Parenting: His own laptop?

November 23, 2010

I'm never far away when he uses it, but sometimes it becomes a source of a proverbial tug of war between father and son. He likes to visit children's websites and play games, and I use it to read various online newspapers.

Well recently, Nicholas asked for his "own" laptop for Christmas. Not really sure if this is a good idea, I did a little research.

Certainly, the price of a small laptop that can be used to surf the web has come down considerably, but that's not the only good news apparently. There are some "mini" laptops that aren't too heavy to carry around, but are pretty durable. They also have small keyboards for small fingers and even a spill-proof keyboard.

But the real question is does an 8-year-old need his own laptop? And there are various opinions on that. Some experts say kids shouldn't have such a device - even a cell phone - until the teen years, primarily because of all the questionable materials on the internet, despite web-filters and parental controls. Others warn about a child becoming consumed or addicted with his laptop.

For me, the bottom line is this: how responsible is your child? And how much parental supervision are you willing to give? That's what I have to determine before deciding yes or no.

The internet can be a dark place for a child. But it's up to us parents to provide a constant light. And whether that means a parental lock on a laptop, or perhaps a desktop with limited family time, that's up to you.

Good luck. Boy, have times changed since I was a kid.

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