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Re: [vox] Web Browsers for Kids
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Re: [vox] Web Browsers for Kids

On Thu, 2006-12-21 at 10:09 -0800, Dave Margolis wrote:
> I don't know of a way to get off of pbskids.org and onto an offensive  
> site.  On the other hand, nickjr.com has all sorts of ads that can  
> lead the kids to all sorts of new, questionable places - such as the  
> sites for McDonalds and other (IMO) nasty corporate sponsors. The  
> place you start off really makes the experience work.  pbskids.org  
> and yahooligans (kids.yahoo.com) have proven themselves to me as safe  
> places to start.  I've been frustrated with most other kid-oriented  
> sites.  For example, my 8 year old likes lego.com, but that site has  
> both the new window problem and the offsite link problem.

Yes, our experience with pbskids.org is very, very good. I think we
currently limit them to that plus one or two other sites (I don't know
which: my wife Sara's usually doing this) that are also good at not
offering links to offensive sites (or sites from which one can
eventually get to such).

> No technology can replace direct supervision.  I'm not preaching  
> here; I've learned this through a lot of trial and error, always  
> having to resist the urge the plug the kids in and go do something  
> else.  That doesn't mean you can't get some work done on your laptop  
> while you glance over every now and then to make sure they haven't  
> found their way over to onto some other site you don't like.

I'm frankly not sure that's an option for us. Usually they are accessing
the web while I'm at work, and Sara always has plenty to keep her busy
in other parts of the house.

I'm not sure I agree that technology can't act as a foolproof
safeguard... obviously, it can't work against an older child who is
deliberately working to get around it (I know this quite well, having
been that "older child" in the past ;) )... but obviously, a
restrictive /etc/hosts with no name resolution, possibly combined with
very restrictive firewalling, would make a /quite/ effective tool for
restricting access to specific sites. Of course, that sort of
globally-applied restriction isn't quite what I want, but there should
be a way to do the same thing for a specific application/user.

> This whole scenario has become more of a problem as my older son has  
> become able to take real advantage of the power of the "real" tools  
> like wikipedia and Google.  Instead of giving him my layman's  
> definition of what DNA is (this is real example from this morning),  
> we look it up together.  Sometimes this kind of exercise requires  
> braving the less kid-safe sites...

Well, yes. And at that point, I agree that direct supervision is the
only reliable means of ensuring that your child steers clear of unsafe
sites, until he or she is familiar enough to avoid them on your own
(unless, of course, you're worried about what sites they might
deliberately visit).

> > I'd also be very interested in a desktop environment built for  
> > kids, so
> > that they can pick their favorite apps, but can't interact with the
> > desktop or delete files accidentally.
> I second the vote the Kiosk tools in KDE.  I built a very specific  
> and refined e-mail station for my mother-in-law out of an old laptop  
> this way.

I will /definitely/ check into that.

Micah J. Cowan
Programmer, musician, typesetting enthusiast, gamer...

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