Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 136 / DECEMBER 1991 / PAGE S2

Why your child should be using a computer. (Kids & Computers)
by David English

You know the cliches. In the world of the future, everything will be computerized, so it's vital that your kids understand the technology. If they don't learn how to use computers, they'll be stuck in menial jobs. Taking a few computer courses now can make the difference later when competing for that all-important first job.

If your child takes to computers, that can lead to increased motivation and ultimately higher grades. If your child doesn't have a computer and the other kids do, your child will be left behind.

Which of the cliches are true, and which are scare tactics from shortsighted manufacturers? In the late 1980s, Commodore ran a television ad that showed an enthusiastic child going off to school on a train--only to return in disgrace because he hadn't bought a Commodore computer. Apple and IBM have used similar strong-arm tactics. Is a computer really better for a child than a Nintendo--if all he or she does is play games with it? And how hard should you push a computer on a child who has little or no interest in it?

While no one can predict the future, it's true that computers are taking an increasingly larger role in our business, educational, and leisure activities. It's not terribly difficult to imagine a time when nearly every working adult will use a computer in one form or another. Given the dramatic increase in the power of personal computers and their unprecendented decrease in price over the last ten years, we can safely assume that our children will mature in a world of faster and less expensive microprocessors. And while each child is different, an appreciation for computers can certainly help prepare your child for what is--by all accounts--just the initial breakthrough in a sweeping technological revolution.

But by far the best reason for your child to be exposed to computers is that they make learning fun. Children as young as three years old can confidently explore new worlds with programs such as The Playroom, the Manhole, Cosmic Osmo, and Mixed-Up Mother Goose. With Kid Prix and Print Shop, children in elementary school can create their own drawings and posters. Older kids can learn about the world around them with Compton's MultiMedia Encyclopedia on CD-ROM and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Speaking of CD-ROM and multimedia, we're about to see an explosion of educational CD-ROM titles featuring realistic sound and animation. Broderbund plans to release a series of children's books on CD-ROM, called Living Books. The titles will include books by award-winning authors, such as Mercer Mayer and Marc Brown, as well as stories from Aesop's Fables. Discis Knowledge Research has a similar collection of well-known children's books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter, available on CD-ROM for Macintosh computers.

With computer prices continuing to tumble and children's software becoming more powerful and easier to use, there's never been a better time to introduce your child to the wonders of computing.