KidZui and Padded Walls
The Internet is a major part of our day-to-day lives, and that’s not going to change. That makes getting children comfortable with computers at an early age a priority for many parents, but the question of how to do that safely is a major one… and where there is a question without a clear answer, there is money to be made. A new service called KidZui (“The Internet for Kids”) claims to have the answer: you don’t filter the existing Internet, you create a whole new one. The downside: your children are the captive audience, and one company controls what they see. The result: the ability to monetize that relationship appears to be be too tempting to pass up. Unlike other kid-centric services like Webkinz, KidZui doesn’t have a demarcated section for ads, meaning that when children think they’re simply surfing for information, they’re being told what to look at. At a time where it’s more important than ever to teach how to look at information critically, KidZui blurs the lines in very disturbing ways.
There’s bits and pieces about KidZui floating around the webosphere of info (found this one courtesy of fantabulous Ypulse).
It’s a nice idea for concerned parents, and despite the claims about monopoly over content – the purpose is there.
For me… although I’ve always been one to demand quality in safety, environment, and experience for youth… I can’t help but worry about the whole avoidance of the real internet.
‘Avoiding education’ may be a strong reaction/definition on my part, but that’s my ultimate fear. I understand wanting to know that your 8 year old is safe playing a game on the net, while you step away to empty the washer and dryer… My worry is – what happens to that kid at age 13 playing on the computer at a friends house, or when they stop subscribing to catch-all browser nets? Do they still have the tools they need to arm themselves? Or have they developed the blinders to overlook certain content?
To me – the most important thing is raising net savvy kids, a healthy computer interaction, demanding quality environments for kids, holding the internet community at a higher level. Maybe I’m asking too much, and it’s just easier to pad the hell out of your kids’ environment?
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