

Of course, this empowerment cuts both ways, depending on whether the software channels it toward constructive or destructive behavior. Luckily, it's fairly easy to spot a good game — simply apply what you know about play in general to the video game market. "Good software is based on principles of play that have existed forever," Buckleitner says. Just like the kind of play your child enjoys in his own backyard, quality games offer intriguing searches, unexpected surprises, healthy sports competition — elements as old and entertaining as hide-and-go-seek.

 
Another way to ensure good choices? "Start with your child's interests," says Buckleitner. "You can also use that rule backward, too: What would I like my child to be exposed to more?" A former teacher, Buckleitner often watched students in the early grades struggle over their math and spelling abilities. But computer software can introduce formal academics in a playful, stress-free setting. Serious subjects tend to lose their intimidating edge when children encounter them in the comfortable context of entertainment.
 
But games don't have to be obviously educational to be teaching something. Even seemingly frivolous games can be packed with unexpected lessons. The hockey game I play with my son generates discussions about geography and international politics ("Dad, show me on the map where the Vancouver Canucks play," and "Why did the Russian team change its name from the Soviet Union?").

Handling violence in video games

This same hockey game also contains occasional fighting, and although nobody gets hurt, there's no graphic gore, and every scuffle ends with the play-by-play announcer admonishing the combatants as they skate off to the penalty box, the inevitable question arises: Do violent games create violent kids?

 
Over the last 20 years, studies have come down on all sides of the issue but produced no bottom-line clinical evidence that life imitates virtual reality. Even so, highly publicized incidents of school violence, some involving kids who dabbled in the games, have kept controversy roiling. "We're saying it's worth being concerned about," says Douglas Gentile, director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family in Minneapolis. "But we're not out there waving a red flag."
 
What can concerned parents do? For starters, keep your antennae up. One survey by the institute revealed that 80 percent of high school kids were familiar with the popular shoot-'em-up title "Duke Nukem." Only 5 percent of parents had even heard of it. It's never too soon to tune in to your child's interests.
 
It also pays to read the reviews and pay attention to the ratings of kids' software. For quick guidance, the Entertainment Software Rating Board rates more than 6,500 titles from "early childhood" to "adults only." If the ESRB system has a weak link, it's enforcement by retailers. A good rule for parents: Know what your children buy, or be there when they buy it. Better yet, play it.

How much is too much?

Even the best computer games — especially the best — can be addictive. And too much time spent in front of a computer screen has negative consequences. "Heavy users of electronic media tend to have fewer activities, fewer hobbies, play less well with peers, and not do as well in school," says Gentile. "Light users tend to get the benefit of the media."

 
In 1998, Neilsen Media Research reported that the average American child or adolescent spends more than 21 hours a week watching TV. And that doesn't count time spent surfing the Web or playing video games. So when you're calculating reasonable parameters for your child, think overall "screen time." Gentile recommends between one and two hours of screen time per day, but notes that there are no magic numbers. More important is to encourage a variety of activities and emphasize balance.
 
Other ways to ensure that time spent at the computer emphasizes quality over quantity include:
 
• Be clear that computer games are a privilege, to be used only with parental permission.
 
• Make computer games a social, rather than solitary, activity. Experts emphasize the importance of keeping the hardware — whether it's TV game consoles or desktop systems — in a family area. Not only does this reduce the possibility that your child will isolate himself, but it gives you a chance to keep an eye on the screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics goes so far as to advise parents to keep their kids' room "electronic media-free."
 
• Place a piano bench — rather than a chair — in front of the family computer to invite multiple players, Buckleitner suggests.

Getting up to speed

One of the best and easiest ways to police your child's playing is to play the games with her. For young kids, simply seat them on your lap. That's what Buckleitner does with his kindergarten-age daughter when they compete in virtual auto racing against her big sister.

 
And if you're a technophobe, don't let intimidating technology or jargon stop you from playing with your child. While it's true that some genres of video games practically have their own language, kids under 8 won't be talking over your head.
 
That said, be prepared for some humiliation. When I reluctantly showed my son how to play my "fairly complex" computer hockey software, the student quickly became the tutor. While I futilely forced sports logic on the game, Zach easily adapted to the software's idiosyncrasies. "Here, Dad," he said just a little impatiently. "Let me show you how to score a goal." I try not to take the losing too hard (I take these opportunities to teach him how to be a gracious winner). Remember, kids cut their teeth on this stuff. They should be better. Plus, kids talk, picking up tips from friends (beware the teen babysitter).
 
The important thing to remember is that there's no substitute for parental involvement, even in electronic games. So after your little gamer thrashes you in "Backyard Football," take him out in the front yard and teach him Kick the Can. You rule.
 

Internet Safety

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:33 AM by TexasTechies .org

How to keep your child safe
All of the email and Internet-related concepts in the Imagine Tomorrow software used during class are completely simulated, so children learn how to use the Internet in a safe environment without actually going online. Young children should never be online without adult supervision, an important safety factor reinforced throughout classes.

How to support your child's excitement for the equipment

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:31 AM by TexasTechies .org

Another great idea is to buy an extra mouse and keyboard for your home. Name your new pet "Squeaky" the mouse, and "Pokey" the keyboard. Point out the similarities between "Squeaky" and a real mouse! They both move, they have a long tail, and instead of squeaking, it talks with a 'click.' Your child can even take "Squeaky" around the house for a walk using the long cord of its tail.
 
Children can practice clicking, dragging, and eventually double-clicking with Squeaky, and typing gently using "Pokey," so they learn how to properly use and respect the technology before using yours!

How to introduce rules of respect

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:30 AM by TexasTechies .org   [ updated Apr 11, 2009, 9:31 AM ]

Introducing the Keyboard
If your child bangs on the keyboard, which is a natural way to quench their curiosity of cause/effect, bring them through these simple phrases so they learn to respect the keyboard.
"We do not bang on the keyboard.
Do you think that makes the keyboard feel good? No! That's right! It can break.
Do you think it would be better if we tap the keys gently, like this? (demonstrate) Yes!
I knew you knew!! Show me how you do it gently. Yeah! Good job!!"

Introducing the Keyboard

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:29 AM by TexasTechies .org

How to introduce keys on the keyboard
The same 1/2 inch stickers work well to place on the main keys for introduction of the keyboard, such as backspace, spacebar, Shift, and Ctrl.
When learning letters with "Pokey" the keyboard, start with finding the first letter of the child's first name, then add on the other letters. 

How to help your child without a struggle

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:28 AM by TexasTechies .org   [ updated Apr 11, 2009, 9:33 AM ]

To stop a potential power struggle, do not put your hand on top of your child's hand on the mouse. Your child may pull away due to the power struggle over the mouse, and this could lead to a frustrating experience. To empower your child, put your child's hand on top of yours. You'll actually be in control of the mouse, and your child will pick up the fine motor skills from your movements.

Introducing the Mouse

posted Apr 11, 2009, 9:27 AM by TexasTechies .org

How to move the mouse
Since most young children may not know the difference between left and right, focus on teaching the mouse movements of up, down, side to side. Use a basic paint program or mouse-skill activity where the target on the screen is larger than a typical arrow. Continue to repeat aloud, 'up, down, side to side' as you and your child move the mouse in those directions.

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