Privacy over Usability? – Screen Time

Screen Time

Now that your children have broken up from school, they will most likely want more ‘screen time’.  Rather than argue with them, why not catch them out by saying yes.  Well there is a catch.  Most parents don’t mind their children doing ‘education’ related IT, especially if it improves their job prospects.  The school curriculum is slowly changing from learning to use Microsoft Office applications to learning to write applications.  Back in the mid 1980’s when I was at school we had to queue up at lunch time for a 10 minute slot on one of two Commodore Pet computers or a BBC Model B micro.  There were 1,400 students in my secondary school, and with only three computers, we would be writing our programs on paper in the queue and hope they worked when we frantically typed the code in.

My Dad spent £5 on a ZX-81 when I was 11 and my brother 9 years old.  “This is the future” he said to us.  We wrote our first programs with the computer running on the kitchen table.  Very exciting times.  Both my brother and I have successful careers in IT, and more importantly really enjoy the various jobs that we have had.

There are over 129,000 jobs to fill each year in the IT sector, many of which are unfilled due to the on-going skills shortage.  Therefore, if your child does want some screen time on a rainy day over summer, encourage them to look at:

  • Software development – programming tools are free and accessible including LiveCode and Python
  • Web development – create a website in HTML code and CSS
  • Raspberry Pi – a low cost ‘computer on a board’
  • Lego Mindstorms NXT – a bit of pocket money needed for this, but a really great capability and you can build and program your very own robots and machines

When your children return to school in September, suggest they ask their teachers to run a monthly ‘Raspberry Jam’ or setup a ‘code club’ (See  Whatever they achieve over the summer, do take an interest and ask them to show you what they have created, you may be surprised.