Bleg: Computer Alternative For Middle Schooler

Child #1 is in seventh grade. His school (my old school) gives a lot of homework and aggressively pushes writing. Good.

He has access to computers at home, but we think it would be helpful for him to have something he can use to work on assignments.

We're contemplating a Microsoft Surface. The original one is way down in price now that the new ones have come out. He doesn't need the latest and greatest apps. We're looking for something portable that he can use for word processing.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

Popehat Parenting Poll: Monitoring Texting and Email By Middle Schooler?

My eldest is about to start seventh grade at my old school. He now has his mother's used iPhone, and texts quite a bit.

We monitor internet use on the phone (we have a program that sends a weekly email — he's gotten busted for watching YouTube after lights out, but not for content), and reserve a right to review his email and texts. My wife exercises this right — the boy ducks his head and rushes from the room, embarrassed, probably because he's texting a few girls and has started to realize they're flirting with him.

So: how much do you monitor tech usage by that age group? After this question, I will go back to decrying the NSA.

The Girls of Fall

The return of the NFL is cool. Watching Stanford crush Duke is cool.

But not as cool as watching four-year-old girls, like a a pile of unusually undisciplined puppies, try to move a soccer ball down a field on a warm September day.

Bleg: School-Age Language Immersion Programs

A quick bleg: has anyone put a kid through a school-based language immersion program, particularly at the elementary level? If so, can you post your impressions of it, or drop me a line?

We may have an opportunity to put dear little Elaina, Destroyer of Worlds into a Mandarin immersion program at an elementary school two districts over. It would involve sacrifice (it's a drive, and she'd miss our community's elementary school, in which we are very involved). But on the other hand, it's an incredible opportunity to become bilingual in a language of growing importance and to connect with her cultural heritage.

Gosh, Online People Are So Charming

Yesterday my eight-year-old daughter schooled my sorry ass at Mario Kart Wii. She did so even though her strategy mostly involved deliberately crashing into hazards. The word "pwnage" was invoked. By her. Against me.

That's what my life is like now.

Evan's already a dedicated gamer. Abby's less hardcore, but with a family with so many gamers, she's bound to become one. But her experience will be different than Evan's, or mine. That's because she's a girl.

To illustrate what difference that makes, I offer you two sites: Fat, Ugly, Or Slutty, a blog that collects the sort of messages that women get online (as well as the sort of hate mail sent by people upset that women are collecting and posting such things), and Go Make Me A Sandwich, a blog that explores how women are depicted in gaming art, particularly fantasy gaming art (and, again, exploring how certain men react to anyone talking about such things).

So that's what Abby is looking at. Fortunately she's strong enough to handle it.