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PCs and Parenting: Tips for Making Them Perfect Together

(ARA) – You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Even if they already have one computer, parents may be intimidated by the prospect of networking it with another PC or other devices such as smartphones. Yet computers are rapidly becoming the hub of the home’s entertainment, scheduling and shopping activities. Parents may feel the urgency to keep pace at home with the technological world their children will encounter outside the house. Here are some tips for parents:

* Getting up to date on technology and getting online doesn’t have to be difficult. Home PCs are more user-friendly than ever, with a range of hardware and software options designed to be useful and fun for users at every level of experience.

* Keep security in mind, especially if you have family members who are new to the Internet. When getting your family online for the first time, you’ll want an operating system such as Windows Vista that provides parental controls and premium security features. Windows Vista Parental Controls allow you to track and monitor your child’s online activity and time, as well as help prevent him or her from accessing material you deem inappropriate. Also, be sure to set your PC to receive Windows Update, a free service that continually improves your computer, keeping it up to date, safer and more reliable.

* Educational features are important when choosing hardware and software, but don’t overlook the entertainment value of home computing as well. For example, with Windows Media Center, which comes standard on Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Home Premium, you can share photos with loved ones, access your favorite music and even record TV shows so you don’t miss an episode of your favorite programs.

* Although price will always be a consideration, the good news is the cost of technology falls almost as rapidly as the technology evolves. You’ll have no trouble finding a wide range of options, no matter what your budget.

* Many computer manufacturers are now making models that are sleek and stylish and fit into virtually any décor. For example, Dell, HP and Sony offer notebooks in several colors, including a vibrant red.

* It’s easier than ever to get online. Many manufacturers now offer desktop and laptop computers that are already equipped with everything you need to go online — and wireless — with just a few mouse clicks.

* Expert advice is easily available. Head to your local library and use one of its PCs to log onto sites such as Windows Vista Team Blog ), where you’ll learn about the numerous features and advantages of Windows, the country’s most-used operating system. Or check out the Windows site (, which offers information on the operating system, software options and the latest in compatible hardware.

Courtesy of ARAcontent