This free program helps parents keep their children, even ones as young as two, safe on the web.
Kids Web Menu 1.4 is an interface that you can install for use on your Windows PC. The software works by limiting children to visiting only pre-approved websites. Parents can choose what websites the kiddies can visit, and password protect their selections. Once running, the interface cannot be minimized (parents can click in a special area to get out of the program), so the little ones can’t go browsing around the computer. The manufacturer promises that kids can play online without any supervision.
Kids can navigate through the approved sites by one of two methods, or themes: a scrapbook in which the websites appear as pictures, and a 3-D building block theme.
What do I think of this? Well, truthfully, I have a Mac, so I can’t the program out in real time. From the looks of it and reading reviews and comments, I think the software has both positives and negatives. On the positive side, the application allows parents some peace of mind and toddlers the chance to safely explore the computer while mom or dad are otherwise occupied. The software is also free, so there doesn’t seem a reason not to try it out. There are learning opportunities in websites such as Sesame Street and the Cartoon Network.
On the negative side, I would say that it is geared for ages 2 through 4 or 5. Older kids will quickly get bored with the interface and find it too simple. Personally, I don’t advocate allowing children that young on the computer alone. Computer activities at this age should be shared with parent or caregiver, who can guide, encourage and delight with the toddler or preschooler in his or her exploration.
The big negative for me is that you can’t choose your own websites from anywhere on the Internet. Kids Web partners with the sites it makes available, and there is plenty of advertising within the interface. Since Kids Web advertises that children can play online unchaperoned, then I assume that the marketing is aimed at them. And our kids already get enough marketing messages thrown at them, in my opinion.
The bottom line? Try the application out for size and see if it is something you enjoy with your kids. To download Kids Web Menu, Click here.
Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.