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Family Computers – Set Up, Usage and More…

A family can benefit from sharing a computer – whether it be the kids, parents or even grandparents.  When you set up this new computer there are a few things to keep in mind so that everyone can enjoy it, especially if you have a large family.

You will want to make sure that the computer will perform to the required standards so that it will fulfill all of your needs.  If you are retiring an old computer, be sure to dispose of the old one properly.

First, if you have only one computer in your home, you should think about putting together a schedule that fits for both children and adults.  Think about the things that need to be accomplished such as homework, study time, family related chores such as bill paying, scheduling the kid’s events, or work related tasks. Figure out the time when everyone needs the computer and set time limits appropriately.  Kids can often overlook their time limits on the computer so have a plan in place as how you will address this.

Most kids will know how to use a computer but it’s important to set the ground rules and locate the computer in a common area so the computer is more visible.  Also think about the location of your computer so that the device is in a safe location to prevent it from overheating.

Each individual member will need an account.  You wouldn’t want your work documents to get mixed up with Jr.’s projects.  Having separate accounts will enable you to control each account and set up the necessary restrictions so that the kids cannot access unsuitable material, chat with strangers or change system controls.  The parental controls are important so make sure that you have put these in place prior to the kids use the computer.  You can also set up shared folders, too.  Since the majority of families have multiple devices such as tablets, smartphones, etc, so you should consider high speed internet. Most families will download and steam content so you don’t want a slow internet connection to be constantly interrupting your tasks, especially when you are sharing it with multiple people.

A key must for any computer is a good quality and up to date antivirus software.  The internet is fun but it can be dangerous, especially for kids and even inexperienced computer users such as a grandparent.  The best software will block web threats, block dangerous web sites, secure transactions, and safeguard your kids.  Top antivirus systems will protect all of your devices.  Take the time to ask questions, do research and be sure this is set up properly.  Email is something every family member can use, but if you have young children then you should set them up with a kid-safe email service.  These services will enable a parent to monitor and control who the kids are emailing, as well as content, and block out inappropriate language.

A family computer will have a lot of data on it.  It typically will contain family photos, school documents, family schedules, music, work related tasks, financial information, and more.  Backing up all of this data is crucial.  Have a scheduled “maintenance” routine to back up data to a hard drive.  You may even consider cloud storage in the event you are concerned about something happening to the hard drive.  In your regular maintenance routine, include cleaning the computer going through files, software, etc., and delete the unnecessary things you don’t need.

Family computers are fun and with a few rules for usage and adequate protection in place along with fast internet and all the software you need, your family will enjoy it – and enjoy it safely.