We practically all use computers these days, so there's lots of research about how we use computers, including some that says girls use computers differently from boys.
I decided to find out for myself, so I took an unscientific survey of the two fifth-grade classes at my school, Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary. I asked the kids how they use computers and video games.
Most fifth-graders say they spend time on the Internet or playing video and computer games. Most kids like video games: 29 out of 49 kids surveyed like video games, or 59 percent. The other 20 students prefer using the computer: playing games, surfing the Internet and sending e-mail.
Of the 20 who prefer computer games, 17 are girls. "I think boys like video games more than girls because boys like competing, racing and violence," says Nica Bello, 10. "Video games have competition and can be violent. I think there are more video games made for boys."
From personal experience, Steven Nokutis, also 10, agrees that girls are more likely to be computer users. "I have a sister who likes the computer. She likes it because you can go on the Internet and e-mail. I think most girls like using computers for the same reasons."
One computer game that girls like is the Sims, where you work and take care of yourself to stay alive. "My favorite game is Sims. I enjoy it because you control, feed and care for the animated people; it's like real life," said 10-year-old Jena Cummiskey. "It almost feels like you're God!"
Sims is a game made by the creators of Sim City. You make your own neighborhood of Sims, or characters, giving them personalities, skills and appearance. Sims can have any of 10 possible careers, including acting, politics or a life of crime. Sims have feelings too! Special interactions let your Sims make friends, have conversations or even fall in love. You make your house and choose from more than 150 objects to furnish it.
"My grandpap got me Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? for the computer," says Marshall Wheaton, 10. "He usually shops at Radio Shack and Wal-Mart. Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? is my favorite game. The object of the game is to save the world by catching criminals (who test your geographical knowledge by darting from country to country). My favorite part is catching the criminals. I play Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? two or three times a week."
Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation got high marks because of the great graphics and adventurous story lines of the games. Boys say sport games such as Madden 2001 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater are cool.
Sixteen fifth-graders say that they prefer the hand-held Nintendo Game Boy. They can carry it around because it's small and lightweight and the game cartridges are small. Some fun Game Boy games are Pokemon Pinball, Pac Man and Perfect Dark.
Where do kids shop for computer and video games? Many fifth-graders say they find their favorite computer games at stores such as Comp USA, Radio Shack and Best Buy. Some kids say they also find games at the mall and at Blockbuster. A difference appeared between boys and girls: Girls tend to shop at the mall, and boys shop around.
Surfing the Internet is a girl and boy thing, although more girls than boys surveyed use the Internet frequently. Girls say they like music and celebrity Web sites, and a lot of girls are e-mailing.
"My favorite Web site is the Harry Potter site (http://www.harrypotter.com). I don't go on the Internet very much, but when I do I have a lot of fun," says Rachel Jelnicky, 10.
According to the survey, boys are on the Internet a few times a week. Boys like sport sites, car sites and http://www.lego.com.
The favorite site of Kaleb Cantrell, 10, is http://www.ign.com. "On www.ign.com, I look for game ratings, prices of games and summaries of games. I'm on the Internet once a day."
He also likes http://www.planetnamek.com. "I like to look at video and movie clips on www.planetnamek.com. You can also buy video games, televisions and things for your computer."
One sure result of the unscientific survey of Tarpon Springs fifth-graders is this: Kids are very knowledgeable about computers and the Internet.
Ally Sikora, 10, is a fifth-grader at Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary School.
I reviewed the Pokemon Silver version for Game Boy Color, made by Nintendo and Game Freak. I wasn't sure if I would like the game because I only liked the Pokemon cards when they were popular, and that was a while ago. Turns out Pokemon Silver is pretty fun. Here's how it works:
First you need to set the clock and pick a name. I picked Silver. Then you need to choose your first Pokemon. I picked Totodile, a water Pokemon. You can even give your Pokemon a nickname. Totodile's is "Bud."
The object of the game is to catch all kinds of Pokemon and fill your Pokedex, which contains information about your Pokemon. To catch Pokemon, you need Pokeballs. You can buy Pokeballs at stores in the game and also find them in the woods when you are exploring to catch wild Pokemon.
You also want to become a Pokemon master. A Pokemon master catches all Pokemon and can defeat city gym leaders. Your Pokemon need to battle a lot to become strong enough to defeat city gym leaders. In the game, you can battle against friends, gym leaders and wild Pokemon in the woods.
To keep your Pokemon strong, you need to give them berries. You can use an antidote to cure a poisoned Pokemon or a Bitter Berry to cure a confused Pokemon. If a Pokemon faints during battle, you can take it to a Pokemon Center, where a nurse heals it.
Pokemon Silver is fun and adventurous. I give it two thumbs up!
_ ALLY SIKORA