Getting kids interested in computers


Robert Scoble wanted feedback with ideas on how to get children engaged with computers and Eric Mack responded with a great article describing how he has engaged his children from an early age.  If you have listened to Eric’s podcasts with his children you know it is readily apparent that he practices what he preaches in the article.

Tablet owners have an advantage in this area as evidenced by this article on Matt Buchanan’s blog.  Matt is a patent attorney (who I hope to have on an upcoming Tablet PC Show) who is introducing his 3 year old to the Tablet PC.  His method of just handing his Tablet to his 3 year old with very little instruction proved to him how easy it is even for very young children to work with the Tablet.  He set his child down with Ink Art and has posted the art his child produced.  This is an excellent way to get children engaged at a very young age.  Here’s a quote from Matt’s article:

Matt_buchananIf you have doubts about the long term viability of the Tablet PC operating system (and the interface generally), I suggest you do the following: give one to a 3 year old with minimal instruction.  Then, stand back and observe.

I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly kids understand the tablet interface. 

This is exactly what I did the other night with my son.  I fired up my copy of Ink Art (courtesy of the free Experience Pack) and handed the computer and pen to him.  At first, he looked at me in disbelief – "I get to play with this?"  After I assured him that yes, he can play with dad’s favorite toy, his eyes grew wide and he revealed a giant smile.

And he dove right in.

He grabbed the pen and started inking immediately. He was able to use the pen to change drawing tools and colors, use the file menu (he knows how and when to pick file/new from practice on our desktop system), and navigate a dialog box or two.


Matt Buchanan

Too funny Al — I agree. My thoughts were the same as yours. Check out the picture — I had him propped up on the couch with padding all around! And the experiment was with minimal instruction, not minimal supervision. No way he’d get that Tablet near a glass of water or his paints…


Ah yes….3 year olders and computers. Just wait until he decides he’ll paint watercolors on the wonderful tablet…with real watercolors. There’s also that drink spilling thing. And droppies are such a small thing to do wrong for such a gigantic noisy reaction by Daddy. I found that a desktop with keyboard bolted down was more up my 3 year old’s alley.

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