Curiocity’s FreeZone has always been deeply committed to empowering kids, but now the visionary kids on-line community, along with co-creator Magnet Interactive of Washington, D.C., is turning the conventional roles of parent-child and teacher-student upside down in its quest to reach that goal. Debuting on the Net in February 1999 is Flipzone (www.flipzone.com), a site in which kids ages eight to 14 teach the adults in their lives how to use the computer to communicate and conduct everyday business.
Kids win points as they successfully guide their grown-up pupils through each of four activity levels of escalating digital difficulty. The points they amass can then be traded in for cool kid kickbacks like downloadable screensavers and games, as well as sponsored prizes that will likely range from CD-ROMs to airline tickets for family trips.
Corporate sponsors are scrambling for space on the new zone because it offers a rare opportunity to reach kids and adults at the same time. Curiocity’s marketing manager Justin Osmer says the site was designed to encourage greater parental involvement in kid on-line activity and also helps families bridge communication gaps. ‘There are so many different mediums coming into the family home that the gap between kids, who are inherently tech-savvy, and their parents, who are often slower to adapt to new things, is growing bigger and bigger. Flipzone is a cooperative project that bridges that gap a little-it’s like the soapbox car of the `90s.’