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How To Balance Life And Technology For Kids? 425

brs165 writes "Being a newly minted geek father as of 4 months ago, I've thought about problems I've never had reason to consider before. One issue which I'd like to hear from the ./ crowd is introducing technology to their children. What got me thinking about this was a blog post about 'Nature-Deficit Disorder', and I think it brings up some good points. I grew up playing in the local woods and creek with minimal tech until our first computer when I was 13. I hear stories from coworkers how some of their kids/grandkids hating going outside because it is boring and they'd rather stay indoors. Should I avoid introducing them to technology until absolutely neccessary, or is it a matter of achieving a balance?"
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How To Balance Life And Technology For Kids?

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  • Simple... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Laivincolmo ( 778355 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:45PM (#12858186)
    Just create a simulation of all that icky nature stuff on a computer and plug them in matrix style for 18 years. Then reveal to them their whole life has been a sham up until that point.. :)
    • by starrsoft ( 745524 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:44PM (#12858609) Homepage
      Even better: Make sure they never go to dotslash. You know they'll get addicted then... :-)
    • Re:Simple... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Spetiam ( 671180 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:35PM (#12858877) Journal
      Personally, I would severely limit their computer time (as well as TV time), then very gradually relax starting around 13 or 14 or when they start high school. Until they're out on their own, unless they have a real ability with programming/networking/graphics/whatever, I'd encourage them to live life in the real world. If they're not developing a genuine skill or actively engaged in something productive (like writing a paper), there's no need for them to have more access than necessary. If they're using the computer for entertainment, I'd probably treat it like any other form of entertainment that fails to develop good social skills, i.e., restrict it.

      Of course, the usual parental concerns of child safety, exposure to inappropriate content, etc., also come into play according to the parents' values.
  • by Humba ( 112745 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:45PM (#12858191)
    I'm a geek dad of 4 kids (9, 6, 4, and 1 yrs). Obviously, a balance is necessary.

    But the real thing is: Your kid(s) will be into whatever you're into. If all you do is stay inside with the XBox and plasma TV, don't be surprised if that's all they ever want to do. For Father's Day (in the US) today, I took the boys on a bike ride, then we did waste a beautiful summer afternoon in the movie theater watching Ep 3.

    Always look for ways to re-live your youth with them: Legos, Star Wars, bike riding, snow forts, adventures in the woods, baseball, and mindless shows on Cartoon Network all play a part. The computer is just a new element to share together.

    • by squarefish ( 561836 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:55PM (#12858283)
      I wouldn't be so sure of this. a good friend of mine has a 6 year old and he's glad that his son shows no interest in computers or video games yet- he's surprised there hasn't been any peer presure from his son's friends. the father is programmer and developer for the main gaming platforms and has all the developer kits in his office. the room is always locked and the son has a play area in the room while his father is working and needs to watch him, but otherwise doesn't participate or pay attention to what his father is doing, which can be particularly useful when he's working on a violent game like area 51. the father is very happy that his son just wants to run around outside and play with real toys for now.
    • by johnpaul191 ( 240105 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:08PM (#12858378) Homepage
      obviously balance is key. i think the downfall we will see is crappy parenting more than the evils of technology. too may parents are too busy, just suck or are too paranoid and would rather the kids are in the den with a playstation then outside with kidnappers and drugs and terrorists.

      i think most kids WANT to play outdoors. the thing is to find something THEY like. for example if you keep trying to play baseball and the kid would really rather ride a bike, they are going to resist. kids generally have an abundance of energy and if they don't get that out, they will end up overweight and/or medicated for having no attention span in the classroom.

      if the kids show too much interest in technology you can always work that into outdoor fun. something like [] is total nrrd fun, and requires leaving the house and poking around.

      i guess as much as i was not outdoors, i was not sitting in front of video games or a computer. i was taking things apart and making things. that seems to be lost on a lot of young kids today. the nerdlier ones are more likely to be computer kids. they will look up something online instead of taking things apart to see how they work. hopefully things like Make Magazine will spark a resurgence in DIY gadgetry? that seems to be vital to mechanical creativity. it's like reading about how to ride a bike instead of getting one one and doing it.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:18PM (#12858437)
      The worst part of using technology is that it is primarily entertainment based. Even Discovery channel etc now competes for viewer time by upping the dramatic component of their shows. Reality, fact etc all get shoved aside to get viewer time.

      Which kid learns more about nature? The one who goes down to the stream, falls in and gets wet and finds a few frogs hiding under some branches, or, the kid that plays magic schoolbus field trip game?

      Apart from exposure to nature, there are many other things that create a real framework for kids. Yesterday we (myself, wife + kids) planted 60 trees in a grid. We used pythagoras to set things up square. We did multiplication/division etc to calculate how many rows and trees per row etc. We talked about nutrients etc as we added compost that the kids had helped to make some months ago. We talked about harvesting, pruning etc. On top of this, the kids got some exercise!

      • I have to concure with this. We don't have a TV, but we get on-line. My 4 year old has and still does spend a huge amount of time outside. Sword fighting with the dogs and letting the well run dry while making mud pies for the dogs to eat. What we really end up doing is a lot of stimulating outdoor activity (running/building/breaking stuff) and the in the evening we will go inside and use the internet, games, and books to add understanding to what we did all day. I sort of make a mental list of some of the
    • But the real thing is: Your kid(s) will be into whatever you're into.

      I agree with this. Setting an example is critical. Beyond that, here are a few other tips that may work, though I doubt there's any one-size-fits-all wisdom in this business:

      1. Unless you want your kid to be a hermit that lives in the woods with you and bombs places that approve of technology, your kid will grow up in a society that depends utterly on technology. So you might as well introduce them to it as early as it makes sense
    • When my daughter was little I purposely didn't get her involved with computers that much; didn't talk about programming or explain what I was spending so much time doing. It was something like not wanting to push her into it, or I don't know what. Now at 14 she has her own computer but is not the least bit interested in it technically. All she does is spend 2-4 hrs/day IMing her friends. She's very bright and analytical, and I really regret not trying to involve her with the geek side of computers when she
      • 2-4 Hours a day? Try to cut that one down a bit. Nobody should be spending that much time in the IM world. Especially someone who is at that age where they are developing important social skills. IM isn't all bad, but I think that too much of it can be a bad thing. Not to mention the complete lack of proper English on IM. I can't speak for your daughter spefically, but, most people not just kids, end up writing like LOL, Kewl, tx, and all that stuff, and don't develop good writing skillz. :)
    • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @10:04PM (#12859624) Journal
      Absolutely. Besides have a look at the techy/geeky side of the outdoors. Here are some suggestions

      1) Buy a GPS. Go geocaching. Plenty of geekiness, plenty of outdoors. Can also use this on trips and to go exploring. Also could teach them to navigate/hike. (Cheaper alternative: Map and compass).

      2) Take your kids to the local airport to watch planes take off and land. Plenty of geeky stuff but they're getting out and learning. (Could preface this with showing them how hard it is to fly real aircraft ala MSFS2004).

      3) Research and buy a telescope or if you can't afford a decent one good binoculars. Again plenty of outdoors adventure, and lots of learning, while still being true to the geek in you

      4) Buy them a microscope and go collecting specimens with them. Some time indoors and some time outdoors. A good mix.

      5) Remote control cars/boats/planes are great hobbies that get you out and about.

      6) Take them out on a boat. Teach them about different aspects of steering a small craft etc.

      7) Birdwatching. Buy a good birdwatcher's book and get them to identify the local birds. Then plan trips to see others.

      8) Take them to your local zoo. Don't just walk around like a schmuck. Get them to learn about animal behviours, identification, classification etc. If you can't afford the zoo or a local wildlife park, even a duck pond will do.

      All of these things cost money, but then since when do gadgets not cost money???

      Point is if you think the real world is boring compared to the computer, you just haven't been out in the real world enough. There is SO much out there. Most of the things you had as a kid are still out there.
  • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:48PM (#12858212) Homepage Journal
    I grew up playing in the local woods and creek with minimal tech until our first computer when I was 13. I hear stories from coworkers how some of their kids/grandkids hating going outside because it is boring and they'd rather stay indoors.

    Kids raised indoors on computers will adapt better than their parents to a career in cubicle indenture.

    • I agree. My mom taught my two sisters to shop as children. Now, they're professional housewives with an expertise in shopping! They're such good little consumers!
    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:38PM (#12858569)
      What I don't get is what reason is there to "balance"? Chances are a kid is going to grow up in the city. Live in the city. Shop in the city. Work in the city. Commute in the city. When exactly is he going to fucking see wilderness, outside of half-assed public parks and the one trip every couple years up to some well-kept government camping ground (which is about as much "outdoors" as a New York city roof garden).

      Besides, everyone knows that nature sucks. That's why we pave shit.
      • While I think you're joking you have a point that I'd like to respond to. My mom and my aunt grew up in NYC, and they played outside all the time. Besides, doing things that don't involve technology doesn't always mean frolocking with bunnies. A set of building blocks could suffice as well.
    • Kids raised indoors on computers will adapt better than their parents to a career in cubicle indenture.

      I used to think so. It seemed like everything was gearing our kids for a job on the lunar research colony. After 10 hours in the research cube, they could retire to the "living": cube and play Doom, golf or interactive porn. Instant and microwaved food. Life under artificial light.

      But lately I sense that the future doesn't feel that progressive. Maybe learning to spear a carp and skin a rat has val
      • Let's hope that a non progressive future includes several varieties of "Acme Health Pellets" and bottles of "AcmeFina." I've lived on dandelions and cattails for a few days. It sucks. Young dandelion greens aren't too bad as long as you have a more neurtral green to cut the flavor. Forget it if they're old. I've also had cattail rootstalks. They taste like funky cucumbers except with more slime. Other parts are edible if you're going to be in one place for a while and are willing to work for it. I wasn't h
  • You should definitely hold off on introducing all the crazy technology to your kids until they've done some growing up. I loved the days when all I cared about was running around outside in the woods. Anyway, kids that young only use computers to play games, I find. Get them a Nintendo (the original) and introduce them to computers when they want to know more about technology, and not games. First post?
    • I loved the days when all I cared about was running around outside in the woods.

      Nostalgia for the simplicity of childhood is what an adult feels when he contrasts his present life with his memories (which have often been filtered over the years anyway), not what kids feel at the time. You didn't suddenly become less happy as a kid when you discovered Nintendo, did you?

      I have a younger brother who loves TV, PlayStation, and horrible RPGs on his computer. He also loves archery and baseball. I say you shoul
  • I'd like to hear from the ./ crowd

    This ain't the dot slash crowd. You're in the wrong place.

    Thank goodness for editors, right?

  • Use technology as a tool and a toy, not as a substitute for parental guidance like so many do.

    In my opinion, children should be introduced to as much as the world has to offer. The problems occur when parents sit a child in front of a television or a computer and say "here, entertain yourself."

    These are the kids that grow up with technology as a substitute for guidance. They will obviously become attached.

    Moderation and interaction are the key.
  • by Anonymous Coward it a matter of achieving a balance?
    Yeah, this is a tough question. You should always think carefully before doing something as fundamentally dangerous as achieving a balance.
  • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:51PM (#12858244) Homepage Journal
    No batteries, no chargers, just the power of the child's imagination.

    There's a reason why they'd rather play with the box than the toy. Respect and support that creativity.

  • I'd say to give your children a rounded selection of activities, as much as it may be at odds with (perhaps) your own experiences, it may give them a chance to discover what things suit them and make them happy outside of the technology circle whilst still benefiting from any knowledge they happen to pick up from watching what you do (the ability of children to copy behaviours will allow them to pick up extra things from your own specialisms). Overall i think its about giving them a choice to develop any wa
  • I have 5 kids 15..8 and they all have different interests and we live on 9 acres and I run 80+hr week software business

    We have Windows,OSX and Linux and they all have easy access to them when and if they want. I love it when the 8 year old can jump on the Mac and do what they want, and same for the eldest too.

    Only the Playstation gets *too* much attention from the teenage boys so I kick them out into the sunshine if I think they're been on too long.

    It all works out and even for the you
  • Like all things, technology should be balanced with nature, in moderation. You can not do your child justice in having them know nothing about technology, nor can you do them the disservice of creating house trolls. I've got three kids of my own.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:53PM (#12858265)
    you've had sex!!!

    way to go :O
  • Give them the adventure of a lifetime! Take your kids for an extended trip..lasting 2-3 days out in the wilderness. At first - they'll probably think you're mad and go crazy over it and want to go home. When the first period of "I-hate-u-dad" are gone, theyll realize that they have no choice but to make the best of it, and then together you'll solve survival puzzle's and discover all the exciting things in nature.. ...there's nothing like the REAL aliens out there - natures own all the
  • I was introduced to technology and computers at the age of 5 and it didn't hurt me...

    Wait, what's this "real life" you speak of?

  • My dad had me hitting keys on the keyboard before I could talk (this was in the early 80's on an Apple II), but my parents always encouraged me to take up a sport a year or so, let me pick what I wanted to do. I bounced around for a number of years from soccer to basketball to gymnastics (which I did for a few years), then ice hockey (again, for another few years). Of course, they also encouraged me with technology, got me a C64 when I was around 10, let me go to a programming camp for a week or two one s
  • First off... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pete LaGrange ( 696064 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:55PM (#12858281)
    Try to understand that you're not going to have nearly the amount of input you seem to think you will. Your kids are going to be introduced to a whole host of things without your consent/knowledge.

    Once you wrap your mind around that, you can start to prepare yourself to teach them to deal with those things on a rational level.

    You're thinking ahead, at least, and that's the first step to success. Good luck, you'll need it.

    Pete (father of 8)
  • I got hooked on computers at a young age, and only in the last 4 years have I gained an appreciation for exercise and outdoor activities.

    I would say, focus on activity and creativity, with the computer thrown in as an occasional diversion.

    How to do that? I don't know. I Am Not A Parent (IANAP)
  • I intended to keep my son away from TVs and PCs, but with a house full of PCs and laptops, it's impossible. At the age of 3 he claimed the ibook as his own. It's probably not too bad; there's some good websites for kids, like pbskids. Plus it's interactive, unlike TV. What's not so good is the advertising--he's always asking us to buy him the candy & snacks he sees. He might as well be watching TV. That's our current battle.
  • get them outdoors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reverse flow reactor ( 316530 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:57PM (#12858297)
    Let them see the outdoors, and if technology is there, it is a tool and not the toy.

    DO: get them outside, go canoeing, biking, hiking, walking, skiing, camping, exploring, build and launch model rockets (please, lauch outside), build a treehouse... If you must involve technology, bring a GPS and a digital camera (but don't forget a map and compass - be sure they know how to use those when the GPS batteries die). While you are out there, talk to them abou the plants species, the mountains, how the compass works, how the water flows around the canoe and what make the bike stable while it is moving.

    What did you enjoy doing outside as a kid? Why not try that? If they enjoy it too, that's great - you are doing somehting you enjoy outside, and your kids are there and having fun too!!

    Is it possible for you to even raise your kids without a TV? I can certainly live without a TV (over a year now, almost 3 years depending on how you count it).

    DO NOT: buy a Nintendo/PS3/XBox and let the toy babysit the kids for you. People at Slashdot will expel the virtues of how they learned problem solving and "other skills" while playing video games. Well, I learned a few German words playing a foreign game, and picked up some geography from Civ3, but try and keep the video games to a minimum.

    Being a parent is an active responsibility (but it can be fun). Just be sure you go exploring. If you are having fun, they probably will be too. If the kids look forward to going biking with dad more than sitting in front of the boob-tube playing Mari Kart 12, you are doing your job well! If they hear "Dad's home, and were building rockets tonight!" and drop the video game in the middle of a game to join you, you are doing great!
    • to reply to my own post:

      You are the Dad, you are the leader. If you start leading them on hiking trips when they are young, and share the beauty of the outdoors with them, maybe they will enjoy that and stick to it. If they are doing something great (maybe they want to join some outdoors club or something) and you like it, then encourage them and support them.

      If you do nothing, they will find something to do. And that may very well be playing the same video-games the kids next door are playing.
    • what make the bike stable while it is moving

      Just a heads-up: it isn't pure gyroscopic stabilization. It's a feedback loop with the rider, due to the offset nature of the front fork. Turning into the falling side will produce a centripetal force away from the fall. Try to ride the bike in a straight line without moving your body or handle bars; you'll fall. Gyroscopic force does help a little because tilting the wheel will make it twist into the turn, providing a little compensation. That's why you can rid
  • Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:00PM (#12858315) Homepage
    Major e longinquo reverentia, as they say - everything looks good (or, for that matter, better) from far away, and forbidden fruits appear tastier.

    It's probably a better idea to introduce your kids to computers and all that early on. Compare it to the TV - your kids are most likely going to be allowed to watch TV before they're 14 (or whatever), but that doesn't mean you'll allow them to do it for eight hours each day without checking *what* they watch.

    Do give them limits; enforce them, but don't be arbitrary. Above all, make them transparent and understandable - if you tell your kids that they can use the computer, but for an hour only, that's much better than only coming in after an hour and telling them that they have to stop *now*.

    Don't give them a bad example; if you don't do anything except sit at the computer (or, more generally, stay indoors) all day, then your kids *will* question why it's bad for them if it obviously isn't bad for you, too.

    That's about what I can think of right now. As a disclaimer, though, I don't have kids myself.
    • Re:Some thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Illserve ( 56215 )
      Agree. Kids have enormous flexibility at a young age to mold the way their brain works. This flexibility disappears in the mid-late teen years.

      It's obvious that computers are here to stay, if you keep them luddites until they are 15, they'll be somewhat crippled in their ability to use computers for the rest of their life, in the same way that non-native speakers are rarely able to achieve quite the same level of language proficiency and accent as natives. And if they do, it comes at the expense of gre
  • he can't even hold the controller yet- what use is he?
  • Until then I pedalled my go-kart, played in the play-park with Ding-dong (his name was Bell) and the other boys, explored in the woods, etc. This was on a UK Air Force base in Germany in the 70s. There was only one English programme on TV - once a week - The Muppet Show. Based on my experience, I recommend absolutely no computers and no more than 30 minutes TV a week until the age of 10.
  • There's plenty of "tech" which can be used outside.

    I remember going out to the desert to go stargazing and learing how to use a compass and read a topographic map. These days, with GPS, satellite maps and a host of other gadgets, there's more than enough to combine geek culture with the great outdoors.

    I don't think I've ever met a kid who wasn't fascinated by a really cool telescope.
  • All things in moderation.
    I have found that quote to be most appropriate in many situations.. your's included. It applies to eating habits, working, playing.. most anything really.
  • Keep them naked and make them live under a bush eating grubs and berries. No technology at all: no clothing, no cooking, no housing.

    'Technology' is not a synonym for 'computers'.
  • Institute "Turn Off" days.. turn off the computer, the TV, everything and break out a milton bradly board game, or a deck of cards. I realize that the idea will be more difficult as the kids get older, but they seem to understand that a videogame is like candy for your mind. Its cool and all, its fun, but it doesn't actually help you do anything. We've also been a lot more open to allowing the kids to pusue physical activities (baseball, taekwondo, gymnastics) that my more "intellectually" minded parents w
  • Always remember that as soon as you give your teenager a computer with net access in his room, it will be used to download porn.
  • I built a HTPC to use for many reasons. One of those is as a 'kid computer'. But, The kids don't just veg out playing computer games.

    We have a drawing tablet and Disney's Magic Artist drawing program, and my daughter loves to draw with it. She can just hit a little spot on the table to fire up the program, and she's in.

    I got one of the USB microscopes, and we look at leaves, seeds, insects, etc. with it. I run the software, but let them place the stuff on the tray and move the magnification around.

    I don'
  • Really, having a dog to play with and take for walks makes going outside and walking actually fun! A husky is the ultimate physical exercise machine - and the best friend you can ever ask for.
    • Dogs v. Nature (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:45PM (#12858612) Homepage Journal
      I love dogs. On the subject of wilderness, however, Dogs are extremely destructive. Dogs and wilderness do not mix. When you take them into the wilderness they chase all of the wild life away. They pollute streams and intensify the destruction of the wilderness.

      Pets are more of a consumer product than they are an introduction to nature.

      I've spent most of my life without a dog. Coco [] showed up on the porch a year and a half ago. I take her on regular walks in the mountains. It is freightening the amount of destruction I see being done by dogs.

      In a discussion on the value of pets. Yes, kids and dogs are a great combination. However, pets are about the domination of animals. Taking Coco on trips into the mountains, I am now starting to see the extent to which dogs dominate recreation and the affect that they have on the diminishing nature around us.

      In other words, you should only have a dog if you really, really want to have a dog. You should only have a dog if you are wanting a pet to be a primary focus of your recreation time.

      You should budget two grand a year for dog care and food, and plan to spend a great deal of time with it.

      Coco showed up on my porch because a family with two sons bought a puppy as a consumer product, and found out that dogs are a big hassle.
  • Huh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Elshar ( 232380 ) <elshar@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:23PM (#12858472) Journal
    Am I the only one that misread the title as "how to Load balance life, technology, and kids"?
  • As a Dad, one of the nicest things I discovered was tivo gave me absolute control over the TV. My little one never got to watch a live feed, but rather only got to watch what I had recorded - and also required intervention as each show ended to do something about it. I've seen way to many parents - and it is damn easy to do - just plop their kids in front of the tube and tune in PBS for what can quickly turn into half a day.

    On the plus side, you should get in the habit of time shifting your TV watching.
  • Let them know it's a tool for learning and playing as most of us geeks know. Teach them how to use it (and I mean use it, not load super magic blast penguin 12 or whatever the latest fad is for children in the next ten years) and then let them use it if they want. Some kids will never want to go out, others will never want to use a PC. Let them decide what they do unless it becomes counter productive, then edge them more towards the other (AKa Hey I'm going for a bike ride tomorrow, wanna come?" for example
  • by kninja ( 121603 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:29PM (#12858509)
    Encourage multiple stmuli for their little developing brains. Read to them when they are young. Take them on nature walks. Introduce them to musical instruments (violin) perhaps in a social setting (childrens choirs), take them to art museums, boat rides, swiming pools, walks in the neighborhood, the zoo, etc. If you speak another language, start teaching them while they are young. Enroll them in art, theater, dance, sports, and any other class they don't know anything about.

    Pretty soon they will tell you what they are interested in, yet keep pushing them in many directions they will continue to discover things they like and develop many talents.

    Point is, you only get one shot, so introduce your kids to everything you can. They will thank you for it later.
  • ... I borrowed a computer from work (Acorn Archimedes I think it was in those days) and wrote a rather simple program: whenever any key on the keyboard was pressed the entire screen turned a randomly chosen different colour, and a random note was played.

    The baby soon got the hang of thumping the keyboard with her fist and knowing that changing the colour and playing the music was under her control!
  • Kids whining about being sent outside isn't new to the 21st century; if you were only 13 when you got your first computer, then you must remember doing some whining yourself when told to stop watching TV and go outside.

    So think hard: How did you parents handle it? Are you glad they did it that way? Then follow their example. If not? Learn from their mistakes. (Just don't overcompensate by making them live like Amish kids. By the time they grow up enough to appreciate it, you'll be dead.)

  • I am in nearly the same situation as you are since my son is currently 9 months old. Introduce technology that encourages your child to go outdoors. One thing I plan on doing with my child when he is old enough is Geocaching []. I will show him how to use a computer to pick out various geocaches, map them out, and research the areas. Once we've done that, I'll show him how to use GPS to hunt down the geocache. The end result is that my son will learn a bit of technology and we'll spend quality time in nat

  • I grew up in a very rural area (father born in a log cabin, fifteen miles from my home to the nearest stop light, etc) and I'd rather be outside as long as the weather is decent. My ex is a Jewish American princess and her idea of camping out is the Marriott without room service. Funny demographics, eh?

    We live in a small metro area (500k people). When my son was old enough to walk a few hundred yards without whining too much I'd take him to a local park. I mean a park, with unmown grass as tall as he
  • Buy Longhorn for your kid the moment it comes out, By the age of 17, the kid whould be able to make its own decisions on the quality of the product.
  • ...teach students everything there is to know about the Amazon rain forest's endangered species...

    I read this and thought "Man, I didn't know Amazon bought a rain forest! Good ol' Bezos."

    Seriously though, if this is a grave enough concern that you need to ask current-directory, you should move to Seattle immediately. Or Vancouver. Or Portland.

    We have mountains, and beaches (heh), and bike trails galore. No one fears the West Nile. We drive Subarus to take our dogs to the dog parks. When friend

  • Being a newly minted geek father as of 4 months ago

    Well happy Father's Day []

  • I grew up in the Midwest, in a town with a creek running through the middle of it, plenty of trails and undeveloped areas, where virually everyone had a backyard big enough to romp around in.

    Now I live in "Silicon Valley", in an apartment complex. It is shocking for me to imagine, all the kids that live around here have no place to play outside. Yeah there are city parks, but that's really not the same.

    So, now that I have a 1-year-old son, my wife and I are moving to New Hampshire. Actually, we move in

  • So I'm not even going to try and pretend I know anything about parenting from a Father's point of view. I'll just say what my parents did.

    When I was very young - 1-3 years - I was encouraged to read. Mum did this by reading me stories, pointing out the words, saying them slowly, and sometimes prompting me to either read or recall from memory what the next word was.

    At about 3, 3 and a half, my family got a Vic 20, and purely because of the fact that Dad wasn't "computer-minded" and Mum was only margin

  • My wife and I are expecting our first child any day now (her due date was a week ago), and I recently discovered an interesting application/game on Fedora Core 3. When installed with KDE, KPotato is available as the electronic version of Mr. Potato Head, complete with eyes, mustaches, glasses, and noses that you can place on a blank face.

    I did think about KBattleship, but then decided on a more pacifist approach. Maybe chess as she grows older.
  • Back in 1995-96 timeframe, I was working as a network admin for a company. I was constantly amazed when I would encounter "normal" people that were talking about email, internet, databases and just generally using the 'nerd' vocabulary I'd been using for years as it was rapidly becoming a part of the "average joe's" lexicon.

    I went to lunch at a greasy spoon diner with three other network admin buddies. The four of us were in a booth and sitting behind me was a mother with her three-year-old son. The boy s
  • Don't avoid anything with your kids (within reason). Video games, computers, walking through the woods, baseball, you name it. It's all good. Just make sure you give then the opportunity to do just about everything and they'll naturally find their niche in the world. If it's reading books and hacking Perl, so be it. If it's sports, that's fine too.

    Just don't over analyze or stress about it. Parents today (myself included) try too hard to "program" their kids for success. You have no idea what success will
  • My 3yro daughter loves playing with the computer. She's actually pretty good at hunting and pecking words out on the querty keyboard, knows how to use a mouse, knows when and where to click on things, etc.

    She also digs video games...this is where Nintendo is a real winner with us, because Zelda/Wind Waker was just her speed; she loves just sailing the boat on the water, watching the world go by...

    But the point of all this is that we do all this during the early morning hours, or at night. During the day I
  • What are you implying? That technology isn't life? Yeah, right.
  • by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:52PM (#12858959)
    Playing down at the woods/creek isn't any more dangerous now than it was when you were a kid. Let your kids play outside.

    My wife won't allow our daughter to play outside unless she can physically see her the whole time because she is sooo worried about "pedophiles". Totally insane.

    Also, I've noticed that my kid has her own personality and interests. You will need to become interested in things that interest your child as well as sharing your interests with him or her.
  • Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @08:24PM (#12859112)
    Life is all about balance. Raising kids, too. Teach them as much as you like as early as you like. Just remember to balance work and play, outside and inside, free time and rules. Kids need rules and need to test them. They also need their own space. Limited of course, but their own.

    You put it right.

  • Be there for them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris_eineke ( 634570 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @09:07PM (#12859347) Homepage Journal
    Don't leave your wife and your kids when your kids are three and one year old. It messes up your wife and the kids.

    I know.

    I'm talking from experience. I grew up without having a father I could talk to... :(
  • by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @12:53AM (#12860425)
    I am a high school teacher. If I have one thing about kids today that infuriates me, it's that they don't read. I wonder half the time if they even can at all. I teach history (I'm a geek by avocation!!) and am shocked at the absolute refusal of so many to read. Not "I don't get it", but "f*** it, I'm not going to read it". If they don't even touch a computer, they'll be fine. Really. What is a computer but a simple tool really. I code for fun. Some do for profit. Fine. For most, it's a tool. Type a paper, check email, etc. Things like an OS, browser, email client, etc., mean nothing. (Which is why microsoft is really scared. Once people actually figure it out...)

    Anyways, take them fishing, hunting, skiing, etc. Have them play sports, read books, write poetry. Whatever. Teach them to cook. The technology we need is an MRI in a hospital not an Xbox in the living room. My dad is 67 or something. He never touched a computer until he reitred a few years ago. Now, he uses the computer like a pro.

    And since this is father's day (btw, I have three myself), the best you thing you can do is be their father. Whatever you have to do is not more important than them. I'm 36 and still fish with my old man. There's a reason. Buy him a hundred books, read a hundred books to him, take him to a hundred ball games, take him fishing a hundred times, play a hundred games of candyland (or whtever game), do a hundred other things a hndred times before you buy him a computer.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.