Let Junior Log In

The internet can be a dangerous world,but here are some browsers to keep children safe.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Published:January 30, 2011 1:44 pm

The internet can be a dangerous world,but here are some browsers to keep children safe.

Life as a school-going student is much easier these days,thanks to the internet and other advances in technology. A project report means half an hour of copy and paste,or online “research”. Today,10-year-olds come up with papers that might put graduates to shame.

Children in urban India are finally making full use of their access to information technology. From using websites to add to their general knowledge to keeping a tab on their favourite stars,children use the Net as a study tool and entertainment device all rolled into one.

A recent survey conducted in Delhi schools by Yahoo! found that children in the 8 -12 age group are hooked to the internet for web searches,email,games,messaging etc. However,the survey also brought to light that most of these children,as well as those in other age groups,were not aware of how to use the computer safely.

This worries many of us. Every time I see a child using the Net,especially when he is doing a search,I fear he will end up seeing something he shouldn’t. This is a very strong possibility as most search engines and websites are becoming intuitive.

But there are browsers which let children explore and exploit the internet without being exposed to its seamy side. These browsers cater to children specifically,and allow parents to decide what their wards will do on the Net.

Kizui
Once open,this browser limits the user’s access to other files on the computer. But there is lots here that will keep children happy. Customised buttons,cartoon sites,videos and games are just a click away. Even YouTube,a favourite with kids of all ages,has a dedicated slot,but the browser allows only videos that are child-friendly. A bar on the right displays the most popular online games; this is a thoughtful addition considering that on a regular browser,searches for games often lead to adult content. While the results and intuitive suggestions are sanitised,the browser does not limit your child’s quest for knowledge.

The browser also gives parents a lot of control. Once a login has been created,it will generate weekly reports of your child’s internet behaviour. It lets you set the age of your child to make the content more relevant. Plus,there is the option of firing up Kidzui at the start and setting a password to log out,so that the browser becomes your child’s only access point to the computer. But I am not sure children will appreciate this intervention,especially if they have songs and movies saved on the hard disk.

Pikluk
This browser seems paranoid about protecting children. Parents need to log in to even download the browser,then they have to set the amount of freedom they would like their child to have on the Web. But the browser lets children access an email account,after filtering the mail for spam. Pikluk has a very attractive,yet clean,interface that will definitely keep children interested. It lets its young users partake in creative activities while online and does not limit them to games and cartoons. I especially liked the Make a Movie app. It also lets children have their own login for the browser,a necessity in multiple-child households.

Kidrocket
I found this browser to be child-friendly,but not particularly useful if children intend to do something productive. The browser,however,gives easy access to many shows and videos,though mostly from PBS. The interface is very interesting,with a toggle dial in the middle,which lets users flip through the top shows,games and other kids’ stuff. The search bar,which is a small link at the bottom,will take you to the contents on the PBS kids’ website. The interesting part of the browser is the art and maths sections that allow kids to play around with colours and numbers. The browser also lets parents keep a tab on what their little ones are up to,but sadly there is not much they can do on this browser.

KIDDY OPTIONS
* Buddy Browser: Allows teachers to set up browsing sessions for children
* Noodle Net: Allows age appropriate browsing. Installation not necessary,can also be accessed online.
* Peanut Butter PC: Good,but cuts off children from using other facilities of the computer.

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