||This article's introduction may be too long for the overall article length. (July 2010)|
|Founded||San Diego, California, United States (September 1, 2006 )
|Founders||Cliff Boro, Thomas Broadhead, Vidar Vignisson|
|Headquarters||2448 Historic Decatur Rd. Suite 105, San Diego, California, USA|
KidZui is a web browser designed for children developed by KidZui, Inc. The KidZui browser uses a Zooming User Interface paradigm to make browsing easier for children. Search results appear as scaled down images of websites, videos, and pictures that children click on to zoom in and see content. Children can also browse by category without typing search terms. The KidZui browser does not access the open Internet. KidZui uses teachers and parents to screen content and maintains a database of approved URLs. The KidZui browser can only access URLs in the approved database. KidZui claims to have over 800,000 approved websites, pictures, and videos available. Children build avatars called Zuis to represent themselves online. They earn points for web browsing and use points to gain levels and buy clothes and accessories for their Zuis. Children can share KidZui content with friends online. To add a friend online, children need to know the friends Zui name. There is no online directory of Zui names, so children need to get their friends Zui names offline in order to add them. Friends also need to be approved by parents before they become available in the browser. KidZui also tracks children’s Internet usage and sends reports to their parents on what their children looked at online.
KidZui began development on the product in the summer of 2006. After beta testing, KidZui was offered to the general public on March 19, 2008. The KidZui browser and basic reports for parents are free. KidZui makes revenue through a paid membership program. Membership gives kids additional features like more available clothing and accessories for Zuis, more background and themes, and the ability to get to higher levels with points. Membership gives parents more reporting capabilities to track their children’s online activity, and more ways to customize the KidZui browser for their children.
KidZui is designed from children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. KidZui has a focus on children’s online safety, but they also try to expand the content available to children online. Rather than solely using filters, KidZui trains and enlists parents and teachers to search out content that is appropriate for children even if it was not designed expressly for children. Websites that have been reviewed and approved by KidZui can carry a KidZui seal of approval that indicate the site’s content is appropriate for children. Websites that carry the seal agree to abide by KidZui’s content guidelines. Kid Zui is also a prize on the 3rd round on the Nickelodeon game show BrainSurge.
History and development
KidZui was started in 2006 when Vidar Vignisson was frustrated because he couldn’t find a safe and easy way for his own children to use the Internet. Vignisson joined with Cliff Boro and Thomas Broadhead to found KidZui. Vignisson was frustrated by the approach of existing technologies that were available at the time; online filters helped keep out dangerous content, but could only be used in conjunction with adult browsers, which are hard for children to use. Existing children’s browsers were easier to use, but had access to very small amounts of content. Vignisson, Boro, and Broadhead set out to build an easy-to-use children’s browser with access to a large and diverse set of online content and activities.
KidZui began beta testing with children in 2006. KidZui was released to the general public on March 19, 2008 to generally favorable reviews. The original release of KidZui required a paid subscription. KidZui experienced some early criticism for not offering a free version of the product. The company released a free version on June 4, 2008. The free version of the product offers the same features as the original subscription-based product. KidZui introduced a membership program that same month. The membership program unlocks additional features in the kids’ browser and comes with more advanced reporting features for parents.
The basic version of KidZui with access to all content is free. Revenue comes exclusively from paid memberships. It is not clear what percentage of families use the free version versus paying for membership. KidZui includes advertisements to children in their browser, mostly based on sponsored partnerships with UnderArmour, Mattel, and Comcast.
In 2007, KidZui hired Deanne Kells, a former Vice President and Editor in Chief from LeapFrog, to establish the content guidelines and a process for reviewing and approving content. Kells used childhood developmental principles to form a content screening protocol where content is first determined to be appropriate for children, and then classified by age for developmental level and reading ability.
KidZui uses a Zooming User Interface paradigm where search results are displayed visually at smaller scale. Children click on images to enlarge them. The visual interface makes it easier for children to browse without advanced reading skills. KidZui also has category browsing that allows children to explore the Internet using categories based on popularity or similarity. KidZui has an auto search complete feature that returns results after only typing one or two letters. KidZui offers to complete search terms using the most popular searches by other children and it shows search results as children type.
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- See comments in response to Hendrickson, Mark (March 18, 2008). "KidZui: The Kid Safe Browser," TechCrunch.
- Fudge, Tom (March 3, 2008). "San Diego Entrepreneur Creates Kid-Friendly Site for Safe Web Exploration," KPBS Radio, Interview with Cliff Boro and Deanne Kells.
- KidZui Official Site
- KidZui Firefox Add-on
- CVT Ventures
- Video Egg
- Emergence Capital
- First Round Capital