Aside

Siri’s Friend

We were all watching the movie version of¬†Charlotte’s Web when the topic of the narrator came up. ¬†I thought the narrator was Bob Newhart. ¬†Kit said it was¬†Sam Shepard (she as right). ¬†Molly asked what we were talking about. ¬†We said it was the voice talking off screen that you can’t see. ¬†Molly said the narrator is probably¬†Siri’s friend.

Siri actually comes up more than you would think in our daily conversations. ¬†Claire and I like to try to stump her or faze her, but she is unflappable. ¬†Claire even gets to be mean to Siri sometimes, which is probably fun since she isn’t mean to anyone else. ¬†And we can always make fun of poor Siri for lazily falling back to “I found this on the web for you.”

Siri just wants to help.
Siri just wants to help.
Angry Birds

Angry Birds

Angry Birds
The birds want their eggs back from those mean pigs!

After a couple of years of playing with mildly entertaining video games and websites, Claire has now gotten into her first real game. ¬†Her favorite game is everyone else’s favorite at the moment: Angry Birds! ¬†This is a great action/puzzle ¬†game that is often pretty challenging. ¬†We were a little hesitant to let Claire get “into” video games, but I think there are some good things about it. ¬†Angry Birds clearly requires logical reasoning and lots of experimentation. ¬†It also requires patience and persistence, which, in my opinion, are just as important as reading/writing/math. ¬†Personally, I would rather see Claire attacking a tough Angry Birds level than passively watching TV. ¬†Both need to be in moderation, of course.

Claire doesn’t get a whole lot of time to play. ¬†She squeezes in a little time between school, family time, errands, play dates, etc. ¬†She mostly plays in the car when I’m driving her to pick up Molly after school. ¬†Once we pick up Molly, I have to reclaim my phone. ¬†The two girls tend to swap toys and things in the back seat, and I do not want my precious iPhone in Molly’s hands — or mouth, or thrown on the ground — as tends to happen. Claire occasionally plays at home too, but she can’t wander around with my phone or give it to Molly. ¬†Yes,¬†I’m pretty protective of my phone. ¬†I’m trying to nudge her into the free web version.

Angry Birds - 3 stars!
Claire is always proud of her 3-star victories
The Power of Advertising

The Power of Advertising

Claire has suddenly developed an opinion on how we should do the online backups for our home computer. ¬†This morning, after watching TV with her breakfast, Claire approached me and said in a serious voice, “Dad, I think we should use carbonite.com. ¬†That way if you lose a file, you can, like, restore it.” ¬†(The way she said “restore”, you could tell this was a new word for her, or at least a new usage of that word.) ¬†Clearly, Claire was doing her utmost to be helpful. ¬†I said, “Thanks for the tip, Claire. ¬†I’ll keep that in mind. ¬†We already use something like that called Mozy.” ¬†Claire’s response was, “Okay. ¬†But maybe we should change to carbonite.com.” And then she wandered off to get dressed.

If you ever doubted the value of a TV advertisement, as I do from time to time, then let this be a lesson. ¬†It sure worked like a charm on Claire. ¬†I am not in a hurry to switch to carbonite.com, though, since it means weeks of uploading all our data to the new service, which means weeks of slow internet access. ¬†Trying to think how to frame that for Claire…How about, “That’s a nice idea, but it would mean¬†learning.com¬†and¬†starfall.com¬†would be really slow and annoying for a while.” ¬†That just might do the trick.

Computer Claire

Computer Claire

In the past, Claire has had only passing interest in computers and video games.  She had tried some Wii games and mildly enjoyed Wii Music and Wii Fit, especially the Yoga exercises.  And she kind of likes playing some non-competitive kids games on the iPhone and iPad.  But seemed to find most games frustratingly difficult, and did not have much interest in the big desktop computer, our iMac, with its tricky mouse and keyboard.

But Claire has recently discovered the joys of playing web-based kids’ games on the big computer.  Her interest seems to have grown since kindergarten started.  She has computer class once a week and has gotten comfortable with the mouse and keyboard.  She says the hardest part is logging in.

At home, she started playing web games related to books and TV shows.  She started out with Fancy Nancy and moved on to Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan on Nick Jr.  Since Kai-Lan, Claire started exploring other games on Nick Jr, including Dora the Explorer and Fresh Beat Band.

Kit and I were concerned about a couple of things with this new enthusiasm for the computer.  One was that all her “clicking around” (as we say) and generally messing the computer could delete/damage/send/export our stuff.  She could delete a file, send an unexpected email, post gibberish on Kit’s Facebook feed, and so on.  So we set Claire up with her own account where can’t touch/delete/damage/send/export our stuff.  She likes having her own account and always logs into it to do her games.

We were also concerned about “exploring” the internet in general.  But the computer is right here in the loving room where we can see what she is up to, and the account has some nice parental controls built in.  Claire really just sticks to nickjr.com, etc. so this has not been a problem so far.

We were also concerned about how much time she would spend on the computer.  But on weekdays, she only has about 30 minutes of free-form time to herself before bed, and she often uses that for computer time.  She just doesn’t have more time available than that.  On weekends, she has more time on the computer, and much of that is borrowed from time she would otherwise spend watching TV.  Personally, I prefer seeing Claire do mentally active, creative computer games over sitting, just watching TV anyways.  Let’s exercise those brain cells!  This is within limits, of course.  If Claire is like me, she may one day want to stay up all night doing “computer”, which is not always a good thing (yawn).