A SpongeBob-approved netbook for kids

Computers just for kids are nothing new, but usually they’re from big toy and media companies. Now a “real” computer company, Dell, is coming out with one – and it even looks age-appropriately slimy. “Dell has taken one of its Inspiron Mini models – essentially, a basic netbook computer – and allied with Mr. SquarePants’s television network to create the Nickelodeon Edition,” the New York Times’s Gadgetwise blog reports. Apparently, the (plastic) green-slime look was SpongeBob’s idea. The Times adds that the Nick-edition netbook will probably cost a little more than the basic $300 model, which goes on sale in October at Wal-Mart and Dell’s online store. Online safety is a big focus for this product, Newsfactor.com reports. It says Dell’s saying “it’s safe for kids to send and receive email and chat with new friends. The system includes a 15-month subscription to McAfee Family Security, which provides comprehensive parental controls to carefully direct and monitor kids’ online activities.” Of course it will have Nickelodeon content, but there’s a strong educational focus too, with Dell’s partnership with Whyville.net, a virtual world for kids 8-15 that will have an animated link right on the netbook’s screen. See “Dell nurtures a virtual life for youngsters” at CNET for details on how a virtual world can make learning about nutrition a lot of fun. Here’s Whyville’s five-minute video tour on YouTube.

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