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Exposing Children to Technology?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the how-young-is-too-young dept.


LabelThis asks: "While I'm not a huge fan of immersing children in technology, there is a certain point at which you must expose them to the tools that will help them be successful in the world. Looking back, I distinctly remember my parents making every effort to provide a computer for me and my sibling, early on (they bought an Atari 400 for us when I was 5). Either by accident or on purpose, that single decision (and the continued follow up of purchasing newer computers as needed) shaped my future and the future of my siblings. I now have a daughter, and my wife and I have a number of years to before we worry about equipping her with technology (right now spending time with her and helping her be a happy well adjusted toddler are our primary concerns). In the spirit of my parents choice, what type of tools should parents be equipping their children with, today?"

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Make sure they know how do it either way (3, Insightful)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773787)

with or without tech, that away they wont be screwed if they dont have their favorite tech, but make sure they are plenty exposed to tech so they arent screwed in the job market later in life...

Give them what seems appropriate for their level (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773788)

Preferably spongy, easily-swallowed objects []

Or alternatively, sharp, pointy sticks []

Whatever you do, don't coddle them into being overgrown kids at age 25.

penis (1)

TheSpoogeAwards (589343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773790)


duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773794)

A family computer, "duh."

Slide Rule (1)

ibirman (176167) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773800)

Don't show them a calculator until they master the slide rule. A calculator can't tell you when you are a factor of magnitude or two off. A slide rule forces you to think about it.

Re:Slide Rule (2, Interesting)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774023)

Or, give them a pencil and paper and tell them to work it out by hand.

Don't be silly (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774104)

This is like telling someone "Don't give them a pencil and paper until they can multiply in their heads!" I'm sure this is what our math teachers tried to tell us, and now that we grew up cheating with pen and paper, we want to tell our kids not to use calculators of their day?

I think if the calculator can get them to actually do the math, and the slide rule makes them hate math, go with the calculator. If they actually like calculating stuff in their head, then go with the slide rule or better yet, teach them to be a math savant who can figure out pi in their head and multiple 34340034*2343454 in their head without pen and paper.

jigga bomb (5, Insightful)

sheaman (826235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773801)

in my opinion, definately not the internet. it's not long before they/their friends start getting into AIM and things like that. before you know it, when they're still really small, they'll probably end up loading the computer with spyware and they might even have a myspace or something...teach em how to use a computer, but don't give em the internet until they're older and seem somewhat more responsible.

To follow on that thought (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773997)

A computer is a tool, teach your kids that.
The internet... is a distraction that young children don't need.

Or if you do decide to stick them on the internet, be there while they use it. Make it an experience that involves you, the parent. Don't let the internet turn into the TV babysitter that some parents use.

And for God's sake, don't let them log on as Administrator.

Children and Technology (1)

eaglebtc (303754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773802)

I believe that "My First" toys are always a good choice, provided the parent spends time with the child to help them understand what is going on. If the child is old enough, help them to find books on subjects like computers, telephones, and cars: the basic tools that help us get things done in today's society. But most importantly, please teach them to be respectful of others' property and privacy, and to be responsible citizens using the technology to help others.

Re:Children and Technology (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773881)

Books like "How Stuff Works" are good to have around so they can read about a lot of random different things.

Having some video games around may get them interested in the field as a whole. Be a good parent and pay attention to what they play of course. Hold off on the GTA for a 5 year old. Sim City was a great game and made you think. A lot of simulation and strategy games would be appropriate.

A bag of broken glass (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773807)

and "go play in the traffic" were my childhood memories.

hrn. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773809)

My parents gave me plastic bags when I was very young. I expecially liked the full-body dry cleaning ones. For my 4th birthday they game me an old refrigerator with a locking door. I loved it.

Re:hrn. (1)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774030)

I have a better idea, let's play 'drink the stuff under the sink' ok?
- Stewie

Computer != Technology (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773810)

If you mean "computers" say so. "Technology" is not a synonym for "computers". Hint: cooking is technology.

Re:Computer != Technology (1)

nbehary (140745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773909)

God! I wish I had Mod points for this....

You may get modded into oblivion for that (I'd hope not), but I'd mod you up. That's one of the better comments I've seen on /. in a while.

Re:Computer != Technology (5, Insightful)

kw87 (866701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773935)

I agree that computer != technology but I don't know that I would call cooking technology. To quote from Douglas Adams, "Another problem with the net is that it's still 'technology', and 'technology', as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is 'stuff that doesn't work yet.' We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs."

Re:Computer != Technology (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774026)

I agree that computer != technology but I don't know that I would call cooking technology.
Technology []

Obligatory comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773815)

A Linux workstation. When they have experience on there what else will they need? People don't need PDAs, cameras, laptops, iPods, or any other "gadget" until they get old and need to do something during their midlife crisis. Until then a regular computer can keep me at 23 busy for hours and hours...if it can't keep a child entertained for a while then it's just not worth it (XBox, PS2/3, GameCube...all boring compared to a regular computer).

Tech toys for tots (5, Interesting)

Announcer (816755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773818)

As the child gets older, and shows an aptitude for Technology, I would suggest some simple electronics project kits that are suitable for their age, and appeal to their interests.

There are a number of kit manufactures, such as Ramsey Electronics and Velleman which make kits of all types and skill levels. Some of my fondest memories are of having my Dad help me build something. As I got older, I spent my allowance on kits.

Today, I work in a radio station as a Broadcast Engineer. Computers and IT are important, naturally, but if a child shows interest in what's "under the hood", they will have an advantage over their peers who only see the computer as a "box" that runs programs.

Re:Tech toys for tots (4, Insightful)

gatzke (2977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773932)

My dad bought me a few of these as a kid but it never sunk in. I could follow the instructions and put something together, but I was frustrated that I never really understood what the complex circiuits were doing.

Maybe I needed some more fundamentals, maybe I should have asked dad for some more help, maybe I didn't have the math for op-amps or whatever when I was 10. It did not come naturally and the environment was not right to help me really get it.

Maybe the educational materials that go along with those kits are better now. The radio shack stuff from 25 years ago didn't help me much...

Re:Tech toys for tots (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774042)

Yea these kits sucked as they didn't expect you to use any problem solving skills. Lucikly I was curious enough to take the existing plans and attempt to slowly modify them to figure out what each and every part did. I still never quite figured out the chip that was provided, though I had no understanding of gate logic at my time, thats probably something that would have helped! :)

Re:Tech toys for tots (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773977)

I second this notion.

When I was a kid, I had an electroincs kit that was basicly a box with all the components layed out on it and then springs attacked to all the lugs.
You pushed a wire into the springs and connected circuts.

There was also another kit that I had that had a blue board with a bunch of holes and you basicly used screws to hold the components in place (then you unscrewed them and put them away for later use). I still remember when I was using this kit as part of some extra-curricular electronics course of some kind and the teacher at school thought that the ice-cream container with the foam in it and the electronic bits sticking out of the foam was dangerous (memory of that is hazy so I dont know the exact details anymore)

FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773820)

By the time she's 2, just make sure she's hooked on Quake4 and Half Life2 and you'll be good.

At my house (1)

woobieman29 (593880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773821)

We triplets(!) that are 5 years old, and we have elected not to try to push them into technology just yet. I figure that they will become interested in it just by watching my wife and I and their 12 year old brother playing with our own tech toys. My boy (the triplets are 2 girls, 1 boy) has recently started showing an interest in games, so I have showed him the basics of using the mouse and keyboard and turned him loose on some of the educational games that are available for Linux. The games in the kdeedu package are some of his favorites, and are very age appropriate.

New meaning.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773824)

to the term "script kiddie!"

"Now your very own child can brag to his or her kindergarten classmates
because of the Micro$oft Playskool wannabe-a-hacker Vista Edition brought to
you by Spishak!"

Programming. (3, Interesting)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773825)

I first witnessed computer programming when I was 6 - A half brother coded a drawing program for me while I watched. 2 years later, I started taking my old 321 Contacts (GREAT magazine) and programming the Qbasic programs and games, and then modifying them.

It just went up from there. If you can find a good magazine or something for kids that introduces them to programming, DO IT!

I exposed myself to your children through tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773833)

thanks for inventing the isight steve jobs

Back to the basics... (5, Insightful)

jpsowin (325530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773835)

what type of tools should parents be equipping their children with, today?

Pencils, pens, paper. Printed books--good, old, classic books. They'll learn computers and all that--you can hardly do anything these days without using one. What they need are the basic skills they won't get through computers, and that is accomplished through reading good ol' books and writing.

Re:Back to the basics... (1)

Ruarris (838330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774009)

Pencils, pens, paper. Printed books--good, old, classic books.
And these "pencils" and "paper" you speak of...people once used these? Excuse my ignorance, I'm only 17 But in my opinion children shouldn't really have techology given to them so young. Let them ask you how it works. If they never get into it, well then it wasn't meant to be. I think inquisitive, mechanical types are born, not made

Re:Back to the basics... (1)

Ruarris (838330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774071)

Oh and to add to that, I feel the same as the above poster about the basics. It seems like people my age don't even get half the references they see on TV, movies, etc outside school...and can't even read their own hand writing in school. It's really sad, almost to the point that it's depressing. Go with the books, you can't go wrong.

Re:Back to the basics... (1)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774100)

Inability to read your own handwriting is a classic excuse for not being prepared / being embarassed.

Re:Back to the basics... (4, Interesting)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774078)

Agreed. Along with, of course, all the other tools, including computers.

Speaking as a parent of a first-grader, one of the big challenges is that kids make developmental steps in different areas, and they rarely do so in a synchronized way. So one month, a kid might be making a lot of headway in math-related areas, the next, in language, and the next, in social skills.

And of course, you don't want them to get too far ahead in any one area, since a kid who's terribly advanced in math, but behind in social skills, will have a rough time in school.

So... yes, my kid has a cheapish computer (Mac mini). And she knows how to do things like email grandma, play games, surf the web, feed it optical discs, etc. She also has (and reads, like there's no tomorrow) a lot of books. And supplies for writing and being artistic and making noise and doing the sort of messy "chemistry" kids like, and so on. And between my wife's social-science studies and my own work in natural sciences, her questions get answered.

Which leads her to say things like, "but daddy, I already know what a supernova is!"

Anyway, it's all a matter of balance. Give them the latest technology, yes - but only if you're willing to put just as much into the other aspects of life and learning.

Re:Back to the basics... (3, Insightful)

MrAndrews (456547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774085)

Indeed. I have two girls, both young, and they are both interested in computers. Our rule is that you can't use a computer to do things that crayons and paper do just as well: you read words on books, you write stories on paper, and you draw pictures in one of the hundreds paper pads stacked in the closet. Both kids have learned how to open iTunes and find the "Kids" playlist when they want to get their Raffi fix, and they use iSight for video chats to their grandparents, but otherwise they're entirely non-computer monkeys. I know that when they need to use computers, they'll already have the basic concepts mastered through osmosis. You don't want to raise technophobes, but you can't let them limit their existence to the online world so young... there's too much can't be reached with a mouse.

Take Balmer's advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773839)

Give them their own flying chair [] !

I am thinking (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773841)

Perhaps a chainsaw and a nice table saw with sharp blades is great for kids to learn how to use tools

Resistance is Futile (1)

PatTheGreat (956344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773845)

Bionic implants, if at all possible.

protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773846)

kids need more guns!

thats my responce to anyone who asks slashdot how to raise their kids.. jeez man.. give her what she wants and educate her at the same time.. bam.. provide that along with food and air and you should fall into that catagory of 'good parent'

Audience? (1)

Myrano (952282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773854)

And you are expecting slashdotters to have children.... why?

Re:Audience? (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773868)

If you noticed it, great, otherwise - the guy that submitted it IS the one asking, not pointing /.ers to some blog or other - he wanted to know for himself, not letting us know about Joe Psychologist's newest theory on how to raise your kids...

Social Technology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773856)

"I now have a daughter, and my wife and I have a number of years to before we worry about equipping her with technology (right now spending time with her and helping her be a happy well adjusted toddler are our primary concerns). In the spirit of my parents choice, what type of tools should parents be equipping their children with, today?"

Cellphone. Trust me.

Re:Social Technology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773884)

Webcam. Trust me.

Stop babying them (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773857)

When my generation was growing up, our parents did whatever the hell they felt like doing and the kids came along for the ride. Nowadays parents spend all weekend with their kids. School holidays are a "nightmare" because they feel the need to take their annual holidays from work at the same time and take the kids out or away on vacation. That Atari 400 you had, do you remember what time of year you got it? Christmas right? Or maybe your birthday? Or maybe a combined birthday/christmas present? That was because your parents didn't have much money right? Wrong. It's because our parents didn't spend 98% of the salary on buying shit for us kids. They had their own lives. When us kids asked if they could have a new bike, or some other toy, our parents openly laughed at us and told us to save up our pocket money or see if the neighbours wanted any chores done, or wait until our birthday/christmas. These days a kid just has to whine loud enough and parents cave in. So to answer your question, when's the best time to expose kids to technology? After they've begged you for a computer for at least six months or a year. Then buy em a cheap second hand one and tell em to make do. Cause if you don't they'll just get bored with it and next they'll be demanding an xbox and an ipod and a psp.

Re:Stop babying them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773907)

I've never looked at it that way, but what you say makes sense.
I'll keep it in mind for when my wife and I have kids.

Re:Stop babying them (1)

captnitro (160231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773940)

Your ideas actually intrigue me and I would actually like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Stop babying them (1)

nick1000 (914998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773941)

When my generation was growing up, our parents did whatever the hell they felt like doing and the kids came along for the ride.

Do you mean to say that is a good thing.

Back to topic:
I think a computer is a great tool to give your children. But that really helps if there is an elder sibling or parent who is ready to sit down and work(or play games esp educational ones) in front of the child. When I was young my Dad used to sit down and show us how to play Shanghai (Mahjong), it really got us kids interested in computers. Of course we would always try to sneak in a game of Prince of Persia.
In other tools you should really check out the latest addons/software for arts, like music and drawing etc. (cause your kids may not be interested in becoming /.er's) And while I am on /. I'll say why not introduce an abacus and a slide rule.

Re:Stop babying them (1)

nbehary (140745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773972)

Wow! That's great (I said so in a previous comment, but, I wish I had mod points for this) Yeah, kids Today are spoiled as hell. I've done it with my own I'm sad to say. My wife has recently reminded me of how we grew up and yeah. I've babied them to death in the past. Thinking specifically about technology.....we had an Intelivision, with almost no games growing up. I think we got that cause my dad liked, not for us. I had a TI-99/4a my grandfather bought for me. My parents maybe picked up one cart for it. the rest of my fun with it was programming it. (pretty much ALL of my fun with it). If my grandad hadn't splurged on that one thing, my tech exposure at a young age would have been nearly 0. but, more importantly, that combined with my parents unwillingness to spoil me probably led to me being where I am today.

Re:Stop babying them (1)

Jason Hood (721277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773984)

When my generation was growing up ... That was because your parents didn't have much money right? Wrong. It's because our parents didn't spend 98% of the salary on buying shit for us kids....


Re:Stop babying them (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774061)

"That was because your parents didn't have much money right? Wrong."

No, it actually WAS because my parent's didn't have much money, you smug bastard.

Re:Stop babying them (1)

Tyrion Moath (817397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774117)

Wow, my parents did the EXACT same thing. And I'm only 18. Worked out well I guess, now I'm a freshman at University of Illionois in the CS dept. I remember working with an Apple IIE when I was around 4ish, NES maybe at 5 or 6, and then my siblings and I saved up for a Sega Genesis... Those were good times.

Tech for kids (4, Interesting)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773859)

A PC, networked but no internet, virtual CD (no scratched disks around here), lots of world-building games (Age of Empires, Sims, etc). An LCD screen instead of CRT. Print-to-PDF instead of direct to printer, so we can cancel 99 full colour pages of Pikachu and just print one.

My kids spend time on their computers, but they spend a lot more time playing in the garden. They make their own dolls furniture (wood, nails, paint), miniature food (clay & paint), etc etc. The eldest taught herself to ride the unicycle. What I'm getting at is that they're not mindless blobs slaved to their PCs 24/7 - yes, they sometimes get heavily involved in a game and will play it in their spare time over 2 or 3 days, but then they'll avoid the computer for a week and do something else.

The youngest is now 8 years old and produces her own digital art and newsletters, the eldest (11 yo) types up stories and homework. Both use an mp3 player on their computers, and because the music available to them is all my own favourites (mostly 70's and 80's), it's very interesting to see their tastes via their playlists. They're not exposed to modern rubbish on the radio, so I'm probably warping their minds and putting them forever out of touch with their friends.

Re:Tech for kids (1)

zokum (650994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774130)

Interesting view on music. In my opinion some of the worst music of this last century was the 70s and 80s. It didn't improve until the 1990s. This is when computers became good enough so that anyone could make music and a huge spur in creativity emerged. Completely unlike the much more corporate styles of the earlier 80s and 70s. You are NOT doing your kids a service by shielding them from contemporary music. It is the mental equivalent of caning to be honest, yes the 80s were THAT bad. And as for peers and peer pressure - you might as well dress them all in 80s fashion and snow jogs. Let them be exposed to all kinds of influences, don't force them to relive your youth.

Re:Tech for kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774137)

The youngest is now 8 years old and produces her own digital art and newsletters, the eldest (11 yo) types up stories and homework... They're not exposed to modern rubbish on the radio, so I'm probably warping their minds and putting them forever out of touch with their friends.

I'd just like to be the first to say: if you think they're tastes are going to remain the same as yours into their teenage years, you're in for a rude awakening...

Exposure? (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773860)

See the thing is, at least from where I sit, technology is an extension of our bodies and minds. It is just like having another limb or organ. So when raising children who could be brought up with the advantage of having the extra limb and learning to use it early, when they'll learn the best, why would you want to cut if off? In a sense you might as well cut off one of their legs.

Granted, this is an _extreme_ analogy. People can live their lives without technology. They can live full lives and happy lives without it. And there are certainly extremes in the sense that one can be immersed in too much technology and lose their sense of self. I personally have many thoughts on the matter of sense of self and immersion into a larger unity that is today's emerging techno-society. But that's another topic.

In short, find a happy medium that works for you and your family. Moderation is the answer.


Lego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773862)

Lego is great for showing kids how to be imaginative and patient. Be sure to supply your child (hopefully over 3 or 4) with a good variety of sizes of pieces and buy one of those big tubs of assorted lego pieces.

As expensive as lego is, it's good for getting kids to be creative and getting them to make new things.

Also, let them draw a lot and expose them to a few of your favorite movies. Get their imaginations working and most of all, let them express themselves.

Two choices (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773864)

you have 2 choices: Technology or no technology

1. No technology and be Amish. At least you'll be happy while you dig those potatoes

2. Teach them technology early and properly. How to use it safely how to make it assit your life, not rule it. The richest people in this world used tech to get there (or oil). So either find some oil, or teach your kids technology. And BTW, watching TiVo and playing Xbox does not teach kids anything. Builing a TiVo from an Xbox.. now that is something..

Re:Two choices (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773880)

Builing a TiVo from an Xbox.. now that is something.

Ohh, if only. *sigh* Curse you, lack of TV-in.

Re:Two choices (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774063)

Isn't there a way to use the controller ports (essentially USB with a modified form factor) to use a USB video capture device?

Games (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773866)

Get them a computer and a game that they really like every once in a while. Just don't install the game for them. I learned a whole lot trying to get Commander Keen, A10 Tank Killer, and Populous 2 working on my computer.

Re:Games (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773976)

Amen to that. TIE Fighter first taught me about emm386, and then later about multiple configuration config.sys files.

Re:Games (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774075)

I was about to say "Your kidding right? Game installs are just require running the installer nowadays," but then I remembered the tons of times I have tried to play games with a not good enough video card. I guess you would be teaching them something about the economics of the game industry if they were forced to save up for the card to play the shiny new game you bought them, only for it to be outdated by the time they could afford it.

Synthesizers (3, Interesting)

BoomTechnology (832547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773869)

Get the kid a real hardcore synth -- the kind that uses envelopes, oscillators, and filters etc with MIDI ports to boot. Got one in middle school and it taught me more about my major (EE) than you could possibly imagine...

try pinball (1)

Joe123456 (846782) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773879)

If you can find it

Daddy, _I_ want to click (1)

crazyharry (711228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773890)

My two year old loves ktuberling, and tuxpaint! He also likes to help play supertux, tuxkart and ppracer(I forgot the old name). In the late 80's early 90's I had a friend who taught thier 3 old a "game" to swap floppies out for a full system backup.

Focus on the basics (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773893)

Especially if you are involved in technology in some way, I don't think you'll have to do anything really special to push the idea of technology. The fact that it's all around them and that Mom and Dad use it will be enough to get them interested. I have two nieces, 10 and 16 years, and a nephew who graduated from Dartmouth last June with a CS degree. All of them are adept in their own ways with using computers without any special prodding. Of course, not every one wants to be or is cut out to be a tech specialist.

Personally, I think it's far more important to make sure they get a good grounding in the basics. Encourage them to read, to learn a second language (and I don't mean Perl!), and to master math and science courses. Especially in the early stages, these are the things that will help them learn how to learn, and how to think critically. I don't expect those skills to go out of fashion any time soon.

People 'puters (1)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773905)

If you want to your daughter to be successful, don't focus so much on technology. Set as many play dates and social occasions for her as possible. Make her a star politician. That is the way to success in this world. After all, it's not what you know, it's who you know.

If you don't feel comfortable with this line of action, then set her up with Vista, a screaming machine with no games, MS development tools, and entreprenuers who need business applications on a regular basis. That way she'll have many lucrative "play dates" with businesses and will begin building her revenue stream at the same time as her height and maturity.

Well, that's an easy one ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773915)

Start with one of the 7.2V keyless-chuck Makitas, or maybe a DeWalt. Useful when laying network cable down. A good toolbelt would be helpful as well. Now, depending upon whether she'll be building her own equipment, or buying commercial crap like Dells or HP/Compaqs, she may need a good set of Torx drivers. Needlenose pliers, vise-grips, a good range of screwdrivers would be wise, as well as a cable test rig. Then ...

Legos (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773922)

We already have a box of the new giant Legos for my 16 month son. Double the size of Duplos, they are called Quatro.

Yeah, I know some turdburger will complain "thay are not Legos, they are Lego bricks." Whatever.

The new mindstorms are awesome. Basic programming concepts and cool little robots. My son doesn't quite get it yet...

I don't know if it helps much, but we also have a lot of musical instruments he has taken an interest in, like a old Casio keyboard and a harmonica. Not pushing, just letting him play with them.

Let her decide (1)

msbsod (574856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773924)

At this age I do not think she will need a computer or many other tech toy alone for herself. Have it available, let her explore her world, and offer alternatives. Let her get her friends involved. If they want to learn how to work with a computer, then let them do it together. I think it is a pity that so many kids just consume games instead of writing them with friends. But, make sure that part of the time is spent on creative tasks, and that the time is limited so that she also spends time on doing other things, like listening to music, taking pictures with a camera, swimming, horses, boys, or simply read a book.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773938)

Wow, there's alot of informative posts on here so far...

How about legos and erecter sets? If I'da had a lego mindstorms kit when I was ten I wouda freaked out.

The Best Tools Come From Within (5, Insightful)

bennyp (809286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773943)

Tools for success in a modern technological world
  1. Critical Thinking
    The ability to think clearly, even amidst constant persuation is essential for mental and emotional equilibrium. A person must be able to distinguish honest messages from those with alterior motives. A person must also be able to take media with a grain of salt.

    One good way to teach critical thinking is to practise it with your child. Ask them questions about how media, especially advertising, makes them feel. Point out to them the tactics that media purveyors use to produce emotional responce.
  2. Awareness
    Make sure they know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fantasy. Make sure they have a clear and balanced view of reality by exposing them, little by little to the facts of inequality and injustice, but don't overwhelm them with the negative. History is also very important.

    As your child matures, involve them in your political, economic, and spiritual life. Take them to a political protest and explain why. Engage them in charity and volunteering, perhaps at a local food bank. They will learn humility and also see what it is like to be less prosperous.
  3. Self-Expression
    Teach your child to express themselves through a variety of means. Allow them to explore media on their own, but be there to guide them when they become frustrated or confused.

    It is important for a child to know how to properly express themselves. One great way to teach is to practise it yourself. Take your time when choosing words and sentences, and always be honest.
  4. Morality
    Pass on your own sense of morality to your child. Practice morality in front of your child in how you act towards others.

    Morals help us to act rightly, even when no one is watching. The internet provides a great deal of annonymity, and a strong moral sense serves as compass and shield.

...a few suggestions from someone who doesn't have it all right, but gets closer every day...

They'll let you know if they're interested (1)

Miss_Thistlebottom (901087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773945)

I picked up a used, "pretty" (one of the candy-coloured ones), antique iMac on ebay for about $150. Installed Panther on it from CD. Set it up on the wireless network. My son uses it for a few games and I am glad he has access. However -- you can't push it on them and necessarily expect them to be interested. I also got him some video games and while he likes the computer and the games, he's not as into it as I would have been if they had all this shit when I was a kid! Oh and while they're little, the Internet can be okay if (a) you are around to help and (b) you just make a few bookmark buttons in the toolbar for the usual kid sites (PBSkids, etc.). I'll get net-nanny-type software pretty soon.

Be Your Child's Best Educational Toy (3, Insightful)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773960)

Spending time with your children learning new things and sharing with them the fun of learning is the best a parent can do. Handing their education off to their teachers won't have the visceral impact of them knowing their parents love to learn.

As far as tech goes they'll be inundated from their earliest days although I'd work with them in bits :) and words to ensure they have a conceptual grasp of the how it is that computers work. Too often in education an assumption is made that everyone gets the basics then students are shunted up the ladder where often they can't grasp concepts because the basics learned by rote weren't fundamentaly understood.

The single biggest gift (5, Insightful)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773965)

is you. Your time, your attention, and your approval. You appear to know all of that, but sometimes we get caught up in being good little consumers and buying "tools" when we should be focusing on the tool wielder.

With kids aged 18, 15, and 14 I have some experience in this. I can view with 20/20 hindsight the mistakes I made and the triumphs, such as they were. Without exception my failures have involved taking my eyes off of them for just a little while.

Play with them. Make them earn everything but love (and what you're required by law to give them). Don't be afraid to punish bad behavior. Don't reward tantrums, whining, or other manipulation, but do reward reasoned persistence.

Reward honesty, so much that if the has a "cherry tree" moment, give praise and forget the misdeed. Punish dishonesty in every form.

Punishment should fit the misdeed, and should be designed to benefit the family in the long run. Reserve corporal punishment for "you ain't the boss of me!". It will come. Whack 'em. They'll get over it.

If you give them a computer, make it known that you can lock them out of it at your slightest whim.

And I forgot the most important one (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774142)

The most important thing you can give a give a kid is a happy mom. Don't get so wrapped up in the kid that you stop treating your wife like a woman.

Don't get divorced, unless there's blood. Divorce sucks.

And if you do get divorced, don't remarry until the kids move out. Stepfamilies suck.

ComputerTots! (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773966)

I own the RI franchise and the program is great.

Go low-tech first... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773970)

If you can build a fort out of Lincoln Logs, you can build anything. If you had enough Lincoln Logs, you could build a pretty solid skyscraper that makes an Erector Set look puny. Sometimes the best technology solution to learn is low-tech instead of high-tech.

The earlier the better. (2, Informative)

SSID (956348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773979)

I myslef am married with a 2.5 year old daughter. I must proudly say that she uses a laptop very well for her age. Just this past weekend my wife set up her laptop with the kid websites like Dora the explorer and a few others. My daughter navigated her fun and games sites like a champ. Yeppers, going to be another geek in the family. My wife is the one that keeps her grounded in everything else. Like social stuff and that sort of thing. I guess we teach our child what each knows best. I would have to answer your question with the obvious. When ever you think you want to buy/build your child's first computer. It's up to the parents and not anyone else.

Technology should be interesting, modular and fun (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773980)

Interesting: If it won't hold a kid's interest, then it'll be forgotten when the next toy comes along. The best way for a device to do this is to be re-usable in many ways. One specific game won't last for very long, no matter how good it is.

Modular: This builds off the interest. The more modular a device is, the more ways it can be assembled and the more games the kid can make up as they go along. Later on, modular becomes good for developing experiments, trying to see what works, what doesn't, and what produces the Magic Blue Smoke.

Fun: Intellectual interest is great, but it'll need to hold a high level of emotional interest, too - kids aren't known for having vast reservoirs of intellectual interest. Too few adults do, either, but that's beside the point. Besides, they can always become Talk Radio hosts.

Some examples of what is good:

  • Lego Mindstorms or any other controllable electronic Lego systems
  • Mecchano / Erector Sets
  • K'Nex - you'd want to drive the motors via the computer

Some examples of what would work for SOME kids, especially if older:

  • Great Egg Race Eggmobile
  • S-Deck or other solderless electronics kit, using the computer to supply an input or output
  • Computer-steerable telescope, where telescope eyepiece is rigged to a webcam with output to the computer. Put books giving an introduction to programming and an introduction to image processing next to the computer.

Stuff that is useless:

  • Any single-function electronic toy
  • Any single-function computer project or kit
  • Anything where practical experimentation would be too hard (home-made sugar-based rockets might be a great occasional bit of fun, but I can think of no practical way they can do more than entertain until they're large enough to require special licenses - and even then, research would be extremely limited, for safety reasons)
  • Anything a furious or distracted kid could turn into an expensive repair project (transistors, capacitors, LEDs - these are dirt cheap, and it takes a fair amount to break lego or mecchano pieces)

Don't just be a consumer. (4, Interesting)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14773982)

what type of tools should parents be equipping their children with, today?

Disclaimer: I am not a parent. Hell, I'm still half a kid myself (23).

One of the most important things you can teach your kids is not to be just a consumer but a producer, too. Teach them that using a computer doesn't just mean to download software and watch flash animations, but that a computer - any computer - is a tool for self-expression.

A computer is one of the most important tools of today. While it is a tool for the advertising department of company XYZ, it is also a tool express your thoughts (and dare I say it) dreams.

The ultimative producer experience is, in my humble opinion, writing a good program. (Don Knuth is with me on that one.) Programming in the right language* is a delighful thing.

That is what you should teach your kids.

* LISP is a good candidate since it is extremely simple and powerful. These two things go hand in hand.

A pole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14773993)

The service industry is the USA's sad future, so... a stripper pole.

First off can I cry BS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774004)

Blaming your parents for what you are now is a Rich Boys or Middle Classes wet dream.

My parents were poor as sin and I didnt have a computer until I bought one MYSELF. I am still to this day heavily involved in PCS and know more about the internal workings of PCS and the corporations that provide the tech to me that I would consider it unhealthy at worst and at best antisocial. (Which I am referred to as from time and time again)

I am a genius. My IQ is ridiculous. It doesnt help me in day to day life with anything other then salary. Salary my combined siblings and parents dont make to this day.

I deplore these conversations as the annoy me on principle. Wake up and take responsibility for your own choices and the path your carved out. If your just a weak minded person who will do whatever your parents did before you and never aspire to out do them them you have other issues not relavant to the question your asking.

There is protecting the innocent mind and guiding and there is sheltering to the point of abuse. Which path are you walking?

Avoid the temptation (1)

cjwl (776049) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774008)

Most of the history's greatest people didn't have electronics. Think about it.

Nothing But Praises. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774011)

My brothers boy has had a computer in his room since six months old. By eight months he was matching what icon went with what cdrom. He's three now, his mouse control is perfect, he knows the keyboard words and numbers. Heh, he knows he has to type into the address bar inorder to get what he wants.

I've been introducing him to shortcuts, directories (pictures, mp3's, movies). No luck yet tricking him into addition and subtraction, but hey, he's three. It's not a grand experiment, just stuff we've come across.

Language development is normal or slightly above par.

Possible side effects.

He looks for structure and organization and is a little lost without it (been kinda thinking up a reward system in the real world that'd encourage him developing his own organizational skills).

No signs of typical attention dysfunction conditioned by commercials. He's in pre-school and stands out bit because of it. He likes to complete what he starts and has no problems concentrating on a task until it's complete. Learning is not really considered negative, just something he needs to get through.

Social skills are on par. He's having a bit of a problem with a bully in his class (girl of course, she'll likely be removed).

I'd really like to see a .kids domain with an ability to lock a computer to a safe kid state. Not really sure what would be the best way to distribute it, windows upgrade, isp or other... (source code is for sale, it holds lots of possibilities)...

Re:Nothing But Praises. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774066)

Errr.... sorry. is what he knows to type.

Books (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774029)

What should you be doing to equip your daughter? Start reading to her. Get her coloring books, the picture books, and let her explore. Teach her that reading is fun.

The key word in "technological literacy" is literacy. In today's world, exposing your child to technology is easy. It's all around us. But being able to read is the key skill in understanding it.

Computer Camp! (1)

StarViper (723198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774031)

I work at a computer camp ( I've been an instructor for 2 years and will currently be working at our latest creation, the Gaming Academy. We have courses for kids aged 7-17 ranging from Digital Video classes to Game Modding. While it's a bit expensive (I wouldn't have been able to go as a kid), if you have the extra money I know the kids usually love it. I know this sounds like an advertisement, but I'm low enough in the company that it doesn't really benefit me to bring exposure. I just work there because I love it and would have loved it as a kid, so I'm just pointing it out for those who might not be aware that such a thing exists.

Video games (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774032)

My dad introduced me to computers when I was 4. He hooked up an old TI-99/4A and we played Pole Position and Parsec and a few other less noteworthy games. Though I could not yet read and was not good at video games, I was fascinated by what was going on and how to get better at it. I was also intrigued at what all of those buttons on the keyboard could possibly be used for.

I learned to read the next year and quickly picked up and analyzed all of the written words around me. I noticed that before I could get into the game on the TI-99, I had to tell it from a list of options that I wanted to play a game instead of going to the command prompt. When I asked my dad what the command prompt was all about, he showed me some basic math it could do.

I quickly wanted to know what else it could do. He knows a lot about fixing cars and electronics and such, but knows very little about how computers work and how to use them. Because of that, he gave me the big thick operating and programming manuals that he had for it. I looked them over, but did not make much sense of most of it. Although I didn't get much from the operation of it as a serious computer, playing video games and seeing what else it could do got me really interested in computers.

Go forward in my life past an Apple IIe and an NES and see me at 8 years old using an Apple Performa 460. I learned how to type with some typing software on the Apple and even learned a little about using DOS. Come the Macintosh, it was a whole new computer using experience for me. Of course, my primary interest in the device was to play games on it (maybe it still is), but I gained many other things from it. I have really bad handwriting and no matter how hard I try, it never looks good. I used my computer to type my homework for school because my handwriting was too illegible. Pass a little more time and I've got my hands on an Apple related magazine that has a CD with it. I get from the CD some software that can pick apart the resource trees of software. Pretty soon I had taken the sound files out of every program I had and used a theming application to make the box make all kinds of obnoxious sounds. Also, I found some video files on my computer and witnessed for the first time that full motion video could be played on a computer. What a wonder that they were still selling movies on clunky tapes instead of data CD's!

I hope I've revealed to you something about how a young mind can become interested and realize the usefulness of computers. Now I'm 20 and I still love computers and I'm halfway through getting a BS in computer science. I suppose the youngsters will find computers at some time or another, but it's good to expose them to as many different things as you can so that they can find what they love and you can help them to cultivate their thirst for knowledge.

Why not technology? (1)

elzbal (520537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774036)

I was happy to expose my son to technology at a very early age. He's always watched me on my computer, whether playing games or doing work.

He was banging on the keyboard when he was nearly one, and using the mouse a few months after that. (I highly highly recommend the "JumpStart School Time" CD, which only comes in a 3-pack with a couple of other useless titles, for starting mouse and keyboard skills. Make a backup. It will get scratched.)

He was picking out "Bear in the Big Blue House" on the Tivo by the time he was 1-and-a-half. Really! I he picked it out because of the long name. Not long after that, he also started picking out Sesame Street, perhaps becuase of the shape of the S's.

He was installing his own software, including accepting license agreements, at two. He was also able to pick out the Mozilla Firefox icon on a crowded desktop, double-click, and pick out his favorite web sites (,, and the like) from bookmarks. He also installed so much spyware that I had to reformat my wife's computer.

Not long after he turned 3, I finally broke down and gave him his own computer. I picked up a 800MHz/512MB/20GB computer for $20 used from a corporate computer sale, and tossed a spare copy of Windows on it. It's connected to the internet. He has his list of favorite bookmarks (set up by parents, of course), and a handful of cheap $9 kids games from Target, WalMart, etc. He installs his own software. In fact, he's currently playing a Clifford (think Big Red Dog) game.

He doesn't know anything about spelling, so I'm not too worried about porn sites, illicit chats or the darker side of I will be installing monitors before that happens.

Is that all he does? Of course not. He plays with legos, trains, his parents, and his little sister. But the next generation will not know a world without computers, just as our generation doesn't know a world without electricity. I see no reason to make them wait.

Does this have to do with how I was raised? Probably. My parents bought an Apple II+ for $3000 when I was 5, and they never prevented me from using it. I had my favorite games, and by early elementary school I was typing out silly programs in BASIC from a book, eventually writing my own Adventure-type games. I can only hope I can provide my children with the same opportunities I had.

I know! (1)

gers0667 (459800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774039)


Sorry, couldn't resist.

What type of tools would I supply them with? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774040)

Lasers. Eight o'clock, day one.

Tammy NYP (1)

AgBullet (624575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774051)

Have you checked Technorati's top search tags lately? That's what can happen when kids get to play with the coolest new things... =)

Seriously though, exposing your kids to technology's one thing, teaching them intelligent use is another.

Reading, Typing, PBS (1)

cmholm (69081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774054)

Abstract: severely limit the tv, eBay a cheap laptop. Read, READ.

It'll be hard (on you), but your first step is to step away from the TV. Set a hard and fast rule for how much video per day/week. Let's say, a half hour of video gaming per day, one hour of Sesame Street per day, one movie per week. MAX. Do these with her, do not fall into the trap of electronic babysitting. Better yet, no video gaming, period.

Read to your child, and give her lots of opportunities to learn to read, and later read on her own. Encourage her to express herself in writing, and when her hands are bigger, by typing. The typing can either be via her own log in on your system (w/ everything locked down, and no net clients), or a cheapie (less than US$100) laptop from eBay. Also from eBay are a boatload of used age-specific typing/reading/math/etc tutors to load onto the laptop. At some point, an electronics experiment set from the likes of Radio Shack would be cool (and low voltage!).

Your daughter will soon enough learn how to use your tv, video recorder, cell phone, iPod, in-dash nav system, etc, so forget about needing to buy her a bunch of crap until middle school.

Technology is good... (1)

inf0rmer (545195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774062)

We have 2 1/2 year old boy who has the usual amounts of cars, trains and typical boy-type toys - he likes to play with these physical things, but there's nothing he loves more than hacking away on a keyboard to make pretty pictures, or playing any one of the number of games we've purchased for him. We started him out on the Leapfrog system; with interchangable books and cartridges, it kept him amused for around 6 months. Then we moved him to the PC, with Jumpstart Baby - we used this for our previous child as well, and they've both mastered mouse and basic keyboarding skills, plus they love it! Now he's playing Thomas the Tank Engine, and all different sorts of edutainment titles. He loves every minute of it. He's also quite adept at playing racing car games on my Xbox - sometimes better than me, I might add (although this tends to be when I'm not paying attention, or thinking about beer (as in free))!

My wife and I were introduced to technology early as well, and we've excelled in our chosen IT-based careers from it, and hope that the early learning that we can provide to our children gives them the added abilities to excel as well.

Use technology where you can, they'll thank you for it just like you did to your parents.

Start with a calculator. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774086)

Once you get them a nice high powered calculator, buy them the best math book you can find. Then tell them to practice every problem in the math book, when they complete the job, pay them an allowance or in video games, and repeat. Continue this process until they get to calculus, and then buy them a computer with open office so they can learn to write.

What you do NOT want to do, is try to teach using the old fashioned tools of the past. USE the technology as an advantage and not a crutch, its all in how you view it. Do not buy them a cellphone until they learn the calculus and can write a thesis on why they need a cellphone and the impact it will have on their life strategy. When you do get them a cellphone, hopefully they'll know to use it for business and pleasure, and not just use it to chat about stupid stuff.

Set the tone, show them the right way to use the technology, show them how technology = profits. Show them how technology = better grades. Show them technology = success.

Keep them away from the social internet (1)

onlysolution (941392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774110)

Start with games, as they are simpler, but encourage your children to use computers for creative purposes. I was inspired to program through curiosity when I found QBASIC all those years ago, but I doubt my experience is typical.

On a more dire not I personally would avoid exposing a child to social networking/instant messanging/etc for a long time. My reasoning comes from comparing myself to my younger relative and friends. I am young enough that my highschool years coincided with the main-stream use of AIM and the like, which meant that livejournal and myspace only came into popularity around the time I was looking in to going to college. This situation meant that I wound up using IMing and social networking sites to augment my interations with real, living, tangible and local friends.

My younger peers though, use things like instant messanging and myspace to make friends almost exclusively, which has had a noticeable negative impact on their ability to interact with people in person. One of my cousins has been glued to her computer, to AIM, myspace and livejournal in particular, for the past two years.

Using only text to communicate means that two important secondary communication vectors are lost, body langauge and vocal inflections. If a child were to develop exclusively in entirely virtual social setting forming real relationships would be extraordinarily difficult. Not to mention the fact that text-only communcation encourages the use of slang and shorthand to make it easier to type. Alot of this typing turns in to muscle memory, which in turn makes it pretty hard to write an essay or anything intelligble. Just read an average myspace page and you should know what I mean.

Computers and the internet are obviously a great thing, but nowadays you don't have to be a geek to let your computer totally ruin your social life.

Fissure Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14774123)

cracked out toys for toddlers:

EZ Bake PCB Oven (Suprisingly small hands don't help mount SMD components)
My logic probbie (His eyes light up with TTL/CMOS logic!)
Connect Ford (childs EDI primer, ok, sorry I didn't think I'd get 3)

oh and Monopoly

Get your head out your ass (not trolling) (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774126)

How about instead of you "planning your daughters life", you let her do what she wishs? Guide her away from bad stuff and try to keep her on the right path, but let her be her own person. Remember this is slashdot and a lot of us are quite happy being anti social and being on our own. Your little girl will emulate her situation to some degree, but if you go "okay we introduce ball at point A, drop penguin at B and Atari at C", you're artifically influencing her.

You're a geek so the toys are there to play with. If she shows an intrest then support her and be there to catch her if she falls. Other wise let her play around and explore, find the world for herself and become "a person", not Mini-me.

Remember when you first rode a bike, you needed someone to support you, then they stopped supporting and maybe had to catch you once or twice. Then you learn to ride and could zoom off into the distance (or so you thought). That's life, it's her journey and if you decide when to let go of her, she'll never be prepared for when you let go. Teach her right from wrong and let her learn on her own, she'll develope much better skills all round (by being her own person and not some books "perfect child").

Look at all the soccer mum's around. They're all "perfect mothers", but their kids are not prepared for life. They wrapped them up too tight so they never saw what was outside their bubble and can't handle it. Maybe a little nudge here and there might help her, but let her grow as she grows, not how a book says.

6 years old (1)

chiller2 (35804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774145)

I was 6 when my dad bought me a BBC model B [] in 1982 from the local Dixons [] for £399. I was 6. I played games for a while, and was subjected to Logo and the floor turtle at school, but then one day in 1984 I started thumbing through the BBC BASIC user guide [] and tried the double height text program. It gave me the programming bug and the rest is history.

While infinitely more powerful than the 6502 1Mhz Beeb, I don't think PCs give quite the same experience from a hands on learning point of view.

Children are our future. (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14774154)

Providing the needs for children at early stage in life in order to make them feel comfortable with computer is one thing, reshaping their interest and career choice for later in life is the other.

If you want your kids to spend their productive adulthood slashdotting is your thing, let me be the first one to say; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be. [pause] I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I will live as I believe no matter what they take from me.
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