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.
Pinky Dinky Doo, at pinkydinkydoo.com, features a little cartoon girl named Dinky, who lets kids play games on her cheese sandwich-shaped game controller. There are also videos, story podcasts made by other kids and fun videos to watch. Plus, your mouse pointer turns into a floating triangle of yellow cheese.
Sesame Street, at sesamestreet.org. You know them, you love them, and kids have to have them, Cookie Monster and all.
Google Kids Safesearch, at safesearchkids.com. Kids love exploring and exploring the Internet can be a ton of fun. To keep your kids away from the scary side of the Internet, turn them loose on this website and let them explore all they want.
Zigitty Zoom, at ziggityzoom.com. This is one of the least annoying websites I looked at, as way too many websites for kids feature incessant eye-popping graphics, characters that can’t seem to sit still and relentless songs seemingly designed to make your ears explode. On the other hand, Zigitty Zoom is cool; take a look.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, at pbskids.org/rogers. No childhood experience would be complete without a dose of Mr. Rogers and here he is in all of his pleasant glory. My daughter liked Mr. Rogers; maybe yours will, too.
NickJr., at nickjr.com. Brought to you from the folks at Nickelodeon, NickJr. has a huge variety of things to keep Junior busy, as well as links to other kid-safe websites; seriously, who can resist Dora the Explorer, or Peppa Pig?
Funology, at funology.com, promotes “the science of having fun,” and they do a good job of it. Jokes, games, riddles and “Trivia and Wacky Facts” make this site a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the “Science Experiments” section, and I’m not even a kid. Well, not technically, anyway.
Seussville, at seussville.com. Nobody does silly like Dr. Seuss, and Suessville is no exception. More your mouse pointer around Whoville and see all the cool places you can discover. Your kids will love it, and if this website doesn’t make you smile at least once, you’ve got a hole in your soul.
Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or www.davemoorecomputers.com.