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Web Site Guides Kids Through The Web
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Web Site Guides Kids Through The Web

Digital Life

Web Site Guides Kids Through The Web

Web Site Guides Kids Through The Web
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Host Scott Simon speaks with Queena Kim and Tanya Jo Miller, who run the Web site, cyberfrequencies.com, about kids and the Web.

(Soundbite of "iCarly" theme song)

Unidentified Woman: In five, four, three, two…

Ms. MIRANDA COSGROVE (Singer): (Singing) I know, you see, somehow the world will change for me, and be so wonderful…

SCOTT SIMON, host:

That's the start of "iCarly," one of the most popular children's shows on television, seen on Nickelodeon in the United States and in Great Britain, Canada and scores of other countries.

Here to talk about it now are Queena Kim - thanks very much for being with us…

Ms. QUEENA KIM (Co-Creator, CyberFrequencies): Thank you.

SIMON: …and Tanya Jo Miller.

Ms. TANYA JO MILLER (Co-Creator, CyberFrequencies): Hi, Scott.

SIMON: They are co-creators of the podcast CyberFrequencies at member station 89.3 KPCC in Los Angeles. And what is "iCarly," and what's it have to do with the Web?

Ms. MILLER: So "iCarly" is a show on Nickelodeon, and it's about a group of friends making a Web show, and it's making kids want to be Web stars these days more than movie stars.

Ms. KIM: Actually, as you know, Scott, Cyberfrequencies, as you noted, is a podcast and we're also a radio column here at KPCC. We cover the Web and technology, but we're not focusing on the experts so much as how you, me, the kid down the street, the teacher, are thinking and creating content on the Web.

Ms. MILLER: The biggest stars these days on the Web are just regular people, and shows like "iCarly" reflect that. Here's a clip of a couple budding young Web stars. I spoke to 7-year-old Ocelotl and 6-year-old cousin, Lola.

OCELOTL: It's about three friends. They do a Web site called "iCarly," and his brother Spencer makes like crazy sculptures. Just crazy.

Ms. MILLER: Can you show me?

OCELOTL: Yeah.

LOLA: If you go on my computer...

OCELOTL: It is my interview. Her computer is much better.

LOLA: There's icarly.com.

Ms. MILLER: What do you like about it?

LOLA: When you click on the red button, you get your home page.

Ms. MILLER: Do you want to be on the Internet?

LOLA: I do. And you say, why do you want to be on?

Ms. MILLER: Okay, why do you want to be on the Internet?

LOLA: Because I want to have lots of fans, and it makes me a little bit shy but it makes me (unintelligible)

SIMON: Parents, as I don't have to tell you, get a little bit concerned with their youngsters navigating the Web.

Ms. MILLER: That's true. Even, for example, Ocelotl's mom was really concerned about this.

Ms. KIM: And so what we did was, you know, she had some concerns about like, should my kid be on the Web? Is it safe? All that sort of stuff that I'm sure I've been hearing a lot of parents talk about. And so we sought out the advice of a kindergarten teacher name Maria Knee, and she's from Deerfield, New Hampshire. She actually blogs with her students, and she's been teaching for more than 20 years, but she's really embraced the Internet and made it a core part of her curriculum.

And where she comes down on this is that she has no patience for educators who don't incorporate technology into their classrooms. Because, as she points out, although a lot of parents sort of think of the Internet sort of like TV - as entertainment - it's really becoming the primary source of information these days.

Ms. MILLER: Yeah, and if your kids miss out on that - I mean, that's kind of - if they don't know how to navigate the Web, that's kind of a problem. She doesn't say that there are no dangers for kids on the Web, but she thinks that you should not avoid them but actually teach the kids to navigate these dangers and to, you know, be safe on the Web.

Ms. MARIA KNEE (Teacher): I take the kids on field trips to Boston. We have to learn about how to be safe in the city. And just the same, we have to know how to be safe using this online environment. Yes, there's always someone who's going to click another button. Or by mistake, hit a button. So I need to tell them when you get to something that makes you feel a little nervous, shut the monitor off and then go tell the teacher.

SIMON: Hmm. Of course, you're less worried about the kid who gets nervous than the kid who gets fascinated...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MILLER: True. True.

SIMON: ...if they see something.

Ms. KIM: But it does, you know, you do hear parents a lot, like - I mean, I do notice that parents sort of ascribe motives to kids. You know? And what I really liked about that clip is that, you know, just sometimes it happens and we just got to teach kids when - just like in real life, if a stranger approaches you or a weird thing comes on your screen, you know, don't get mad at them, just teach them. What do you do? Turn off the screen. Go to a parent, you know, and tell them what's happening.

SIMON: Queena Kim and Tanya Jo Miller, they're co-creators of cyberfequencies.com. That's part of Maker's Quest, a project of the Association of Independence in Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Do you have any questions about your child and the Net? You can go to npr.org/soapbox, and you can post questions for the kindergarten teacher and blogger Maria Knee.

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