Wednesday, 19 March 2008 10:05

Saving the Internet, One Kid at a Time

Having been in development and beta for two years before officially launching this very moment, KidZui is a new restricted browser offering a sanitised view of the Internet for children aged 3 to 12.

April, the parent of beta-testing kids says “I love the fact that I do not have to sit right beside my kids while they are online to make sure they aren’t being exposed to garbage. The ease of use is great, the list of approved sites is awesome, and the fact that it incorporates learning sites into it is fantastic.”

Website statistics are amazing things.  My wife runs a small children’s product website and noticed hits coming from  Being curious, she connected to the site and found herself quickly in the middle of their beta program having registered and downloaded the customised browser.

Our five-year-old thinks it’s fabulous.  As far as he is concerned, it’s a huge list of favourites; all of which he loves.  Lisa Rebena, a parent whose child tested KidZui, adds, “My four-year-old logs into KidZui and navigates all by herself, generally doing what she pleases.  I am grateful for KidZui, and I’m much more relaxed now when my daughter is on the computer.”

The idea for KidZui came from co-founder Vidar Vignisson when he found himself struggling to manage the internet activities of his young children, after all how many websites can one parent discover and bookmark?

KidZui employs a team of over 200 teachers and parents to explore the web for suitable content which is categorised into (for example) Space, Science, Games, Amazing Animals, TV and Movies etc.  I assume that if I had a daughter, I’d see a rather different selection!  So far they have incorporated over half a million sites, pictures and videos and the list is growing rapidly. 

Since the site is targeted at children, it is highly visual in its approach.

Links and short-cuts are generally built as visual objects – the site abounds with pictures and other tools appropriate to the targeted age-range.  Additionally the wide range of sites has been grouped according to age suitability and linked to the child’s age as defined by the parent on registration.

Children are able to rate sites as they are visited, which gives weight to the “most popular” category.  Additionally, parents can still limit the content their children can see and also receive weekly statistics on activity.  Links embedded within approved sites which lead to non-acceptable content are blocked.

Intially free for a 30-day trial, KidZui will cost $US4.95 per month or $US49.95 per year.  This “charter membership” is fixed at 50% off for early adopters, at some time in the future new subscribers will pay double this amount.

Technically, the browser is a locked-down environment – users can only access other parts of Windows by logging out and exiting the KidZui browser.  We can only wait to see how secure the system will be once the “naughty lads of the Internet” get hold of it.  Here’s hoping this really will be an island of calm for our children.


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



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