The internet is a powerful medium for both adults and children. It allows the young and old alike to access information and knowledge, communicate and share ideas, interact with their friends and peers through social media, be entertained and play. With the advent of the smartphones, almost anybody can access the internet on the go. This presents a challenge for parents on how they can make sure their children are accessing online content appropriate for their age. But how can parents effectively regulate internet usage?
This is where the value of WackySafe comes in. It’s a search engine specifically designed for children to block harmful content and keep children safe online. Jon, the creator of the website, recognizes that “a child cannot use logic to combine or separate ideas, so it is particularly important to protect them from information and images that they may not be ready to process.” A website developer by profession, he created a 3-tier filter system that blocks undesirable content while making it as child-friendly as possible.
The concept came from a discussion with my mother about how she regretted letting me have free reign over the household computer back in 1997 when the internet was in its infancy. Back then most parents were unaware about the information and images children could easily access, and although the awareness is there now keeping children safe online these days can be very difficult as there is an abundance of potentially harmful content online. That’s when I first came up with the concept of creating a search tool specifically aimed at children up to the age of 12 years old that would protect them from harmful content. I was already making mobile apps and websites for a living so I started creating first the WackySafe website and then the app. – Jon Gouran
WackySafe uses ResponsiveVoice text-to-speech. It makes the internet experience of children more interesting. Jon decided to add this feature to aid and enhance reading skills of children. Often words are not spelled as they are pronounced and with text-to-speech, children will learn these words. Some of these words are familiar, but children might not recognize them because they are spelled differently. Hearing the words being spoken will enhance their vocabulary and spelling skills. This interactive feature provides the benefit of auditory learning by improving hearing and listening skills.
In addition, search results are visually enhanced to make it more interesting in WackySafe. These search results consist of a combination of handpicked, child relevant websites and results from Google Safe Search, ensuring that no harmful content gets through. The website also features Wacky Learn ™ , a clever search feature that gives children access to facts and data across a massive range of topics, from science to sport, without having to navigate away to external websites.
Jon plans to focus on the development of the mobile app of WackySafe.com. Currently, more and more internet users (parents and children alike) prefer the mobile and tablet devices over TV and desktop computers. The mobile app will be a safer alternative to the Chrome mobile browser because every search query is filtered through WackySafe’s search engine algorithm, ensuring child-friendly results. Jon has already rolled the app out on Android, Amazon and Windows and plans to develop an Apple app in the future.
Using WackySafe along with the proper guidance and vigilance of parents, children can be protected from exposure to inappropriate images or content, sexual predators in chat rooms, online bullying or harassment and scams. This will lessen their online vulnerability. At the end of the day, the best protection for children is built on family values which will enable them to make the right choices and get the most of out their online experience.
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