>>Do you allow your kids to research topics of interest on the internet?<<
This isn’t a black and white answer. In general I’m not a fan of the computer or internet for kids, even though it’s an amazing resource. My main concern is that it can be a huge time waster and addictive. There’s a huge amount of material to sift through, and it can take a long time to get to the ‘meat’ of an area of interest.
A couple of weeks ago dd9 and a friend were working on preparing a presentation for their geography club, so I sat with them at the computer to help them find their information. When they get older, I do allow them to use the internet on their own – that’s for kids about 12 or older. We only have one computer and when combined with the number of people who want to use computer, and the limitation that they can only use it when their chores and academic work are completed, they naturally can’t/don’t spend huge amounts of time online.
Each of the older three kids have their own interests. Ds16 is probably the one who needs to use it the most for research- he has a particular area of interest that he’s constantly learning more about, and though he’s read books on the topic, he enjoys the online resources he’s found.
My second concern about the internet is the huge amount of offensive material that could be accessed. I’m not concerned about the kids seeking out unwholesome materials as much as realizing that they could accidentally click on a link or mistype something that could take them somewhere unsavory. We keep the computer in an area of the house where people are always around. My husband and I have recently discussed getting a filter, too. Until fairly recently, like about a year ago, our kids weren’t using the internet much so it didn’t seem necessary. But now it seems prudent.
We also until recently had an older computer that had some kind of problem that kept us from being able to see youtube videos or other high definition graphics – I considered this an advantage. Even though there are loads of educational things on youtube (this is how I learned how to preserve tomato seeds for planting), there are lots of others that aren’t okay and when you view the main screen, there are often objectionable pictures or titles that you can’t help but view.
So while I’m not against it, I’m careful to limit it.