Kids Web Menu logo

Tense, nervy parents, it's time to relax. Kids Web Menu is a new, free solution for letting young kids surf the 'Net, chaperon-free.

How is that possible with all the dangers! And predators! And viruses out there!? By strictly limiting the tykes to 40 preapproved partner sites, that's how. Kids Web Menu takes the sandbox approach in an icon-rich app that lets parents approve content, and password-protect their choices. What's left for children is an interactive layout of either slowly rotating 3D blocks or a scrapbook where apps appear like photos, such as Webkinz, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Sesame Street, and Cartoon Network.

While kids do get the full range of site functionality, begging their parents to add a site not on Web Kids Menu's list is futile--the app only partners with its Barbie and National Geographic sponsors, who are also in-app advertisers. Minimizing the software is also out of the question, perhaps to keep rugrats from hopping between browsing experiences, but it makes it hard for adults to quickly check their e-mail without locating the Kids Web Menu page anew.

Kids Web Menu makes a fine introduction to the Web for children ages 5 and under, but older kids may find it overly restrictive or simplistic. However, its freeware status makes it enticing to try, and there's enough in the Web site offerings for budding gamers to princess-lovers alike.

Kids Web Menu shows off participating sites in two themes, scrapbook and 3D blocks.
Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.