A fun project for parents can be to make your own kid's website online - creating a custom-made playroom on the web for your kids and their friends. With a few easy tools, you can have activities and educational games all in one place.
Why Make Your Own Kid's Website Online?
With the wealth of material available on the web, you may wonder what would be the purpose of putting another kid's website up? While at first it may seem like you are reinventing the wheel, the fact is that there are several reasons to have control of your own kid's website, all of which come down to one word: control.
- Control of Content - the key element of any website is content. While there is a lot of content on other kid's websites, who knows what your child wants or needs on the web better than you? Not only can you choose where to draw your content from, you can write your own, or let your child contribute to the site, giving them a sense of participation and creation. Seeing their own pictures and words on the computer screen is a great introduction for children to the online world. You don't have to limit yourself to images and text - it's easy to embed educational YouTube videos or even interactive web games in your own website from places like Creative Math. This lets you tailor the site precisely to what your vision of a kid's website should be.
- Control of Advertising - One of the reasons there are so many kid's websites online is that advertisers realize that kids are very impressionable. While it's virtually impossible to remove all advertising from a child's life, it is part of the responsibility of a parent to at least moderate it and make sure it is age appropriate and does not distract the child from learning and enjoying the content on the website.
- Control of Privacy - There are many concerns about what websites like Facebook do with their user's information, and the same issues apply to many "children's" sites that gather information to sell to advertisers. Some sites ask for information that can actually put your child at risk by identifying who they are, where they live, or where they go to school. It's not always as straightforward as asking for their address, either - the FBI warns that it is easy to determine who someone is by finding out things like what sports they play, who their favorite teacher is, or what kind of sneakers they have - all of which add up to a very clear portrait of the child.
Creating Your Kid's Website
Whatever your motivation for creating a kid's website - for your own child, or for your students, or just because you want to help the community - the good news is it's very easy to start. One very easy way would be to get a WordPress blog (or install it on your server) and use a fun theme like you find on ThemeForest. Another way is to use one of the ad-free "cookie cutter" site services such as Spruz, which boasts ad-free and cost-free site creation and hosting. You can add in "widgets" that include games, music, and more, and always upgrade later on.
There are many services for creating and hosting the website - remember that the most important thing is content. You can find a lot of good material for your kids website by visiting educational sites like Cool Math for games, lesson plans, and other materials. The Public Broadcasting System teacher's page also provides a wealth of material. Remember that the material is copyrighted - either use it mainly for inspiration, or else give credit where due on your site and only use with permission.
Above all, remember a site is never "done." Work with the kids to improve it and make it a fun and exciting resource for everyone.