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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Computer Literacy and Our Young Ones

On a listserv I'm on a librarian said her departmental supervisor wanted to get rid of their gaming computers for kids. I'm so glad we have ours and will be keeping them indefinitely. I personally feel that it's important for our children's futures, just as books are important.

Children today will need to have two different kinds of literacy. First, will be what we think of as traditional literacy. How to interpret text on a page or a screen or a sign. But, in this increasingly technological world they will also need computer literacy. They won't just have to know how to read, they'll have to know how to use a computer (especially word processors, databases, email, etc.)

Now, games themselves don't help with Microsoft Office. But, using computer games familiarizes children with keyboard and mouse skills. I think of it like preliteracy skills for books. Before children can read they need to know how to hold a book and flip pages. Before they can really use a computer they need to be familiar with the keyboard and mouse. These are essential skills for their futures. And just as we provide the resources for children to develop reading literacy we should provide them resources for developing computer literacy.

Sometimes I feel like I work in an arcade between our game computers and the internet (we have 4 of each). But, I really do believe it's helping them, so that's some consolation.

For more perspective on this issue, I'll recommend this book which was required reading for an MLIS course.

Disconnected: Have and Have-Nots in the Information Age by William Wresch

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You and your sister pretty well lived this paradigm; and yes, at first, your usage was pretty much game-centric. But it evolved as your needs grew (of course you were kind of glad when I loaded the Commander Keen series on your college computer).
It's also good that you segregate usage by machine so that one usage doesn't dominate at any given time.