A computer for my kids (maybe...)
So, my kids are now 9, 7, and 3.
They're getting old enough so that I'm thinking about setting up a computer for them, rather than let them occasionally use the grown-up's computers.
If I did this, I'd want to reduce the chances of them hosing their own computer, and I'd want a low level of maintenance - I don't want them calling for Dad every two hours when they get notices of pending Windows Updates, new versions of Java needed, Norton problems, and so on.
FWIW, I have almost no experience with Vista (I'm an XP guy), so I don't know what, if anything, has been added to the OS recently that would help.
I'd want them to be able to access the internet (p0rn filters and such would be nice, but not absolutely necessary), use Flash and Java sites, and run the basic MS Office apps (Word, Powerpoint, and perhaps others). Obviously, I'd be around if the computer got in a jam, but I'd prefer not to have to fix the computer once a day when they click on the wrong thing or get an update pushed down onto them.
Hardware wise, I have a semi-decent old laptop (circa 900 Mhz or so?) that I could possibly repurpose, and an even older desktop, but more likely, I'd just buy something new. Small form factor would be nice - a PC equivalent of an iMac might be very nice.
Last edited by Phil_Stein; 11-24-2008 at 05:19 PM.
My one son had his own computer since he was two. He is 8 now and I'm just starting to think about letting him and his brother on the net without me or mom watching them every second.
I searched for feedback here as well : http://www.quartertothree.com/game-t...60#post1545860
As for updates, I have everyone running in a user mode, not administrator accounts so that isn't an issue and getting infected via spyware on vista is a lot difficult compared to xp.
I've been using http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ which works ok. It flags stuff I want my kids to see more that it should.
As for hardware, I throw together my kids' computers from spare parts and whatever sheap hardware clearance on new egg. My big problem is even kid games have been requiring beefy video cards. Lego indiana jones just drags on some of my kids' computers.
As for hardware specs; the daycare computers are the lowest end systems in my house. They are for the most part amd 64 2800 with a gig of ram and ati 9700 and 9800 video cards. These systems often struggle to run new kid games. However they run off 12x caddy drives (great for small kids with careless fingers) and that might be the issue.
Last edited by Rob_Merritt; 11-24-2008 at 07:22 PM.
I'd get 'em a netbook to prevent access to an optical drive (and so the hardware wasn't capable of running any modern games), but you know better than I what hardware would be appropriate for your kids. As for filtering, OpenDNS is easy to set up and pretty transparent:
OLPC is doing their "Give One Get One" thing again.
Theoretically your kids can go from the most basic stuff up through programming it themselves. It's designed for kids 6-12, which seems like the right age range. I like mine, but my fingers are too big for the keys.
Yeah Open DNS is what we use and it works great.
As far as the hardware, are you looking for something small like the Eee Box or a more traditional desktop?
Just set them up with limited accounts, they won't be able to change anything important or install programs. Vista also has built in parental controls you can use, or you can turn to third party filters, etc. The built in parental controls let you schedule internet access, filter sites, limit which games can run or which programs they can open.
Out of curiosity, what games are those? In my experience, most "new" kid's games run on comically old engines, and are more likely to have problems like "can only run if desktop is set to 640x480 and 256 colors" and "requires Windows 95 or better (not recognizing Vista)" than being too demanding for modern hardware.
Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
Oh, and Vista has an actually quite usable web filter built-in, which, among other things, allows you to block everything by default and whitelist specific sites.
Lego Star Wars/Batman/Indiana Jones, The Sim Stories, Barbie Games, are some of the ones that come off the top of my head.
I've got 4 kids. They range in age, and each has computer issues.
My eldest is 16, and I have to filter the machine in his room from sites. This puts a strain on the router and reduces my performance somewhat, but I'm less likely to be kicked out of WoW while he's p2ping "Girls, Girls, Girls 4: More Girls."
My youngest boy is 13, and for him I had to set up password logins for everyone in the family on the "family" computer. That way, I can control the length of time he's logged in. If I didn't, he'd be on the computer right now, having not bathed in 4 days.
My eldest daughter is 5, and while she likes the computer, she's very satisfied with the bookmarks I set up (Noggin.com and Playhouse Disney). When she wants computer time, she asks me if she can "play her shows". For her, I turned her login into "user mode" only with no installation permissions. Since she's playing primarily java and flash apps, I'm generally worried about vulnerabilities, if one of those sites should host an advertisement or something that leads her off to spyware land.
My youngest daughter just turned 5 months. Her basic computer usage is slapping the space bar and making the little guy in Warcraft jump up and down. Every time she does it, Daddy grumbles about spell interruption or something like that, and she just smiles a toothless grin. General computer protection for her relates to keeping the keyboard clean at all times (compressed air, damp paper towel).
We've had a few mishaps over the years. Do not give the kids, particularly the younger ones, access to a laptop. Unfortunately, most laptops have keyboards where the keys can be easily popped out with little prying fingers. To this very day, I'm still finding numpad keys under beds, and whatnot.
Kids must have a hard and fast rule regarding no food or drink near the computer. I try to remind my kids of this by having them wash their hands -- as it breaks into whatever concentration they were or were not giving to the candy bar/piece of cake/half of a pizza that was in their hands at the time. Besides, kids can carry viruses right home from school, and plop those germs right down on your keyboard.