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www.expressindia.com Fri, 27 Jun 2008 - expressindia web
(http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Windows-Hopping/302556/)

However, dealing with children comes with added responsibility. “One has to be careful that the content is not objectionable,” says Leena Mathews project manager of kidswebindia.com. Launched in 2005, her website has neatly divided categories for different age groups. Nursery rhymes dominate the section for children up to the age of five while in the following category the focus is on general knowledge. Mathews directs 12-to-17-year-olds on how to overcome stress and deal with weight concerns. “The categorisation makes navigation across the website easier,” says Mathews.


EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE
Posted online: Monday , April 28, 2008 at 01:34:26
Updated: Monday , April 28, 2008 at 01:34:26

With exclusive social networking sites, e-advice and e-lessons proliferating on the Net, children are busy logging in, even as many worry about the safety factor

There was a time when school was followed by an evening in the neighbourhood park where mothers introduced next-door kids, and friendships developed on merry-go-rounds and over a game of hopscotch. Now friends are found more on Windows than next door. Ask 13-year-old Jyoti Sharma. The west Delhi teenager’s best friends are in the US, Switzerland and China and they meet virtually regularly on Buds World Party, a social networking site exclusively for children up to 16 years.

“I have met many new people there. It’s fun,” says Sharma, as she reveals the features of the portal, from online games and puzzles to Buds Shoppe that has toys and books for sale. “I don’t mind her being part of the network since it caters specifically to children and can help her find like-minded kids,” smiles her doting mother, who initiated Sharma to Buds World a fortnight ago.

Many may worry about the safety of children on information superhighway, but that has not stopped Web developers from exploring the medium to reach the young. “It holds a lot of potential for edutainment,” says Ashish Maan, CEO of La Vision Animation, who launched buzziboy.com on April 10. Targeting children between the ages of 6 and 14, the web base, with spiky haired Buzzi (left) as its mascot, acts as an interactive forum for its members. “We impart value-based learning and make education fun,” says Maan whose site has games and e-comics in which Buzzi imparts lessons. The first in the series is Buzzi Being Political which has the character teaching hygiene and leadership skills.

Like Maan, Arti Jaiman also had edutainment on her mind when she launched pitara.com 10 years back. “There was a lack of quality reading material for children. With Pitara, we aim to provide four-to-14-year-olds stories they can relate to.” Over the years, the portal has been updated with several features — from online craft lessons to history snippets, news, quiz and word games. “We witness a traffic of over a lakh unique users every month and receive constant feedback from regular visitors,” says Jaiman. While she has avoided the practice of registered membership, Maan is for it. So buzziboy.com can be accessed only after you register as a member while an annual subscription of Rs 6,000 will get members exclusive Buzzi merchandise. “The children will relate with the young-looking mascot that has similar concerns as them,” says Maan, who has over 20 registered members over the past fortnight.

However, dealing with children comes with added responsibility. “One has to be careful that the content is not objectionable,” says Leena Mathews project manager of kidswebindia.com. Launched in 2005, her website has neatly divided categories for different age groups. Nursery rhymes dominate the section for children up to the age of five while in the following category the focus is on general knowledge. Mathews directs 12-to-17-year-olds on how to overcome stress and deal with weight concerns. “The categorisation makes navigation across the website easier,” says Mathews.

Meanwhile, the conceptualisers are also particular about the advertisements being uploaded. “We sift through the content and showcase child-friendly material,” says Jaiman, who has a link to Amazon books on her portal. She adds a word of caution though: “Parents should keep a check on children and make sure that they are visiting safe sites.”

 
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