- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2003

My 4-year-old son’s scalp has yet to be visited by pediculus humanus capitis, and I feel lucky. A few of his pals already have battled these parasitic menaces, more commonly referred to as head lice, which has led to a ton of worry and work for their parents.

A 20-year-old organization devoted to head lice has maintained a cyber-stop that offers help for parents and also gives youngsters a place to learn about and interact with these nasty critters.

HeadLice.org for Kids

Site address: www.headlice.org/kids/index.htm

Creator: During a two-week summer school program in Web design in 1997, the Just for Kids section of HeadLice.org (owned by the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) in Needham, Mass.) was designed by students in the Birmingham Covington School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and C.H. Smart Middle School in Commerce Township, Mich.

Creator quotable: “Just for Kids was designed by kids for kids. It provides valuable information in an easily understood manner and games that can be used to entertain and instruct. Children typically have a healthy curiosity on the issue of head lice, and the site helps them answer questions for themselves and have fun, too,” says Deborah Altschuler, president of the NPA.

Word from the Webwise: My head started itching the moment the site’s very purple front page popped up, featuring a too-lifelike mascot named Boss Louse.

The simply designed sections - Head Games, Animations, FAQs and Books & Poetry - will do very little to impress visitors looking for the latest Web technologies but will give them a chuckle as they learn about these small, wingless creatures the size of sesame seeds.

I started with FAQs and learned in the text-based presentation that lice feed on human blood, can live away from a host just 24 hours and can survive through normal daily shampooing.

Children wanting to see how these yucky fellows look will appreciate the Animations section, which offers two up-close videos of lice, two slide-show-type cartoons of the louse life cycle and a segment explaining how a brush can spread lice.

The Head Game section was a bit strange with its duo of arcade challenges starring lice. I enjoyed Hair Force One, which involves squashing quickly moving insects on the computer screen with a controllable comb. My gaming curiosity quotient peaked in Jail Louse Rock as I moved nits (lice eggs) from hair follicles to behind a comb representing bars while enjoying Elvis singing “Jailhouse Rock” in the background. An online quiz also can be found among the silliness to reinforce the FAQ concepts.

Only someone with a very twisted sense of humor, like me, could appreciate the words to the tune “Send in the Comb,” based on Stephen Sondheim’s famous song “Send in the Clowns.” Visitors can sing along to such lines as “thinking that all of the vermin around me were dead,” accompanied by a Midi instrumental to help them get their itch, I mean pitch.

Once a child plays the games for a few minutes and reads the FAQs, he quickly will be off to other sites providing much more entertaining content. However, considering that the pages were produced by schoolchildren, maybe a redesign could be in the works using another group of students to better capture the attention of today’s multimedia-enamored youth.

Overall grade: B

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]>washingtontimes.com)


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide