Blog Post

KidZui: No Pornography Here

The launch of KidZui could be viewed as just another social network for kids hitting the market, or it could be seen as a victory of real-live people over the mighty algorithm. Time and the company’s success will eventually tell. Over the last two and a half years, KidZui has paid 200 parents and teachers to manually filter the adult Internet, distilling the world wide web down to 500,000 sites appropriate for kids.

The KidZui Internet is accessed through a browser designed by the company to reflect a child’s point of view and levels of interest. The goal is to get parents of kids ages 3 through 11 to sign up for $99 annual plans or $9.95-a-month plans. Those subscription fees (no ads) will support a staff of editors who will monitor where kids want to go outside of the KidZui sites, reviewing and adding those that are appropriate.

It has social components, but KidZui aims to be broader than Webkinz or Club Penguin, both of which have received loads of media attention and have subsequently prompted the launch of dozens of me-too sites. It also seems to allow for a broader web experience than some of the filtering software products out there such as NetNanny and CyberSitter. KidZui’s founders include Clifford Boro, the former chairman of VideoEgg, and is backed by Maveron, the investment fund founded by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz.

As a parent, I like the idea and am impressed with the various features built into the KidZui browser; it’s something I’d consider signing up for once my kid is old enough. It would still enable her to watch her beloved YouTube videos of babies laughing, and it seems like a fun interface. As a journalist, I’m hopeful that KidZui can make it because it would proving that while technology can certainly help filter information, it can never replace that human touch.



11 Responses to “KidZui: No Pornography Here”

  1. Glubble works as a sort of kid-friendly protective skin over Firefox. There’s a smaller range of allowed websites, but parents can add new sites to the whitelist. One thing that I wasn’t too crazy about is the extent to which it is focused on the TV/Movie character-driven sites. Aside from the dangers of porn and predators and the like the supposedly “child-friendly” portion of the web has to be some of the ugliest in terms of marketing overload and extremely low signal-to-noise ratio. If this service does anything to improve that, it might be worth it.

  2. Vicky Enderfeild

    @Niki great to see an official Kidzui staff employee posting!

    One question from me too please, you say Kidzui is “unique, unlike any other product out there” so in what way does Kidzui differ from other subscription model kids browsers with walled gardens like buddybrowser, kidrocket, or Surfmonkey?

    I’ve tried them all and they too claimed an editorial army and hundreds of thousands of safe sites, to be honest I found them a bit too open to all sorts of stuff for a Christian family like ours.

    Anyway that’s my one question I’d really like get your insight from the inside because I’m using a kid browser from at the moment, but I’m looking for something better.

    Vicky, Internet super mom battling the forces against two tiny tots!

  3. Ricardo Figueiredo said: What happens when the SPAMMERS start targeting this site? It has to run on an Algorithm as any other engine right?

    Search for “Google’s Porn Problem” on Google and read the articles that come up and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    I wanted to comment on this comment. I am one of the 200 editors and I can tell you first hand, spammers can’t get in. It is not like you launch IE or Firefox and go to a website. It is its own self inclusive browser for kids. There is no ability to Alt-Tab functions to go else where, no copy and paste, it is so different and awesome for kids. It is not like AOL as another person said. It is truly different and unique, unlike any other product out there.

    There were/are so many of us who spent countless days/weeks/months sitting infront of our computers watching videos in their entirety waiting to find one thing not kid appropriate. One, just one, cuss word and it was gone, one bit of racism, it was cut. It is the most creative and fun way to filter with OUT Algorithm’s out there. The only filter is the blocking of certain words being searched upon.

    Check it out, if you have kids in the ages of 3-11, have them check it out too. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

  4. Stacey Higginbotham

    @Werner, scale is the question and good points on the internationalization of the site.

    @Dave, at the upper end of the age range, it may be difficult to keep kids locked in, but I don’t know all that many five year olds who want to visit porn sites. Having seen the site, it’s got a lot of the stuff kids will likely want and the capability to adapt as a new Miley Cyrus rises in popularity. It’s a walled garden, but it’s a large and entertaining one. I hope that by the time kids want out, they’re almost too old for it anyhow.

  5. as a parent, this idea TERRIFIES me – what draconian measures will content suppressors dream up next? this is absolute nonsense, pretending that this hasn’t done before…

    hello – HELLO? do you remember when AOL tried to build a wall around the internet? how did that turn out? exactly.

    this is no different. and kids are clever, and they’re clever younger, and so they’ll find the sidedoor within minutes if not hours or days…

    the real solution: talk to your kids, explain what various content types mean, govern usage, follow ideas that work with young children (e.g. we have a ‘no computers in rooms’ rule, laptop remains in plain view in living room, anybody using it – kids – know that adults walk by, or others walk by etc)

    plus kids will think it’s lame, the same way they’re losing interest in club penguin…

  6. What happens when the SPAMMERS start targeting this site? It has to run on an Algorithm as any other engine right?

    Search for “Google’s Porn Problem” on Google and read the articles that come up and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  7. Interesting concept, though my question is how well this can be then scaled up to include other countries, considering points that Parents in India may be a little more conservative than Parents in USA.
    But this is a great start, with respect to user search, just that paid user search, seems a little out of sync compared to a Wikisearch idea..