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What To Load On a 4-Year-Old's Netbook?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the besides-plants-vs.-zombies dept.

Technology 742

nostrodecus writes "I have a nephew who is very young, but who has the techie gene — he found the Gruffalo on YouTube before anyone knew he could spell. Now he's almost 4, and I was thinking of giving him my netbook (Acer running XP), which I hardly use any more. So, of course, I will be deleting all the porn, but what should I load up on it? Are there tools/apps that I can load up on it to protect it and him from things he shouldn't see until college? Also, what apps or games could I load on it that a 4-year-old will get some use out of?"

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Regardless (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369212)

Regardless of what you install there's no guaranteed way to stop your kid from stumbling upon boobs on the internet. Plus who's to say it's something to worry about at all. They certainly didn't traumatize me.

Re:Regardless (1, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369240)

Exactly, why the censorship?

What apps? I have no idea. Probably gave it to the kid for a reason, what was the idea?

Something fun.

Re:Regardless (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369372)

I'm going to agree.

My 5 year old has his own account on the Vista machine at home. He knows how to load up Chrome. He has accounts on Youtube and Netflix and can watch what he wants whenever he wants.

It keeps him occupied for hours at a stretch. It really frees me up to go shopping and other things that would have been tough with him along.

Hmm (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369410)

I'm going to agree.

...

It keeps him occupied for hours at a stretch. It really frees me up to go shopping and other things that would have been tough with him along.

I sincerely hope you're fucking joking.

Re:Hmm (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369470)

You ever try to take a 4 year old grocery shopping?

If it isn't the screaming that attracts the looky lous, it's the disciplinary action I sometimes have to take.

It may not be optimal, but nothing in life ever is, you know?

Re:Hmm (5, Interesting)

ds_online (803466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369510)

Yes I take my 5 year old and my 3 year old shopping weekly, there is no screaming, there is no disciplinary action. if you can't handle raising children who listen to you, maybe you shouldn't have had them in the first place. Leaving a 5 year old at home is child abuse. and most state agencys would agree.

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369544)

if you can't handle raising children who listen to you, maybe you shouldn't have had them in the first place.

Well, it's a little too late for that, don't you think?

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

ds_online (803466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369584)

actually its never to late to put children who are being abused by their parents into protective custody. why don't you give me your contact information so I can pass it on to the right agency.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369650)

I think we are losing sight of the fact that this is Bad Analogy Guy. I doubt CPS is going to get a hot tip out of this exchange.

Better luck next time BAG.

Re:Hmm (1)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369528)

Have you ever left a 4 year old on his/her own for an extended period of time? If so I would appreciate having your phone number and address so I can call social services on you.

Re:Hmm (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369606)

I'd love for you to try it.

Number One Observatory Circle
3450 Massachusetts Ave.
Washington, DC 20007

202-762-1489

Ask for Joe.

Re:Hmm (1)

lacqui (1754380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369534)

You ever try defending yourself from a child abandonment charge? A 4-year-old is nowhere NEAR responsible enough to look after themselves. Where I live, leaving ANYBODY with a single-digit age is asking for an investigation. No matter how mature or responsible you think that child is.

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369570)

That's insane. What police state do you live in?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369630)

Check his nickname.

Re:Regardless (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369508)

I didn't mention, but this has also taught him how to read and spell many words. He needs to know how to spell words to enter them as search phrases into the Youtube and Netflix search box.

So it's educational, as well as engrossing for him.

Re:Regardless (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369348)

Regardless of what you install there's no guaranteed way to stop your kid from stumbling upon boobs on the internet.

Yes, boobs in both senses of the word. And most likely he will stumble on to the idiot-inane-nincompoop sense first. Then the other.

Re:Regardless (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369446)

I can think of a few pictures that might traumatize a 4 year old.

If you think titties are all the Internet has to offer, I don't know what to tell you.

Re:Regardless (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369472)

Most filters are effective at stopping accidental viewings. If the user actually tries to access porn, it will fail sooner or later, emphasis on the sooner. But, given that the kid is four, it seems unlikely he's going to be typing "free porn xxx" into Google.

If you just want casual filtering, I would recommend OpenDNS. Just set your DNS server to 208.67.222.123, and it will quietly block porn, malware and warez sites. I haven't found many false positives either. It won't catch everything, but if you want to delay teaching your kid about such things until he's mature enough to understand it, it works well enough.

As for productivity software, try letting the kid loose on Blender. Open-source 3d modelling/rendering program. Might be a bit slow on netbooks, but if the kid's creative, he'll find something to do with it.

Re:Regardless (5, Insightful)

skyride (1436439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369524)

Blender? for a 4 year old? are you actually serious?

The thread below this pretty much sums up my feelings here.

Re:Regardless (4, Informative)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369582)

Install Windows Steady State [wikipedia.org] on the machine after you set it up and before you give it to him. It is designed for places like computer labs, libraries, schools, etc... that don't want kids or malicious user wrecking too much havoc. Lots of features but the gist is you have full control over what users can do (by account), how long they can be online, what drives and resources they have access to, etc. There is even a rudimentary site blocker so you can allow playhouse disney, or whatever kids sites you know are safe without letting them have free reign over the net or having to manage this at the firewall. Highly recommend it.

Huh? (5, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369224)

Why in God's name would you give a computer to a 4-year-old? Give him a damn baseball or something, the last thing he needs in his formative years is to vegetate in front of a screen.

        Brett

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369266)

If anything give him a screw driver and let him take it apart tell him what all the parts do and possibly even get it back together.

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369342)

Because taking apart a screwdriver is such an enriching experience.

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369558)

Hey man you take what you can get.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369296)

I agree with Brett ... young kids should run around hurting themselves so that they learn not to do certain things later in life when they don't heal as easily. Climbing trees, biking, playing soccer, building stuff with hammer and nail ... in general stuff where you can hurt yourself or even better ... encourage him somehow to just use his imagination ... Personally i would give a 4-year-old DUPLO - the young kids version of LEGO

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369602)

Personally i would give a 4-year-old DUPLO

By 4, most kids are ready to move onto the real thing. Duplo is for 1, 2 and 3 year olds who like to put things in their mouths and might choke on Lego, and aren't yet fully in control of their limbs so need the bigger size and tolerences of Duplo to avoid frustration.

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

Lumbre (1822486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369300)

Yeah, why would you encourage him towards a life of living in his mom's basement, fighting brain-dead management, and with a computer as a girlfriend.

Oh, is that just me?

Re:Huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369440)

Oh, is that just me?

Nope, not just you.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369320)

Yeah, striking things with a bat or running around after balls seem so much better.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369404)

development of fine motor skills comes later--four years olds are still working on gross motor skills (large movements [slashdot.org] with even the fingers). This alone is reason to encourage continued outdoor activity as without it, there might never be appropriate development for the kid and it could affect a variety of areas in his life.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369504)

development of fine motor skills comes later--four years olds are still working on gross motor skills (large movements [slashdot.org] with even the fingers). This alone is reason to encourage continued outdoor activity as without it, there might never be appropriate development for the kid and it could affect a variety of areas in his life.

A computer does not prevent or conflict with outdoor activity unless it is used inappropriately. In late November in the US the sun sets at around 5:00pm, but no four year old is ready for bed at that time. Sure, there are books and movies and craft projects and family time, but these are not always available/desirable/possible. A four year old can handle PBS Kids just fine, and there are times when it is the best choice.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369608)

I agree with this. Giving a four year old a laptop is dumb if you plan on using it as a babysitter. However, let the kid play games on age-appropriate sites and this would be a great replacement for television time.

In response to the OP, and at the risk of starting a flame war, the first thing that I would do is wipe the thing and put some flavor of Linux on it. Expose them at a very young age to the fact that there is more to the world of technology than Microsoft and Apple. My kids are 8 and 10 and share a laptop with Kubuntu on it, and they love it. I like showing them all of the stuff that they can do it on and the fact that I can load it with software that does everything that they want to do without having to pay for any of it or violate (admittedly dumb) copyright laws.

Re:Huh? (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369552)

formatted the tag wrongly... sigh:

Child development [wikipedia.org]

Re:Huh? (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369326)

Give him a damn baseball or something, the last thing he needs in his formative years is to vegetate in front of a screen.

My kid learned to read the spell lists in Oblivion at the age of three, how is yours doing with the baseball?

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369368)

My dad gave my two year old son a soccer ball last month, he threw it down the stairs and grabbed my mom's iPhone. Kids aren't born with blank slates, they have natural inclinations. You can fight those inclinations, and the children, but all you end up doing is screwing them up. If the kid has an inclination towards gadgetry, support him.

Certainly as parents we will have to force our kids to recognize the need for physical fitness (just like brushing teeth, hands and household chores), and chase after them to make sure they get enough exercise, but that's just parenting.

Re:Huh? (1, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369390)

Exactly. We all know that no useful work has ever been accomplished with a computer, and since they weren't around when I was 4 it's safe to assume that there's no use a 4-year-old could ever have for a device that can facilitate communication, entertainment, computation, artwork, reading, document creation, or access to the outside world. Clearly a round, static object is a more useful learning tool -- if you let him read the Interwebs he might learn about gravity from other people's work, rather than spending half his life trying to derive the laws of motion on his own -- a task for which the baseball is a nearly ideal tool.

Re:Huh? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369476)

I think his point was that moving around is good.

And it is, to. :D

They aren't exclusives :)

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369622)

Christ, I read that up to "a round, static object" wondering whether you were serious.

Thankfully you weren't.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369406)

Why in God's name would you give a computer to a 4-year-old? Give him a damn baseball or something, the last thing he needs in his formative years is to vegetate in front of a screen.

It's perfectly appropriate for a 4 year old to have access to a computer. There are plenty of times when it is not feasible to play baseball... Short winter days, rainy summer days, under-the-weather days, etc. Having a computer != "vegetate in front of a screen". There are plenty of things a little kid can do on a computer that are enriching. Of course he needs guidance. But he needs guidance in nearly every aspect of his life, just like every other four year old. You don't just give a kid a baseball and shove them out the door and expect them to have fun. Just like you don't just plop a kid down in front of a computer and expect them to learn anything.

Re:Huh? (1)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369452)

Because it's worth the time to have them start learning what is possible. All my kids, except the youngest ( 2 y/o) work on the computer for school and recreation. They all also go outside and engage with the bright orb of the sky. It is possible to do both and not be any poorer for it. I spent some time at the kids track that was organized for RubyConf a couple of weeks ago and while much of the stuff was too much for my six year old, she still really liked hanging around and doing what her dad does as best she could. She even went home and played "geek conference" with her siblings afterwards, keynote presentation and all. Not to mention all my kids love seeing what can be done with an Arduino. I got started programming not much older than my oldest daughter is now and I was in Boy Scouts, so I spent plenty of time going back and forth between equally fulfilling activities that exposed me to a broader range of what is out there to do and enjoy.

Re:Huh? (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369478)

I first played Pac-man at age 3, and the experience stayed with me. I had a computer when I was like 4-6. I was copying from a book coding before I knew what any of the things I typed did. One of the programs I ran was a fun math game for adding/subtracting on TI-99. It is my strong opinion if someone would write a chain of computer math games from K-12, and then distributed them for free, there could be the start of a revolution in education. I actually plan on doing this if I get a gaming company running well so I have the resources and time to dedicate to a project for the world.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369526)

Absolutely! And he may even have talent. Playing sports should be started early.

The thing I've noticed in my travels, the "jocks" always have more opportunities than the "geeks" - and that includes engineers who played ball in school.

The computer skills will come and unlike coordination and other kinetic "senses", can be developed at any time.

I once had a tennis coach who knew who played as kids and who didn't - he said that adults don't develop this posture that the folks who learned as kids. He really couldn't put an exact finger on what it was...

Anyway, my point is: sports or music.

Re:Huh? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369682)

I have to agree, when I was a kid, the first time I touched a computer was when I was like 7 or 8, I didn't have access to a computer on a guaranteed basis until I was 11. While, I do admit that just because it was done that way isn't a justification, it did work out well. Much before 7 or 8 and it's unlikely to be any appreciation or understanding. It's a good age to start them out at, but that was without the internet.

I'd definitely recommend against putting internet on the thing until he's at least old enough to know to check with the OP before doing anything too stupid.

Obvious? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369242)

An undelete utility.

Re:Obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369408)

Obvious: a link to 4chan's /b/

Zoodles (3, Informative)

ds_online (803466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369246)

my kids ( 5 and 3 ) love using zoodles, its a web browser for kids that gives them age appropriate content, I set my kids up with an older computer that was just laying around and stuck ubuntu on it. they use it for a couple hours a day and my son is the top reader in his kindergarten class.

Re:Zoodles (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369600)

Wow, thank you for this. I've tried looking for some kid friendly computer programs without too much luck. This looks like it will fit the bill perfectly for my 4.5 year old.

Start with a good hosts file (2, Informative)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369250)

Whether you keep him using Windows or load up a flavor of Linux I'd put a good hosts file [mvps.org] on there to block adware and other known sources of crapware. Beyond that, you could setup something like Dans Guardian [dansguardian.org] or set the machine to use filtered DNS services, such as OpenDNS [opendns.com] . If you are gonna keep Windows on there then there are tons of commercial filtering products out there, all the stuff I mentioned is free.

Re:Start with a good hosts file (1)

cantbeatL337 (1136549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369430)

the local host file can be edited to prevent him from going to any website.

Re:Start with a good hosts file (1)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369484)

Unless you are going to do a whitelist approach I would use the hosts file to address adware/crapware issues and then use a content filter to address porn/mature content. If you want to go the whitelist route I'd use OpenDNS or DansGuardian since they both have that capability and then you don't need to worry about the hosts file.

Re:Start with a good hosts file (1)

Distan (122159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369640)

+1

Four letter word for a four year old kid (2, Insightful)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369258)

LOGO

If he really has the techie gene, he will seriously best his sister's crappy pen-and-paper Spirograph!

Internet access ~= public access; Creativity (1)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369260)

If you're considering giving him internet access, consider what it means. It means the ability to interact with random strangers on the internet. I don't mean to over-exaggerate the risk of this, but it's something you would never consider doing in-person unattended.

If he has internet access at all, make sure it's supervised.

Make sure there's some form of security/anti-virus. Other than that, let him run wild, and see what he comes up with, as opposed to what you'd give him :)

A way to turn it off and go outside to play. (2, Insightful)

Greg Merchan (64308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369262)

A way to turn it off and go outside to play.

Mac OSX (0, Troll)

RedLeg (22564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369264)

Do him a favor, load him up a copy of OSX (DO go buy a copy, $30) using Netbookinstaller [google.com] .

Much less viral crap to worry about, and you're starting a youngster out on UNIX under the hood.

Red

Re:Mac OSX (3, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369322)

You could just as easily load up Linux instead for a copy costing $0.

If your kid is visiting websites which could give him viruses, then you really need to keep an eye on him.

Re:Mac OSX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369380)

Only problem is that I've never used a Hackintosh netbook that was worth the trouble. Maybe if it was a more stock laptop it could be worth it, but I'd just load up Ubuntu or Sugar. I setup a Dell Mini with OS X and it didn't do anything for my daughter, who is 6, that couldn't have been done just as well with Ubuntu. Ultimately she preferred her iPad anyways because it was much more tactile and that is what she likes, the feel of direct manipulation.

Load.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369268)

Linux!

bash prompt and vi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369270)

If he's 4, and can get to stuff he shouldn't see with just those tools, he's a damn genius and you won't be able to stop him anyway :).

I would put Sugar on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369274)

They use in on the OLPC and it has a bunch of simple games and stuff. You could delete the browser if you don't want him on the internet. I think there are versions for XP as well as Linux.

No device at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369278)

A bouncy ball and Lego. Real books and time with people. If I were your sibling, I would tell you that your intent is good, road to Hell, etc.

Don't blacklist... (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369282)

If you're really going to give a young kid a netbook... with an internet connection then block ALL websites and connections, except ones which you trust them seeing. Or don't give them internet access at all. I wouldn't, not at that age.

When I was 4 I used to love playing around with a computer, I didn't have educational games or anything, I just to just play lemmings, or mess around with a word processor or something. Try to let the kid get used to using a computer at a young age for normal tasks.

If you really feel adventurous, give him a Pascal IDE or something.

Flash (2, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369288)

Between PBS Kids, Club Penguin, et al, there is really no need to install or buy anything except for Flash. By the time he outgrows these games, it will be years down the road and he'll be able to figure out what to do next.

Say what you will about Flash, but there is a lot of pretty good content for kids out there.

Edubuntu (2, Informative)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369306)

http://edubuntu.org/ [edubuntu.org]

Re:Edubuntu (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369434)

Which is the reason I wrote something fun, instead of learning applications, which may work to.

But seriously, does it _HAVE TO_ be learning?

What you had thought learning games where fun as a kid (some and sometimes probably, always?)

If it's fun chances are it will be used more, if it used more chances are you'll learn something in the process. But sure, if he want to learn something / use some application for learning let him (or she ..)

Everything doesn't have to have a good purpose. Grown ups like to do things they actually enjoy sometimes to.

I use Edubuntu (1)

bleys2112 (1158637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369314)

My kids use Edubuntu with a limited user account and the Kidzui add-on for Firefox... They love it! I actually installed Edubuntu on top of vanilla Ubuntu, for some reason it seemed to work better that way. At some point, I am going to install an ipcop server to control the traffic a little better, but I am in no hurry.

Install a lock on the Netbook (1)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369324)

4 year old kids should be outside playing, spending time with friends. He can unlock the laptop when he is 8-10!

vi and gcc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369334)

If he wants apps, let him learn to write them himself.

World of Warcraft (2, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369338)

My 4 year old loves to get on WoW and kill things. I set up some toolbars and show him what numbers to press or buttons to press and he's off and away. Though I had to make him his own character because he has a habit of drowning my characters, and I didn't like the repair bills. He's up to lvl 20 almost completely by himself.

Load up what he sees you play with, whether word processors, or games, or the Internet. Give him some shortcuts to get to the things you think will interest him. And let him go. He'll tell you when he wants something different and if he's having trouble with something. Oh, and for age appropriate things, he also likes Fisher-Price's Cool School.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369346)

learn him ascii art :)

How about the OLPC/Sugar system? (4, Informative)

pearl298 (1585049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369360)

One Laptop per child has emulators for regular PCs and their software is ideally suited to a small child: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Software_components [laptop.org] They even have a "live boot" based on Fedora Linux

Personally (2, Interesting)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369362)

Any child under 10 using any internet capable device should have eyes-on supervision while using it, all the time.

My 4 yr old loves... (1)

kachakaach (1336273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369364)

Tuxpaint (open source, free)

I also think I would turn it into a hackintosh with a copy of OS X.

Limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369370)

Windows Live Family Safety
Scratch [scratch.mit.edu]

Definetly...TIME LIMITS!

Minecraft (1, Offtopic)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369382)

Minecraft [minecraft.net]

Tuxpaint.. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369400)

http://www.tuxpaint.org/ [tuxpaint.org]

Re:Tuxpaint.. (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369518)

Agreed, my nieces were using TuxPaint when they were 3.

Absurd (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369402)

Why you should put a Lisp system on it so he can learn to program neural networks. Have you thought about giving him some crayons instead?

Xandros (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369420)

I bought an EeePC which had Eee-Xandros pre-installed. I've found it to be absolutely fantastic for children with its big icons and really simplistic interface. It even came with a ton of pre-installed games and educational apps for children so it was clearly designed with that in mind.

The only issue is that I'm not sure how you go about getting the EeePC distro of Xandros without buying an EeePC (the regular Xandros distro is quite different and doesn't have the customised interface).

bumps (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369436)

The best thing to put on it would be lots of little round bumps, so that it will stick to lego bricks.

FreeDOS (4, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369444)

Format it, and then install FreeDOS and nothing else. Let him figure out the rest on his own. It should keep him out of trouble for quite a while. If you're feeling generous, install some sound card drivers for him (though not necessarily the best ones, or even the right ones).

Re:FreeDOS (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369632)

I don't think there are DOS drivers for the sound chips you find in current (from the past 10 years) computers, so no worry there.

how about a fishing pole (3, Insightful)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369454)

Get your 4 year old outside and away from computers for at least a little while longer, my kids cannot even contemplate getting on a bicycle and riding all over town like we did as kids, most of the time on a beautiful day in Florida they are inside surfing the web, playing computer games or texting on their cell phones. Just saying...

Re:how about a fishing pole (3, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369670)

How about *you* get on a bicycle and cycle around in your spare time.

Oh, because it's not that much fun to do it all the time? Double standards?

Sugal Labs (1)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369460)

Sugar Labs [sugarlabs.org] is the OS loaded on the OLPC laptops. It's made for children and one page of its website says that the programs loaded are accessible to children as young as four years old. While I've only given it a cursory glance in a VM myself, it comes as a complete digital learning environment with programming games, text editor, web browser, and an integrated journal system where the young user can record what he or she learns after using each program. I heard Walter Bender [wikipedia.org] describe the project a couple of months ago and apparently the OS opens the FOSS code behind all of the software to the user as well, for learning and tinkering. It's probably most enriching if the child has an adult around who can help them develop good habits, protect them from disturbing content, and reflect on what their figuring out.

Qimo For Kids. (1)

Thimma (452218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369462)

How about install http://www.qimo4kids.com/ [qimo4kids.com]

Tux Paint, Scratch, and Google Earth (2, Insightful)

mwalter.nl (813139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369464)

I teach Technology in an elementary school and the only 3 programs I install on computers (besides my enforced MS Office Install) are Tux Paint [http://www.tuxpaint.org/download/] (don't forget the stamps!), Scratch [http://scratch.mit.edu/], and Google Earth. Just make sure you have tolerance for sound with Tux Paint and Scratch. Tux Paint will end up with a never ending cacaphony of flushing toilets and frogs, and Scratch couldleave someone wondering why you hear a looped cat meowing with drums in the background. Google Earth needs no explanation.

If a young kid shows a technical aptitude (1)

scourfish (573542) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369468)

Music lessons would probably benefit him more.

Kidzui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369480)

Kidzui - a curated browser for kids. Even sends parents a weekly email letting them know what their kids were doing.

MS-DOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369488)

That's the only way to be sure they don't get into trouble.

Forget the laptop. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369492)

Give the kid something physical to do. Something he can share with others. Stomp Rocket Junior [fatbraintoys.com] Thinking building blocks. Tricycles. Pedal cars. Toys that have been around for a century or more.

The photographs and videos you take of him playing will become more priceless with each passing year.

Re:Forget the laptop. (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369712)

So why aren't you doing that?

Windows Live (1)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369496)

If you're going to leave Windows on it, load up something like the Windows Live Family Safety. It comes in Windows Live Essentials or as a seperate download. It's managed by MSN logins and lets you set time limits, website blocking, whitelisting or blacklisting of applications as well as being able to restrict games based on their ratings. All this and it's free. Course, parenting works too, but given this isn't your child, maybe thats more of a challenge

Re:Windows Live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369696)

Another free (and lightweight) one is K9 Web Protection [slashdot.org] . I use it on my kids' computers...combined with a heavy dose of physical monitoring and teaching. It does what I need.

The thing to remember is that no filter is 100% secure...the easiest way to get around any filter is to go online at your friends house. The key is to *teach* and *communicate* with your children. Let them know what is and isn't acceptable in your home (this also differs from family to family).

Get a filter...it will help avoid most (but not all) accidental exposure...and use it as a communication tool with your kids. Let them help pick what is and isn't acceptable. And don't expect software to make up for poor parenting on your part.

Tie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369562)

Tie Fighter, The Incredible Machine 2, Pipe Dream, Doom, X-Wing, Jazz Jackrabbit, Rebel Assault.

It's what I had, and what I hope to give to my children also.

Re:Tie (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369604)

Anything with a level editor! (Perhaps not Duke Nukem 3D's BUILD, though.)

Install (1)

defaria (741527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34369572)

Linux.

Edubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369642)

Wow! All the nerds and not one of them screams "Edubuntu"! They must still be sleepy from the turkey. Anyway, besides being loadec with fun educational software it also contains nanny software.

MS Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34369688)

Install MS Office, and only that. Get him acquainted with the drudgery of adult life early on. Give him assignments. Give vague instructions and complain when he doesn't do exactly what you had in mind (but didn't express). Contradict yourself - not just between meetings but within the same meeting. Indeed, schedule meetings, often, and move them around, often. Set up a script to send him emails at increasing rates - start at 100/day go up from there. Copy other members of your family even if they're not involved, so they can see that you're working (sending emails) and to cover your ass should someone, like your wife or other kids, claim you never told them about something. Make him give powerpoint presentations to the family, using lots of text and clipart. If he has a question or problem with the computer, make him submit a ticket. When he follows your instructions and things go awry, deny ever having told him what to do. Show biases towards one child or another, but change it, randomly, to simulate management changes. Have tons of polices and procedures, documented online but hopelessly out of date. Plan for reviews, but then never do them or give no meaningful feedback. Condition him to learn that doing well isn't so important as ingratiating yourself with the right folks.

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