Set to launch soon, PikuZone sends email to safe zone for kids
Set to launch this month, PikuZone introduces a whitelist, parent-monitored email system for children. Screenshot from pikuzone.com.
As the upcoming school year approaches, elementary students can put down the Crayola classics and Lisa Frank felt-tips and strike the keys with PikuZone, a parent-managed emailing system specifically designed for children.
PikuZone, scheduled to launch by the end of this month, has its sights set on being a communications technology tool used to help ease kids age 6-12 into internet use while educating and protecting them through the learning process.
"Electronic communication is an equally basic skill best taught by a parent who can initiate safe communication with known friends, grandparents, family members, teachers and other trusted entities," Tej Dhawan, one of the project owners, said in an email interview. (Left, Tej Dhawan, photo from startupcitydsm.com.)
In this system, which is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, parents create two or more accounts – one for the parent and one for each child. The parent plays middleman to connect the child's account to a list of email addresses. Only pre-approved email addresses can contact the child's account, and every message sent to the child will also be sent through to the parent. (Below, options for parents to manage account settings for child users.)
PikuZone acts as a walled garden, enabling the basics of messaging for these beginning users and safeguarding inboxes from unsolicited messages and advertisements. Spam, junk and other messages from addresses outside of the approved list will be filtered through only to the parent account and deleted within days if left unread.
"We are all principals in the business and have a deep interest in promoting safe and secure technology products," Dhawan said on behalf of Erin Ginkens and Joseph Vande Kieft, who round out up the three-person PikuZone team.
Parents pay $12 to register each child account and a flat monthly rate of $1 per child or $2.50 per family. The pricing structure is fixed, so any family with two or more children will pay a maximum of $30 per year for usage. Payments will be made monthly using Dwolla as the primary payment service and PayPal as a backup for credit card usage.
Twenty-five parents and 50 kids have tried the beta version of PikuZone. Dhawan, who is also a principal at StartupCity Des Moines, said as PikuZone prepares to officially launch, it fits into the StartupCity model.
"PikuZone is a startup, born within the realm of StartupCity Des Moines and will grow along with the various businesses that have taken seed or come to life in StartupCity Des Moines." Dhawan said. "We intend to teach and learn concurrently with our partners in StartupCity."
*Updated 11:30 a.m. – Added mention of PikuZone competitors.