What’s worse than Snakes on a Plane? Infants on your Mac. If you must wreak havoc on your Mac’s lifespan by exposing it to children not yet in school, try the highly inappropriately named KidsMouse.
Teaching responsibility to an infant is a major challenge with major rewards. Assuming you’re willing to let them use an older Mac, you need the simplicity and elegance of KidsMouse. It has little to do with a mouse for children.
KidsMouse Is Not A Mouse
Simply put, KidsMouse is not a mouse—it’s a game that teaches children, specifically very small children, how to use a mouse. And a Mac.
Our household has an old white MacBook which serves as our family computer. Me and my husband are off limits, except for occasional system administrator work.
You know, like wiping off fingerprints, vacuuming for crumbs, removing jelly stains. The usual.
We also provide the kids with a Mighty Mouse. Don’t fret. It’s a hand-me-down mouse programmed to use just a single button. Which needs cleaning every three days.
KidsMouse Is Not A Game
If this nifty little application isn’t a mouse and it isn’t a game, what is it? It’s software for very, very small Mac users, pre-school.
If the motor skills are such that they can hold a mouse and get it to point to very large icons on the screen, then you’ve given your child a tool to learn. KidsMouse teaches point and click, alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, and a puzzle.
The startup screen is simple and each of the so-called games can be invoked with a click, though most require an additional click for sub-menu games (click on an image for a larger, pop up image).
If you’ve been using flash cards or spending hours pointing at different objects and trying to elicit a response from a child with the attention span of a nat, then you have my sympathy. KidsMouse helps to automate some of that effort, and gives children the opportunity to do what mom and dad do on their computers.
For example, when they click a specific icon on the home screen, they get another screen. Alphabet. Numbers. Shapes. Colors. Animals (shapes). And so on. Clicking on each will get a sound to match. Red. Red. A. A. Easy, right?
Sure, KidsMouse teaches kids how to use a mouse (Mac or Windows PC). It also teaches children to identify alphabet letters, numbers, shapes, and more. It can also act as a digital coloring book. That’s right. The old MacPaint paint bucket is alive and well in KidsMouse.
Yes, you’ll be tempted to see if you can stay between the lines, too. It’s easy. KidsMouse is quite nice, and a welcome relief for small children who don’t understand or appreciate mom and dad’s attempts to shield their expensive MacBook Pros from prying fingers and regurgitated lunch.
The Good And Not So Good
First off, KidsMouse is worthy. It’s not much money and it will keep your pre-schoolers occupied for minutes at a time. Maybe hours.
Second, KidsMouse is Flash, so it runs fine on your Mac (assuming you don’t have a digital allergy to Adobe’s Flash), but comes with a couple of caveats.
Remember that your Mac, even an old one, is not childproof. Whatever damage adults can inflict on a Mac, children can do it faster and with far less remorse.
The sound effects are cheesy, difficult to hear, and not all that well pronounced—so be prepared to turn up the volume. Yeah, maybe I’m just a little hard of hearing after three children in five years, but it’s an affliction I bear with pride. Like marriage.
Then, there’s the background music. Honestly, it’s digital loops music that will make you go loopy. Or, loopier. Your children may not notice, but after two hours of hearing the same drum beats over and over and over, I had my kids as items 1 through 3 on a Craig’s List garage sale ad.