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Children's Software FAQ

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Archive-name: misc-kids/software
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1999/06/10
Version: 2.7

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Original Authors: Sherry Feiler and James Wilson
Current Maintainer/Modifier: Margaret D. Gibbs


                      Frequently Asked Questions
		      about Software for Children

=====================================================================

For a list of other FAQ topics, tune in to misc.kids.info, and/or
look for the FAQ File Index posted to misc.kids weekly.

=====================================================================
Copyright 1997-99, Margaret Gibbs.  Use and copying of this information 
are permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.
====================================================================
NOTE:  This is a rough draft, and most of the below information was 
compiled in May 1995.  I apologize for any errors or inaccuracies.
Please send any comments or corrections to the above email address.
====================================================================
The purpose of this FAQ is to give a concise summary of the comments and  
opinions of readers of misc.kids and misc.kids.computers on topics related to  
children and computers, and to provide a list of resources (electronic and  
print) for information, reviews, demos, and shareware.
====================================================================

Table of Contents:

1. Recommended Programs by Age Group
2. Product Info and Reviews (Web sites)
3. Company List
4. Resources
	Internet: Web Pages and FTP Sites
	Printed : Magazines, Catalogs, & Books
5. Program Access and Management and File Protection (for PCs only -
       feel free to contact me with information about Macs)
6. Pointing Devices (this topic is not well-covered in the rough draft)
7. Known Bugs and Fixes (this topic is not covered in the rough draft
   - please email gibbsm@ll.mit.edu with any suggestions, for example:
     how does one use "KidPix" with "AtEase"?)


Subject: 1. Favorite Programs Infant (hit a key and something happens): BabySmash - Mac shareware - available for ftp at sumex-aim.stanford.edu KeyWack - Mac - at URL: http://hyperarchive.lcs.mit.edu/HyperArchive/Archive/edu/yng/key-wack-20.hqx Babydraw - PC shareware - available for ftp at oak.oakland.edu Danny's First Program - PC shareware - available for ftp at oak.oakland.edu Mickey's ABC - PC made by Disney - No mouse required. Each alphabet key triggers multiple animation responses from Mickey. Preschool: The Playroom - Broderbund Bailey's Book House, Millie's Math House, Sammy's Science House -Edmark Living Books - Broderbund. Many titles available. Just Grandma and Me is great; Sheila Rae the Brave; Dr. Suess' ABCs KidPix - Broderbund Humongous Entertainment - Putt Putt, Fatty Bear, and Freddi Fish series. KidDesk - Edmark ManHole - Cyan Jumpstart - Toddlers, Preschool, Pre-K Pajama Sam Disney - Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh Richard Scarry's Busytown Dorling Kindersley - The Way Things Work, My Most Amazing Dictionary Baby ROM - Windows and Mac - Byron Preiss Multimedia discover and play with numbers, letters, shapes and colors and learn about different parts of the body. (3 levels of play, from 6mo-3yrs) (one person did find this program very annoying) Carlos's Coloring Book, <http://www.ravenna.com/coloring/> Grade School: Math Workshop, Logical Journey of the Zoombinis (both for Math) - Broderbund The Amazing Writing Machine - Broderbund Write, Camera, Action! - Broderbund Imagination Express - Edmark Company unknown?? - Magic School Bus Reader Rabbit Mathblaster Oregon Trail Where in * is Carmen San Diego Sim Town Dyno Park Tycoon Middle School - ??? High School - ???
Subject: 2. Product Info and Reviews NOTE: There are currently no product reviews available directly in this FAQ. For detailed product descriptions and system requirements visit The Children's Software Company Web page at http://www.childsoft.com/childsoft The Childrens Software Reviews WWW site at http://qv3pluto.LeidenUniv.NL/steve/reviews/welcome.htm "Tigger's" Software Reviews Web page at http://www.gamesdomain.com/tigger/sw-review.html Tina Velgos' The Review Zone page at http://www.thereviewzone.com/ Some more web sites which include product reviews are: http://www.zdnet.com/familypc/ --Family PC Mag http://techweb.cmpcom/hpc --Home PC http://www.pepsite.com --Children's software review ! http://www.learningwarereviews.com --Learningware http://www.harbornet.com/mediamom/ --Multimedia Mom Network http://www.superkids.com - SuperKids Educational Software Review ! http://www.brainplay.com - Brainplay + http://www.geocities.com/~reviewcorner - The Review Corner
Subject: 3. Company List 7th Level, Inc. 1110 E. Collins Blvd., #122, Richardson, TX 75081 (972) 498-8100 www.7thlevel.com Apple Computer, Inc. Three Infinity Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014 (408)996-1010 or (800) 776-2333 Broderbund Software, Inc. 500 Redwood Blvd., P.O. Box 6121, Novato, CA 94948-6121 (415) 382-4400 http://www.broderbund.com/ Davidson & Associates, Inc. 19840 Pioneer Ave., Torrance, CA 90503 (800) 545-7677 or (310) 793-0600 EA*Kids (A Division of Electronic Arts) 1450 Fashion Island Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94404-2064 (415) 513-7436 Edmark Corp. 6727 185th Ave NE, P.O. Box 3218, Redmond, WA 98073-3218 (800) 426-0856 or (206) 556-8400 http://www.Edmark.com/ Humongous Entertainment 13110 NE 177th Place, Suite B101 #180, Woodinville, WA 98072-9965 (206) 485-1212 Tech Support support@humongous.com (800) 499-8386 US/Canada Sales (Putt Putt, etc.):http://www.humongous.com/ Knowledge Adventure (Jumpstart...): http://www.Adventure.com/ The Learning Company 6493 Kaiser Dr., Fremont, CA 94555 (800) 852-2255 Maxis: http://www.maxis.com/index.html Sierra On-Line 3380 146th Place SE, Suite 300, Bellevue, WA 98007 (800) 757-7707 or (206) 649-9800 T/Maker 1390 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041 (415) 962-0195
Subject: 4. Resources 4a) Internet Resources: WWW sites, ftp sites, etc. The Children's Software Company: http://www.childsoft.com/childsoft Highly recommended. Lots of product reviews and information. Childrens Software Reviews WWW site: http://qv3pluto.LeidenUniv.nl/steve/reviews/archives.htm Several reviews of childrens software products. Info Mac archive: http://hyperarchive.lcs.mit.edu/HyperArchive.html University of Michigan's archive site: http://ubu.hahnemann.edu/UBUdex/mac.html or gopher://gopher.archive.merit.edu:7055/11/mac Best bets are the /game and the /misc directories http://web.nexor.co.uk/public/mac/archive/data/game/index.html Macintosh shareware site US Dept. of Education archive: Get to gopher.ed.gov and take Educational Software Casady & Greene: http://www.holonet.net/casadyg/demo.html (Mac) Claris: http://www.claris.com/ (Mac) Internet Shopping Network: (Mac) http://www.internet.net/cgi-bin/itextit?/demos/index.html ------------------------------------ 4b) Printed Resources: Magazines, Catalogs, & Books Family PC magazine - Reviews of hardware and software for home/family use, as well as ideas for fun things to do with computers. $2.95 at newstands, $14.95 subscription (10 issues), $22.95 overseas. P.O. Box 400454, Des Moines, IA 50340-0454, or call 800-413-9749. Club Kidsoft magazine, CDROM and software catalog - the magazine is intended for kids, the catalog for adults. The CDROM has lots of demos, and software that can be unlocked from the CDROM when you purchase by phone and get an unlocking code. A great source for software demos and they generally have decent prices, too. One year subscription (4 issues) for $29.95. 718 University Ave, Suite 112, Los Gatos, CA 95030-3317 or call 800-354-6150. Educational Resources catalog - huge selection of software for preK - 12 grade, as well as software for teachers/educators. Most software available as home versions, school versions, lab pack and many site/network licenses available. Some software available for Apple II and IIgs too. 1550 Executive Dr., Elgin, IL 60123 or by phone USA/Canada 800-624-2926, in Illinois 708-888-8300. The Edutainment Catalog - 932 Walnut St., Louisville, CO 80027 or 800-338-3844 MacUser, December 1994 - This issue had a great article with mini-reviews of 300 children's software packages available for the Macintosh, but most are also available for DOS/Windows. Borrow this issue from a friend or go to the library and photocopy it if you don't already have it! It is too much to include here, but a great resource! That's Edutainment: A Parent's Guide to Educational Software, by Eric Brown. Osborne McGraw-Hill 1995. A book that "will reveal the concepts behind the new wave of entertaining educational ("edutainment") software and help you choose the right programs to supplement the skills your child learns in school." Includes reviews of 100 edutainment titles, plus a CDROM of software demos. List price $29.95 The Computer Museum Guide to the Best Software for Kids (Boston Computer Museum book)
Subject: 5. Program Access and Management and File Protection for PCs: A problem that concerns many people when they start letting their children use their computers is how to keep the children from destroying important files or otherwise wreaking havok on their computer. Here are some solutions suggested by people on misc.kids.computers. Suggestions for MS-DOS/Windows were compiled by Stephen C. Steele, and a more recent copy might be found at http://qv3pluto.LeidenUniv.nl/steve/reviews/protfile.htm. Protecting Files under MS-DOS/Windows Protecting files under MS-DOS and Windows systems is difficult: both Windows and MS-DOS are single user systems that assume a single user who should be permitted full access to all the resources of the computer. * Making Backups * Marking Files Read Only * Program Manager Restrictions * Replacement Shell Programs Note: this is a first draft of this document. Comments, further suggestions, and additional information will be gladly received. Stephen C. Steel reviews@qv3pluto.LeidenUniv.nl Making Backups This is the only absolutely reliable method to protect your data. Software can only do so much: it can't guard against a disk crash caused by someone flicking the power switch on and off too rapidly, bumping violently against the computer, etc. Besides, it will also save your data from your own mistakes, lightening strikes on the power line, etc.. If the files are really important, especially if you use them to earn your living, then back them up. It isn't usually necessary to rush out and purchase a tape drive which can back up your entire hard disk: you can always reinstall your application software from the original media, so you just need to backup the files you create with it. The storage requirements for this are usually much more modest: you may find that a couple of floppies a month is enough. This is easier to do if you keep the files you create separately from the application software and its example files. For example, I keep all my data files in subdirectories of C:\USER\STEVE. If you configure your Windows application icons with the appropriate default working directory (using the File|Properties command of Program Manager), this will be more or less automatic. Don't forget to make backups of important configuration files too: CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT and all those .INI files in the \WINDOWS directory. Marking Files Read Only The read only attribute bit is an underexploited feature of MS-DOS that can be quite effective at preventing children from damaging important data. If you then limit access to programs that are capable of removing the read only attribute, such as the MS-DOS command ATTRIB.EXE and the Windows FileManager, the data in these files will be relatively safe: normal programs will not be able to delete or overwrite the protected data. There are two main difficulties with marking files read only. The first is remembering to mark all your work in progress files read only when you're finished working on them and then back to normal when you're ready to work again. This can be quite tedious if done manually, although it is much easier if all your data files are in one common directory tree. Then the MS-DOS commands cd directory attrib +R /s *.* can be used to mark an entire directory tree read only (or normal if +R is changed to -R). The second difficulty is figuring out which files can be marked read only without causing problems: most applications need write access to some files, and they may crash if this isn't enabled. Some DOS programs even expect write access to their EXE files in order to store configuration information. The information in files which can't be marked read only can be protected by making a read only copy with a different name or in another directory. Program Manager Restrictions There is an optional section to the program manager .INI file that allows you to restrict its capabilities. These options do not appear in any of the Program Manager menus; they must be added by editing the file PROGMAN.INI with an ASCII editor (such as NOTEPAD.EXE). The section must be named [restrictions] and the possible entries are : NoRun If you include the option NoRun=1, then the File|Run menu entry is disabled, and it is only possible to run programs from Program Manager if there is an icon defined in a program group. The NoRun option is only effective if none of the programs with icons defined can themselves be used to start additional programs (such as File Manager, for example). NoClose Setting NoClose=1 will make it impossible to exit the Program Manager, and hence Windows, with the File menu, control menu or ALT+F4. NoSaveSettings If NoSaveSettings=1, then any changes made to the arrangement of icons and group windows will not be saved when the Program Manager exits (regardless of how the Save Settings on Exit menu item is set). NoFileMenu Setting NoFileMenu=1 will disable the entire File menu of the program manager. EditLevel Setting EditLevel=n sets the following restrictions on modifying Program Manager settings: o EditLevel=0 allows user to make any changes (the default). o EditLevel=1 prevents the user from creating, deleting or renaming program groups. o EditLevel=2 sets all the restrictions of EditLevel=1, and in addition, prevents the user from creating or deleting program items. o EditLevel=3 sets all the restrictions of EditLevel=2, and in addition, prevents the user from changing the command lines for program items. o EditLevel=4 sets all the restrictions of EditLevel=3, and in addition, prevents the user from changing any program item properties (although they can still be viewed). Replacement Shell Programs There are a number of these on the market, such as Edmark's KidDesk Family Edition for Windows. These programs allow you to limit the applications individual users can run. The various users' access can be password protected. They have two main weaknesses: 1. They can be bypassed. Booting a computer with MS-DOS 5 or later with the left shift key held down will cause it to start up in a simple DOS session, ignoring the contents of the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. 2. If you allow your children access to any program which writes some sort of data to any filename they specify, then they can overwrite your important data files: "Hey Dad, how do you like my new drawing, I called it REPORT.DOC". Although they are not ironclad, the use of a program shell in combination with marking important files read only can be quite effective (since your children are less likely to need a program that can change file attributes than one that overwrite files). May 5, 1995 Stephen C. Steel reviews@qv3pluto.LeidenUniv.nl
Subject: 6. Pointing Devices (this topic is not well-covered in the rough draft) Basically there are a few approaches: Let the child use a normal mouse, get a smaller child's mouse, or get a trackball. (Sherry Feiler) favors small mice for kids under 3, but regular mice for older children. Her 3 year old uses a standard Mac mouse with no problem. Mac mice might be easier though, since there is only one button. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Margaret D. Gibbs gibbsm@ll.mit.edu

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