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.

First look: KidZui’s kid-centric ‘Net a mixed bag

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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