Looking for computer/internet recommendations for my 10 year old friend. What are the coolest, most interesting, and least consumerist activities, websites, and other digital/virtual things that I can introduce this kid to? What did you like to do with computers / the internet when you were that age?
The kid is the youngest sibling of my boyfriend, whose parents don't really use computers themselves and have given us permission to teach the kid how to do fun things and be responsible on the computer.
The kid already plays Moshi Monsters
, but I am trying to avoid more of that kind of thing because they will find out about them from other kids anyway and also because the "want to do this cool thing that all your virtual friends are doing? pay to upgrade!" model is pretty uninspiring.
What does the kid like?
Things the kid likes include but are not limited to: making art, sewing stuffed animals, playing silly computer games, animals, geology, and anything liked by kid's three older siblings. On the computer, previous hits have been:
- Having an email account*
- The idea of emoticons (+ links to some Wikipedia tables of them)
- various fun pictures / videos of animals
- The idea of a Chatterbot
- The Single Lane Superhighway
was a little too weird, but similar things would probably be enjoyed.
The kinds of things I'm hoping to find
I think the kid would enjoy some kind of simple coding game, but I don't know where to start with that (at that age I was using LogoWriter on Apple IIs, but that's obviously not a possibility anymore...)
A simple-to-use animation program would probably go over well too, but again I don't know where to start with that.
Perhaps a narrative blog to follow regularly? (I still remember an early exposure
I had to that kind of thing).
Do well-supervised email penpal services exist?
Anything, anything, anything to help create an awareness of things like deceptive internet advertising, spammers, identity theft, privacy, and general internet safety.
I also welcome any warnings or horror stories
*I also have some concerns about introducing the kid to email, which are not central to this question but are related enough to include, I think:
With permission from boyfriend's parents, we started up an email account for the kid. This account is email@example.com, just because we figured that account name would be good to have and wouldn't be around forever. Taught them about passphrases vs. passwords, which they thought was super cool. All incoming emails forward to my account, so that we can keep an eye on things. It's been working well—lots of cute emails back and forth between the kid and me/boyfriend, a little bit of gchat.
But I am concerned about (1) the safety of having a kid use an email account with their real name attached to it, (2) how to teach email etiquette & street smarts, (3) how to handle the kid's desire to send email to random public figures — and especially how to deal with all of these issues without being a killjoy!