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Kids make the net their own

Here's proof that the young are becoming masters at shaping the internet. Martin Wroe samples some eye-opening websites about to win an international award

It was an origami cockatoo that did it. When I noticed my son, head down over several wads of paper, deep in concentration, folding, bending, shaping, periodically glancing at the screen, it dawned on me why the internet is uniquely stimulating for children. It invisibly fuses education with entertainment to give learning a kind of techno-cool.

Wes, 11, was navigating his way through a site called www.oriland.com — promoting origami for kids — and studiously creating a 3-D paper parrot. True, he is quite switched on when it comes to model-making, but it was still a surprise to find that 7th-century Japanese paper-folding was proving a match for the skateboard or Game Boy.

This Thursday in Paris, Oriland is up for a prestigious prize in the annual Cable & Wireless Childnet Awards (www.childnet-int.org). Now in their fourth year, these awards acknowledge a powerful, if unsung, driver of web activity — the fact that children are uniquely at home online, not least because they have no conception of a pre-internet world. This year's awards pull together outstanding sites from across the globe, and after five weeks of judging involving both a children's panel and international judges, 11 will win prizes and 18 of them will be commended. The creativity of the nominees is striking...

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The Sunday Times
March 31, 2002, "Culture" section, pp 49-50


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