I remember when we bought our first home computer – a mere 10 years ago! We were so excited – the kids could play educational games and do research projects for school – while we could keep in touch with people via e-mail and do some ‘surfing‘ on our own to learn about the world and even the universe! And sometimes — but only sometimes – we could do some work from home if absolutely necessary.
We read all of the consumer reports and parenting advice concerning where to put the computer so we could keep an eye on our future computer geniuses. It was decided to put it in our bedroom — not because we keep an eye on the children and knew they couldn’t be on it all night long — not because there were no distractions and would enable them to do their homework without interruption — no, we put it in our bedroom because it was the only place with any extra space and an easy to reach outlet! Those reports and articles always assume you an extra room in your house which no one is using and it is completely empty and with lots of outlets! The people who wrote these things obviously live in a world where houses are all over 3000 square feet and there are only three people in the entire place! When your house is only 1100 square feet, three bedrooms and one bathroom – and is occupied by six people – you take whatever space is available!
The use of the computer in our house never lived up to its expectations. Yeh, the kids did play educational games – for about 10 minutes! Then they would go to their rooms and play something on their game station. To my knowledge, no research projects were ever completed using the computer – other than typing out the information. And as far as work goes — we used it mainly to email our boss if we had to stay home sick – we couldn’t get into the systems at work – so what was the point!
We had to put a cyber-nanny on the computer because my children insisted on getting on sites that weren’t appropriate — in fact, I can’t even type the names of some of the places they discovered in their surfing. At first I thought they were doing it on purpose and then I typed “Lake Superior” into the system to try to find lodging around the lake for a vacation. As I looked down the list, I was surprised how many times “Lake Superior” was featured on a pornography site!
And what about our surfing to find the knowledge of the universe? Well, we found out that the universe is a very messy and disorganized place! There were many times that I would go to bed and Pat (my hubby) was still on the computer. He said he wanted to look up some more information on a news story he had seen earlier. For example — there was a story about the Hubble telescope. Pat wanted to see some other NASA pictures and as I drifted off to sleep, he was looking at beautiful pictures of galaxies, comets and stars. When I woke up two hours later – Pat was still glued to the computer screen.
“What are you looking at that is so interesting you don’t need sleep?”
“I thought you were looking at space pictures.”
“I was. Now I’m looking at lighthouses.”
“I have no idea. I started clicking on links in the stories and somehow I am now reading about lighthouses.”
“Are you coming to bed?”
“Right after I click on this link.”
I have no idea what other places he visited on his trip – I went back to sleep. He came to bed a couple of hours later muttering something about Yellowstone – I didn’t ask why.