In order to understand the title better, we need to first figure out what makes children — from babies up through the teen years — smarter?
We all are witnessing a big change in this era, children are becoming “more social” on computer networks. In real life they are missing out on social activities full of fun, adventure and real life experiences that is just not viable online or virtually. Man is a social animal and in the end of the day you need real friends or other people to go out with for food, fun and other activities. To an extend Internet or computer networks make it tenable for a person in a well connected city to survive by himself but I doubt majority of population including specially kids would want such a life.
Manipulative social networks are making current generation of kids less active and more susceptible to traps set by commercial vendors online. Time magazine in a post has described easy ten steps to make your kids more smarter. Being a part of GNU/Linux and other Free Software community for long, we have found that use of Linux makes children smarter than using Windows tools and products.
In 2014, Time magazine wrote about ten steps to make the kid smarter backed by science. Windows OS is primarily focused on GUI, making things easy and making decision on your behalf for you not necessarily with your consent. Windows OS is a a closed source operating system hence it limits its users by licensing of product and its source-code. In a way by choosing Windows for your little one, you are restricting every bit of playful cleverness that is possible with the core OS as it is Microsoft that exerts control over you using their software.
With GNU/Linux, you are in control. You decide how it looks and does things. You get a plethora of choices with Desktop Environment, Window Managers and distributions. You choose your own thing and the decision based on various factors makes you more educated about the core OS, its pros and cons. It is a smart in every way to finally pick a distribution of GNU/Linux that works for you. In the course of switching and testing things using readily available Live ISOs, you learn new things every day.
Picking a free and open OS like GNU/Linux over Windows for your kids is profitable in many other ways too. For instance, you are saving money on licensing cost that might be a hurdle in learning new things. Your kid should not have the impression that money comes before education. Otherwise, your kid can grow up thinking about money and power instead. Focus should be on education, programming and fun instead. Price or money is secondary with Free Software like GNU+Linux. Some parents advise their kids to pirate proprietary software or assist in the procurement of it. It is again a bad idea. Do not teach them to steal the software. A lot of good quality Free/libre software is available for your kids to use.
For instance, in Alpine Linux’s aport repository I know of a packer known as Sodomon, who started at the age of 10 and has been using Linux since the very beginning regardless of Windows based education in schools. He does a lot of very complex things with ease as he is used to doing it the hard way. Not like he does not enjoy GUI. But he is so familiar and experienced with command line that happen to enjoy it now. There are so many other cases of children that uses Linux, according to him. Linux kids are on another level when it comes to understanding core OS and how it works in comparison with Windows users who just deal with the outer skin designed by Microsoft to run Apps these days.
Out of the 10 steps the first and second talks about sports and music, those are self-understood, so skip those and follow the rest, as other steps are related to Linux usage.
Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them
Windows do not promote reading manual to get things done. It is about clickable GUI. Since Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to hide whatever geeky stuff is left in Windows completely. They want a simple skin to operate PC, the way Microsoft likes it. More and more of the tasks are automatically being handled by Microsoft itself.
If you happen to agree with Time magazine regarding reading. Linux is the right choice for your kids. Linux promotes reading manuals and user guides from installations to configuring various things. Even though there are thousands of distributions of GNU/Linux, a well written Wiki is always available for kids to read and contribute after a while. So, your kid not only learns to read but also write and officially contribute doing so. With Linux there is a sense of community, you contribute, participle, help, collaborate etc. From from Sodomon tells us, in Alpine Linux community itself, there are some kids who grew up with GNU/Linux processing their every day tasks on it. It clearly demonstrates the fact that a kid who happen to use Linux as their daily driver is most likely going to read if not write a lot or contribute immediately like Sodomon who makes packages and commits them to an official repository. It certainly requires a lot of reading. Trust me.
Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid
If you are done talking to your kids about sleeping early and do not find any other issues in their daily routine, it could be mild addiction games or social networks. Yes, those stupid games that make your child lose a lot of sleep are mostly not available on GNU Linux. Although things have changed a bit over the period of last decade for gaming on Linux but it is not still there. Before anything else, we are not against video games but at times, games can get addictive to fatal levels. PUBG, a popular video game now banned in India is already known for many such mishaps by minors. Also, pirating software and games is common in a lot of countries on Windows platform, which might get your kid prone to common multi-player online games. So, again, Linux could prove to be a smarter choice for your kids as Linux OS should help your kid stay focused.
IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self-Discipline
Discipline comes from things that are not so obvious to get or achieve. To get something right we will need more efforts and GNU Linux can be challenging or demanding at times. You would not be spoon feed for your own good in GNU/Linux communities whenever you ask for help. They might share links that help you but then you have to learn the process of helping yourself with little bit of web search and debugging with logs etc. Over all, you not only learn to appreciate the time, hard-work that others put in for the better of community support but also try to regulate yourself from time to time towards more productivity and improvements.
Learning Is An Active Process
Linux motivates your child to learn more as read above, contrary to the Windows OS, where everything is served on a platter in form of paid services. The beauty of GNU/Linux and the real community that develops in its forums, IRC channels, Telegram groups, Discord servers etc is that you teach and learn at the same time. You get to meet the core developers at times, also read and listen to their commentary on specific queries that you may have. There are mentors in these communities and then informal students who want to learn more, experiment things for fun. Because you go through all the changes that is happening in the core OS and desktop environments while using the OS itself somewhere or the other, from release notes to github issues, you are very well connected to the topic and continuously learn amazingly things about Linux.
I personally don’t code. I was never involved in any sort of programming or development of software. But in the progress of switching from Windows to finding my favorite distribution of GNU/Linux, I learned a lot of things about Linux, Free Software, Tor, EFF, GNU, BSD, web servers, VPNs, SSL etc. So, this is it. Its very basic and true, no gain without pain. You go through a little bit of friction in the beginning as a newbie and then it the never ending process of learning begins. It was a bit hard for me as I switch from Windows a couple of years only. As a child, it should be friction-less. I believe, from my experience, if you wish to offer your child an ideal software world, no other OS can be a smarter choice than GNU/Linux.
Treats Can Be a Good Thing — At The Right Time
The article from Time magazine advises, “So if kids are going to occasionally eat candy and soda maybe it’s better to give it to them while they study then when they’re relaxing.”
As said above, Linux isn’t about oneself. If you get into it, you join a community over a platform of your choice like a forum, IRC chan or telegram group etc. When you work hard, and perform your duties well. You are always rewarded with badges of appreciation and sometimes are even delegated moderation duties. It can be really rewarding for a young kid to hold such badges of honor. It will give your kid a positive vibe all the time and a sense of appreciation and significance in life. Further, you should also follow this advice in general. Treat or reward your kid for hard-work while studying to achieve a milestone as it is when they need more energy anyways. So, again by using Linux OS as their daily driver, they automatically get appreciated and rewarded for any work they do with sincerity.
Peer Group Matters
I do not think it is required of me to tell you about communities that you join with multiple GNU/Linux distributions that you use over time. You meet a lot of peers where your knowledge and expertise or command over a specific topic trumps instead of your physical appearance.
I never actually needed to open a social media account for social networking because by default I had a social network of peers from Telegram groups, IRC chans etc. I never met these people real life but they are so real in my life. There is also room for non-technical or off-topic communications where you can connect with each other about social or cultural things too.
Linux is developed by multiple people around the globe, like any other free/libre software. It builds a strong community with members having different roles from around the globe. You share, collaborate, learn, educate, socialize and have fun while doing so.
By being in the company of intelligent folks from these communities, your kid is more likely to develop good habits, self-discipline and more practical knowledge. Also, get a good exposure to multiple mindsets and views from world-wide. It also plays an important part in your kid’s life to become a good citizen, later on.
Out of 10 steps set out by the researchers from said Time magazine’s article, above said six tips already confirms that GNU/Linux could be a smarter choice of OS for your children and not Windows OS. By picking Windows as their daily driver, you will need to put more efforts to make your kids smarter. Also, intelligence is not everything, without ethics and empathy really intelligent people can be a dangerous for our society.Right from development model to licensing of code, GNU/Linux is more ethical, ideal, free and open OS that you can get. Linux is maintained and used by communities world-wide and major issues are always solved together and worked with multiple exchanges only instead of tyranny of a powerful corporation.
Also, why let your child be a pirate just because a big powerful software company made it too expensive for you to afford software for your child. GNU/Linux is powerful as OS and has replacement for almost every application that you wish to use on Windows. You do not have to pay ever, but you are always free contribute however you like.