[techbooks] REVIEW: "Taking Your Kids Online", Arlette Lefebvre/Brian Hillis
- BKTYKONL.RVW 990829
"Taking Your Kids Online", Arlette Lefebvre/Brian Hillis, 1999,
%A Arlette Lefebvre arlette.lefebvre@...
%A Brian Hillis bhillis@... bhillis@...
%C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
%I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
%O C$21.99 905-430-5000 800-565-5758 905-430-5134
%P 199 p.
%T "Taking Your Kids Online"
Implicit in both the preface and introduction, though never very
clearly stated, is the assumption that the best way for children to
get familiar with the Internet is to have parents who use and know the
net themselves. Extended from other areas of study, this is an
educational no-brainer: children whose parents read tend to read;
children whose parents have wide ranging interests tend to develop
broad pursuits. The book also states that no single approach to the
Internet is suitable for all children, and, again, this is obvious to
anyone familiar with the technology. The net is not a single tool,
like a telephone or television, but is an enormous educational
toolbox, much more akin to a library.
This being the case, writing a guide to children's use of the net is a
rather daunting task, one that many before the current authors have
failed to fulfill adequately.
Part one is entitled "Parent Preparation," which could suggest either
preparation *of* parents, themselves, or preparation that parents do
before taking their kids online. Chapter one, despite the protest in
the preface, is a promotional piece on Internet use, leaning to the
hard sell "you're gonna be left behind" position. The advice in
chapter two, to get some familiarity with the net yourself before
surfing with the kids, is good, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it
doesn't go far enough in teaching the parent about the various net
applications. Ultimately, the advice in the whole section boils down
to "Jump in. Now." (The air of unreality about this whole work is
heightened by the fact that the first sentence in the next section
congratulates the reader on "mastering" the art of Web searching and
Part two starts to lay out age related materials, and also reveals
another limitation of the book: this is about the Web, not the whole
Internet. Chapter three starts with pre-schoolers, noting that they
need practice in eye-hand coordination and have short attention spans.
Despite the fact that interactive CD-ROMs are much more suitable at
this level, the book does not hesitate to recommend activity sites on
the net. The recommendations to surf with your primary age child are
very good, but the latter half of chapter four again fails to note
that the readiness and suggested activities can be accomplished as
easily offline as on, and much faster, to boot. The lack of
background material in the book overall will probably be felt most
keenly while reading chapter five, where parents are told to start
modelling confidence and perseverance in net usage. Chapter six
starts to get into ages where students could be using the net as a
school research resource, but searching functions are still not being
explained. In addition, the book, at this point, suggests that
children be told about anonymity and identification, but the technical
side of this issue is extremely weak. The net hardly figures at all
in the generic discussion of tolerance and increasing independence in
chapters seven and eight. Chapter nine is a reprise of the major
topics in this section.
Part three contains miscellaneous subjects. Chapter ten presents a
good overview of the failings of filtering and rating systems, but
that basically restricts safety on the net to "surf with your kids."
Some resource sites for special needs children are listed in chapter
eleven. The tips on evaluating information quality, in chapter
twelve, are fine in theory, but fundamentally boil down to the reader
having to know more about the topic than the site being evaluated.
Part four contains some putative resources. Chapter thirteen is a
very brief glossary. Some institutional and commercial Websites are
listed in chapter fourteen. The conclusion, in chapter fifteen, comes
firmly down on both sides of the fence.
While the basic ideas behind this book are sound, in terms of
implementation there is simply not enough information provided to make
this a truly useful work.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKTYKONL.RVW 990829
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