Between my husband and I we have 4 computers (2 desktops and 2 laptops). We use our computers primarily for work and of course, archiving all of the family photos etc.. The last thing I need is for my kids to mangle my photo library, destroy a document or even worse – the computer itself. Additionally, I haven’t felt like it was important for my kids to be on the computer at all. That’s changing.
For the last 2 years my kids have been working on Power Point at school. They’ve been asked to type up basic assignments in a word document. And more and more they have been wanting to search for things online (recipes, craft projects, and sports scores). I’m finding that their classrooms are moving to more online collaborative tools and that they are needing more and more of MY computer time.
Here are some of our favorite features:
Choosing a Computer for Your Family
- Touch Screen: This is how kids want to use their technology. The other day my daughter searched for a recipe to make “goop” and was showing me what she wanted to do. She was zooming in on the parts of the recipe and the photos that she wanted me to pay special attention to. I loved seeing the way that she works with the computer.
- Beats Audio: We set our family computer up in the family room. This means that it’s in a central area of our home. Because the computer has great audio, it has ended up being one of the main places that we play music.
- HP Smart Friend: This support service is awesome – especially since when I first set up my security settings I seemed to have locked my computer down way too tight. I had no idea how to back out of it. Their customer support was awesome and got us functioning again.
- PC or Mac? I wanted to set them up on the same type of a computer that they were learning on in school (in this case, a PC)
- WebCam: Video chat in HD. It’s pretty fabulous.
- Security: The HP TouchSmart comes with Windows 8. Check out the parental controls that are available to you on whatever platform you purchase.
Tips for Setting Up Your Family Computer
- Keep it in a high traffic area of your home (we set it up in the family room)
- Set up individual user accounts customized to each user
- Be sure to set the appropriate safety settings for your family
- Write up your family’s computer rules and post them next to the computer. Have your kids help create the rules for the family computer.
- Give homework priority. This is the reason that we felt we were ready to give the kids more access to computer. I’ll be darned if I’m going to let it be a Solitaire station or anything else like that.
- Communicate! Keep the conversation going and make adjustments where necessary.