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You can probably remember a time before the internet. You may even remember a time before there was a personal computer in every home.
But your kids (or grandkids) don't.
For them, the internet has always been a part of their lives, involved in everything from talking to family members who live far away, learning on computers and tablets at school, and even entertainment at home. They have no idea how much the world has changed in the last twenty years alone. To make their way successfully in this world, they need to be well-versed in the digital world. So why not give them every advantage you can?
As our society becomes more and more internet-oriented, it can sometimes feel like your kids are swimming with ease through the digital waters, while you are paddling along behind, struggling to keep your head up. And that's fine, really! Believe it or not, computer and tablet use is more interactive than television, which can help kids learn more and retain the information longer. Children's minds are built for learning, and to them, being a digital-native is just the way life is. For adults, the internet-savvy lifestyle tends to take some getting used to, but the internet is getting easier to use and more accessible every day.
That's why it's important to give your children a chance to learn online. They may be digital natives, but they don't know everything yet, and the internet offers an abundance of cool programs, educational videos, and other learning opportunities. Online learning can take many different forms, from games that allow them to explore their vocabulary or learn a new language, to watching cooking videos on YouTube to learn how to cook their favorite recipes. There are tons of great online websites with thousands of options; try PBSkids.org/, Starfall.com, and CoolMath.com for the youngest kids. A big part of learning is receiving feedback, and online learning sources can provide that for kids at any age—without getting tired (we know how it is, moms).
Older children will enjoy playing games and being part of different online communities. It's up to you to decide when and how much social media engagement is appropriate. Just like every child needs to develop strong social skills, they also need to know how to navigate the internet effectively and safely. Visit StaySafeOnline.org to learn tips and tricks for safe internet browsing, how to handle your child's introduction to social media, and much more.
Being digitally-fluent is still a skill that takes practice, even for our app-crazy kiddos. Luckily, the internet offers a wealth of options for curious kids. For example, kids who are interested in computers, coding, and robots could check out: LightBot.com, the MIT App Inventor, or CodeAcademy.com.
Giving your child an hour or two of supervised internet access every day will open up whole new worlds, spark their imagination, teach them how to navigate the world that is growing up around them, and prepare them to enter the world smarter, wiser, and more mature than we were at that age.
The internet offers a great way to give your kids a better future, but it doesn't all have to be about studying and keeping your nose to the grindstone. We're not saying the water bottle flip challenge made anyone smarter, but it was kind of fun! With a little help from you, your kids can learn to be confident, intelligent digital whizzes. So why not check out some of these sites with your kids today? Because you deserve to see your kids grow up to fulfill their dreams!