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Managing Computer Use At Home: Tips For Large Families

Oct 21, 2007
You have a family. A big family. Your children are your priority and making sure they do well in school is part of that. But since money doesn't grow on trees, how do you manage a shared computer among three or four (or even more) kids who all need to use it and how do you keep the work space organized and neat so that one person doesn't monopolize it?

Here are some tips for making sure your computer doesn't cause a world war within your family:

First, if you can afford to have multiple computers in the house but not one for each child, consider putting one each bedroom if multiple children share the room. A multi-user computer desk, like the ones from Versa Products, Inc. is a great way to maximize space so that you don't have to squeeze two desks into a room that already contains two beds. The multi-user desk gives both children work space--one can use the computer while the other uses desktop space--and their individual books, papers, and writing utensils can be kept in cubbies or plastic bins on a bookshelf.

If you have multiple computer users in the same house, but only one computer, put the computer in the family room or den so it can be accessed easily by all family members. A single user desk is the way to go here, and to make sure that each member of the family can comfortable use the computer, be sure to add a height-adjustable, articulating keyboard arm to the desk. These one-touch adjustable arms allow the keyboard to be repositioned without any fuss and make using the computer as easy for your first grader as it is for your high school senior. In addition, you might want to consider adding an adjustable monitor arm to your desk. These arms attach directly to the back of almost any flat screen monitor and can be adjusted for height and tilt at the touch of a finger. Again, this not only makes the work environment more conducive to all involved, but it also frees up desktop space, creating valuable writing space. And a tilting monitor arm is ideal if your computer is located in a room with natural light that changes throughout the day. Tilting the monitor to avoid glare is easier on the eyes and prevents fatigue.

Manage computer time based on the importance of the work that needs to be done. If Johnny wants to check email while Suzy is busy writing a book report, you could run into problems. Give each child a set number of minutes throughout the evening to use the computer. If one is willing to give up some of his/her minutes on one night so that another child can have more time when they need it, reward that child by giving him/her a "computer pass" to be used whenever he/she wants on another day when his/her minutes are used up. You can also set rules based on age of the child, as older children typically have more homework that requires research online.
About the Author
Attention all school districts! Don't buy overpriced computer lab furniture. Instead shop at VersaTables.com and get it for less. IT professionals can also get lan racks there too!!!
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