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Make your PC kid-friendly with four custom operating systems

Marco Chiappetta | March 15, 2013
Parental controls are outdated. Make your PC fun for all ages using operating systems designed specifically for tech-savvy tykes.

KIDO'Z has a built-in browser with an ad blocker and real-time content filtering. The browser also has large buttons and direct links to a multitude of popular children's websites, which helps make accessing everything very easy, even for young children. The KIDO'Z environment also has a full set of parental controls and an App Blocker that lets you prevent unauthorized programs from running on the device.

However, there's a catch when using KIDO'Z: The mobile version is free, but the PC version requires a subscription to enable full functionality. There is a free 7-day trial available, but to unlock the parental controls and enable all the features you have to purchase a $4.99 (monthly), $39.99 (yearly), or $59.99 (lifetime) subscription.

Buy, build, or just recycle your own kid-friendly PC

If there's one thing most kid-friendly operating systems or environments have in common, it's that they usually have minimal hardware requirements. That makes repurposed laptops and netbooks, as well as old, retired PCs perfect vessels for resurrection as kid-friendly PCs. Of the products we've discussed here, Edubuntu has the most "demanding" requirements, and even then it calls for only a 1GHz processor, 512MB of memory, and 20GB of disk space.

Using retired desktop machines or laptops is a great solution for setting up a kid-friendly PC, especially if you're worried about very young kids wrecking the system. If you'd prefer to buy or build a new PC that's just for kids, there's really no need to blow your money on expensive components. A basic PC built around an AMD A-Series APU or Intel Core-series processor with integrated graphics should be plenty powerful, and can be had for only a few hundred dollars. For an example of what to buy, check out our guide to building a speedy Windows 8 PC for under $500 and just skip the expense of shelling out for Windows 8.

Of course if you've only got one PC that everyone must share and can't afford to bring another PC into the house, creating a virtual machine with a kid-friendly OS or using a Live CD is also a great, free option. The Qimo website even offers a preconfigured virtual disk image (VDI) that can be used with VirtualBox or other virtualization software. No matter how you choose to go about it, setting up a kid-friendly PC is a cheap, easy way to share your love of tech with the next generation.

 

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