Originally published in the September 1995 issue of Internet World
“Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners.”
There has been a lot of commotion about how to protect children from indecent material on the Internet. With screening software and proper supervision able to solve this problem, let’s explore some of the good material available for kids on the Net. From discussion groups in which they can find Internet pen pals, to Gophers where they can get information about starting a first job, children of all ages will discover that the Net is somewhere they want to be.
A good place to begin getting acquainted with the Internet is KidCafe, a mailing list organized to allow kids to talk to one another in a supervised environment. It’s limited to children between the ages of 10 and 15. To join, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with sub kidcafe Your Name in the message body. Concerned parents can monitor what is being discussed by the kids by subscribing to the Response mailing list. To do so, send a message with sub response Your Name in the body to the same list server.
The national 4-H Council runs the 4-H Challenge list for discussion of the activities sponsored by the group. You can access it by sending e-rnail to email@example.com with sub 4hchall Your Name in the message body.
A wide variety of newsgroups have been created especially for kids. Most noteworthy are the misc.kids.* and kl2.* hierarchies. The k-12 newsgroups were created by teachers for their students, resulting in a somewhat more classroom-like feeling. This is the perfect place to brush up on a foreign language or get help for math assignments. Many of these groups have evolved from purely studious environments to more chatter-oriented ones.
The misc.kids groups allow parents to gloat over the latest achievements of their children and exchange resources on how to deal with their little rascals. Parents interested in getting their children to spend more time on computers will probably want to peruse alf.comp.shareware.for-kids, where you can find reviews of shareware designed especially for kids.
There are plenty of games for children available via FTP. Find them at ftp.cdrom.com and look into /pub/games/win/educate for those that run on a Windows machines. Go to sumex-aim.stanford.edu and seek out the /infomac/Game/edu directory for Macintosh software. These are good places for obtaining edutainment software and a wide array of educational games, from geography quizzes to math and spelling-adventure games.
A noteworthy Windows program is Cash for Kids, which teaches children how to save and spend wisely. It is available from ftp.cica.indiona.edu in the /pub/ pc/win3/misc directory as cpfk.zip. Another is Follow Me Drawing, which teaches children how to draw. It is available at ftp.cica.indiana.edu in the /pub/pc/win3/desk- top directory as fmdraw.zip.
Two good Gophers for children are the U.S. Department of Education Gopher, located at gopher.ed.gov; and KidLink, which resides at kids.duq.edu. KidLink tries to get as many kids as possible “involved in the global dialogue.” Parents might want to join the Children, Youth and Family Consortium, which holds a document clearinghouse on tinman.mes.umn.edu, appropriately named the Children, Youth and Family Consortium Clearinghouse.
The World Wide Web
KidLink maintains a home page at http://www.kidlink.org, where it expands on what’s covered on its Gopher server. Not to be outdone, the National 4-H Council has its own Web server at http://www.fourhcouncil.edu.
The U.N. World Summit for Social Development maintains a home page with Voices of Youth at , where it asks children to express their views about the state of the world to world leaders. Messages from the kids and responses from the leaders are archived.
If you’re not quite sure what youth music and culture are all about, check out , where an entire college course is devoted to the subject.
A mother lode of childrens’ links of all sorts resides at Uncle Bob’s Kids’Page at . A virtual kid-o-rama hosted by the effervescent Bob Allison, it provides a bonanza of links to childrens’ sites and resources on the Net.
Another exceptional site for kids is The Children’s Page, hosted in the UK by The Bowen Family at http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/jonathan.bowen/children.html.
Other great pages of kids’ links are Berit’s Best Sites for Children at , Kids Web at http://www.npac.syr.edu/textbook/kidsweb, Global Show-n-Tell at , and the Ontario Science Center’s Young Person’s Guide to Hot Web Spots at .