Marielle Visser teaches Computer Zen

In Case of Emergency, Play with Something Else For A While

My 7 year old daughter uses the Internet as just like any other of her playthings – nothing exclusive, just something else to play with.

One of my favorite pastimes is watching her find her own way – seeing how she integrates the Internet into her ‘way of life’.  Marielle learned to start the computer and use the mouse to reach selected bookmarks the way she learns everything else in her play world – simply by watching her friends play on their computers. Intially, Kinder Pagina was her portal to the virtual world, and the “Kids-to-Kids” video “Tomorrow is a Dream”one of her favorite destinations. Today, Marielle has her own homepage.

Because we have cable connection to the Internet, we (unlike most Europeans) have no need to worry about exploding telephone costs.  Consequently, Marielle runs her own Internet Café at our house, offering free access to other kids in the neighbourhood.. Even older girls (12-13 years of age) like to play with her now.

Marielle in the middle of friends

Watching the kids play, I was touched and reassured to discover how frequently the older girls would choose to teach the younger. Drawing from their experience and what they learned from their peers, the older girls seemed to love initiating the younger ones into the mysteries of laying claim to the virtual world..

They took special pains to give it all an air of “it’s such an ordinary thing to do”: What shall we play today? Why don’t we make a homepage?

Their homepages may be simple, but they know how to make them. They may work only an hour on the homepage and suddenly decide to go out and play ball. Come back an hour later, and just pick up where they left off in their virtual homesteading.

Wondering how she could possibly take all this so casually, I asked my daughter: “Marielle what do you do when the computer won’t work? How do you fix problems when they occur?”

”Well,” she said: “I don’t make it a big problem. If you or one of my brothers is there I can ask them what is wrong. Otherwise, I just go and play with something else. When I try again the next time, it usually works.”

This is what I learned from my daughter: when it’s broken, don’t fix it. Go outside and play ball. Don’t waste your time getting angry and frustrated. Play with another toy for awhile.

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