Hello and Welcome to the Kids Online Podcast, a regular digest of news pertaining to kids websites, gaming and online safety.
And now for the news...
The big news this past week was the back and forth that has resulted from the Internet Safety Technical Task Force report - it's like watching a tennis match
* First the ISTTF released their report early January and stated that (I am paraphrasing) while predators are a problem, kids are meaner to each other and that we should really focus more on cyberbullying (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/5032)
* Then a handful of the Attorney Generals got very upset and started stating the statistics that many of their own groups collected on sexual predators in youth social networks (http://blog.pcpandora.com/2009/01/16/south-carolina-attorney-general-reacts-to-isttf’s-report/)
* Then Myspace hits practically every headline with their announcement that they kicked off 90k registered sex offenders from their site (http://techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20090203/0238113620.shtml) only to follow with a hasty blog post to clarify that the number was an aggregate number over time, not snapshot in time
* Then a couple "oh snap" replies refuting the AGs responses, the myspace headlines, registered sex offender rights in general and requesting perspective from those in the general public as well as the industry, most notably from Nancy Willard (http://csriu.org/PDFs/papredator.pdf) and danah boyd (http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2009/02/06/doing_the_math.html) (both of which are linked in the show notes)
* Who said what we do isn't exciting, eh?
On a less intense note...
The European Parliament Moves to Protect Kids from "Potentially Harmful" Games , sending out a notice that The Internal Market Committee will set out a series of recommendations to improve the protection of children from potentially harmful video games on Wednesday. http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/02/09/euro-parliament-moves-protect-kids-quotpotentially-harmfulquot-games
And did you know that Today was Safer internet day! How did you celebrate it? A wide array of activities took place across Europe and the world, ranging from press-conferences and workshops for children to rock concerts and seminars for educators and parents. Read more at http://www.saferinternet.org/
Toddler texting toy from Leapfrog - In an attempt to help future generations improve their multitasking & communication skills, Leapfrog unveiled the "Text & Learn," a gadget that looks more like your blackberry than any speak & say of the 80's. Set to arrive in stores this summer, the Text & Learn helps children learn how to text with their tech pup "Scout" as well as explore letter matching and shape identification. http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/2009/02/022614.htm
VTech launches V-Motion - Along the same lines of the Text & Learn comes the new version of V.Smile - a console for those notorious toddler-gamers. Niftily enough, the controller can be used for the right-handed or the lefties. Games include well-known characters and licenses like Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, Dora the Explorer, Thomas and Friends, Scooby Doo and Spider-Man. http://www.toynewsmag.com/news/30770/Vtech-launches-Vmotion
"I'm a PC and I'm 4 and a half" - Want to freak out your parents who can't figure out this new-fangled "facebook" thing that's all the rage with parents & grandparents these days? Show them the video of this PC-loving tot who can upload and improve digital pictures in mere seconds. 4 Year olds are the new moguls, didn't you know? http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-us&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:533e05d2-9f12-4a86-bdda-efd0455fcd36&showPlaylist=true&from=soapboxembed
KIDS ONLINE TRENDS
Modified computer games aimed at disaffected learners could help win the war against poor basic skills. - Computer Science teachers at West Nottingham College have gone above and beyond the call of gaming duty by ripping apart Atari's popular computer game Neverwinter Nights. They rebuilt the game with educational challenges that the player must meet to progress further. With a 94% success rate, perhaps other colleges should take note. It's a gamer's world these days after all. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6254989.stm
MMOs for kids always 2.5 D - Alice Taylor's Wonderland blog hosted a spirited comment thread pondering why most of the top performing kids onlien worlds are 2.5 or 2D instead of 3D. Check it out, link in the show notes. http://www.wonderlandblog.com/wonderland/2009/02/mmos-for-kids-always-25d.html
Virtual Worlds Management upped it's estimate of the number of youth virtual world in development form 150 as they estimated in August up to over 200 this week. competition is projected to get fierce in the space and there is tons of speculation as to success strategies. http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/01/virtual-worlds-management-today-released-its-updated-youth-worlds-analysis-based-on-comprehensive-research-available-through.html
KZero also released some interesting stats this week, estimating around 260 mill accounts for 10-15 year olds in existence at the moment. http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=2700
Sara Grimes at Gamine Expedition blog looked at the late January NPD numbers for gaming consoles and software and asked "Did Family-Friendly Games "Dominate" in 2008?" With the Wii, multiple members of the Mario franchise and the Guitar Hero/Rock Band craze that hit last year, it's hard to say that family-friendly gaming isn't making a respectable push to the top. http://gamineexpedition.blogspot.com/2009/01/did-family-friendly-games-dominate-in.html
Children's Internet to distribute Elf Island via licensing aggreement. I find this space especially interesting, with other kid-safe browser competitors like Kidzui and multiple kid-safe search engines. Is the walled garden approach the right answer to kid safe internet-ing, or just one of them? Would love to hear your thoughts on that. http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/02/childrens-internet-to-distribute-elf-island.html
Disney Sets World of Cars for Summer 2009 - I know I am not the only one excited for this highly anticipated virtual racing world based on the Disney Cars franchise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0caeg3HgHxg&e
Speaking of Disney, news this last week says that they are to Invest More in Virtual Worlds in the next year, and sees Them Close to Profitable, mainly due to the wild success of Club Penguin http://seekingalpha.com/article/118313-the-walt-disney-company-f1q09-qtr-end-12-27-08-earnings-call-transcript?page=-1
And while not entirely kid focused, it is certainly a youth online play pattern that has succeeded time and time again - Spore is set to release a "creature nurturing" title. More info via the URL in the show notes. http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/news/spore-title-announcement-blowout/?biz=1
A ton of new iPhone apps in the youth demographic are popping up and I thought we would highlight a couple. Definitely let us know if you see more as the weeks go on and we can mention them here, as I am sure this is a hot upcoming space.
Wired reviews a new preschool targeted app called I See Ewe which teaches children how to identify shapes, colors, animals and objects through two different matching games. http://blog.wired.com/geekdad/2009/02/review-early-ch.html
Hello Kitty comes to the iphone, altho it seems to be mostly backgrounds and such. But I can't judge as I have been known to be a sucker for a nice chococat image from time to time. http://www.licensing.biz/news/2524/Hello-Kitty-now-on-iPhone
Fusion Fall exploring iphone and wii due to their use of the Unity gaming platform it was design on. http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2009/02/09/fusion-fall-developers-say-wii-iphone-are-possibilities/
Not to be outdone by Disney's fairies game that came out about a month ago, Nickelodeon announces a bunch of new Iphone Apps including ones for Spongebob and Dora http://tvblips.dailyradar.com/story/nickelodeon_unveils_iphone_apps_tied_to_shows/
OLDIE BUT GOODIE
Thought I would end with an oldie but goodie link form Jeremiah Owyang's blog (sorry if I butchered your name!) on How to staff for social media. Always good to have more tips in this area, right? http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/02/28/forrester-report-how-to-hire-for-social-computing-the-social-computing-strategist-community-manager/
Engage Expo in 30 Days! Hurry and get your tickets now, Stimulus Package Discount Registration of $595 in effect now. http://engageexpo.com
Youth track at SXSWi - Anastasia Goodstein is just one of the youth media speakers in the youth-track at this years SXSW. Discounted registration for SXSW also ends this week, so buy your tickets now to avoid price hikes. http://www.ypulse.com/bring-on-the-youthiness-sxsw-interactive
Liepzig Games conference 2009 cancelled due to conflicts with similarly themed and scheduled conference in Germany. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=207010
Thanks for help from Izzy Neis and everyone else who passed on articles and info for this week's podcast. Always looking for suggestions on content, format or any help you may be able to give. My desire to get the podcast published usually trumps my need to make professional sound adjustments (and you can sometime hear my dog or computer in the background - sorry!)
You can all the show notes and contact information at the Kids Online website at kidsonline.idcommons.net.
Thanks and have a fantastic week!
Music thanks to George Wood on PodSafe Audio