I’m going to start a new feature here on Techydad: Freeware Friday. Every Friday, I’ll post a short review of a piece of freeware I’ve found that I think is useful to have. I’ll try to avoid the obvious ones that nearly everyone knows about like OpenOffice.org and FireFox (at least for now) in favor of applications that might be lesser known.
This week, I’d like to highlight KIDO’Z. KIDO’Z is a web browser aimed towards kids. Why do kids need a special web browser, you might ask? Well, young children, just being introduced to computers, might not know that they can go to the address bar and type in (for example) Noggin.com to get to games and activities on Noggin’s website. Even if they do, they might misspell it as Noginn.com and wind up at a completely different site. KIDO’Z, in contrast, is extremely easy. Children merely select Games, Web Sites, or Videos and then select what they want to see. Except for any Games/Websites that require keyboard input, all controls are handled by the mouse. Nice, large, easy-to-understand icons are used for controls (with text for kids who know how to read).
The KIDO’Z team is constantly striving to improve the program. They’ve recently added Parental Controls so parents can better control what their child sees. You can block sites that KIDO’Z would normally show to the children (useful if, like me, you have a philisophical opposition to all things Barney) and can add your own sites (like a webpage of family photos).
It’s not perfect, mind you. Due to the limitations of the platform it was designed on (Adobe AIR), it can’t block kids from CONTROL+TABing to another program. It can’t keep kids from closing KIDO’Z, firing up Internet Explorer, and browsing to a site you’d rather they didn’t go to. However, it is very good at giving children an easy to use first browser that puts fun and informative content a few clicks away. I would definitely recommend this for any computer that a child would use.