WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1999
Gwinnett Daily Post
-LIFESTYLE
Software to thwart hardened youngsters
By Laura Marshall
Staff Writer
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As the father of two young children, Sarathi "Srini" Srinivasan became concerned when youth consistently began to make headlines for committing major crimes. As president of Norcross-based Spectrum Software Inc., he decided to do something about it.

Through the Spectrum Multimedia division of his company, Srinivasan produced a CD-ROM interactive series, "Dee Cee Dreams," which teaches and reinforce values to children between ages 3 and 8. Using an animated glow-worm narrator named Dee Cee, the software addresses principles such as right and wrong, honesty, integrity, courage, tolerance, respect and friendship.

"The major motivation almost a year and a half ago was all these shootings happening, along with several kids trying to cheat Wal-Mart [at] the cash register," said Srinivasan, 37.

While he admits there are many negative influences in the world which can distort a child's ability to choose between right and wrong, Srinivasan believes instilling values early can combat the outside forces. "If you instill these values at a very young age - 3, 4, 5 years old - it is easy to influence their thoughts," he said.

Drawing from experience with Vinay, his 5-year-old son, and Meghana, his 21/2-year-old daughter, Srinivasan selected an easy-to-remember name for Dee Cee. He chose the moniker as both a phonetic reversal of CD and because it sounds like the letters many members of his target audience are learning. According to a 1996 report by the American Medical Association, children in the '90s spend twice as much time learning from the media as they do from combined time with parents and teachers each year.

Disturbed by the abundance of violent interactive games and deficiency of ones which reinforce positive traits, Srinivasan is developing eight additional products in the "Dee Cee Dreams" series to add to the recently released first volume.

"Every CD comes with two stories and two activities," Srinivasan said. "The first CD has one on friendship and one on honesty, both from traditional Aesop's fables."

Each story ends with a song and a game to reinforce the lesson. In the game, children must decide between right and wrong choices to win. If they choose incorrectly, the narrator points them in the right direction. Additionally, each screen contains items the child can explore, like hidden animations. Coloring is another option, either electronically or by printing a hard copy of Dee Cee.

Srinivasan developed the software with so much child-friendliness in mind, adults do not need to be present to supervise. A lock option prevents the child from going to the wrong screen or erasing other programs on the computer. Additionally, because children unable to read will be using the program, a pointing hand directs youngsters to the next screen, rather than words.

It is the hope of the successful entrepreneur that his product will help make the world a better place.

"I have done very well, but I also feel like I would like to contribute something back into society," Srinivasan said.

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