One of the hardest things for kids these days is the lack of access to a social network of their very own - like a Facebook for kids. The world is fast becoming centered upon the idea of social networking for business, work and fun. However, for kids the concept of interacting with other people online is one that makes most responsible parents very nervous.
The danger of most social networks is the idea that a perfect stranger from anywhere in the world can send you a message. For adults, this isn't quite as dangerous because experience helps adults separate the good from the bad. On the flip side, children are naturally naive and tend to believe whatever people tell them. Because of that, they are vulnerable to the manipulation and fabrications of dangerous online criminals known as child predators.
One website that comes to the rescue is Koini
Koini Parent Sign-Up
If you want to give the Koini browser a try, it's very easy. All you have to do is sign up for a parental account. After passing through a credit card verification process, you'll find your Koini parent dashboard where you can add your children's accounts.
The verification process is a critical part of the safety at this site, because every member must go through the same process. While this confirms that at least every account has a responsible parent associated with it, it also requires that the adult provide personal contact and credit card information. This would tend to scare away most child predators, because they usually seek anonymity while online.
The Koini Browser
When you first launch Koini, it takes a few minutes so launch because it also goes through and shuts down all external IM systems on the computer and prevents any IM popups. This means that so long as you've enabled Koini while your child is using the computer, there's no possibility they can communicate via IM with anyone online. The only interactions will be through the heavily monitored Koini community.
Shutting Down IM Systems
The application icon pops up in the system tray, and when it is finished automatically disabling all IM communications, it pops up with a window letting you know that the computer is protected. The only way to disable the Koini Browser once it's in this state is with the parental ID and password - so make sure your kids don't know it!
The browser itself is fairly standard, but peppered throughout the application you'll discover important ways that your children are protected. When you first run the application, they can't just type in any website address. To start with, they can click on "Koini Sites" and browse through a long list of pre-screened websites offered by Koini staff. However, if your child wants to access additional websites, they'll need to ask you permission so that you can add the domain permission to their account.
Adding a website is as simple as logging in, clicking on "My Kids Sites" and then "Add New Site". Once you add it and submit the link, it exists in your child's "safe list" and they can access any page on only that domain.
The Koini Club
Probably the most well developed aspect of this application is actually the online website offered called Koini Club. This "club" is actually a well-made, carefully thought out social network for kids that actually look like a perfect Facebook clone for kids. To sign up with the club, your child will go through a three step process. The most important step is that they can invite their own friends to sign up with the community so that they can communicate via the social network.
Facebook for Kids
The layout of this social network is almost identical to Facebook. There is the status field where your child can offer updates to their friends about what they're up to. Under that are the different areas including a whiteboard, that's like a forum to have a conversation with friends, and "Kwips" which is sort of a Twitter clone for kids. Approved friends can submit friend requests or your child can request friends. Overall, the system is so locked down that it's nearly impossible for strangers to find their way into your child's online activities.
On top of all of the other protections, the community is also self-policed. If anyone sees anyone say or do anything that might be offensive, questionable or otherwise inappropriate for children, they can click on the "Report Abuse" button and immediately report the person to Koini staff for review.
Monitoring Your Child's Activities
Best of all, from the parent account you have full visibility to see what your child's online activities look like. You can see all friend requests, monitor usage statistics, and even review the entire browser history of every site that your child visited.
Koini offers an impressive way that parents can help their children enter into the fun and exciting world of online social networking, while also maintaining the peace of mind in knowing that their children are well protected and safe from harm while spending time online.
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