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Contents


Introduction

This is an ongoing compilation of pointers to things that might be of use to parents with access to the Web. You should also take a look at Interesting Places for Kids, but please read the following
Note:
Parents differ in the degree to which they try to protect their kids from various aspects of reality, including strong language, violence, beliefs and opinions contrary to their own, and so on. I am not particularly protective. Thus, since I maintain Interesting Places for Kids primarily for the benefit of my daughter Katy (age 12), parents should keep in mind that the pointers it contains are used by a child who asks her mother to cook rabbit stew on Easter, and whose idea of fun video fare includes both Power Rangers and Hamlet. (Which is more violent is left as an exercise for the viewer.)

In general, parents should be aware that there are effectively no state or national boundaries on the Internet. Depending on where you are, it may or may not be legal for you to import chewing gum, export cryptography software, smoke cigarettes in public, or make comments opposing the policies of your local government.

Once you give your children access to the World Wide Web, there is no way to prevent them from seeing things that may upset or confuse them, offend you, be forbidden by your local government, or contradict their or your cherished beliefs. Even looking over their shoulders may not work. Don't say I didn't warn you. (Some filtering services are becoming available, so this is changing.)

In general, kids are mostly inclined to be sensible. If they see something uninteresting, they'll say ``Yuck!'' and click the back button. In any case they are unlikely to run into anything on the Web that's nearly as disturbing as what they can see on TV network news.

Stephen C. Steel says it best:
The only long term answer is to educate your children about pornography, hate-literature, etc. so that when they come across it, they'll know how to react. The only software you can be sure they'll be running is the stuff you install between their ears.
I do provide a page of Notes, Advice and Warnings, with links where I think they are appropriate. Several other sites have started making links to it, and I welcome comments and suggestions on the subject. Additional pointers to net safety- and censorship- related sites is here.

Educational Resources

Education:K-12 at Yahoo
Yahoo is probably the largest and easiest-to-use categorized list of Web resources.
EOS: Educational Online Sources (also here.)
(They very sensibly let you select pages with or without pictures.) This is a very extensive list.
Educational Launch Pad
A pretty extensive collection of links. ``Has Reference & Resource Links For Teachers'' at the end.
Educational Resources
at NASA's High Performance Computing and Communications program
FutureKids
appears to be a franchise operation specializing in computer training for kids, but they don't have much info on the Web yet except for a list of locations.
Classroom Connect at Webworld by Wentworth Worldwide Media
Some good pointers, including lists for Kids, K-12 Students, and Teachers
Harcourt Brace School Publishers
has a few activities for kids as well as stuff for parents and teachers, and will probably add more; as of 1996/7 it's still under construction.
KIDLINK: Global Networking for Youth 10-15
``is a grassroots project aiming at getting as many children in the age group 10-15 as possible involved in a GLOBAL dialog.'' Includes mailing lists and IRC; designed to be done as a classroom activity. Requires registration.
National Public Radio
the PathFinder Integrated Holistic Learning Center
New-Age-ish; possibly interesting.
The Piano Education Page
`` bringing together information of interest to teachers, students, parents of students, and fans of the piano.''
the Read To Me program
``a program advocating reading to all children from birth for 10 minutes a day... features news about Read To Me nation wide, as well as suggested reading lists for different ages of kids...''
History/Social Studies Web Site for K-12 Teachers
Many fantastic links, many for teachers, but many others of interest to kids.
Instructional Development Services--UC IRVINE
contains links to several education resources
The Science Television World Wide Web Server
the Empire Internet Schoolhouse
at NYSERNet, which has pointers to other resources as well.
The National Parenting Center
...mostly wants you to subscribe to their magazine, but they reprint some bits from their advice columns, updated weekly.
Plugged In
`` is a non-profit group dedicated to bringing the educational opportunities created by new technologies to children and families from low-income communities. [Their] offices are in East Palo Alto, California.''
the Scholastic Internet Center
from the well-known publisher of children's books, etc.
The BBC Networking Club
sponsored by BBC Education. Some good pointers, including a guide to the Internet. Seems to be largely for kids, but has pointers to some pretty weird places, some of which are labeled ``adults only''.
the <a hrefhttp:nearnet.gnn.comwicnewrescat.toc.html"> The Whole Internet Catalog the <a hrefhttp:nearnet.gnn.comwicnewrescat.toc.html"> The Whole Internet Catalog
Education
in the InterNIC Directory of Directories
US Dept of Education WWW Server
has stuff like the ``helping your child'' series and pointers to other resources; their publications index is here.
United States Department of Commerce
With links to other US government agencies. The information from the Census Bureau could be particularly interesting.
United States Geological Survey
Some educational and other material, including a pointer to what looks like a really good list of Other Education Resources.
Harvard University Graduate School of Education
has a home page that includes pointers to many other educational resources on both WWW and Gopher.
Explorer at the University of Kansas.
The Explorer is part of a research and development effort to establish an on time and user friendly means of delivering a full range of information resources to educators and students.
Web 66
``Just as U.S. Highway Route 66 was a catalyst for Americana, we see the World Wide Web as a catalyst that will integrate the Internet into K12 school curriculums.'' Includes everything you need for setting up a Web server at your school.
Information for UC Berkeley Kids
``contains some pointers to resources that are available for parents and children on the UC Berkeley Campus and beyond.''
Learning Center at Time-Warner's Pathfinder
Including a link to Encyclopędia Britannica Online, which wants you to register for a ``free trial''. For that matter, so does Pathfinder.
National Parent Information Network
The Teacher's Desk by Judi Hardison
Mostly interesting links for kids, rather than stuff for parents or teachers.
Urban Education Web
which is part of the National Parent Information Network
The Ultimate Children's Internet Sites
Yet another list of links; also includes some links for parents.
Women In Technology International sponsored Take Your Children on the Internet Week
Writing HTML
an online tutorial. I got this link from Katie Prunka, the 12-year-old author of Winnie the Pooh - An Expotition, so even though it's aimed at teachers there's nothing to keep kids and parents from using it.

Software for Kids

Reviews and Lists

Note:
Many of these sites are run by volunteers; others are blatently commercial. Caveat lector.
Children's Software Reviews
Detailed descriptions and lenthy reviews. Will be very good when more people have submitted reviews.
Totware
by Paul Mende--names, short descriptions, and links of software his son has enjoyed on both Mac and PC.
The Children's Software Company
``is pleased to announce the sponsorship a WWW page which will include responses from misc.kids.computer to the subject "Re:Please rate games you've purchased"... Send responses to <Ratings@childsoft.com> and use "Ratings" as the subject.''
The Computer Museum Guide to the Best Software for Kids
is actually a book, but the site has some lists, reviews, and pointers for parents.
The Edutainment Page
``is dedicated to reviews and discussion of education and home software.'' Includes a page of reviews written by kids. Very detailed reviews. Prices in Australian dollars. All reviews include a ``Suitability to Australia'' rating.
HandiWARE from Microsystems Software
is a line of software products for people with disabilities. It's not specifically for kids, but if your kids (or you) have disabilities you will definitely want to check it out.
Headbone Interactive
Games for kids. The site has some online games and other activities, though they plug their own products at every opportunity.
PEP: Resources for Parents, Educators, and Publishers
Will eventually have a list, and some reviews, of commercial software for kids. Good list of ``computer recycling'' centers ``that facilitate donations of used computer hardware for schools and community groups''
Dallas Child Magazine has software reviews
Good reviews, with lots of detail and some sample pictures, but the site itself could use some organization.
SuperKids Educational Software Review
``provides impartial reviews of children's educational software by parents, teachers, and kids.'' Good reviews, articles; banner ads.
Tigger's Children's Shareware Page at Sylvan Associates
Tina's Review Zone

Software on the Net

See also:
my list of Sources of Free Software
Note:
Almost all of these sites are commercial. Appearing here in no way constitutes an endorsement or recommendation by the author of any company or product mentioned. Translation: ``they're your kids, and it's your money.''
The Children's Software Company
The Games Domain
game software (for downloading) and documentation. Emphasis on commercial demos.
Totware
(see above) also includes links.
Unplugged Software
have a visual programming language called ``click-n'' that runs on Windows PC's. It's said to be suitable for use by kids. Very limited, but maybe useable as a teaching tool.
Vividus
makes web-related software for children.

Articles

GNN Magazine: Issue Two (ISSN 1072-0413)
topic of the month: educational uses of the Internet.

Other Resources

The Attachment Parenting Group
publishes Nurturing Magazine and ``offers FREE support/information/advice/help via email for parents'' at <tapg@cadvision.com> I hope to persuade them to put up a Web page soon.
Colorado Parent Information & resource Center
``has been created to help families and schools work better together to ensure children succeed in school. '' They have a good set of tip sheets, among other things.
Champion Press has a Single Parent Reading Room
The Daily Parent
An online magazine.
Dallas Child Magazine
As of April '95 they only had two issues on the Web, and were still slightly disorganized, but it shows lots of promise.
Empowering People
including articles on parenting. They're the publishers of Positive Discipline
by Jane Nelsen and related books and videos. We've used these principles with our own kids, with moderate success.
Family Explorer
``A Monthly Newsletter of Science and Nature Activities for Parents of Children 6 to 12 Years Old'' is a printed newsletter; they post selected articles.
Steve and Ruth Bennett's Family Surfboard
Family World
``is a collaboration of [many] monthly parenting publications -- all members of the national trade association, Parenting Publications of America.'' (Formerly Family Times)
#Forgotten_Kids Official Webpage
For parents of kids with mental illnesses: ``#Forgotten_kids: the children that have nearly invisible disabilities.'' (The ``#'' refers to an IRC channel.)
Dr. Carol Gaffney
has an online newsletter, Coaching for Better Parents and Stronger Kids"
Inkspot: Resource for Children's Writers
includes a section for Young Writers
Kid's First
``Sponsored by Children's Hospital Oakland, Kids First is an online resource for parents'' concentrating on health and safety issues. They're hosted by a TV station, and have pointers to some stories that may be a trifle sensationalistic. May improve.
Mental Health Net
``the largest, most comprehensive guide to mental health online.''
The misc.kids FAQ's at Internet Information Systems
``The FAQs are largely collections of valuable and useful previous discussions on various topics in misc.kids. We have attempted to convert the FAQs to hypertext for easy browsing on the Web wherever possible. However, some of this is work in progress, so many FAQs are still in their plain text form. We welcome volunteers to do this conversion to html.''
Movie Mom's Guide to Encouraging Kids to Love Classic Movies
The Natural Child Project
``Articles on parenting, education, and child advocacy by Jan Hunt, B.A. Psychology, M.Sc. Counselling Psychology.'' Includes a parenting column.
ParentingPlus
Great collection of links to parenting resources. Also has a lot of teen, kid, and family links.
ParentsPlace
calls itself ``The Parenting Resource Center on the Web''. It's a family business.
San Francisco Bay Area Parent Magazine
Has unfortunately gone off the Web, leaving behind a page with a number you can call if you want to see them return.
SPECTRUM - The Family Internet Magazine
Articles, fiction, games, etc. Uses a password to keep younger kids out of sections intended for mature readers.
Stand for Children and Stand for Children Day 98: Stand For Quality Child Care
``Stand For Children is a national organization that encourages individuals to improve children's lives.'' Good resources and news sections.
US Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center
Send your kids to outer space for a week!

By Parents

The Dads Den
Kathleen B's Home Page, Teacher Links, and MegaLinks
Nice set of links from a grandmother and 6th-grade teacher.

Not Exactly for Parents

the Adoption Gopher
M.I.S.S.
...``is a grass roots organization dedicated to supporting parents one to one after the death of an infant or young child.'' (In Phoenix, Arizona, serving the western US.)
SANDS (Vic)
``A support group for parents who experience miscarriage,stillbirth or neonatal death.'' (In Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.)

Stuff to Buy

For your Kids

More and more companies are advertising stuff on the Web, and some of them offer products aimed at kids. Here, I list a few things in this vein; these are mostly announcements that have been sent to me via e-mail. Unless otherwise noted, I don't use or endorse any of these items.

A few of these sites have samples that you can show your kids, but the primary purpose is to sell to parents rather than to entertain the kids.

Construx Childrens Books
Actually, a book; but promised to be first of a series.
Crystal Rain Media Entertainment
are selling Hip Hop Animal Rock, an exercise video for kids.
the CD-ROM SHOP
has plenty of kids' titles. (Pick a CPU, then look under "Categories" for "Children".
The Doorway Company
an ``alternative media bookstore'' selling books, music, videos, and software.
Dragonfly Toys
``an international company devoted to serving children with special play needs.''
Hanes
sells software and transfer paper for T-shirts. You can download a free demo (Windows).
Jay Jay the Jet Plane
Videos for the preschool set. The site has a short ``bedtime story'' and descriptions of the characters. Heavy on the graphics.
KidsArt
``Art education for teachers and families on painting, drawing, sculpture, artists, art history. Free lessons by Kim Solga. Monthly gallery of child-made art for kids to join.'' ...but mostly they want to sell you booklets and other educational materials.
Songs by Michael Mish
(The site includes an online jukebox with songs in RealAudio format.)

For Yourself

the Crazy Lady Planner
``a woman-owned and created dayplanner company who gear organizational skills to busy moms, working women (on the outside), entrepeneurs, etc.''
Watch-Me! from Online Video Communications.
Lets you watch your kid in school or daycare via the Web and a video camera in the classroom. Cool idea.

Net Safety and Censorship

Blue Ribbon Campaign

Information

This section contains information about safety and censorship on the net (and elsewhere) for parents. Information aimed at kids can be found in warn-kids.html.
Black Thursday Machines here and here
show you what your page would look like under government censorship.
PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection)
the proposed standard for rating systems on the Web. It is being developed under the threat of government censorship, but it's probably better than the alternative.
CACI
A mailing list and archive on ``Children Accessing Controversial Information''.
Child Safety Forum
Publish a book, "Child Safety: A Parent's Guide to Avoiding Hidden Household Hazards", of which they're putting up one chapter a month. The book includes very complete checklists to help you kid-proof your house.
Child Safety on the Information Highway by Lawrence J. Magid
is also available
here at Compuserve
in a single page for easy printing.
here at School District 4J in Eugene, Oregon
in a multi-page presentation, better for browsing.
The Internet Advocate
``A Web-based Resource Guide for Librarians and Educators Interested in Providing Youth Access to the Net''
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
SAFE-T-CHILD
``has developed an easy, fun, and nonfearful program that empowers children (ages 2-12) to stay safe.'' They sell a music album, a book, and ID kits. They appear to be sincere, but their page ``Protect Your Children From Internet Pedophiles'' seems a bit sensationalistic. The site includes excerpts from their book.
Specs by NewView
has a directory for kids, and PICS compliant filtering software with many rating categories. The software is Windows and Mac only, and is free for one year in the US; not clear what happens after that.
Surfwatch
has links to censorship-related sites.
Street Smart on the Web and What you should know as a parent at Yahooligans!

Products

For a free alternative:
You can control your kids' access to the Internet using free software. Here's how to set up a Family Firewall on a Unix (or Linux) box.
Note:
I know of no access-control method that cannot be circumvented by someone who can reboot your machine from a floppy, unless the filtering is done remotely by your service provider.
Warning:
Most companies that sell filtering software encrypt their ``blocked site'' list so you can't look at it, and some block sites that you may want your children to have access to. Many of these companies may have a hidden agenda. For example, animal rights sites may be blocked because of pictures of dead animals, and sites with liberal or politically-sensitive themes (including gay rights, feminism, guns, etc.) may be blocked. See, for example, this article.

Moreover, products that filter based on content (for example, by looking for keywords) are notoriously unreliable. They cannot find ``naughty words'' in images, compressed (zipped) files, or programs. They cannot distinguish between movie ratings, and T-shirt sizes, and a winning move in Tic-Tac-Toe. Some products may reject an entire top-level domain (for example, www.aol.com) if it contains any questionable pages, and only take a closer look if somebody at the site objects.

Netly News has a search engine that shows whether particular sites are censored, and by which products.

Cyber Patrol from Microsystems Software
is a filter for Windows and Macintosh that includes both time and site lockout. There's a researched block list that parents can customize; a 6-month subscription to the list is included in the $50 price. They publish their blocking criteria, and you can select which criteria you want to block on.
The Internet Filter from Turner Investigations, Research and Communication
$40.00 with free upgrades. A free, upgradable copy of ``version zero'' is available for download as shareware. Windows 3.1, 3.11, and 95. Version One is user-configurable.
Net Nanny
Uses a user-editable dictionary and monitors all applications on your PC. Can even spot use of your credit card numbers. Windows only.
SAFE-T-CHILD.
``has developed an easy, fun, and nonfearful program that empowers children (ages 2-12) to stay safe.'' They sell a music album, a book, and ID kits.
Surfwatch
A filter to keep your kids from surfing into sites on a list of undesirable places, which they maintain. Eventually they intend to let you edit the list yourself.

Non-Net Safety Sites

KeyEye
does a kidnap-prevention program for schools, and sells a $20 video. Good set of safety tips and some links to other safety sites
The Klaas Foundation for Children
Safety tips and some products. They are also working to keep kids off of commercial mailing lists and databases, which seems like an excellent idea.

Getting your Kids onto the Net

If you are reading this, you obviously have some kind of internet access. But if you're like most parents with net access, you are probably at work, in which case your kids might not have the kind of access that you do. That's fixable.

The first step may be to convince your employer that you would get more work done if you could use the Web from home. This may be tricky, since you have to do it without giving the impression that you are now spending altogether too much time on the Web when you ought to be working.

The second step is to get a home computer. You probably have one. If it's a PC, you can run Linux on it. Linux is a free(!) Unix clone; everything you need to access the Net comes with it and works. I'm starting to put together some information on Setting up Linux for Families.

It's worth noting that Unix is not too difficult for kids to use. My daughter Katy wrote this report (with a little assistance), the very first time she used the Emacs editor, at age 8. She said that she prefers it to Microsoft's Creative Writer.

A significant advantage of Unix is that all of the documentation is on-line. An additional advantage is that you can give everyone in your household their own account, with different protection and access priviliges. Unlike Windows and the Mac, Unix hardly ever crashes (I've had machines running continuously for months), and the protection is rock-solid.

I'm working on packaging up a set of Linux configuration files for kids. Two sets, actually, since I need one for my 4-year-old as well.

If you can't or won't run Linux (e.g. if you're a Mac or Windows addict), it is still possible to find free software that will do the job. Mosaic, for example, has versions for each of those systems. Unfortunately, they're significantly buggier than the Unix version.

The third step is to get a connection to your home computer. You may be able to do it via your workplace, if they're generous (and a local phone call from home). Otherwise, check out these pointers to Internet Service Providers. All of the major online services (i.e. Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL) also provide internet access these days, but it tends to be more expensive than a small, local service provider (connect-time charges of $2.50/hour or more), and there a lot of things you don't get. Like a domain name and a Web site (though you may get a free page).

Getting your kids onto the Web

...is trivial now that most Internet service providers provide a registered domain name and free Web space along with a shell account. The domain name means that, for example, my household can be referred to as theStarport.org and everyone can have their own e-mail address. It also means that our web pages can be at http://theStarport.org, residing in the space I get for free with my account.

Beware of people trying to sell you web space. I recently saw an announcement for such a place; they give you a limited number of pages that you administer via e-mail, for about the same as I'm paying for my shell account. At that price, you could get an account with the cheapest service provider you can find and set up your own e-mail server to administer it. The major online services are also starting to offer free web pages, starting with Prodigy.

I have a confession to make at this point--I once thought about setting up such a service myself, and making theStarport.org pay for my net habit. I even wrote a flier. I may still sell links, very cheaply, but selling space is bad economics for the buyer unless there's a lot of value added in the service.

Getting your kids off the Net

...is a problem not addressed in this document. If your phone bills become astronomical or you can't use your computer anymore, don't blame me; chalk it up to their education, buy another CPU, and consider getting a T1 line.


Copyright Notice:

Copyright 1995-1997 by Stephen Savitzky. All rights reserved.

(Text enclosed in quotation marks (``...'') in descriptions of pages linked to from this document is taken from the page in question or from an announcement by its author. Copyright in such text is owned by its author.)
This document may be freely linked to, though I would appreciate a brief note via e-mail so that I can thank you personally and possibly return the favor.

Copies or excerpts of this document may be made and distributed in any physical medium for any non-commercial purpose, provided:

If you wish to copy this document for commercial gain or make it part of a shareware distribution, please contact me at the address below in order to negotiate a license.

If you wish to make an electronic copy, please make a link instead. Here's why linking is better than copying.


Last modified: Thu Nov 4 23:30:56 1999
Site Information ( policies, notices, awards, tools )
Copyright © 2000, Stephen R. Savitzky.
$Id: parents.xh,v 1.11 2000/11/19 17:51:14 steve Exp $
Stephen R. Savitzky <steve@theStarport.org>
343 Leigh Ave. / San Jose, CA 95128