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May 19, 2013

A safe Internet for the kids

NORMAN — I got my first computer at the age of 30. In contrast, my daughter has lived her entire life around computers. I have pictures of her as an infant, barely able to peek over the top of the desk, merrily pecking away at the keyboard. Very few households had home computers in those days, the mid-1980s; it was a fun, exciting time.

Of course, all that has changed. Most homes now have at least one computer, and many homes have many computers, in the form of cell phones and video game consoles. What once was unique is now commonplace and kids don’t give a second thought to the notion of having a computer in the home.

Other things have changed, but not for the better. When my daughter was little, nobody was too concerned about porno websites, identity theft or online predators. As such, today’s parents are presented with a dilemma: they want their kids to be computer-savvy and get a good computer education, but at the same time be insulated from the Internet’s many evils.

“Where can my kids go on the Internet and be safe?” That’s a very good question. Here, I present a few places that can get you started. I’m sure there are other kid-safe websites, but this is my current Top 10 websites for little kids.

CBeebies, at bbc.co.uk/cbeebies. This British website, hosted by the BBC, features cheerful little talking yellow blobs, as well as other cartoon characters, that engage little kids in a variety of fun activities. Here, your kids can play games, sing songs and draw pictures, as well as get a chance to practice their phony British accents.

Sid the Science Kid, at pbskids.org/sid. PBS hosts many kid-oriented websites and this is one of my favorites. “Why?” you ask. Why, science, of course. Sid the Science Kid leads his pals on a journey to learn science the fun way. If I’d had a computer when I was a kid, I would have been all over this website.

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