Saturday, 26 May 2012

Social Computing.

I posted a comment on Twitter today "My eldest boy is 10, it is about time he got a laptop and earned himself a living." partly in jest, I don't really expect him to earn a living but partly because I do want him to develop his computing skills (if he wants to). I have a big family two ten year old girls, the two boys one nine and the other three so they have to share the tech between them. Despite (me) his dad running all over the country and sometimes the world teaching computing and and technology, he (my nine year old) gets very little time to develop his skills, beyond that of quickly dipping into this or that website or game on the computer. My house is a home not a computer network.

I have never been a pushy dad, my career is my career, what ever they want to do with their lives is fine so long as they are happy and safe, so I have never really pushed them towards computing. I let them try stuff out but have never been pushy to the extent of teaching them everything I know about computers before breakfast. They could, be involved in all kinds of mad technology stuff, they know about it and get to hear about it usually at dinner, but one of them likes athletics and music, one likes all things creative, the boy likes archaeology and they youngest will be a rock star (I should know).

So why am I buying him a laptop if he just wants to dig up the past?

Firstly, well (this is ironic a parent saying this) "all of his friends have one". They use it to converse, play games online, and he misses out quite a bit socially because that is where a lot of the lads his age spend their time. I don't think it is particularly a bad thing at their age they want to be social but don't have the opportunities to be, or at least not on their own. School all day, home, fed, homework, bed and loop, not much time for socialising except for the weekend and that is often taken up by socialising with the family. He does not have a mobile phone of his own.

Secondly, he isn't that great with technology, he can use all the gadgets in the house but not to any great depth, we live in a very technology driven world. I don't think it would be a bad thing if he was more digitally literate, again, that is if he wants to be. At least this way he will have the tools to be.

Thirdly, he can do his homework on it, I know he can I checked with his teacher.

Fourthly, there are a lot of great things on iPlayer that he will miss as we only have the one TV in our house, and with the kids having such different tastes it will help him watch things that he is interested in. "The Man Who Discovered Egypt" was a prime example.

Fifthly, he is good at mathematics, and I mean really good, this the parent part kicking in, there are loads of cool practical things you can do with a computer and mathematics. Obviously.

Finally, if he ever wants to learn any of the things that I can teach him he will have the appropriate tools to do so.

I got a comment back about how he might withdraw socially (I am paraphrasing) because he has a laptop, which completely confused me. I don't see computers as solitary devices to sit at, for me they are all about interacting with other people who aren't physically near you, so what if they are a million miles away. All the activities I do with computers and technology are aimed at bringing people together, that is not in spite of technology but because we can with technology. My teaching of computers, done in a group, creative computer club is a group, my music tech work is a group. So yeah that completely confused me, it didn't annoy me or upset me, just confused me.

He also "might lock himself away" (paraphrasing again), good, I did that to plan my world domination and that worked out rather well. People need time away from others to develop their skills, to make mistakes without constantly being watched and scrutinized. I don't think he will become any less social or confident, take him anywhere and witness him join in the conversation or haggle for a better price or deal on something he wants to buy. (He will haggle with store managers, he is ten, he gets that from his mum).

So he is going to get a laptop,

It will however be severely locked down (sorry son), but it will be filtered, crippled, no P2P, no filesharing. He gets embarrassed when I preach about the damage files-sharing does to some independent artists (I don't care about the major companies they tend to produce mediocre crap anyway) especially in front of his mates. So yes it will be locked down, but ironically give him more freedom.

Maybe he'll write a blog about his machine?