A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site allows parents to read a story to their child over the Internet, and requires that both adult and child have a broadband Internet connection, a Web camera, speakers and a microphone (or headset), and a Windows Live Messenger account.
What's it about?
Once both adult and child have installed MSN messenger, a Web camera, speakers and a microphone, the adult invites the child to Time for a Story to read one of a handful of Noddy adventures together. These books are targeted at young children so this would not appeal to a child over about age six. The adult sees the book with text – for reading aloud – and the child sees only the pictures in an interactive page, where she can click on images to make sounds. Both parent and child can see and hear each other, which is the real point here. If the child is very naughty, though, and can't stop clicking on the interactive bits on her page, the adult can easily turn those off from her location to help the child to focus on Noddy's adventures.
Is it any good?
Time for a Story is hardly a requirement for adults and children who are separated by long distances to connect via broadband video – any number of instant-message tools do exactly this -- but it could easily serve as a fun way to get a tech-reluctant grandparent or parent stationed overseas to come together online with a young child in a focused way. Though the image of the book is a bit small on the screen so an eyesight-challenged grandparent might find reading aloud a challenge. Once the two have connected and read through the rather small selection of books, they will still have the technology – and a comfort level using it -- in place so that they can connect again. And that, of course, is the idea here: To bring people who might otherwise choose a different chat client to choose MSN Messenger. It seems hardly enough reason, though, to drive that choice. Using a broadband video chat with a child is a great idea but a better place to start is probably with a tool you already use. If MSN Messenger is that tool, trying out Time for a Story is easy. But if you use AOL, Gmail, or Yahoo it hardly seems worth installing another chat client. MSN Messenger asks users to look at ads while using it. Other tools, such as Skype, do not.