Computing With Your Kids

Another addition to Dorling Kindersley's Essential Computers series, Computing With Your Kids tackles an issue of concern to many parents: how to equip kids for getting the most out of computers and the Web.

Books in the Essential Computers series are slim, multi-illustrated basic guides to a particular topic - and Computing With Your Kids does not deviate from this approach.

The first major chapter deals with safe surfing and mostly discusses filters you can use to keep your kids away from inappropriate content online. There's a brief discussion of the issues of privacy and the book points readers to a Yahoo site for information on how to help kids protect themselves online (choosing a user name, for example, that doesn't give away too much). In a book that aims to help kids use the Net more effectively, it seems a shame at this point not to provide more tips and discussion on this topic. Similarly, there is only very limited exploration of how search techniques can help young surfers avoid unsavoury content. Given the patchy success of filtering technology, it's vital to use other defences. There are fairly lengthy chapters on creating pictures (in Microsoft Paint) and word processing using Microsoft Word. There's also a section on creating a birthday card using the wizards in Microsoft's Publisher 2000.

The last chapter provides some suggestions for sites to visit. Understandably in a book of this scope - and with sites changing so frequently - it's hard to include many options, but with fewer than 20 sites mentioned this section feels a little lightweight.

Overall, this is a good, basic introduction to the obvious kids and computers projects. Parents looking for more than simple guidance, however, would be better served looking for more detailed advice.

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