While it’s true that not every kid has a personal computer in their home at present, it is expected that at least 95% of households will have some form of internet access in a few years from now.
It’s not easy teaching your child how to use a computer, especially when they don’t have any prior experience with technology and are far more interested in playing games or streaming videos.
Learning basic computer skills will help children develop good study habits, communication skills, and an aptitude for problem-solving and technology use that will serve them well throughout their lives.
This begs the question, what are the computer basics kids should have at their fingertips? Well, we’ve tailored this article to walk you through the following:
- What exactly are computer basics
- The right time to teach kids essential computer basics
- Teaching kids how the computer works
- Important computer skills children should have handy
- Internet safety for kids
- Tips for Teaching Kids Computer Basics
Alright, stay with me as we walk through all of this.
What Are Computer Basics?
Computer basics are simply the cornerstone of computer literacy. Knowledge of its fundamentals and proper application can lead to more broad uses and processes for kids in the future.
This includes anything from knowing the different parts of the computer system (hardware and software) to understanding how to use these parts to attain a specific result.
How Old Can Kids Start Using Computers?
Using tablets, computers, and smartphones around children will kindle their interest, and you may notice them toying with these devices when they are within easy reach.
However, do not misinterpret this as a serious interest in computers. Children around three and four are in the “button-pressing” period and will perceive computers as flashy, shiny toys.
So, at what age can children begin using computers?
For most kids, this is around age five. However, if your child has an older sibling who uses the computer regularly, he may be able to do so sooner.
If you have more than one young child in your home, buying separate laptops for each of them is a good idea. That way, they won’t fight over which device they get to play on.
If you buy a laptop and want your toddler to play on it occasionally with supervision, change the settings so that she can’t accidentally click on anything she shouldn’t see. She also should only be allowed to use the keyboard and mouse.
As your child gets older, you can teach him how to use the mouse by tracing shapes on a piece of paper until he becomes comfortable touching it while sitting at a desk.
Teaching Kids How the Computer Works
Instead of a tablet or phone, the ideal approach to introduce your kid to a computer is with a family laptop or, more preferably, a desktop.
Why? This restricts your child’s access and allows you to educate them on the fundamentals, like switching on or off the computer or opening and closing a computer software.
But first, make them realize that most devices they deal with regularly are computers. When children discover that even the candy machine at the nearby mall is a computer, they will be more excited to learn about it.
They’ll understand that computers are more than just a fun display and need them to do practically anything. Children need to learn how to operate traditional computers with keyboards, which they will most likely use at school.
This will help kids learn hardware and software fundamentals and improve their typing and mouse skills in ways touchscreens cannot. You could also educate them about the history of computers, so they can easily grasp what computers are and how they have evolved.
It would help if you also taught children basic computer hygiene at this point, such as washing their hands before they use the computer, not clicking the keys so hard, and keeping food and liquids away from the computer and keyboard.
Basic Computer Skills for Kids
It’s never too late to learn the basics. It’s important that kids learn the basics, so they can easily improve on those skills in the future. Here are some skills they should know how to do:
Good keyboard skills are essential to succeeding in school and beyond. Even if your kid doesn’t plan on being a computer scientist or an office worker, knowing how to type will come in handy for all sorts of projects, like writing emails and taking online quizzes.
If your child already knows his ABCs on paper, teaching him to type them can take as little as ten minutes a day. You can teach your kid typing skills with the help of programs like Marvis Beacon or Typing Club.
Your kid needs to know how to send and receive emails to communicate with teachers, family members, and friends. The easiest way to get started is by using Gmail at home or downloading the program Mail on a Mac or Windows machine.
Once you’re comfortable with them sending and receiving messages, you can encourage your child to create her account, so she’ll have a place where she can store messages from people she trusts.
To ensure her account is safe from strangers (or even sneaky classmates), teach her how to set up security questions.
3. Online Research
The World Wide Web is full of useful information and kid-friendly sites. Your child should learn how to locate these resources on her own and be able to evaluate them appropriately so she can spend more time having fun online.
Teach your child how to use a search engine so he can look up words and topics he doesn’t understand. When she finds something good, ask her what she thinks about it before letting her read it.
Show her how to follow links on different pages so she can see other articles that might interest her. You can also educate your child on how to use a bookmarking tool like Delicious or Diigo so she can save websites to revisit later.
Try to monitor the content they research online, or you could use the parental control setting to ensure they are not viewing harmful content.
There are some coding platforms for kids, like CodeMonkey, where they can learn fundamental programming tools like Python and Block-Based Coding.
Kids who take the time to learn will develop key problem-solving skills and can eventually take this as a career.
And because programming languages aren’t written down but instead told through combinations of text commands, kids don’t need to know how to read very well to use them.
Internet Safety for Kids
Kids need to understand the risks of using technology and how easy it is for people they don’t know to contact them online.
The first step in internet etiquette for kids is parental control. Keep an eye on what websites your child visits and ensure they’re safe. Some programs out there will let you do this with just one click. If your child does come across a website that looks like it might be inappropriate, make sure to talk about why that might be so without scaring them unnecessarily.
This is also a perfect time to educate them about spam, phishing, malware, and other strategies and tools used to steal personal information. As they spend more time on the internet, they will need to learn to prevent pitfalls.
Teaching internet safety gets more difficult with teenagers, who usually have their own devices and crave more privacy. You’ve hopefully set a firm foundation for safety with these kids, but keep an eye out for signals of trouble.
If your kid spends the entire night online, receives messages from strangers or unwanted gifts, refuses to talk to you about it, or switches off their computer when you enter the room, it’s time to examine their messages, search history, and limit their internet access.
Parents can adopt a variety of techniques to accomplish this. Some of them are discussing with their children their online activity.
Consider periodically co-creating with them. Keep track of your child’s favorite websites and apps. Discover how they work and what they expect from you. Let them know that their interests stimulate your attention.
Tips When Teaching Kids Computer Basics
When teaching kids computer basics, it is important to have a safe environment and help them navigate the different parts of a computer. This will allow them to explore independently once they have been taught the basics. Here are some tips for teaching kids computer basics.
- Encourage Communication
One important thing when teaching kids about computers is encouraging communication. Let them ask questions and be patient as they learn how everything works. Getting used to typing or coding and other new skills can take time. Help them out when needed, but let them do some things alone.
- Be Patient
Teaching kids computer basics may have some rather high-priced requirements for younger children. If your kid has difficulty comprehending and applying some concepts, yelling or expressing frustration will not help. It is best to be polite and patient when teaching children.
- Use kid apps for easy learning
If you are trying to teach kids basic computer skills such as coding, typing, or browsing the internet, you can use some apps tailored for kids to make the learning experience more fun.
In a nutshell, teaching your kids basic computer skills will give them a solid foundation if they decide to hone those skill sets in the future.
There are a lot of tools and resources like CodeMonkey, and Mavis Beacon that teach these skills in a more friendly interface that grabs their attention.
And there is no right age to start this journey – children as young as four can be taught simple steps like using the mouse and keyboard.
Just be patient with your kid and encourage them. You’ll see them improving in the long haul.