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What do you consider to be a healthy amount of time for a 5 year old to spend on the computer? With websites such as Up to Ten I can certainly say that I feel more comfortable for her to spend time playing educational games rather than watching kids t.v.

asked 25 Sep '09, 18:36

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Emi
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edited 25 Sep '09, 18:44

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It also depends what the kid is doing, I mean watching TV/videos vs. using it to play interactive games, write creatively, if you can include the computer with other activities or tasks such as critical thinking or creativity I would say it's more acceptable.

(28 Sep '09, 06:07) kurtseifried

I passed on my first netbook (one of the first Eee PCs) to my eldest son, who is nearly 6, and he loves it. He mostly places on the CBeebies and Rainbow Magic web sites, but he's definitely gaining from it.

Like you, I think it's more positive than TV, and so far I haven't had to restrict his time on it. If he spent more than an hour or so per day on it I'd be a little concerned, although it would be a tricky thing to discipline him on given the amount of time I spend on computers.

Obviously things will get trickier when he discovers IM and (later on) adult websites, but at the moment it's a lovely way for him to feel a little bit more independent. It's also encouraged his reading quite a bit (not that that's a problem now...) - it was amazing how quickly he learned to print things out, for example.

Just as a side note: with netbooks so affordable these days, I wonder how long the "dedicated" children's computers will last; the ones with the awful monochrome LCD displays and very limited uses. When Chrome OS devices start shipping I think there'll be even less reason not to get a child a "proper" computer.

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answered 26 Sep '09, 17:17

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Jon Skeet
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Thanks. Our 5 year old daughter has the 7" Eee PC and has certainly benefited from using it. She tends to use it when my husband and I are both at our desks at home. She is on for a bit over an hour and that was basically my concern, so your answer certainly helps. Also number of really great websites for kids makes computer usage enjoyable and educational. If your son likes drawing I would recommend http://www.mrpicassohead.com/

(26 Sep '09, 19:01) Emi

I might try that - although he's not into drawing much. It may encourage him though :) The CBeebies web site is great for UK kids, as they can transfer from their favourite TV programs to the web...

(26 Sep '09, 20:11) Jon Skeet

I feel computers are now important and essential tools for everyday tasks (look where you're reading this if you don't believe me), and kids will grow up with them everywhere, so they should learn how to use them.

As everything else, there are better ways to use it than others, so as long as the infant is learning and having healthy fun, I wouldn't put a time limit for it (of course I would want my child to go out and play also, so not all day neither)

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answered 25 Sep '09, 20:11

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JJJ
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Agreed, shunning computers at this point would be like shunning pen and pencil (cause bits of charcoal are good enough =) or the printed book.

(28 Sep '09, 06:05) kurtseifried

Our six year old has "his" laptop. It's in the living room so that we can see what he's doing.

He get small periods of time on the ad sites, like lego.com and the hasbros site - mostly fifteen minutes at a time. The rest of the time he has to spend on ad free sites, where he plays flash games and listen to podcasts.

I don't know of any ad free English sites, but he mainly uses two danish languish sites, http://dr.dk/t and "oline", both driven by the Danish national broadcasting company and ad free... The first one, had mainly English contents.

We also started on the CBeebiee site, which is great for small kids...

(sorry about the lack of links - only one links is allowed for new users)

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answered 28 Sep '09, 08:01

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TC
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edited 28 Sep '09, 09:16

Have you considered Firefox with adblock plus to prevent ads?

(28 Sep '09, 10:00) kurtseifried

Ah, we have that. The issue is the movies and games on sites like lego and hasbro. They all have toys as main characters, which has him wanting to buy them (as expected), that's the kind of thing we have put a time limit on.

(28 Sep '09, 11:08) TC

My daughter is 4 and has an XO laptop that we gave her a year ago. She just uses it for games. She doesn't go online at all. (It's non-obvious how to get online in the XO interface, so that helps.)

When she's at my in-laws, she occasionally goes to the Webkinz site (which her cousins are on) under my MIL's direct supervision. Once in a while my husband will show her some YouTube videos - cats, or music videos.

We do play console games together a few nights a week - we have a Wii and an Xbox 360 and a PS2, and she also likes to help me name my ships when I play Civ 4. My husband and I are both gamers and software developers, so she's doomed to be interested in and good at computers, but we don't push it. Usually she'd rather play with blocks, or with other kids.

My 10-month-old son will abandon any normal toy the instant he sees a keyboard, a mouse, or a remote control, and LUNGE for it. He's the one I'm more worried about. ;)

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answered 03 Oct '09, 20:20

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Sarah Mei
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Asked: 25 Sep '09, 18:36

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Last updated: 03 Oct '09, 20:20