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The Independent Culture
Before the election, New Labour was all for throwing computers at our children, but how many PCs do you see in nurseries or playgroups? How are tomorrow's school students going to cope with the global world of the next millennium if they are starting big school unable to pull down a menu? We are in danger of raising a lost generation.

One of the main obstacles to digital literacy is the mouse. Pointing and clicking come naturally to toddlers, but not together. What they need is a sort of mime interface, in which a crude imitation of adults' actions in front of the screen drives the program instead of crashing the machine. In "Reader Rabbit Toddler" (The Learning Company, Windows, pounds 25), which is aimed at children aged 18 months to three years, a selection of simple games can be played by pressing any buttin on the keyboard, or moving the mouse without clicking it. The design is generic and the games are not remarkable in themselves - colouring in a picture by passing a "magic" crayon over it, lining up three animals of the same kind in a row - but the great thing about it is that a very small child can make it do things without parental help. It isn't an automated minder for pre-mouse children, because conventional clicking is needed to select the games, but it's just right for the "no, I want to do it" stage.

After that, there's "Reader Rabbit Preschool" (pounds 25), for children aged from three to five, "Kindergarten" (pounds 25), for four- to six-year-olds, and new this month, "Key Stage 1" (pounds 25).