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KidZui: A Safe Way for Kids to Surf the Net?

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How realistic is this safe-web concept?

Lori Getz: If my review was solely based on how easy KidZui is to set up, I would give it a 10. Kudos to you, KidZui, on a fully integrated system that is set up with ease. Just a quick bit of advice: make sure you wait for two e-mails to hit your inbox, one to confirm the setup for your child, and another to set up the parental access.

little girl using laptop

OK, let me review the rest ...

Reporting: This is my favorite feature of KidZui. Every action is visible and sent to your inbox as a report. If your child tries to access a website that is restricted by KidZui, you are notified. If you choose to allow them to access the site, you can unblock it from anywhere you can access the web.

The Look: My 7-year-old niece loved the look. I had a hard time with it. There is so much going on, but it didn't seem to stop her from diving in and locating the games she wanted to play. She also enjoyed tagging videos and sharing them with friends. The fact that KidZui limits this type of communication to other KidZui users is interesting. Even though we are limiting their ability to share personal information, we are still encouraging 3-year-olds to communicate with strangers. I don't quite understand that. I would have preferred that KidZui create a system similar to the sub-accounts within e-mail systems. That way, before a child shares anything with another online user, that person must be approved by the parents. I think KidZui missed the mark here. I always tell children to bring a notebook to school, camp, or on a family vacation to collect the screen names of people they know face-to-face. That way they can add them to an address book or buddy list and know who they are talking to online. KidZui allows users to search out anyone and add them as a friend. I typed in a random name and immediately connected with a 6-year-old child.

Membership: I'm not really sure how necessary this is. If you want to use the Homework Helper, you need to become a member. For this feature, I think membership is beneficial. But how important is it that you be able to customize your avatar -- enough to pay for the right? I don't know about this one. There are lots of free educational sites out there, but I guess if the contained environment is what you need, then it's worth paying for.

A few more notes: None of the pictures can be saved to the desktop, and the image quality is not great. This is great to eliminate copyright infringement, but stops students from using pictures in a report under the fair use act.

How realistic is this safe-web concept? I think it is a great tool to introduce the Internet to its youngest users. But because of the limited search and poor quality of images, I don't see school-age children really adopting this system.

Overall, I like the concept, but I think it is most appropriate for the very youngest of users, maybe 3-6. After that, I would look to more realistic options, such as using the filtering systems within your operating system and talking to your children about what you deem appropriate. Remember, just because you are using safe-web at home doesn't mean they will not be exposed to the Internet other places. These tools need to be followed up with a conversation! For more information on parenting in the digital world, please visit yourcec.org.


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