Middle School

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Technology Through the Ages: How society’s technological advances affect Children and Tweens

Elementary School Children (ages 5-7)

This is the age when many of today’s children are introduced to the Internet. Now that more and more Canadian schools have computer labs, PCs or Macs in the classroom, a child’s first use of a computer may be at school. Others often get their first computer experience at home, learning from parents or older siblings. According to the Media Awareness Network, a Canadian non-profit organization that promotes digital and media literacy among youth, Canadian children are becoming increasingly Internet savvy, with 84 per cent of them already online.

Websites (often with online games)—such as Nick Jr. and Webkinz— attract the youngest online children, aged as young as toddler years. Ideally, when your children are this age, you will be actively involved with their online activities the same way you are with their homework, so you will be able to monitor their actions on sites such as these. For example, you should make sure the computer your child uses is within your view, in a public space like the kitchen, den, or family room. Parental control software can help you by limiting the sites your child can access, even when you aren’t around. The controls also limit any information you don’t want your child sharing, whether it be their name, age, phone number, or any other private information. Be sure to show your child how to close a browser window and let them know it’s always OK to close a site if something surprising or disturbing occurs. Tell them never to chat, type messages, or share information with anyone on these sites unless you are with them.

Tween Children (ages 8-12) Tweens are far more social and adventuresome in their computer use. They talk to their peers at school and learn about the newest and “coolest” sites. They will sign-up for their first email and instant messaging accounts. Ask your child about those accounts and what the passwords are, so that you can monitor their activities, and know with whom they are communicating. Children at this age may also start to check out social networking sites that are popular with older teens and adults. Most won’t create an account until they are a little older (and the usual legal age to begin is 13 years), but they will visit the pages and posts of friends, older siblings, and other relatives who have their own pages and profiles. If your young child creates a social network before they are the approved age and the company discovers your child’s age, their account will be deleted.

Tweens are also interested in music, and the Internet is an easy way to listen, discover and download new tunes, as well as meet others who share their musical interests. They might follow news about a favourite group or celebrity by visiting their blog or website; check out different sites to get the latest gossip along with downloadable photos; or join a Twitter feed.

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