For many of us, computers are exciting, but puzzling. Our children know far more about computers than we do! How do we bridge the gap between what our children know and what we know to be able to assist them with their school work and help them get ready for the information age of the next century? After all, being able to use technology is rapidly becoming a requirement for being an informed citizen and a productive worker.
Whether your children are experienced computer users or just getting started, they need your involvement, your experience, and your judgment. This booklet is designed to provide you with basic information about how to use the computer to find information and communicate with others. It tells you what you need to get started on the Interneta vast network of computers that connects people and information all over the worldand points you to some of the many interesting, helpful, and fun resources available online for parents and children.
You'll find that the vocabulary of computers is taken from sources familiar to us. Computer language is borrowed from travel: superhighway, engine, cruising, surfing, navigating; from restaurants: menu, server; and from the environment: Web, mouse, windows, site. Computer vocabulary can also be descriptive of the movement or sound made to do something on the computer: to "click" or "drag" the mouse, for example. Other words come from words used for medieval manuscripts: icon, scroll, cursor. In the following sections, you'll find several key computer terms in italics. They are defined in the glossary at the end of this booklet.
You can see there is a great deal of variety in the thinking behind computers. Since the computer world is constantly growing and changing, there is some variety among different systems and software, as well. As you begin using the computer, you may notice some differences between instructions given in this booklet and the system you use. Feel free to experiment and explore.
You might want to use this booklet as a tutorial to help you learn. You can use the sites suggested in various sections to try out the computer. Remember, if you have questions, your children may know the answers. Don't hesitate to ask them. That's how we encourage our children to learn. You will find that your children, local librarians, friends, teachers, and others familiar with computers will be able to help.
Have a pleasant and safe journey down the information superhighway!