Kids and computers

While it’s *relatively* easy to get young kids to turn off lights once they are finished using them, getting them to turn of the computer is another matter.

A typical desktop computer uses around 130 watts of power, so it’s not inconsequential. Even if you have power-saving options turned on; it can still drag on the juice – standby and phantom power loads contribute up to 10% of electricity consumption in US homes.

I received an email a few hours ago from Doug Hannah, a student at Stanford University Design School, who is working with a team that’s trying to help families incorporate environmentally friendly computing into their lives.

They’ve recently developed a tool to greatly simplify the process of shutting down a computer. One of the problems with getting children to switching a computer off *properly* is not only that it can be complex for young ‘uns, but it’s, well, boring – not fast enough. Click on this, wait, click on that, wait again.

The Stanford team have designed Turn Off Tool, an application in an easily understandable format for children – all it takes is one click on the sleepy moon image and the computer will hibernate or completely shut down depending on the setting you specify.

You can set the application to start up when your computer does or launch it yourself when the kids get on the computer so it’s ready for them to use when they are done. It seems like a small thing, but all these little lessons help our children learn to become good environmental stewards.

The application is free and you can download it from