I was talking to another Mum recently and she was telling me that she strictly limits her six year old son’s access to the computer. Even though they have access at home, she lets him use it very little and she was surprised by the amount of emphasis his school seemed to place on the need for children to have access to computers and the internet.
As a teacher, I certainly understand the push in schools to be seen to be providing children with an education in computer literacy, and as the Director of a child care centre, I was often asked if the children (especially the 4-5 year olds) had access to computers and the Internet.
My friend went on to clarify that she was not adverse to computers and knew that children needed to grow up to be confident users of modern technology but she wanted her children to know books and reading as their first love. She feels that there is plenty of time to learn to use a computer (the Internet, mobile phones, PDAs, digital cameras, etc, etc, etc) but a limited window in which to inspire a child to love the thrill of discovery contained within a well written book.
And I tend to agree.
There is so much to be found inside a good book – imagination, language, discovery, knowledge, new friends and faithful, old friends. There are books that leave you feeling inspired, thoughtful, comforted, saddened, hopeful.
And while I love the Internet and my trusty laptop for all that they provide me, I am not sure that computers and digital devices will ever be quite as inspiring as a good book. At least to me.
And I hope that Immy feels the same. My wish is that she also grows to love good old fashioned literature first and technology later. I hope we always make time everyday to read as we do now. Even once we find ourselves consumed by the busyness of school days and after school activities, maybe we will even start counting the days like this inspiring Dad and his daughter.
What are your thoughts when it comes to children learning to love reading and books versus using technology?