Mobile apps and social-networking services have recently been found to be violating the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with a game maker just last month.
Parents' growing concerns about their kids' online security have led to a profusion of new kid-centric sites. Sifting through all the sites out there to find the good and avoid the bad can be daunting, especially with new sites popping up all the time.
Should my kids play games online? Is there a safe place for them to explore the web? How secure are the sites that my kids are visiting? These are some of the questions parents have.
Below are eleven sites that cater to kids between the ages of 4 and 13 that are worth considering for a variety of reasons.
1. Togetherville.com: a social-networking site for children that is monitored by parents. (Disney, the parent company of ABC, owns Togetherville.com.)
Parents set up an account and monitor their children's activities, including being in charge of who gets approved for a child's "neighborhood."
Lots of interactive games for kids of all skill levels, featuring fun music.
Educational videos that are also entertaining.
2. Yoursphere.com: a social-networking site designed for kids to interact with kids in a comfortable zone
Founded by an Internet safety advocate who's also a mom.
Site lets kids create cool avatars, connect with others and earn fun prizes.
Site can be a good introduction to social networking while kids are still young and not ready for sites like Facebook.
3. ePals.com: an educational community bringing together learners from all over the planet.
Areas for parents, families, students and teachers allow for dedicated and well-directed information.
Projects for classrooms and families, generating learning and a sense of global community.
4. ClubPenguin.com: a virtual world site that promotes global consciousness, charitable giving and sharing.
Membership is limited and monitored, allowing for children to roam safely within the penguin world.
Interactions between members are promoted, especially in a socially conscious way that encourages children to share, learn to give, and be responsible.
5. Kids.NationalGeographic.com: an award-winning site with vast offerings that combine education and entertainment.
Specialized content ensures that kids get material that will work for them.
Video, text and National Geographic's unsurpassed photography in an easy to navigate space.
Collection of fun activities to foster a child's creativity and enhance his or her understanding of science.
6. Askkids.com: a search engine just for children.
Provides a safe and entertaining way for children to surf the net.
All links offered are acceptable for children of most ages.
7. PBSkids.org: the online version of PBS station for children.
Variety of interactive games and interesting videos for kids of various ages.
No external ads that pry kids away from appropriate activity.
8. Nickjr.com: the online destination for fans of Nick Jr.
Colorful, bright and imaginative content based on the network's many popular characters.
Games and interactive areas for music, dance, parties and more.
Interactive "craft" area for kids to create online works for art.
9. Girlscouts.org/forgirls: a branch of the Girl Scouts' main site that provides age-appropriate interactive material.
Girls-only content increases self-esteem and community involvement.
Interactive area that allows for girls to create their own works of art or color on pages.
10. Disney.go.com: a game site from Disney (Disney is the parent company of ABC).
Kids get to play games based on their favorite Disney characters.
Trusted Disney name ensures safety and security for children browsing the site.