BY REBECCA GRACE | AFA Journal Staff Writer

From educational journals to pornography, the Internet is as dark as it is broad, which is why Gregory D. Writer, CEO of Children’s Educational Network (CEN), is determined to shed some light on what has become a way of life in the 21st Century.

As reported by N2H2 in September 2003, "pornographic Web pages now top 260 million and [are] growing at an unprecedented rate."

But it was several years prior to the unprecedented growth in online pornography that Writer recognized the dangers of the Internet and set out to make a difference for the good of all children.

As an early Internet adopter who was instrumental in starting one of the first Internet service providers in San Diego, California, in the mid-nineties, Writer employed several whiz kids who kept talking about creating a browser.

David Spoon, a pastor and director of CEN, defines a browser as "a software program that allows you to see and hear what’s on the Internet."

Although it was in the Internet’s early days when Writer began toying with the reality of creating this browser, he did not let the uncertainty of cyberspace stop him. Writer not only wanted to create a browser but a kid- safe browser designed as a protection tool that would allow children to surf only sites that had been pre-approved and deemed appropriate.

His basis for this type of browser is known as the "include list" methodology which incorporates looking at a Web site, reviewing the site, and adding it to a list. The browser would then search only the listed sites.

It was only a matter of a few years before Writer put his ideas into action through the creation of a browser called "Crayon Crawler." After attempting to launch the browser, the logistics of the plan hit home with Writer. He went back to the drawing board to come up with a marketing plan for his project.

"During this whole period of time, God was giving me these ideas and thoughts," Writer explained.

With God’s guidance, such ideas brought him to where he is today despite an upheaval of struggles, disappointments and failures.

Only months ago, Writer launched a kid-safe browser now available online at www.thekidsinternet.com.

The Kid Safe Browser is theme-oriented and allows the user to choose from a variety of motifs. The chosen theme will become the browser’s faceplate. Once an initial theme is selected, users may change and download different themes — most of which are free, while others which have a price tag attached. Such themes include but are not limited to Kids Count, Noah’s Net and MindStein Travels.

Regardless of the theme, the functionality of the Kid Safe Browser is the same and includes the following basic features:

• Kid-friendly user interface
• List of more than 10,000 pre-approved kid-friendly Web sites
• Internet lockdown that disables other Internet browsers
• Parent administrator controls.

"Some people can’t afford protection," Writer said. "So let’s give it away for free."

While most of Writer’s basic browser themes and functions are free, he does offer premium features that can be purchased. These premium features come through a paid subscription to The Kids Internet, a kids-only online community designed as an expansion of the Kid Safe Browser. The premium features include:

• Safe, buddies-only, spam-free E-mail
• Safer chat rooms • Language/content filters
• Encouraging comments and chore reminders
• 3-D animated, talking Internet guide based on selected themes.

Writer’s overall vision is to institute all of these features as a means of placing a plethora of educational information at children’s fingertips. In addition, he wants to incorporate the teaching of morals, values and goals through an animated character approach he refers to as "characters building characters."

"My vision is to build a network of children all over the world that is built on two basic premises: safety and education," Writer explained.

According to a report by NBC’s Today show found online at MSNBC.com, "A study released by the Justice Department found that one in four children online are exposed to unwanted and explicit pornography."

"[Therefore] we’re providing the best, safest, most educational Internet environment for children of all ages," Writer said. "I know that God wants this to happen."

Subscription rates for The Kids Internet to use in conjunction with the basic Kid Safe Browser:

$97 for a one-time investment
$47 for 12 months
$3.95 per month

For more information: www.thekidsinternet.com or contact Greg Writer at 760-233-2863 or admin@kidsafe.com.