CSR Issue: January 2001
You would think that CD-ROMs, with all
their amazing multimedia and data-holding capabilities,
would be the perfect medium for an all-purpose family health
reference. (You know, something that you'd use to get more
information on that weird-looking rash little Mikey
.). When we went looking for such a program,
however, we came up empty-handed. The best selling CD-ROM
set right now is DK Multimedia's Family Medical Reference
Library, but this is sadly dated (copyright 1997!). The
Merck Manual of Medical Information Home Edition
(McGraw-Hill) is no better. It's not very family friendly,
easy to use or comprehensive. So, where do we go for advice?
Books are great, to be sure, but expensive. We suggest
turning to the web for your family-based health advice. Here
are some outstanding sites to get you started.
This site offers a wealth of information. There's a
pediatric encyclopedia to look up symptoms and treatment,
videos on child development, special sections devoted to
Kids' Health and In the News, and more. We found information
on orthodontia, toilet training, drugs, chickenpox-- you
name it, it's in here.
Features of this comprehensive health site include a great
quick search function, plus sections called Ask an Expert,
Parenting & Pregnancy, and Food & Nutrition. You can
also keep your own health records online.
We especially like the Answers From Mayo Specialists section
of this web site. Also handy are its first aid pages and its
Diseases and Conditions database. The site is a great place
to get educated if you or a family member have been recently
diagnosed with a particular health condition.
I have just been reading your
most recent issue (January/February 2001) and was staggered
that you recommended three commercial web sites to keep kids
healthy, none of which are focussed on children's health. As
director of a pediatric consumer health library, I can
certainly suggest alternatives, starting with KidsHealth at
which has sections for parents, for teens, and for kids. The
parenting section contains infectious diseases information
on 75 diseases, complete with symptoms, when the child is
contagious, what to do, when to call the doctor, etc. There
is a section that describes children's development at
different ages (motor, sense, language, etc.) and has
descriptions of various lab and imaging tests, together with
lots of safety information. The sections for kids and teens
teach many health and healthy behavior concepts (smoking
stinks, scoliosis, how the kidneys work, when someone you
know is thinking about suicide, etc.). There are no
intrusive ads, or hidden underwriting from drug companies,
and the site is entirely focussed on kids'
A better, more accurately descriptive
title for your list of three commercial sites would be
Keeping FAMILIES Healthy. When I saw "Handy Health
Resources" on the cover of Children's Software Revue,
I really hoped you were going to review children's health
software, which is information I could use. I was
disappointed to see you pushing these web sites when I find
it so difficult to find good health software for children,
and even harder to find good reviews. Recently I have
acquired Airtopia (asthma education game for kids), Kidz
with Leukemia (another teaching game), and I would like to
know more about the Starbright Foundation's software.
Children's Software Revue is rarely helpful to me in
this area. There is plenty of software to be tested and
reviewed; please stick to what you do best!
PS. If you are interested in health web
sites for kids, there are some good ones, like
Healthfinders' Girlpower: Bodywise, Bandaids &
or Kidd Safety (http://www.cpsc.gov/kids/kidsafety/).
None of these are commercial. A general consumer health web
site that is really valuable is MedlinePlus at
Brenda R. Pfannenstiel, Kreamer Family
Resource Center, Kansas City, MO
We appreciate the feedback and recommendations. Keep in mind
that just because a site is "commercial," doesn't mean that
it's automatically bad. With regard to your question about
STARBRIGHT, we tested STARBRIGHT Life Adventure Series:
Diabetes CD-ROM (for Mac or Win) in 1998 and gave it 4.5
stars. Designed for children ages five to thirteen with
diabetes, this CD teaches kids how to properly manage their
disease. The game takes children through a day in the life
of a child with diabetes, showing how blood sugar levels are
checked, how to inject the insulin and how daily activities
are affected. Features include 3D navigation, exercises,
arcade games, quizzes, and narration in both English and
Spanish. Please let us know about any other products that
you'd like us to review.
Minimizing "Slipped Disk"
It's an eternal problem; losing CDs, that is. One solution
that's worked like a charm for us is to give each child
their own, clearly labeled CD wallet. It's affordable ($6),
portable, and keeps CDs safe from dirt and scratches. It
also makes it easy for your child to find the disks she
wants, encouraging her independence with the computer. PS.
It also works for adults!