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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Taking Your Kids Online", Arlette Lefebvre/Brian Hillis

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKTYKONL.RVW 990829 Taking Your Kids Online , Arlette Lefebvre/Brian Hillis, 1999, 0-07-560932-0, C$21.99 %A Arlette Lefebvre
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 14, 1999
      BKTYKONL.RVW 990829

      "Taking Your Kids Online", Arlette Lefebvre/Brian Hillis, 1999,
      0-07-560932-0, C$21.99
      %A Arlette Lefebvre arlette.lefebvre@...
      %A Brian Hillis bhillis@... bhillis@...
      %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
      %D 1999
      %G 0-07-560932-0
      %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
      evaluation.)

      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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      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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