After Weathering First-Year Challenges, KidZui Launches a ‘YouTube for Kids’

8/5/09Follow @bvbigelow

KidZui, a San Diego Internet startup for children, says it is launching ZuiTube—a kind of YouTube with a user-interface designed for kids and a library of almost 60,000 videos pre-approved by an editorial team of parents and teachers.

The online video destination is free, but the essential challenge for ZuiTube, like KidZui itself, is differentiating itself from such child-friendly rivals as PBSkids, Webkinz, Nickelodeon, and Club Penguin. KidZui’s chief advantage is it provides a way for children to visit thousands of Web sites while preventing them from straying into the seamy and even predatory parts of the Internet.”KidZui is not a walled garden,” says co-founder Cliff Boro, the startup’s chairman and CEO. “From a kid’s point of view, this is all about freedom and independence.”

Yet KidZui has boundaries. The late architect Charles W. Moore famously described Disneyland as a place where children can safely learn the skills of adulthood (by driving the looping concrete freeway of Autotopia, for example) without risking any permanent harm. The same can be said for KidZui, which offers s a different sort of magic kingdom—where kids can safely hone their skills in Internet browsing, online gaming, social networking, and video sharing. The company was founded three years ago by Boro, Vidar Vignisson, and Tom Broadhead with the goal of erasing parental fears about websites that might be icky, shocking, and even dangerous for children while at the same time empowering kids to independently explore the Web.

KidZui User Interface

KidZui User Interface

The company launched its parental-control Internet service with considerable fanfare in March 2008. The company says its KidZui browser, which is an add-on for the Firefox Web browser, allows children to explore more than 600,000 websites, watch videos, and play games that have been screened and approved by an editorial team of 200 parents and teachers. Within KidZui’s software, kids also can create their own cartoon-like avatar, a persona known as a “Zui” with customized hair, clothing, and other features.

KidZui’s basic service is free, but parents can sign up for weekly e-mail reports that detail all the websites their kids visit. KidZui’s membership privileges also gives parents veto power over the catalog of Web sites their children visit.

“I started an Internet company when I was 24 in 1994,” says Boro, who tells me … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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