The internet can be an amazing resource for learning and socializing. Unfortunately, with instances of cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and other predatory internet behavior on the rise, it’s not always a safe place for adults or children. The advent of protective software, like Net Nanny, and parental controls built into web browsers can make it easier to protect your child from sites that might be harmful, but there will come a time when your child will need a little more leeway to search the net, and those products might prove more a hindrance than a help.
As your children get older, and more tech savvy, you could give them a list of approved sites that are family-friendly, but more advanced than the sites designed specifically for kids.
Hallmark is known for its heart-warming, family-friendly products. Although the company has branched out into television, with two cable channels, they are still very strongly in the greeting card business and even have a site devoted to eCards. The great thing about the Hallmark eCards is that they are actually mini-movies that you can watch before you pick out the card. Whether your kids are looking for funny ecards from Hallmark, or something serious, they can find a ton of well-made and family-friendly options. Plus, they update the cards regularly so they can come back often to see what’s new. Even if they aren’t planning to send a card right away, they can still browse the site and watch the videos. It’s kind of like Youtube for greeting cards.
Kids’ Health is the go-to site for any health information. With separate portals for parents, kids and teens, the site offers a little something for everybody. Not only can your child or teen learn about his own health, it’s also a great research tool for school papers or projects. The kid’s section also has movies, videos, games, and other activities to teach your kids how to be healthy. The teen’s section is full of straight talk about health issues that are important to teens beyond just health, such as study tips, driving, and that important first job.
National Geographic has been a go-to educational resource for decades. With stunningly beautiful photos and information about distant lands and cultures, and interesting animals National Geographic can provide hours of edutainment. The site also includes games, apps, and even movie clips for more learning fun. Now, National Geographic is known for showing native peoples in their native garb, even if that garb is sometimes nothing. The context isn’t sexual, but it’s still nudity; so if you are worried about junior getting an eyeful, there’s also Nat Geo Kids.
PBS has been producing educational content for children for more than 40 years. They were the original and are still the best when it comes to informative and entertaining content. PBS actually has two portals for kids’ content. There’s PBSKids.org, which is full of games and videos featuring your child’s favorite PBS characters, and there’s a link of the main PBS.org site. The link off the main site goes to PBSKids.org and to PBSKidsPlay.org, a school readiness site for pre-K to first grade.
Older kids might enjoy the content on the main PBS site, which includes video clips and full episodes of shows like Antiques Road Show and Agatha Christie Mysteries. However, some of the shows might have more adult themes, so you might want to monitor your teen’s use of the site if that is an issue.