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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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Should parents get a 8 year old a laptop for Christmas? Pros

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Should parents get a 8 year old a laptop for Christmas? Pros and cons? Best practices for having the usage be only appropriate and occasional?
As a therapist and a parent of three, including a nine year old as my youngest, I have been exactly where you are.
Pros: A laptop encourages keyboarding skills; skills with operating a complex device, and an enormous boost to self confidence and pride at developing valued skills and abilities. It is a boon to school work and research, and can be a wonderful tool to increase knowledge.
Cons: The internet is not a safe place. It is loaded with sites and content that is inappropriate and even dangerous. Used carelessly it can be very unsafe to the emotional, sexual and even personal development of a child.
But if the machine is kept under restrictions using Windows security and a net nanny and similar programs it can be made reasonably safe enough. A number of programs that charge a small feel allow you to see all of the content that the child sees. It also blocks anything that you restrict on a cus***** *****st.
Personally we do not allow the laptop to be used outside of strict hours; many sites are restricted and all sites can be downloaded for viewing by a parent. At no time is the laptop out of our site and the screen must be turned so that all can see the content. Accountability is key to safety.
Ultimately it is your choice. But I feel with strict use protocols this is an age where a laptop can serve a child well. Steven
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