Technology & Learning, November/December 1998, p. 10
An alternative to using filtering and blocking software to keep students from inappropriate material on the Web is to direct students to safe areas on the Internet designed specifically with kids in mind.
Jean Shields examined four of the most popular Web sites for kids and rated them on content and fun. She found that the sites fell into two categories: fun sites and work sites. The fun sites offer games, sounds, and other multimedia enhancements. The work sites are better organized and have links to material that could supplement curricular activities. Here are the pros and cons of the four sites the author evaluated:
Bonus.com: A fun play site that offers children ages 8-11 a place to play games, read up on entertaining news, and even color. Unfortunately, the navigation screen is embedded within the browser and results in a small viewing area. Also, the links to educational collateral materials are few and far between, and registration is required for the more fun features. (http://www.bonus.com)
KidsCom: Chat areas, quizzes, discussion lists, and multimedia games bring kids together on the site to form an online community that values creativity and communication. There is a lot of pressure, however, to submit personal information to the businesses who support the site. (www.kidscom.com)
Yahooligans!: Produced by Yahoo!, this site for children provides links to hundreds of online resources in categories that mimic traditional educational subject areas. The links on the site are selected by Yahooligans! editors who screen content for educational value and appropriateness for children. Thus, the site is a great place for kids to start surfing the Web. There are lots of links to current news and events. While Yahooligans! may not be as entertaining as some of the other sites, children will probably learn more. (www.yahooligans.com)
Kids Web: Another site that can help kids complement their classroom studies is Kids Web, and it has plenty of links to educational resources students will find useful. Produced by Syracuse University, Kids Web has a user-friendly interface, although it has even fewer fun things to do on it than Yahooligans. (www.npac.syr.edu/textbook/kidsweb)