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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the Columnists.com, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern
Humorists.com  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com

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Wee Geek....

Wee Geek

My 3-year-old grandson discovered the computer last weekend and life is never going to be the same at my house. He received a preschool computer game as a gift, and we finally got around to opening it. It was from one of those themed sets that also have a series of cartoon videos, all with same topic -- dinosaurs. These are not fierce, scary dinosaurs, but cute, friendly ones that talk about love and basic values.

I put the disk in my CD ROM and held him on my lap, figuring he would play with it for a few minutes and then go back to his blocks, toy cars, and battery operated musical toys. I showed him the computer mouse and how to left-click the mouse button. Picking right up on the idea, he was soon pointing and clicking like a pro. He quickly learned to select the different games and click to open them. It was somewhat frustrating as he kept playing the one he liked best instead of my favorite, but I tried not to argue about it.

As it turned out, I was the one that soon became tired. I slipped him off of my numb legs, letting him work on his own while I just supervised. He didnít need much assistance. He looked so small sitting there in that big chair gazing into the computer screen with his little feet dangling. I have created a 3-year-old nerd. All he wants to do now is play with the computer. What can compete with that?

He drags virtual puzzle pieces and drops them in the right place. He catches falling leaves with the cursor and matches them to the right shape. He sorts bright colored animals into categories: flying, swimming, insects, and four-legged animals, while being reinforced with music and exciting sound effects. All of the time he is playing, he is also learning colors, letters, shapes, logic and thinking skills. But doesnít it seem as if a kid should be potty trained before learning to use a computer?

My computer mouse grew warm and sticky from his hot little hand and my monitor screen was soon covered with fingerprints as he pointed to particular accomplishments, or tried to assist the cursor arrow with a grubby finger.

"Can grandma use the computer to work for a while?" I begged.

"But I have to do MY work!" he explained.

So now itís a competition to see who gets to use the computer and whether I can check my email before the dinosaurs take over.

We try to limit his computer time and allow for active play. Kids need to run, ride wheeled vehicles, and bounce balls. Maybe he will tire of the computer after a while. I sorta doubt it, though. There is always the next level, the next challenge, the next game. With computers, there is always more to learn. Iím afraid I have a wee geek in training pants.

Itís a New World now, a different world than the one we grew up in. When a three-year-old kid is learning computer skills already, what will he be doing at eight Ė or eighteen? Why is this so shocking to me? Kids master the use of language between the ages of two and three, a very complex skill. They are capable of learning even at a very young age and much of a childís learning takes place prior to ever starting school.

I want him to grow up informed and able to meet the challenges of a technological society, donít I? But it seems as if it was only last week when he was a mere baby. Now with each click of the mouse, we both become a bit older and a bit wiser.

Youíll have to excuse me now. My turn at the computer is over and I can't write anymore.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss

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