Saturday, June 06, 2009

From My Column on Dad-Blogs, Yahoo! Kids Review

I have two girls, ages ten and six, and both of them are somewhat online savvy for a child. Now as a parent I tend to be overly protective when it comes to what they look at online, and what sites they can visit. It is my hope that by writing this column, you will discover with me, websites that are family friendly, for both your kids and yourself. For this first column, I would like to write about a site I looked at today: Yahoo Kids.

According to Yahoo's FAQ, the site is geared towards kids ages six through twelve, and attempts to deliver the best and safest content on the web. You may remember the site originally as "Yahooligans!".

At first glance this site is very appealing, with lots of vibrant colors, clearly defined areas and for this parent, it seems safe. I decided to try and see how safe it is.

The first thing I did was to try out the search feature of the site, and began typing in some words, one at a time that I would not use around kids, much less adults. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the words brought back no results, not even a hint of what the words represented. So far, I was impressed with that feature alone. Also, for the safety of the kids, all of the content is screened by "real live human beings", again according to the site FAQ.

The next thing I looked at was the Parents link. When the link is clicked, a warning popup appears saying that you are entering the parent's area and that you should only do so with your parent. That I do like, but I am a little disappointed that a kid would be able to go on to the parent's section, simply by clicking on the Continue to Parent's link on the popup. The parent's area is mainly used for things like movie reviews and postings by parents, for parents, such as you would find in any forum. There were some subjects that kids might find difficult to grasp, depending on the age, and there was one questionable word, but other than that, I wouldn't be too upset if my ten year old arrived at this section.

As I have one child entering fifth grade, and the other moving up to first, I looked at the study section next. This is a section that impressed me as well. According to Yahoo, the study section's Directory has more than 10,000 kid-safe websites that are accessible for study. Among the other study aides is a kid friendly World Fact Book and a kid's answer section called Ask Earl. There are several answers to hundreds of submitted questions and your child may also submit questions to have answered. However, you should talk to your child, in that the question may not be answered due to the volume of questions received.

There are other sections to this site, including Games, Music, Movies, Jokes, Sports, Horoscope and ECards.

The games section includes flash based games for the kids to play and game previews for games that can be purchased. The jokes section has many clean, appropriately aged jokes that kids will love. As of last count, Yahoo claims more than 2000 jokes. The movies section includes clips from current kid's movies and DVDs that play in a popup flash player. The sports section includes clips of kids playing sports and flash based sports games. The ECards section is just what it says it is. Your child can type in the first name of a friend and that friend's email address and click send. Yahoo claims it does not keep the email addresses.

The last thing I want to say about this site is the fact that it appears a very safe site. According to Yahoo not only is all content thoroughly researched and scrutinized, but so are any of the people that Yahoo promotes on this site. The Yahoo FAQ sites an example of this, using their music section.

"When new artists make a splash, we thoroughly research their background, song lyrics, photos and videos at Yahoo! Music. If they pass muster, we'll add them to Yahoo! Kids-but we're not finished with them yet. When new music videos are available, we read the song lyrics to be certain they are child-safe; if so, we watch the entire video to be sure all visuals are appropriate. Only then do we add the video to Yahoo! Kids"

Now, if you do find something that you believe is objectionable, Yahoo asks that you report it immediately.

I firmly believe that the Yahoo Kids site is one that is very kid and family friendly, and one that I personally have no problem allowing either of my daughters to use. Check it out!


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