A college in Aberdeen recently advertised an evening class for people wanting to know more about microcomputers. There were twelve places available on the course, but over two hundred applications came in — mainly from parents wanting to keep up with their children!

Children are much more receptive to using computers than adults are. An adult, faced with a micro for the first time, tends to be rather nervous about touching the keys in case the machine is harmed; children, however, have few such fears. The easiest way for someone — child or adult — to become familiar with a microcomputer is simply to load a game and play it for a while. Then, the move towards learning basic programming skills can be made more confidently.

I have reviewed three educational programs this month, and they are all games which parents could profitably help their children play at home. A child or teenager working on an educational game alone needs a fair degree of motivation, and must apply a lot of concentration to succeed. The fifteen year olds who tested these games for me were initially quite happy to work by themselves without assistance, but after a short while I found some intervention was needed. We talked about the games, discussing the quality of the booklets, the graphics and so on, and then I was able to draw their attention to the particular educational features of the programs which I considered important. I would hope, therefore, that parents and teachers would be encouraged to get involved in the same way, helping the young person use these games to their best advantage.

Many adults today lament the advent of, first, the television, then the microcomputer, claiming that these inventions have killed the art of conversation. Now they have the chance to rectify matters by joining their children at the computer keyboard!