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Online Museums Aim to Captivate 'Xbox Generation'

Any parent concerned that the hottest new video games are the only activities that can hold a kid's attention can take heart. Young adult fantasy novelist R. Nimmo says parents actually can encourage learning by combining children's computer skills and their fascination with fantasy-themed games. A great place to start, he says, is by logging on to the Web sites of the larger science and natural history museums. "Today, museums are increasingly using their online presences to appeal to the level of sensory stimulation - to say nothing of the interactivity - demanded by the 'Xbox generation,'" said Nimmo, an expert on entertainment for children and young adults.

Nimmo says museums are bringing their collections to life for online audiences by offering an exciting program of online stories, games and activities. That's good news, he says, for parents looking for an educational way to keep "Tomb Raider"-obsessed kids entertained. "The big draw with myth-inspired games like 'Tomb Raider' - especially for younger players - is that they can go on epic quests through ancient lands while doing battle with assorted mythic beasts," Nimmo said. "Museums' online activities let kids explore similar themes based on actual history instead of pure fantasy." Nimmo - whose latest novel, "The Ancient Egyptian Ennead," is set in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs - has posted on his Web site several links to and descriptions of museums with the best online presences, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum.

He says virtual museum-going has several advantages, including: * Economics. "Going online to any museum is easy - and it's free," Nimmo said. "You can visit the world's great cultural and archaeological treasure houses all from the comfort of your own living room." * Access. "If you live somewhere remote or have a large family and travel is a chore, virtual museum-going can be a huge advantage," Nimmo said. "Online access provides a fun and practical alternative. And best of all, there are no queues to see popular exhibits or to use the restrooms!".


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