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kid security software
With the growing popularity and wide-spread use of computers and the Internet, parents are searching for ways to protect their children from inappropriate content. KidDesk allows parents to pre-select programs and web sites and limit their children’s access to them.
Installation of KidDesk allows parents to create multiple private "desktops" (i.e. what a user sees on the screen), one for each young member of the family. Parents first ensure that they will have ultimate control of the program by password protecting the access controls. KidDesk can be chosen as the default desktop, opening automatically when Windows is started and exited from the access control section only (for maximum control), or it can be accessed from the Start Menu at will. Next, parents specify personal Internet configurations. Unfortunately, the Internet security features of the program work only with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0. Finally, parents add user names and choose which applications and web sites will be available for each child’s individualized desktop.
Once they’ve been created by parents, kids will enjoy personalizing their desktops. They can choose from a variety of fun background looks, including a sporty look, an outerspace setting and for girls, the ever popular pink and purple motif. Each desktop includes a nameplate, a telephone for creating voice messages (sound-input capability required), a mailbox which allows kids to exchange e-mails with other kids using the same computer, a kid’s calendar that can be updated and printed, and a picture frame that displays each child’s unique (and customizable) icon. Icons for permissible programs and web sites are also displayed on the child’s desktop.
Parents also set the level at which their child can explore each site. They can choose to allow homepage access only, or allow access to many differing levels of content provided within that site. Links to other sites cannot be pursued unless the linked site has been previously added to the child’s desktop.
Access to the Internet begins with a double click on a particular web site’s icon. This initiates the user’s dial-up connection. Once on the Web, kids can use only the KidDesk Browser. Web pages load slowly, and navigation can be frustrating. The browser does not allow kids to type in web addresses. Although it includes "back" and "forward" buttons, kids cannot move around between web sites unless they do so through a pre-approved link. Otherwise, they must close the browser and go back to their desktop to access a different web site. Our parent testers commented that, although these limits work with very young kids, they are limiting for older grade-school users. As one parent put it: "My 3rd-grader comes home from school each day with a list of interesting web sites given out by her teacher. Although they’re admirable sites, she can’t access them unless I first take the time to add them to her desktop." KidDesk users can also miss out on some of the fun options associated with web use. For example, one of our testers was upset that she couldn’t listen to music clips available on a music site that had been pre-approved by her parents because they lacked the foresight to also add Real Player to her desktop. Fortunately, this omission was easily resolved.
"Ease of use" depends on the parent's perspective. If your goal is to strictly limit access to just a few sites, KidDesk is easy to use. If, however, you wish to enable your child to access a steadily incraesing number of sites, based on their ongoing academic needs and increasing maturity, KidDesk will require ongoing and significant parental administrative involvement..
PC: Windows 95 or higher, 486/66Mhz or faster cpu, 8 MB hard drive space (plus 40 MB for Internet Explorer 4.0), 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), Super VGA, 640x480 (256 colors or more) display, CD-ROM drive for installation, Sound card, Microphone (optional).return to top of page
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