Tag Archives: children

How Do Kids Under the Age of 12 Use the Web?

There’s an interesting survey going on right now, via ReadWriteWeb. They are attempting to gather data on how a child under the age of twelve might use the Web, and how much of it they really understand.

The survey is designed to have parents along for the ride. Children will draw their responses to specific questions, and then the parents will upload them to the survey response center. They are even being cautious with anonymity. There’s no need whatsoever to reveal a child’s identity, nor any identifying information. A parent can make up a first name (or nickname) for their child when beginning the survey.

The survey aims to discover how children use and understand Web technology, the environmental factors that contribute to these understandings, and the extent to which children can think ‘innovatively’ about web technology. The study also intends to deduce real-world applications from the drawings that the kids create.

If you are a parent of a child in this age group, I urge you to consider taking this survey with them. It will not only help gather important research information, it can also help you understand your child’s level of knowledge when it comes to the Internet. Talk with them about what they know, and set specific rules and boundaries for their online time. This will benefit both of you in the end.

Should Parents Share a Kid’s Life Online?

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I was a baby once, a looong time ago. Some may argue I still act like one at times. However, I’m not dwelling on that point right now! I want to focus on an email from my friend Jim. He asks how will all of the content posted online of kids by their parents affect their future? Face it, parents post a lot of things about their children online in order to share with the World their child’s great looks, the A they received on that term paper, and even their latest Crayola masterpiece. What impact could this possibly have on the kids as they themselves grow into adulthood? Jim wonders how they may feel about having their privacy invaded so to speak? He also asked if I had kids of my own how I would handle things. Would I put my kids on my show, or keep them private.

This is certainly a more interesting topic for adults who have kids of their own – but it is good to get kids’ opinions, as well. We have a great mixture of both in our live community, which is a great way to get many different perspectives. The question that was asked though, is what would I do?

The answer is that I’d enjoy sharing that part of my life. Diaper changes on a live stream would be fun. Sure, the kid may grow up hating the fact that I streamed that particular event – but hey – everyone poops!

I think sharing your child’s life is ok to a point. It’s tricky, and I realize that even though I say I’d share a lot… the truth is I have no idea what I’d do if and when the situation arises. Privacy is paramount. I believe that being open is important to a child as they are growing up. Too many people are hindered because they aren’t happy about who they are. They aren’t proud of who they are, and have very little sense of self. Sharing your life (especially the happy moments) could prove to be quite beneficial to one’s self-esteem.

That being said, there are a lot of idiots online, kids and adults alike. You’ll learn to develop a really thick skin. People will form opinions where they are unwarranted. It’ll happen whether you feel it should or not. Getting used to behavior like this will help you sooner, rather than later. It can help overcome shyness, and gain you some recognition from people who believe in you and the things you do. You have a greater chance of being yourself and understanding yourself if you are open about yourself. Sharing bits of your life online can help facilitate that.

I also believe there is some amount of responsibility on the side of the adult to educate the child about proper social responsibilities. I encounter kids all the time in what I do. We have everything from teenagers up to people of retirement age in our chat room. Giving a child the ability to decide once they understand what is going on is important. Not putting your child into a potentially embarrassing situation later in life is important, as well. Let them have a say as to what they would or would not like posted publicly… and respect their wishes.

Sharing affinities and making connections, even at a young age, is a great thing. Opening your World to people you would otherwise never have met is an excellent way to broaden your horizon. Keep in mind you should never post something that will come back to bite you (or your child) in the future. What you post will live there forever. Even if you delete something… it’s still lingering somewhere… either through a re-post, an archive, or whatever!

Bottom line: it’s good to share your child’s life online, as long as you are cognizant of what can be said about the material to your child in the future. Be honest with your child about what you post, and where. Listen to them when they are old enough to understand, and let them choose whether or not you post things.

Editor’s Update:

A few weeks after this was posted, I came across an article online by Ari Herzog. He had read this post, and contacted a friend of his about this type of situation to see her thoughts on the subject. Elizabeth has chronicled her daughter’s life online since the day the child was born. It’s interesting to see the “other side” of things from her perspective.

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What Is Worse – a Sexual Predator or a Bully?

I read an article yesterday that disturbed me. Do you remember the news last year about the task force appointed to look into the problem of online sexual predators? Apparently the threat isn’t as big as once thought. Or is it? That task force released a report yesterday stating the problem of bullying – both online and offline – presents a larger threat than sexual predators. If you recall, MySpace and Facebook were thrown into the light with the fear that social networks such as these harbored sexual predators. Many popular perceptions of online danger were heavily fueled by the media. Certainly the trouble hasn’t just disappeared, so where lies the truth? The report states that the only online predator cases that exist explain the children and teenagers were already at risk – being troubled by depression, drug abuse, or problems at home.

How much difference exists between these issues? If you think about it, both problems are predatory in nature. Situations of either sort have ended tragically. One could easily turn into the other. It is sad to consider we live in a world where the issue of online sexual predators and pedophiles waiting to pounce on innocent children takes a back burner to the increasing problem of bullying.

I remember bullying when I was younger. Kids are not nice, and they have become more brutal every day. Thanks to the advances in technology these bullies can do their thing all on their own, without assistance from their friends to taunt and tease. All they need is a cell phone or a computer and they are fully armed. You’ve seen the headlines; children (and in some cases, their parents) taunt and tease unrelentingly, causing these kids to commit suicide to ease their pain.

If you think bullying exists only in schools… you’re wrong. These bullies grow up – and if not corrected, continue their abusive behavior in the workplace. They take their hate and contempt through every part of their life, online and offline. They park on social networking sites, blogs, forums, chat rooms, and easily become comfortable in the practice known as trolling. This doesn’t mean all trolls are predators, but the behavior strikes an alarming similarity.

Are you being bullied? Don’t just sit there and take it – report it! Nobody will think you are a wimp or a baby. Go to your parents, a teacher, your boss, or an adult you trust that would do the right thing. If you know of someone who is being bullied, don’t assume that it’s all in good fun or the person can take care of themselves. You just might be wrong.

Have you been bullied? Share your success stories with us so others may learn from your difficulties and find strength to fight back.

How To Teach Programming To Kids

Geek!This is R. L. Shanker’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

You probably know a kid who is bitten by the computer bug – could be your son or your nephew or your friend’s kid. Since you are the resident uber-geek, you have been given the responsibility of initiating him into the wonderful world of computers. One fine day, you gather the kid, roll up your sleeves and sit down in front of the computer. And then it hits you: What do you teach him – Java? C++? VB.NET? The guy has a concentration span of exactly ninety-six seconds. You start scratching your head. If this sounds familiar, this tutorial is for you.

In this how-to, I review two tools that have been tested successfully in homes/schools across the world. Like any other discussion on “which software to use”, there are unlimited options and fanatic supporters for each one of them. So, kindly use this tutorial as a starting point and do your own research; there are a lot of pointers that I have included for your reference. Before getting down to details, let me clarify one thing: while none of us would want to force programming as a career choice on our kids, all of us would agree on the importance of making kids comfortable with what is unarguably the most powerful tool at our disposal. There, done. Now, let us move on to the details.

Age 6-9 years

Scratch: A product of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT, Scratch provides kids with an exciting environment to create and share computer applications. Applications in Scratch are built around what are referred to as Sprites; these could be animals, objects, people etc. Using simple drag-and-drop programming, students can control their actions and interactions. In the process, they are subtly exposed to basic programming concepts such as conditional statements, iteration, variables, and event triggers. It is easy to be misled by the overt simplicity of the application; however, the scope of Scratch is not restricted to just creating dummy games. One look at the online Scratch gallery is sufficient to dispel all such notions. I even came across an application that illustrates wave harmonics in the most intuitive way.

This brings me to the other great feature about Scratch – it has a terrific online presence. Currently, more than 200,000 applications are shared online. Your kid can get immediate feedback from his peers and they can even work on a collaborative project. Scratch’s online presence, combined with its highly accessible interface, puts it way ahead of its competitors such as Logo, Squeak, Alice , Toontalk, and Gamemaker.

Age: 10-14 years

Phrogram. The most frustrating aspect about dealing with kids is the pace at which they outgrow their interests. As a mentor, it is imperative that you find ways of keeping their passion alive. Enter KPL, Kids Programming Language. KPL was launched in 2005 as a freeware programming language and has since been replaced by its commercial successor, Phrogram. While the focus of Scratch is on designing applications, the focus of Phrogram is on programming applications – a logical next-step. Phrogram supports object-oriented programming and provides an excellent stepping stone for “serious programming”. In order to make the task more appealing, Phrogram provides a range of in-built libraries. You can find details about a course offered in Ohio State University that uses Phrogram exclusively here. Wait, it keeps getting better – you can even write XBOX applications on Phrogram. Talk about getting a kid excited – his own application on XBOX!

The only downside is that Phrogram is not a freeware. However, the basic version is pretty cheap; it is actually cheaper than most popular video games. If cost is still a concern, you can check out Greenfoot. Greenfoot is based on Java and is equally accessible to kids in this age-group. Here, a parent provides a lively account of a game-building exercise he did with his 9-year old daughter using Greenfoot.

Age: 15+ years

The kid is now ready for the big league; it is time to respect his intellect and let him take the deep plunge. We are talking Python, C, C++, Java, etc. Since the questions are going to come thick and fast, I would recommend that you pick a language that you are comfortable with. For instance, I have been working with C++ for a very long time and it would be my natural choice.

Final thoughts

Engage, engage and engage.

The actual choice of software or platform is a subjective one – it depends on the student and the tutor. Whichever software you choose, for the endeavour to be successful, the kid must be actively engaged. What excites you as an adult doesn’t have to (and in all likelihood, will not) excite the young mind. Put yourself in his shoes. Fit in.

Be the inspiration.

The final onus is on you to convince the kid that there is no end to this wonderful experience. You need to tease him, tantalize him, and then cut him loose. Let him experiment. Support him if he fails. Challenge him if he succeeds.

How to Raise Kids and Propagate the Geek Species 201

Geek!This is Christine Cavalier’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Prerequisite to this course includes Birds & Bees 101. The “Marriage and Family” course helps, but is not necessary.

In this course, we will learn how to teach our iterations to carry the torch of the geek culture onward. We will be studying these five main guidelines on how to properly raise geeky spawn from pre-alpha stage to formal launch and Initial Public Offering:

  • Assume your spawn, even at an alpha release, knows how to do a lot of stuff already. “Baby” comes with a lot of bundled knowledge, including its own maintenance schedule. You shall not disregard this build. The notifications (a.k.a. “crying fits”) are varied, and you can learn to read them for the different error messages that they are. If you institute this strategy effectively, you will have a healthy spawn who has faith that you can respond quickly to issues.
  • Always read to your spawn, even in the pre-alpha stage. Your spawn has voice recognition software that kicks in at about 14 weeks after start-up. Contrary to lore, it actually doesn’t matter what you read. Code manuals are acceptable, but may educe error messages from your partner / venture capitalist (a.k.a. “significant other”). Lord of the Rings may be a bit more entertaining for your start-up’s advisory board.
  • As your spawn reaches the late beta stage, you will have been working in the “Attachment Parenting” model for a few years. You will have mastered the immediate response to bugs by instituting the Time Out malware. Sometimes repeated physical download of Time Out is necessary. Along with Attachment Parenting theory, you will also be comfortable with the behavioral / cognitive approach adopted by the ultimate geek spawn master, SuperNanny.
  • Share the geek culture early on, but in small doses. Overtaxing your spawn’s disk with too much data will crash it. All geek input may be rejected after a crash. There is no way to wipe the disk. Work out a timeline for geek upgrades and stick to it. Remember: Less is more.
  • Encourage Open Source. Share your knowledge and explore the world together with your spawn, but always remember to embrace your spawn’s unique abilities. Each spawn is an independent client. Remember that the geek culture is wide and vibrant. If your spawn chooses a different version of the culture to adopt, be Tier One line of support for that option. With copious application of the Love and Respect donationware, you will have a spawn that will not only continue our time-honored geek traditions but you will get profound Returns On Investment.

Please comment with any additions to the syllabus of this course. We encourage a “Devcamp” atmosphere, so please share any knowledge or insights you have about the subject in the comment section. Thank you.

Is There a 'YouTube' for Kids?

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Lilipip was a recent presenter at Live Pitch 2008 in Seattle. Lilipip is dedicated to providing exceptional video content for kids of all ages, at no cost to the viewers. Their videos will not only entertain your child, but will also feed their curious minds as well.


  • Business Category: Media
  • Founder: Ksenia Oustiougova
  • Inspiration for Product/Service: Realizing there was no quality content online for my 5 year old son.
  • Target Customer/Audience: New parents of young children, age 25-40, tech savvy, $100K annual income, who are already giving their cell phones to kids to keep them occupied while on the go. These parents are expected to spend $5.5 billion on mobile devices that can show Lilipip content in 2010.
  • Synopsis of Product / Service: Lilipip! is our nickname for “little people”. We are parents with really curious little people like yours. Rather than feeding their developing minds with the usual “junk food”, we set out to find the finest short kids videos from all over the planet to enjoy at home or out on-the-go. Our videos enlighten, entertain, amuse and basically feed your child’s curiosity and sense of wonder. Since they’re short (averaging 5 minutes), your kids can watch them over and over on our website.
  • Main Company Contact: Ksenia Oustiougova


What do you think about this business idea? Leave your thoughts!

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Can Kids and Computers Combine?

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Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid? Unless of course, you still are one. I know we have a large audience of teenagers, and that’s wonderful! I have an Email here from Amy, with her top five reasons you should encourage your kids to make use of all Technology.

  • Letting your child use technology early in life will allow you to instill respect… instead of fear… into them. The difference between respect and fear is that fear prevents you from doing something. Respect allows you to use a gadget, knowing the full power and consequences of using it for good or bad.
  • It will help them advance in school at an advanced rate. Kids are made to do testing on the computer. By learning technology early on, it will allow them to be more confident… and competent… when the testing time comes.
  • Learning to use a computer is like learning to walk… it’s easier to learn when you’re little than when you’re older. I know that if I were a kid today, I’d be all over technology.
  • It’s a fact of life that your kid will be using technology for the rest of his or her life. The ability to adapt to a new technology will be much easier if they are taught to use these things at a young age. Kids just tend to pick things up a lot faster than most adults.
  • Letting your child use the computer gives you an opportunity to spend quality time with them… as well as allowing you to know what they know. By sitting with your child when he or she is learning, it allows you to show them what different methods and tools there are, and how to use them.


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One Laptop Per Child vs Asus Eee Notebook PC

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SWAT sometimes hangs out on Ventrilo with us, and even occasionally streams for me when I’m gone. He was wondering if he should go with the One Laptop Per Child(OLPC) program and help another child as well, or spend the same money and get better components for his daughter by buying the Asus Eeee.

I just spoke with my friend David from EyeJot the other day about this same thing. In the terms of price and what you get, the Asus would be a better deal. But for the same price, you get a tad bit “lesser” laptop for your child… AND get one sent on your behalf to a needy child in a third world country. We talk all the time about how technology changes lives. We talk about the ways computers enhance our daily life, give us opportunities, and broaden our horizons. How could you not want to give those same opportunities to another child… and not have to pay anything extra?

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution.

The laptop through the OLPC program is a solid laptop. It’s good, and will work wonderfully for your child. Many years and an infinite amount of sweat equity went into the creation of the XO laptop. Designed collaboratively by experts from academia and industry, the XO is the product of the very best thinking about technology and learning. It was designed with the real world in mind, considering everything from extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, to technological issues such as local-language support. As a result, the XO laptop is extremely durable, brilliantly functional, energy-efficient, responsive, and fun.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop for your young child, or any young child… this is the one you should buy. It’s an excellent machine, and you’ll be giving the gift of opening the future to a child who otherwise may not ever have that chance.

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