What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this computer add-on creates a safe Internet experience for children ages 4 to 7 by locking them into pre-selected, age-appropriate sites and blocking them from files on your computer. Although kids younger than 4 can probably use these sites, we don't recommend allowing kids that young online; the software has parental controls that allow you to set time limits for online play. You can add more Internet destinations by purchasing add-on keys. The activities on the specially created Fisher-Price games and activities Web site sometimes promote toys by featuring them in online games.
What's it about?
EASY LINK INTERNET LAUNCH PAD provides a safe Internet experience that locks kids into age-appropriate sites and won't let them click into the files that are on that computer. Each character takes kids to related game sites online: Elmo links to the games section of the Sesame Workshop Web site (www.sesameworkshop.org); Zak & Wheezie go to the Dragon Tales section of the PBSKids.org; and the Fisher-Price dog leads to a specially created Fisher-Price games and activities Web site.
For $30, parents get a 10-inch-by-6-inch plastic launch pad that plugs into a Windows-based computer via a USB cord and has three plastic character Smart Keys. Parents place one of these keys into the device's centered green plug, the key lights up, and the computer automatically launches the associated Web site. The device sits in its own mouse pad, and kids use the device's arrow keys and your own computer mouse to navigate within the games found on the Web sites. Parents can remove their keyboard and keep it safe from sticky fingers.
Is it any good?
While the Fisher-Price activities are based on toy lines and sometimes promote the toys on which they are based, they do offer good opportunities for first-time computer activities. Kids may need help inserting the character keys. Additional smart keys are available in two-character packs for $6.99 -- Thomas the Tank Engine comes packaged with Bob the Builder, for example. The program comes with controls that allow parents to set a timer for how long kids can play, and determine whether printing is allowed.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about which destination they like best, and what games at that destination they like to play. After playing a game about a toy, do you want to own that toy?