THE SPECTRUM and ZX-81 until now have been children's playthings so far as many parents are concerned. With the availability of a new book which aims to provide an introduction to computers or parents, that situation may change.
The book is Kids and Computers, The Parents' Microcomputer Handbook, by Eugene Galanter. It first takes an adult through the history of computing to explain why computers are so important and what effect they have in our lives.
The opening chapters state that if children are not computer literate to some degree they are illiterate as far as education in Britain is concerned. That is true to some extent and the author argues the case strongly in the chapters which follow.
He stresses the good points of using a computer. Using a keyboard will prepare a child for typing skills which may be required in later life. They will learn that the computer does not tolerate spelling mistakes in programs, so the child will have to spell correctly. The child must also solve problems in small, logical steps.
The book shows how the parent can become involved in the learning process without taking away the feeling of achievement from the child. There is even a computer development chart showing the average ages at which children assimilate computer skills. The learning process can start at about five years of age when the child becomes used to the keyboard and is able to locate characters on it.
It is an excellent introduction for parents who want to know why their children spend all their spare time in the bedroom in front of a computer keyboard and screen. It is available from Kingfisher Books and is an inexpensive hardback costing £5.95.