A favourite phrase in our house recently has been "Let's google it and find out". Our children have already realised that we don't always know the answers, but that the internet probably does! Like, why does this white glue dry clear? Or, what's the deadliest animal in the world? In fact, they asked me yesterday if there was anything that google didn't know! When I was 7 if my Mum and Dad didn't know the answer I'd have to go the library and look it up, or find someone who did know, by which time I'd probably lost interest in the subject anyway. But in this day and age of instant answers our kids can find out virtually anything, anywhere.
In a lot of ways, the use of ICT is a part of the school curriculum that we don't need to push them to improve. Most children love the chance to go on the computer, and for pre-school and nursery age children, there's loads of games to practice co-ordination and mouse skills. As they get older, there are games available on the internet linked to all the subjects they study in school, and other than directing them to suitable sites and then keeping an eye on them to make sure they're not going on sites we don't want them to, we can leave them to improve their computer skills, and practice their maths, or literacy, or geography, at the same time. A lot of schools have suggested websites for games that are linked into the work they do in school. And helping your child to write an email to Granny, or make and print out a birthday party invitation is fun and helps with their learning too.
As a parent of a 4 year old and a 7 year old I can already see the time on the horizon where they'll be wanting to use the computer for things that I don't necessarily approve of. There's nothing to stop a child from setting up a facebook account with a false date of birth. (At 13 they can, according to the rules of facebook set up an account anyway). And once that's done, they can share all their personal information and photographs with the whole world. Well, I say there's nothing to stop them, but there is - themselves. I'm not really looking forward to being a parent of teenagers, and only time will tell if I am successful in teaching them responsibility, honesty and safe behaviour as they grow up, but I'm sure going to try. I am realistic and know that I will not always be able to control what they do online, but I hope that I can teach them enough to do it safely. Because the day is going to come, and it might not be that far away, when they know more about computers and the internet than I do.