Kids Online Podcast #2 - 02/10/09

February 11th, 2009

Hello and Welcome to the Kids Online Podcast, a regular digest of news pertaining to kids websites, gaming and online safety.

I'm Joi Podgornyand I will be reading the news compiled by Izzy Neis and many others in Kids Online. For more information, go to our website at

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 (

* 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 (’s-report/)

* Then Myspace hits practically every headline with their announcement that they kicked off 90k registered sex offenders from their site ( 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 ( and danah boyd ( (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.

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


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.

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.

"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?


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.

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.

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.

KZero also released some interesting stats this week, estimating around 260 mill accounts for 10-15 year olds in existence at the moment.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.


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.

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.

Fusion Fall exploring iphone and wii due to their use of the Unity gaming platform it was design on.

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


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?


Engage Expo in 30 Days! Hurry and get your tickets now, Stimulus Package Discount Registration of $595 in effect now.

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.

Liepzig Games conference 2009 cancelled due to conflicts with similarly themed and scheduled conference in Germany.


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


Thanks and have a fantastic week!


Music thanks to George Wood on PodSafe Audio

Kids Online Podcast #1 - 01/30/09

January 29th, 2009

Hello and Welcome to the Kids Online Podcast, a regular digest of news pertaining to kids websites, gaming and online safety.

I'm Joi Podgorny and I will be reading the news compiled by Chris Rettstatt and many others in Kids Online. For more information, go to our website at

And now for the news...

Websites for Kids:

January 13th brought the launch of Horseland Virtual World. Fans of the CBS cartoon can ride horses and socialize with friends, while those under 13 can access Horseland Jr., where they can customize and ride horses in a Flash-based game. Horseland Virtual World is free-to-play with virtual currency sales and advertising. More information at


On January 15th, Girl Ambition launched as a safe community for tween girls featuring avatars, games, and videos. The site aims to teach values, online safety, and self esteem. Membership is $4.99/month. More information at


FreemantleMedia and Sulake are partnering to create an American Idol virtual environment inside Habbo. The partnership includes events and virtual goods. Freemantle apparently explored other options including building their own virtual world before settling on Habbo. The partners will share the keynote stage at this year's Engage! Expo, in March in New York City.


On February 13th, Disney plans to launch Disney XT, a new network aimed at boys 6-11, as well as The shows will be action-oriented, and the Web site will feature games and 3D avatars.


Linden Lab Chairman Philip Rosendale says that Linden's long-term strategy is going to include combining Second Life with its Teen Grid. There is currently no time line for this plan, but it will be interesting to watch how they handle the safety issues that were the reason they created the Teen Grid in the first place.


On January 14, Cartoon Network launched it's much anticipated MMOG Fusion Fall. In the game, players team up with Cartoon Network characters to save the world from destruction by Planet Fusion.

The game is free to play in certain areas, and $5.95/month for full access. Working with Crisp Thinking, Fusion Fall uses a range of online safety tools, ranging from filtering and monitoring to a game resting system that rewards players for taking a break. More information can be found at

Online Safety news:

On January 14th, Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society released the final report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of businesses, non-profits, and academics that teamed up to investigate technologies to create a safer online environment for young people. The task force was established as a result of the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking, made up of 50 state Attorneys General.

According to the report, the research shows that while sexual predators are definitely a concern, bullying by peers is the most common threat minors face, online or offline. The research also shows that psychological factors and family dynamics are better predictors of risky behaviors than specific technologies.

For more information, please find a link in the show notes


Get ready for Safer Internet Day on February 10th. Organized by Insafe, the European internet safety network, Safer Internet Day is an opportunity to promote safer use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among young people.

A link with more information is included in the show notes:


And finally, while not entirely connected to online safety, yet:

US President Obama is narrowing down the list for the first-ever national chief technology officer. The two finalists seem to be Padrasmee Warrior, who is currently CTO of Cisco Systems, and Vivek Kundra, CTO of Washington D.C.


Upcoming Events:

KidScreen Summit, February 11-13, New York

Engage! Expo March 10-11, New York (Early registration extended to Feb 2nd)

South by Southwest 2009 (Interactive): March 13-17, Austin

Game Developers Conference 2009: March 23-27, San Francisco

YPulse Youth Marketing Mashup: June 1-2, San Francisco

Kid Power 2009, June 8-10, Orlando

Mipcom Jr: October 3-4 Cannes


That's all we have for this first podcast. We would love to hear your feedback on content ideas, format, or if you are interested in participating. You can all the show notes and contact information at the Kids Online website at


Thanks and have a fantastic week!


Music thanks to George Wood on PodSafe Audio

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