The Internet for Young Children
We have to say up front that we are strong advocates of allowing
children to be children, and we believe that children are better
teachers than computers are. We are not in favor of sticking a young
child -- younger than age seven -- in front of a screen. Many educators
feel that unstructured computer time under age 11 is inappropriate.
At that age, children benefit more from playing with trees, balls,
clay, crayons, paint, mud, monkey bars, bicycles, and other kids.
More and more parents are having to make choices about the Internet and their kids. The best way to start is by checking out a few sites for yourself. Here's a few to start with:
The Internet for K-12
K-12 is the label that's given to all the education that happens between preschool (nursery school or day care) and college. It's a broad category. We use it here because many mailing lists and newsgroups use the K-12 designation and it seems to be common ground for many people. We think that Internet access is more appropriate for somewhat older children (fourth or fifth grade and older), but your mileage may vary.
The Internet is an incredible way to expand the walls of a school. The Net can connect you to other schools and to libraries, research, museums, and other people. You can visit the Louvre and the Sistine Chapel; practice your French or Spanish or Portuguese or Russian or Japanese; and hear new music and make new friends.
Here are sites for kids in K-12:
Checking Out Colleges on the Net
Most colleges and universities have sites on the Web, and many use both e-mail and the Web in their classes. To find a college, go to Yahoo and click Education and then Universities.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education at http://www.eriche.org/main.html was created by the U.S. Department of Education. Click the Parents or Students links for information.
Finding a Job by Using the Net
Check out Monster.com at http://www.monster.com, an amazing compilation of job-related information that enables you to search by discipline or geography or a host of other criteria. .
When the Net Is collegeDistance learning means taking courses over the Internet or by mail. CollegeDegree.com lists colleges and universities that offer distance learning programs -- click the Distance Learning button.
The Consumer's Guide to Choosing College Courses on the Internet at http://www.drake.edu/iaicu/consumer_guide.html is dated, but contains some good questions to ask before signing up for an online course.
Parental Guidance Required
High on the list of parents' concerns about the Internet is the question of children's access to inappropriate material.
More and more products are appearing on the market to help parents restrict access or monitor usage by some sort of activity report. If you choose to use one of these systems, remember that they are not a substitute for your direct involvement with your child's Internet experience; they all filter based on keywords and fixed lists of systems that are believed (by the programs' authors) to have objectionable material.
Here a few of these programs we're aware of:
Self-help Mailing Lists for Parents of Kids with Problems
The Internet in SchoolsSchools are actively debating Internet access for their students. Teachers and parents go round and round, and ignorance seems to prevail. Find out as much as you can and get involved. The more you know, the more you can advocate for appropriate access.
Mailing Lists for Parents and Kids
kidsphereThe kidsphere list was established in 1989, to stimulate the development of an international computer network for the use of children and their teachers. Send subscription requests to:
kidsOn this list, children post messages to other children. Send subscription requests to:
pen-palsThis list provides a forum in which children correspond electronically with each other. The list is not moderated, but it is monitored for content. Send subscription requests to:
firstname.lastname@example.org with the following as the message body (substitute your own name):
Mailing Lists for and about Kids
Newsgroups for Parents and KidsUsenet newsgroups provide a way for Internet users around the world to hold conversations, and its a great way for kids to converse, too. Usenet also includes a number of newsgroups for parents and teachers. We describe how to read newsgroups in Chapter 9. The following list of newsgroups might be of interest to you and your family:
Some Internet providers make available an entire set of K-12 groups, intended for teachers and schoolchildren in elementary and high schools. The first part of the names of these newsgroups is k12.
Suggestions WelcomeIf you have a favorite kids' Internet resource that you think would be appropriate to include here, send us e-mail.
Updated: Mar 10, 2001
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