The internet can be a crazy place for adults and even a dangerous place for kids. As more and more children are growing up with the internet as a part of their lives, parents are forced to deal with how let their children get online while still saying safe. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have implemented family friendly search features. Startups like IMSafer have taken on protecting kids on IM. Glaxstar’s new startup, Glubble, is making the internet kid friendly by child proofing the browser.
Glubble is a Firefox plugin (3.8 MB) that allows parents to control a white list of which domains their kids can visit. The service is seeded with a list of 350 approved properties for domains like Disney.com or Nickelodeon, but parents can add new domains or individual links and even combine their lists with those of other parents. The service isn’t meant for older kids who can just load up Internet Explorer or know how to edit Firefoxe’s plugin folder. It’s meant for children under 12 who are still at the “holding hands” phase.
When a parent installs the plugin, they create logins and passwords for each of their family members as either adults, young children, or pre-reading children. Collectively, these accounts and the white lists associated with them define the “Glubble”. Whenever Firefox is loaded you have to sign in as one of the users to start surfing. Parents get access to the standard Firefox features. Children, on the other hand, get a family friendly portal page of links with all the plugins deactivated. Pre-reading children will be greeted with a thumbnail slide show of sites they can visit.
Where Glubble really stands out from other safety surf technologies is in its flexibility. When a child navigates to a page not on the white list, it doesn’t just tell the child they’re not allowed to go to the link, but allows them to ask their parent’s permission to access the site. when a child makes a request, it’s sent to parent for approval. The parent can approve only that link or the whole domain. At any time a parent can examine and edit the white lists in their Glubble. Glubble also has a rudimentary chat built in that operates on the same approval system. There’s no central list of children’s IM names, but if kids learn each other’s handles at school and each parent approves the other’s connection, the children can chat from within the browser.
As the service grows, Glubble will let parents give trusted friends the ability to approve sites in their Glubble or create community generated lists by combining with other Glubble’s white lists. Although Glaxstar will always offer a free service to parents actively adding to the service, one monetization plan is to charge for subscriptions to a moderated white list based on the communities list and the company’s approval.