In recent time, screen time across devices has risen rapidly. For young kids, knowledge of computer skills has become an essential part of their education-- as schools and extracurriculars move online, young kids are struggling to adapt to a new style of learning. But what basic computer skills do kids need, and how do we teach them?
First thing first - Safety! A big part of basic computer skill for kids is how to navigate the internet safely. We need to make sure they are not exposed to cyber bullying, phishing, communicating with strangers and kid-unfriendly contents. Parents should activate safe browsing mode to make sure children are not accidentally exposed to kid-unfriendly sites. Excessive screen time is also a big challenge and has many negative effects on child development. Parents need to limit screen time, there are many tools available in the market to help monitor kid’s computer usage and screen time.
Following are a list of a few monitoring tools we have reviewed;
A few safety browsing suggestions for kids come to mind are;
Now that we have talked about online safety, let's move to remote learning, a popular topic these days. One of the common computer skills that kids need is an introduction to video conferencing so that they can navigate through class. Beyond just knowing how to enter a meeting, it’s oftentimes necessary to understand how to chat, share screen, react, and more. There are great YouTube videos for Zoom and Google Meet.
Beyond being able to enter classes, there’s also lots of important aspects of the screen to teach kids. I think some of the most useful would be how to open internet browsers (especially while using video conferencing), how to add tabs, and additionally how to split screens. A simpler piece of knowledge that is absolutely essential is: how to Google (Please make sure to have safe browsing is on).
Aside from the browser, it’s also important to teach kids about the other keys on the computer that don’t have distinctly defined functions. I’m not talking about the letters and the numbers, but the shift key and the caps lock key and the tab key and command and control are all very important to understand how the keyboard works. By also teaching kids these basic skills, they have a much better understanding of how to use a computer, and how to use it efficiently.
Now that we know some of the important computer skills that kids need to be able to know, how do we teach these skills? Many young students have never been exposed to this level of screen time before. I think the most important part is that we should be letting students do, instead of showing them how to do. As a coding teacher for kids, I’ve noticed a lot that when students have tech issues, parents come in and fix it for them instead of teaching them how to fix it themselves. A good solution to this problem would be letting students try to fix the problem first or give at least ideas, and then to explain to them how to do it, so that they can have the experience themselves. If we teach students and expect them to be able to log in and get set up themselves, they’ll learn naturally how to use the computer themselves. And that, after all, is the final goal.
There are many great resources available online to help parents teach basic computer skills to kids and let kids navigate the internet safely. Please reach out to Code With Us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more questions regarding your children’s technology education, we are always here to help.
Jane Ni - Sr. Instructor at Code With Us