Zoodles Blog Learn and Play Every Day

January 28, 2010

Gain more control with Zoodles violence filtering

Filed under: Parental Controls,Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 8:21 am

We’ve been proud of features in the past, but the latest feature we’re here to announce truly breaks new ground:  Zoodles violence filtering.

Here’s how it works:

1)  You read how we rate the games.

feature-img-violence

2)  You choose what rating level is right for your child.

violence-filter

3) We take care of the rest.

Zoodles will only include games in your child’s Toybox that respect your settings.

safe-online-games-for-kids

Why we built it

If you do a Google search for “violence filter,” you’ll quickly realize what a huge need there’s been for something like this.  A combination of all the filters out there will probably get you something that filters gambling sites, pornography, adware, pop-ups, chatrooms, and even social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace.  All this and more, but not violence.  And even if, after hours of searching, you found one, it would predictably be just like the others – essentially a big on-off switch.  With issues like gambling and pornography, an on-off switch probably makes sense.  But with violence, there are wildly varying opinions on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate for children of different ages.

It comes down to this.  Parents have preferences when it comes to the media that their children consume, whether it’s their book at bedtime, the show on TV, or their favorite site online.  When it comes to movies, parents have no choice but to rely on the G-PG-PG-13 rating system developed by the Motion Picture Association.  It’s not great, but it’s something.  It’s a universal standard that all shows and movies are held accountable to.

There’s no equivalent universal rating system for your child’s media content online.  So how can a parent feel confident that their children are safe? The answer is, they don’t.  They let their kids go online, but with the deep, nagging fear (only worsening as their kids grow older) that something will slip through –  that new content will be put on the site, or that their kids will wander somewhere new, somewhere they don’t belong.  Even the parents who do their fair share of homework screening sites ultimately have to take a leap of faith about what brands they can trust, and can only hope that they live up to their kid-friendly promises.

Here at Zoodles we’ve taken it upon ourselves to be the place online you can trust.  Any time we add content to Zoodles, we take into consideration its educational value, its entertainment value, and its appropriateness for children.  But even a team of thousands would fall short in knowing your child as well as you do.  Parents know best.  That’s why we not only pre-screen all our content and restrict your child to these pre-approved sites, but we give you sublime control over what parts of this content make it through to your child.  The violence filter is one more step in this direction.  The way it’s been designed is simple:  We tell you how we rate the games, and you choose what rating level you think is appropriate for your child.  We take care of the rest.

To try the violence filter out for yourself, visit the Parent Dashboard under Education and Parental Controls. As always, let us know what you think!

January 25, 2010

Introducing new members of the Education Team!

Filed under: Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 3:56 pm

We’re happy to welcome two new members to the Zoodles Education Team, Jason and Yaa!  Content is king in the Zoodles world, and the Education Team is our front line in ensuring that the games on Zoodles are the best of the best.  Whether your family uses Zoodles for entertainment, education, or both combined, it’s the quality of our team and the strength of their experience that makes Zoodles the go-to web destination for parents and children alike.  We’re very proud to have Jason and Yaa join our team, and we look forward to getting the games they’ve reviewed in front of kids everywhere!

JasonAzicriJason Azicri holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. Jason was a Special Needs Health and Health teacher in Miami before relocating to CA. He also co-created an educational film series called Adina’s Deck because he believes young people need more empowering messages and positive portrayals of young teens in film and television. Jason sees Zoodles as another opportunity to further help bring great educational content to kids. He currently also counsels at two high schools and continues to write screenplays.

Photo 2Yaa Cuguano has a lifelong interest in how learning can be tailored to learners in order to provide them with effective learning experiences and environments.  She is also interested in second and third language learning and inquiry based learning.  She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Stanford’s School of Education with a specialization in Learning Design and Technology.  She is excited to be a part of the Education Team and contribute to the great work being done at Zoodles.

January 20, 2010

Kids on the computer all day? Set time limits with Zoodles!

Filed under: Parental Controls,Technology in the Home,Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 12:28 am

In an earlier post, we talked about all the ways that parents set screen time limits at home.  Whether they’re using the DVR to dole out episodes of Dora, or printing out sticker charts to make their kids play outside, different parents have different ways of handling their desire to limit the amount of media their children consume.

Introducing the Zoodles Play Timer!

That is why we’re pleased to present the Zoodles Play Timer,  a new feature that will help parents set the time limits they want, without the hassle of maintaining them or explaining and reexplaining them to their ever-desirous kids.

Picture 20With the Zoodles play timer, you can limit your child’s time online without having to constantly step in and feel like the bad guy.  Zoodles does all the negotiating for you – as soon as your child’s time on Zoodles runs out, a big blue clock will appear signaling their time is up.  The browser stays locked in full-screen mode, so your child can’t wander somewhere else online or click around on the computer.  After a minute or so, they’ll be brought back to the original family log-in screen, so the brother or sister who’s been patiently waiting in the wings can get a turn!

Of course, no kid likes to be cut off cold turkey, so we’ve built in some friendly purple reminders that time is winding down.   Picture 24With 10 minute, 5 minute, and 2 minute warnings, Zoodles eases your child off the computer and on to a new activity without the tantrum.  The wind-down process is important for every child to learn, and all parents know how painful this process can be if it’s not done artfully!

Picture 25You can set time limits in half hour increments anywhere from half an hour a day to 8 hours a day, and you can set them differently based on whether it’s a weekday, or a weekend.  What’s more, each of your children have their own unique play timer settings, so you can limit them differently based on their individual play patterns!

We hope that you’ll enjoy this new feature, and all the ways that it strives to make your life easier!  As always, please let us know what you think once you’ve gotten a chance to try it out!

January 14, 2010

Zoodles in Vegas!

Filed under: Technology in the Home,Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 7:23 pm

KidsAtPlayI spent a large part of last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  While I love gadgets and new technology, I was drawn to CES this year by the Kids@Play conference held at CES.  I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about internet safety for children and to demo Zoodles.  The panel and demo went very well, but the thing I came back from CES most excited about is all the enabling technologies that are going to improve the lives of children around the world!

Tablet computers, 3-D display technologies and touch screen interfaces are just a few of the technologies at the show that can be used to create compelling educational experiences.    I am looking forward to all the innovation that will come in the near future and excited to be part of a company that is trying to create those compelling experiences for children and parents.

Best,

Mark

January 6, 2010

Zoodles announces a new interface for older kids!

Filed under: Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 10:20 am

In the spirit of the new year, Zoodles is proud to announce a new interface for older kids!

kid-friendly interface

With the new interface, we hope to give older Zoodles kids (ages 6+) more ways to find the content that they want.  Notice the new look and feel of the tabs at the top – including new destinations like Subjects, Characters, and Animals.  Each of these tabs leads to different categories of games and activities.

subjects Inside of Subjects, we’ve divided our games into 9 groups:  Action Games, Art Games, Board Games, Brain Games, Math Games, Puzzle Games, Science Games, Sports Games, and Word Games.  Hopefully not just one, but many of these areas, will appeal to your young ones!

kid-friendly showsWithin the Characters tab, we’ve given your child easy access to games from all the shows and characters that they know and love.

animalsLastly, we’ve created an Animals tab, a fun new way for families to think about the educational games on Zoodles!

What’s your favorite tab so far? If you haven’t been back to Zoodles in a while, now’s the time to come on by! And as always, please be sure to send us your feedback and help us improve. We hope you’ll enjoy this new Zoodles experience!

Visit our blog next week to read about Zoodles’ trip to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas!  (And if you happen to be in the area, swing by Kids at Play to say hello!)

January 1, 2010

Ringing in 2010 with the Zoodles Team!

Filed under: Zoodles Blog — Erin @ 12:00 pm

fireworks

What a year!

With the close of 2009, Zoodles marks its first year as a company! 2009 has treated us well: we’ve seen the growth and development of our team, our product, and most importantly, our network of families and supporters. We couldn’t have asked for a better first year, or a better group of people to help ring in our second. Who knows what 2010 has in store…but we’re turning one! It’s time to celebrate!

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