My generation was the first to be given cell phones in middle school and have open access to computers and internet in our homes. My parents were a bit behind on the times. While my classmates were being given laptops for Christmas, we had one family desktop (without internet access) used only for typing school reports. While my friends carried cell phones to call home when they needed a ride or would be staying overnight with a friend, I instead carried quarters for the pay phone.
This sort of unwillingness to change with the times resulted in a technical ignorance that set me back later in life. The greatest stumbling block I faced was that I had to teach myself how to research and find reliable sources of information online.
I have made an effort to be more proactive in making sure my children’s experiences with technology are helpful and safe.
By now most people know about Google Safe Search, which filters out and blocks sexually explicit results.
It is unfortunate that much of the internet is porn and sometimes seemingly innocent searches can yield unsavory results. As someone who speaks openly with my children about sex, drugs, alcohol, and a variety of other controversial topics, my goal is not to isolate my son from the world around him, but to let him explore it at an age appropriate rate. Even though I supervise his internet use, if an innocent search brings up a pornographic image, he can’t un-see that. Thats why I always make sure to have Google Safe Search turned on when my son uses my computer.
If you aren’t sure about how to turn on Google Safe Search, Google has a tutorial on their support page (click here).
Beyond blocking sexually explicit content, you can also filter search results by reading level. Your highschooler can probably decipher the advanced language used in online-available research reports and such, whereas your 2nd grader would probably be best to stick with the more basic information available.
For those interested in filtering search results by reading level, Google has another helpful tutorial on their support page (click here).
Technology isn’t the be-all-end-all of research, my kindergartner still spends more hours a week with a library book than he does a computer, but when internet research is necessary, we’re ready.
Just as a side note, LittleMan’s favorite thing to do online is type words into Google Translate and learn how to say them in Spanish. These pictures were taken the first time we did that activity, for his Mexico theme unit, but he has requested to do it several times a week since then and has even started his own small English-Spanish dictionary full of words like “cat/gato” and “blue/azul.”by