A dreadful moment of reaslisation came the other day. Mrs Adams was using what I consider to be my computer to look at Mumsnet, Helen was using what is definitely my iPad for some task or other, and Izzy, as a reward for good behavior, was using my mobile phone to play a game. “Yes”, I thought, “It’s probably time to get a family computer”.
I can’t remember why, but I desperately needed to get online for some reason. Okay it wasn’t life and death stuff but one of the many domestic tasks that build up and spiral out of control if not seen to quickly: Paying bills, dealing with ParentMail messages, checking WisePay, that kind of thing.
There I was, deprived of access to everyday technology by the rest of my family whose immediate need for it was questionable. This, however, was only the start of my troubles.
When my mobile phone was returned to me, it was like a completely different device. Izzy’s game had seemingly included a bonus round of “move-all-the-apps-and-leave-them-where-daddy-can’t-find-them.” Here I am, a couple of weeks later, and still unable to find where she hid them all on the device.
This hasn’t just happened to my mobile phone. More than once I’ve sat down at my computer and found the settings have mysteriously been altered. Thankfully nothing disastrous has ever happened but small hands on keyboards have the potential to do a lot of damage.
I use the computer for my freelance work and blogging in addition to domestic duties. I need constant access to it, but Helen increasingly needs it for Matheltics homework and other school assignments. I’ve also had to load a few apps on to it for her that are now beginning to affect its performance because they eat memory.
As for the iPad, well I’ve had to read the Riot Act to my offspring. They have been told in no uncertain terms that it’s mine and while I may let them use it, I insist on being asked first and want to know what they are using it for.
When it comes to giving my children access to technology, I am realistic but conservative. Helen can go online but only if I know exactly what she is doing (and the parental controls are set high). I don’t let Izzy online, but she can play games and as with her sister, time limits are set.
I’ve resisted bringing any further tech into the house, but I think the time has come whereby the rest of the family needs its own computer. We’ve already experimented with small lap tops and other tablets but they’re just too slow and, ultimately, the capabilities are too limited for school assignments. Ideally I want to provide a proper work space with a desk for the kids to do homework.
I accept my approach has reached its limits. With a decent computer, the kids would possibly use their tech time more constructively. I have been encouraging Helen to get into coding and had some success doing so. Just as she’s achieving something wonderful with her coding, one of us, be it Mrs Adams or myself, kicks her off the computer because we need it.
It won’t be that long until Izzy also needs computer access for school work. I might as well take action now to give them what they need.
Our impending house move provides the ideal opportunity. I’ll set the kids up with their own computer in my office. I’ll be able to keep an eye on what they do and I can be on hand to help when they need it.
Be it Mumsnet, Minecraft or Mathletics, the family will have no need to use my computer. The thought brings me great joy!
I’d be interested to know how you handle this situation in your house. Do you have a ‘family’ computer for everyone to use and one solely for the grown-ups? Do each of your kids have their own machine? Have you found that providing the correct equipment has resulted in your kids using their tech time more constructively?