The Internet is a vast place, and it's easy to get lost and end up in the "bad part of town." Kid-friendly web browsers have curated content so that there is no bad part. They help children find the content they're looking for while steering clear of less savory pages.
In general, these kid-friendly web browsers aren't designed to stop kids from accessing certain information (kids can usually open another browser and use that instead). Rather, they funnel your children towards... child-friendly options and remove the chance of accidental exposure to inappropriate content.
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Google has launched its own kid-friendly Web browser, called Kiddle. Instead of the Google search site adults are know, with its minimalist design, Kiddle presents a colorful space-themed page with a search bar. Thumbnail images for search results are large and the so is the text font used to make it easy to read.
Kiddle features three tiers of search results. The top results (usually the first 1 to 3 shown) have been curated by Google editors as safe sites for children and are pages with content written specifically for kids.
The next 4 to 7 search results are also ones checked by Google editors. The content on these pages is still easy for kids to read but may not be written specifically for kids.
Results 8 and higher are sites written for adults but are informational and written by experts. The content may be more advanced for young kids. The content is filtered by Google SafeSearch, which blocks inappropriate or explicit images.
For parents who are worried about their child's data being collected, Kiddle states that "we don't collect any personally identifiable information, and our logs are deleted every 24 hours." You can read more in their privacy statement.
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The KidSplorer browser provides a number of different features. The browser uses a database of kid-friendly sites which parents can fine-tune based on their own preferences. Parents can even choose which pages on site their children can visit. There are time management options to help limit the time online. KidSplorer will also block the use of other browsers or lock out other programs entirely.
Download KidSplorer (Windows only) for a free trial to see how it works for your family. The full version is available for $29.99.
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Pikluk is an Internet browser and email system for kids. Parents have control over which websites their children can visit, as well as with whom they can exchange email messages. The drawback is that parents must approve each website and email address individually. If you want to restrict your child to a handful of websites, this is great. If you want them to be able to search through kid-friendly sites for information, it's not the ideal choice. The browser can also be set up to lock out access to the rest of your computer.
Pikluk is available for Windows and is free to use with one child account. For multiple accounts, families will need a premium subscription.
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The ZAC browser is the "Zone for Autistic Children." Created by a grandfather for his autistic grandson, Zachary, the browser is designed to simplify the process of browsing the Internet. ZAC locks out certain functions, including the right mouse button and the ability to close the browser, which makes it less frustrating for children who struggle with fine motor skills. It has set access to certain websites, videos and games, which have been specifically selected for young people with autism. Although ZAC is geared towards autistic kids, parents will find that the controlled environment is appropriate for other children as well.
Currently, ZAC Browser 5 is under development. You can sign up on the website to be notified when it will be available.