Featured Freeware: KidZui

KidZui seems like a kiddified browser with social networking rolled in, but a unique closed whitelist system makes it an excellent tool for children and their parents.

KidZui for Windows and Mac seems like a kid-ified browser with social networking rolled in. Children can find their favorite YouTube videos, rate content using tags, and share opinions with other KidZui friends, all from a colorful interface with big buttons and labels. KidZui is anything but a standard childrens' browser, though, and what makes it so unique is precisely why it's such a safe tool for children.

KidZui is a closed system, not filter-driven, so all content that's available has been approved by editors into a whitelist database. Children can explore the Internet by using the search/URI bar, or search by a left-navigation sidebar that's organized by topics including science, movies and TV, games, sports, and animals. Just below the search bar are three tabs, for Web browsing, Photos, and Video.

Parental registration is required before your child can create "Zui," in the program's parlance. Children can customize their avatars to a limited degree in the free version, with more options available via a paid upgrade. Free KidZui is fully functional, but upgrading definitely offers more. Among the additions: children get more content rating tags, more avatar clothing, and more backgrounds, while parents get the capability to block individual sites, can view an unlimited history of the child's browsing, and can force-add sites to their children's favorites list.

KidZui offers children one of the safest Web browsing methods I've seen. Parents get the peace of mind that their children are both learning and having fun without relinquishing their role as the final arbiter of the Internet experience. If you're hesitant, KidZui offers a Firefox extension that replicates the KidZui experience in Mozilla's browser.

I'm going on vacation for the next few weeks, so this will be the last Featured Freeware until January 2009. You can peruse the past nine months of Featured Freeware here. Have a happy and safe holidays!