I am sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings here - but part of the reason for the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft is because there is no way to completely uninstall IE. MS mixed the code for the browser and the OS together, so you can’t really separate it from the operating system. The only kind of “uninstalling” that is allowed is reverting to a previous version, and if you haven’t upgraded your browser, there is no previous version to revert to.
I think this leaves you with the following choices:
Reinstall Windows: Pluses - you get a chance to clean out all sorts of cruftiness in your OS, which might make all of your work easier. Minuses - loss of time spent backing up all current files - loss of time spent reinstalling OS - loss of time spent in discovering that this or that piece of what you had on your old system didn’t get properly backed up. (If you follow this route, I would probably try to do it completely clean, which means reformatting the hard drive - in which case add to the minus side loss of time spent reinstalling all other software.)
Move to another browser: Unfortunately, Netscape 6.0 is, last I checked, best regarded as promising beta test software. I think it will be nice eventually, but it isn’t quite ready yet. I suspect that you could still find an old Netscape 4.X download or disk somewhere, but then you lose out on a lot of potential web experience. Another possible alternative is Opera, in which case you have to choose between the free version which has some kind of advertising window in it, and the version that costs (I think the price is somewhere in the $30-$50 range). I think Opera is supposed to work with all Netscape plugins, but there may be some web pages and/or sites that don’t work quite right.
This is pulling from fairly deep memory, but I think that, during the anti-trust trial, some people were able to go through a complicated process to remove IE from a Windows installation. However, doing that does have occasional odd impacts on future program installations - I think the demonstration was under Windows 95, and may not be applicable to 98 - and doing that, then reinstalling IE might not solve your problem (if the problem is buried in odd keys in the registry, they could still be there, so the Evil One would return as soon as you reinstalled IE).
If I were in your shoes, I would probably back up everything onto CD’s (which would require buying a CD burner if you don’t have one already) - then do a reinstall.
I would also give at least some thought to moving to Windows 2000 or XP (which would give you the ability to set up your kid’s accounts WITHOUT authority to install new programs if that seems necessary) although that comes at the obvious financial cost of the new OS, and the other costs of learning a slightly different operating system, and the possibility of some software incompatibilities (particularly, as I understand it, with games and kid’s software.)
Of course, adding to the already existing pit thread, or starting your own, might be a more satisfying response at this point, but I am afraid I don’t know any other solutions.