Kids & computers

Kids & computers

By Richard Heller

Kids & computers

A few weeks ago, a client who was having problems with her computer contacted me. The computer would run Windows but would not let any of the programs work; they would come up with an error message that the program was not found. This was quite strange. Even using Windows Explorer and highlighting the program name would give the same error message.

While I was at the client’s home, I met a very bright boy who was in kindergarten. He watched as I was working on the computer, asking questions as to what I was doing, but more interesting was the way that he could read the messages that were appearing on the computer screen.

If you have a computer and small children, you should make the investment in the phonetic reading programs and other educational software available. But along with the software, you should also invest in a security program to prevent your child from deleting your programs and files.

One company, Edmark ( has addressed this security issue with a program called “Kid Desk.” Utilizing a graphic interface that appears as a desktop, you can control what exactly your child has access to.

Their web site has “Kid Desk Lite” available as a free download. After you have installed the program, you can select what programs you want your child to run, and you can set the program up to handle more than one child, each with his own list of programs. This is especially handy if you have teenagers and preteens in the same household; you don’t have to worry about the younger kids getting access to term papers.

The “Family” edition of the program allows you to customize the desktop as well as adding accessories not available in the free version. These extras include a calendar, a picture frame where you can place the child’s photo, an application that allows them to send and receive e-mail, and an answering machine where other family members can leave voice mail. There are also other applications such as a notepad and an address book. The price for the “Family” version is a modest $25 and runs in Windows 95/98/ME.

Each child has his own user name and password, and the adult can control who has what access to what. The program can be set up to start when the computer is turned on, and the adult can access his programs as usual without the worry that the children will do anything that they are not allowed to do.

Edmark also has other educational programs on their website. Their programs have won many awards, and their programs are well written.

As to the problem with the computer not being able to run any applications, it was corrected by re-installing Windows over the version installed on the hard drive. There did not appear to be a virus or Trojan on the computer; the only thing that we could determine was that it appeared that some vital file had been deleted or had become corrupted.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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