Tweens Browser

 
(i)

 

Free browser is safe, but not a sub for parental oversight.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some parents will like the fact that this kids' browser focuses more on mainstream educational and informational sites suitable for kids, such as PBS and Pixar, rather than girl- or kiddie-centric content like Barbie or Sesame Street. 

Violence & scariness

Real-world violence seeps into the content on Web sites such as ABC News, which includes the usual stories about sensational murders and kidnappings.  The Biography on A&E site includes episodes of "I Survived," a cable show featuring first-person accounts of rapes, shootings, and animal attacks. 

Sexy stuff

The browser does not block all sex-tinged news and pop-culture stories, either.   

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Kids can see but not click on ads, no matter how harmless the product. (Even Disney banners are blocked.)

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mentioned but not glorified in some news and celebrity stories.   

Privacy & safety

Kids don't have to provide any personal information, and as long as they stay inside the browser, they're limited to Web sites that practice good privacy. However, kids can easily exit the browser to other areas of the computer simply by hitting Alt-Tab.

The prescreened sites help ease parents' worries. However, the browser does not lock down the rest of the computer and, as a matter of convenience, parents can’t add their own sites to the preapproved list. People CD does take requests, though.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this browser is a safe, ad-free window onto the Web for tweens. Racist, pornographic, and overtly violent content -- as well as chat -- is automatically filtered by software. In addition, sites are vetted by a human team of parents and educators. Kids aren't completely shielded from reality -- some of the sites, such as PBS and ABC News, cover the same world events, local tragedies and pop culture as the 6 o'clock news. But in general the sites are fine for kid consumption, and do an especially good job of appealing to older tweens' more sophisticated tastes. While kid-oriented browsers offer parents peace of mind, they won't completely restrict kids from accessing the Internet, either by getting around your computer's filter or doing it at someone else's house. So parents should use kids' browsers in combination with their own rules about safe and responsible Internet behavior.

Kids say

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QUALITY
 

KidZui, another kids' browser that's been out longer, has better parental controls. But Tweens Browser has more educational sites and it's free. Tweens displays Web sites almost full screen, like a real browser, without a lot of toolbar clutter. It serves older kids by providing plenty of "grownup" sites out of the box, such as PBS. The Tweens News blog, a categorized collection of G-rated YouTube videos and cute stories updated daily by two of the creator's own children, is a nice touch.

Tweens has a homemade look and, oddly, a clock that displays military time, but it's hard to argue with the quality of its content. With prescreened sites ranging from Barbie to BBC History, Tweens does a good job of bringing the best of the Web to kids 7 to 12, and that makes it an attractive choice for safe tween browsing.

Online interaction: Kids can leave comments in The Tweens News, a blog where YouTube and article links are posted by the browser's own teen staff. Unlike some other kids' browsers such as KidZui, this one does not come with  social networking tools. However, kids can safely chat and network on several of the browser's featured sites, such as Disney.com and Miss O & Friends.  

Families can talk about...

  • This browser helps restrict inappropriate content and offers parents peace of mind, but kids need to learn responsible online behavior so they can stay safe online.

  • Discuss why it's important for kids to focus on fun, educational -- and most important, safe -- Internet content in their formative years.

  • Internet filtering software is another way to control what kids do on the Web. Read our tips.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Tweens Browser was written by

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Parent of a 5, 6, 7, 10, 10, and 17 year old Written byCharlie The Cat December 25, 2011

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