Web Browsers For Kids

Nowadays, the Internet has become an everyday tool in our lives and in our children lives. Parents face a mission of protecting their kids in the cyber world. The Internet has become the playground for many young children. Young children, from age two, use the Internet to play games, learn, socialize, interact with each other and much more.

There are many sites that are suited for kids, even from young age, but surfing the Web is not such an easy task for them. Young children (2- 6 years old) encounter problems when they try to surf the Web since their language skills are limited. Most browsers are not suited for such young children and they need their parents help in order to use them.

Since browsers are the gateway to the Internet, young children find themselves limited in their ability to use the Web. The solution for many parents is to sit down with their young children when they use the Internet and help them in their first steps in this virtual world. It is a great solution-it is not recommended to let young children to surf alone without adult supervision. Parents can use this time to teach the child guidelines for surfing the Internet. The problem with this solution is that some parents don’t have the time to sit with their children when they use the Internet on a regular basis. Also, many parents are not knowledgeable in suitable safe websites for kids.

This problem was recognized by a few companies which are trying to create browsers for kids. In general lines, kids’ browsers provide a gateway to the Internet suited for young children, allowing them to surf to websites that have content that is suitable for their age. These browsers function as enclosed environment protecting the young users from Internet threats. Most of these browsers are offered as a service in return for a license fee or annual fee.

A few examples for kids’ browsers:

  • KidRocket – This browser is freeware. KidRocket blocks out the entire internet and only let the browser access limited, child-related websites. It also has a feature of Email for Kids with Art/eCard attachments and a feature of time lock for limiting a child’s time on the computer. Its requirements are: A PC running Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP or Vista and Internet Explorer 5 or a higher version.
  • KidSurf – This is a basic filter browser that allows parents to control the content their children are exposed to when they use the Internet. You can purchase a license for this product for a fee of $5.99 USD. Parents can choose from a list of websites or add their own websites to the browser favorites. There is also optional password protection of parents’ desktop and parents’ setup screen and a usage timer that parents can set to limit their child’s online time. Its requirements are: Microsoft Windows. For best results we suggest a broadband connection (Cable or DSL).
  • Kidzui– It is a very popular kids’ Web browser. Kidzui Web browser allows children to surf only to suitable websites and also offers access to games and videos. Kidzui also is being offered as an add-on to Firefox browser. Kidzui company states that their directory has more than 800,000 sites and suited for kids 3-12. Each child that uses Kidzui can choose an avatar that represents him/her in the browser. Kidzui is offered free, but there is a charge for premium services. For a free account users can:
    • Access suitable content
    • Create their own avatar – Zui.
    • Be a member in the community and make (parent-approved) friends.

    For a free account parents can:

    • Add individual websites.
    • Get access to parents account.
    • Get emailed reports of their kids’ online activity.

    For a payment of $7.95 USD/Monthly or $39.95 USD/Semi-annual or $29.95 USD/Annual –
    Users can:

    • Get over 100 new Zui clothes and accessories.
    • Get over 40 new backgrounds.
    • Watch as friends come online and share new stuff.
    • Say Hi to their friends.
    • Set their mood activity to tell their friends how they feel.
    • Create their own channel with favorite content.

    Parents can:

    • Block individual websites.
    • Get kids’ online activity graphed for 90 days.
    • Get unlimited history of their kids’ activities.
    • Add favorites to their kids’ accounts.
    • View their kids’ top interests by their online activity.

    Kidzui requirements are:

    • Intel Pentium III 500MHz or faster processor.
    • Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Windows Vista or Mac OS X.
    • Internet Explorer 6.0 or later or Firefox.
    • Adobe Flash Player 9.
    • 512 MB of RAM or more.
    • High Speed Internet Recommended.
  • KidThing

    Kidthing offers a work environment for children, which has interesting and educational content. It is different from kids’ Web browsers because Kidthing creates its own content. It uses the Internet, but it is not a Web browser. Kids can use this product without being connected to the Internet. After downloading the software the kids have access to limited number of activities. Parents can add content by purchasing additional content such as, books, games and videos available for a fee of 3-10 USD each.

    Kidthing requirements:

    PCs running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

  • Kido’z

    Kido’z Web browser is currently free. In the future, the company intends to charge for premium services. It is a Web browser that allows access only to content which is suited for children ages 3-7. This Web browser offers content that was pre-filtered to suit children, games, videos and YouTube for children. Parents can add their own content to the system. They can also decide to share this content and have it reviewed by the company editors. If it is found to be suited, it is added to the product directory for the use of other members in the community.

    A few of its features:

    • Supports 17 languages.
    • Exit Control protected by password so the child will not be able to leave the safe environment.
    • Daily Time Limit function.
    • Automatic Customization of the content based on the settings of the child’s account such as, gender, age, language, nationality etc.
    • Video Search.
    • Content Ratings – parents can rate the content and view other parents’ ratings.

    Kido’z requirements:

    KIDO’Z uses the Adobe AIR runtime and can be installed and used on every system for which AIR is available. These are the recommended requirements by Adobe:

    Windows

    • Intel® Pentium® III 1GHz or faster processor, 512MB of RAM.
    • Recommended: Pentium 4 2GHZ or faster, 1GB RAM.
    • Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise including 64 bit editions, Windows Vista SP1, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition SP2 and SP3, Windows XP SP2 and SP3, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows 2003 Server.

    Mac OS X

    • Intel Core(TM) Duo 1.83GHz or faster processor; PowerPC® G4 1GHz or faster processor.
    • Mac OS X 10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.4 and 10.5.5.
    • 512MB of RAM.

    Linux

    • Intel® Pentium® III 1GHz or faster processor, 512MB of RAM.
    • Recommended: Pentium 4 2GHZ or faster, 1GB RAM.
    • Fedora 8, Ubuntu 7.10, openSUSE 10.3.

Websites for Tweens and Teens:

Tweens (=kids ages 10-14) and teens have developed language abilities and they usually surf freely without the need of adults help. Differently from young children, they are not limited in their abilities to surf the Web. Sometimes they are more Internet savvy than their parents.

On the other hand, they still need to be protected when they use the Internet. Studies have shown that Internet parental control software has limited success in these age groups so it can not be a sole solution. Parents strive to protect tweens and teens when they use the Internet, educate them about Web ethics and warn them of Internet threats.