Now that my cherubs are getting a bit older and more techno savvy, I'm allowing them greater reign on our family's home iMac. They appear small and defenseless in the shadow of its 18-inch screen. Their eyes stare widely at the images glowing back at them. The computer becomes like God in their little worlds for a brief moment.
Thanks to Awol, we are now regular Starfall visitors and the boys have a usual agenda of watching the snowman story and then proceeding through the alphabet. M (4) generally dominates the mouse, however T (2.5) has been showing mouse adeptness lately. (I won't mention how many times I've found said mouse in pieces on the ground, curiously dismantled by the young lad. He is now no longer allowed to be alone in our home office!)
The boys' most beloved computer activity by far is perusing YouTube and watching Thomas toy train videos made by other children. As long as mom keeps a watchful eye on show choices, this activity generally produces enough benign and interesting bits to keep the boys' interest for hours, though we try not to let it go that long. They are little train voyeurs and enjoy watching other children's train tracks and play best of all. It has been most interesting to watch how these videos have influenced their own track development and storylines. Our M is now a master track builder, using everything from legos to boxes in order to get the right height for his latest track creation.
For right now, the computer serves as an incentive for good quiet time behavior. If the boys are well-behaved during their quiet time, they are allowed 30 minutes of computer time following. Each infraction removes 5 minutes from the total. My sister uses the computer to motivate her sons' daily use of manners. "Manners Money" pennies are distributed to them throughout the day, each equivalent to a minute of time to be spent on the computer.
How do you manage computer time? Families with multiple older children, how do you divide computer time to allow for all members to have equal share? Also, what parent filters have you found that are worthwhile?
While we navigate this important techno force within our homes, let us bind together and share information to keep our children safe and our strategies most effective. I look forward to hearing your ideas!