IQ News: CTW to Launch “Kid City” Web Community




Children’s Television Workshop Online is making its first foray into the 6- to 11-year-old online market with its Kid City community, launching today.
The ad-supported site, kidcity.org, features a main section, Sticker World, where kids can make their own pages decorated with electronic stickers. It also includes a polling mechanism called the “Hit or Dis Gadgetron” where they can vote on whether trends and issues are cool or “over” and “True but Strange” facts from CTW’s Kid City and Contact Kids magazines.
The site was constructed as an exclusive kids’ community. “We were not really interested in building a Web site for kids,” explained Tina Sharkey, group vice president and general manager of CTW Online. “Communities really start when you give people the tools to make their own stuff.”
For instance, Sticker World allows kids to create their own pages decorated with e-stickers from “zones,” including categories such as adventure, machines, pets, space, animals, food, nature, science and sports. Another zone, “Whaddaya say?” features symbols that contain commentary.
Kids earn points redeemable for new stickers by visiting other children’s pages and playing with the stickers, many of which are interactive or morph into games.
Sharkey said the site is safe for kids to peruse on their own because no one can actually type original messages.
“We didn’t want to go beyond what we felt was safe and secure,” she said, adding, “Kids are using the keyboard, but using the keyboard with a lot of prefabricated messages. They can’t type their own stuff.”
The site is ad supported, though banners are clearly marked “this is an ad.” Advertisers at the launch include Nintendo, SmarterKids.com, Hewlett-Packard and eToys. Sharkey said the zones also will incorporate sponsorships.
Users will be able to link to Kid City from the main CTW Family Workshop page or through the CTW section on America Online.
Sharkey said the site is both entertaining and educational as it incorporates trading and collecting with the leveling structure of video games, where there are no winners or losers. But, she added, “It also gives [kids] a way to make their mark and put themselves on the Net.”
Plus, she said, the site ties in with CTW’s multimedia vision. “[It’s] the relationship of the television to keyboard. That’s our whole reason for being.”