Here are some Web sites where children can surf safely
THE safety issues surrounding children who provide personal details of their lives in online social networking Web sites such as MySpace and others, has been well publicized in the press.
Fortunately the demand for child-friendly online communities has spawned several new Web resources that cater exclusively to this market.
The only caveat is that with some of these sites you have to pay a nominal fee. There are others which are free, but generally you get what you pay for.
» One of the newest is called Imbee.com, which is a blogging and social networking site designed for children 8 to 14 years old. The company requires users to have their parents sign them up for the site. The aim of their technology is to make certain that no one else assumes the identity of a child and becomes a possible danger the end users. They have a beta program right now that you can sign up for free.
» Another company, Thinkronize, has been around since 1999 and has created a child-friendly search engine called netTrekker for K-12 schools. The object is to keep kids away from unsuitable Web sites as well as ads and pop-ups. It features 180,000 Web sites that have been pre-screened by a team of 400 educators. NetTrekker (www.nettreker.com) also has a home version (netTrekker Home), which costs $9.95 per month.
Then there are the freebies.
» One of the oldest and largest is AOL. Parents can create logins for their children that restrict access to sites and features for children. There are also ways to prevent accessing material other than AOL, so that kids can only access content you allow.
» Yahooligans (yahooligans.yahoo.com) has been a perennial favorite of educators and industry experts. It has a variety of links to games, music, animals, science, jokes, movies and "cool sites" that have a great deal of educational value. For example a random look at the "Latest Cool Sites" included a review of a PBS show called "Big Apple History," an article on gardening and a story on recycling.
» Another great Web site you can trust is the Librarians' Internet Index, www.lii.org, a publicly funded Web site. Every Thursday morning they send out a free newsletter, "New This Week," which features dozens of high-quality Web sites carefully selected, described, and organized by a team of librarians. Topics include current events and issues, holidays and seasons, helpful tools for information users, human interest, and more.
» Finally, as an engineer, I'm partial to the National Science Digital Library (www.nsdl.org), which is funded by the National Science Foundation. It focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It has wonderful resources for students and teachers. For science students, I can't think of a better place to surf.
Kiman Wong is general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org