Software Programs, Technology Security

The Fun of Being a Tech Savvy Kid

Kids used to want a bicycle, an Etch-a-Sketch, and a quarter for the  movies. Now they want a Razor, a TouchPad, and an MP3 player. Times have changed. Devices and entertainment modes have gone high tech and children are paying attention.

Along with access to the internet and email comes parental concerns about their kids? privacy and safety. Several companies are responding and offering “kids only” environments. They come with cute names such as ZillaDog.

ZillaDog has designed a safe e-mail account environment for children called ZillaMail. The unique feature is that it is totally controlled by the parent with a parental password. Parents set up the Buddy List of email address that the child can communicate with, and a BCC (blind carbon copy) of every message.

In addition to great spam filters for incoming mail, parents can see messages before they are delivered to their child. A profanity filter of common words and phrases that you can customize with your own entries is included, along with a personal information filter to keep your child from innocently giving too much about themselves away. The company proudly claims its compliance with federal COPPA Children Online Privacy Protection Act.

ZillaMail for kids almost looks like Dad?s e-mail interface
ZillaMail for kids almost looks like Dad?s e-mail interface

ZillaMail has an intuitive message panel with font formatting, spell checker, emoticons, and the ability to send attachments. Basic use is free. The upgraded e-mail account includes a safe chat room, unlimited Buddies and ZCards, their version of birthday, invitation, and general greeting cards. Monthly, annual and multiple child accounts are available. Annual runs only $19.95 per year.  Right now you can win an 8GB iPod Touch for registering.

The ZillaDog home page keeps access to games such as Kung Fu Panda and Frogger; movie trailers, such as Rio and Judy Moody; music from Kidz Bop or Radio Disney; and websites such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Club Penguin and PBS Kids. Children can also access their Webkinz pet through ZillaDog.

A brick and mortar organization, the Boys and Girls Club of America, offers an on line Club Tech Digital Arts Suite in conjunctions with Microsoft that teaches members ages 6 to 18 how to create computer-generated art. Club Tech consists of five tutorials: Web, Design, Photo, Music, and Movie. Each year the Design Tech Festival announces winners in each category. Click here to see the best from several years. If you prefer to attend a physical club, the Clay Tech members  work in groups to create clay characters and storyboards, then they film and edit their own movies.

To learn more about keeping kids safe in this new world filled with spam, hackers, and wondrous Internet magic , visit iSafe where they teach Internet safety education for youth.