Kidzui is a new web browser designed for kids ages 3 to 12 years old. Rather than operating from a filtering mindset, Kidzui is trying to build the internet for kids from the ground up. Content is reviewed by an editorial staff of teachers and parents, running 24/7 and adding new content each day.
The site launched yesterday and my 8-year-old beta tester had a great time exploring the Kidzui environment. The "stickiest" features of the site involved creating a "Zui" avatar, which collects points as kids browse and rate videos, photos and other content. There is also a social networking aspect to the site that I have also not had the chance to explore, since the site is brand new.
Kidzui is starting out by offering access to "over 500,000 websites, pictures and videos." That may not sound like a lot of territory compared to the entire internet, but as a parent it feels good to know that there is a browsable universe that is populated with content screened to be appropriate for kids. Without Kidzui, many young kids are allowed to visit a few sites but are not allowed to explore beyond them. Browsing on Kidzui feels a little bit like visiting a park contained by well-defined borders. If the park is run well, parents can relax a bit as they give their kids latitude to roam.
Web content on Kidzui is screened for basic appropriateness, but not necessarily educational quality. Kids rate the sites and the most popular rise to the top of the ranks. Among those are many very commercial sites, such as Nickelodeon, Polly Pocket, and Webkinz. I have not had a chance to thoroughly explore the parental customization options, but Kidzui says parents can customize the browser based on which topics and sites they deem appropriate for their families.
Kidzui itself operates on a paid subscription model, with a 30-day trial period leading into a $4.95 a month charter subscription, $9.99 a month regular subscription. This model makes sense to me, knowing that the site requires constant editorial updating, and Kidzui wants to keep the site itself ad-free.
If you have young kids who are ready for browsing--with training wheels--Kidzui is an interesting environment that can appeal to kids and parents alike.