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A New Service from SkyDog Fetches Only Kid-Friendly Web Content for Your Children

Dan Tynan
Yahoo Tech

If you own a Skydog Smart Router, it just got a little easier to steer your kids toward wholesome content on the Interwebs.

WebRover, a free update to Powercloud’s Skydog Smart Router cloud service, provides a list of more than 1,000 sites that have been rated for age-appropriate content and educational quality by Common Sense Media. So instead of manually creating a so-called “whitelist” of approved sites, you can apply the webRover filters with a few clicks to limit your kids’ access to just those sites on CSM’s approved list.

You can filter the list even further by genre (gaming, music, video, social networks, and the like), recommended minimum and maximum age ranges for each site, educational quality, and so on. You can also delete sites you don’t like from the Common Sense Media list and add favorite ones that aren’t on it. As long as your kids stay on your home network, they won’t be able to go anywhere else.

Here’s the cool part. Instead of merely blocking access to forbidden sites, webRover turns the whitelist into a web portal featuring a Netflix-style carousel of approved sites. When kids launch their browsers, they’re immediately directed to the portal, which can be sorted by genre and customized with different skins. As you add kids to the system, Skydog prompts you for their dates of birth and then creates a custom webRover portal based on their ages.

What’s the catch? First, to take advantage of webRover, you must already own a Skydog Smart Router. Second, the list of approved sites represents only a sliver of the sites your kids might ultimately want to visit. The older your kids are, the less useful you’ll find webRover.

If your youngsters are relative Net newbies, you’ll appreciate the portal. If they’re on the edge of tweendom, you probably won’t use webRover very much—or you’ll spend a lot of time adding sites to it.

But webRover is really just the beginning of a larger vision for home network management, PowerCloud CEO Jeff Abramowitz says. He plans to turn the portal into a resource where the entire family can share photos, videos, and other content, as well as control any home automation systems.

Today, Skydog routers already let you prioritize bandwidth for things like Nest thermostats or Dropcam video cameras, but it takes a fair amount of tech savvy to pull that off. In the future, you’ll be able to do it much more easily via a portal, as well as make these devices more private and secure, Abramowitz says.

In other words, instead of having to add multiple wireless hubs to your network and switch among different apps to control different systems in your home, you’ll be able to do everything via your WiFi router and a single home portal.

It’s a good idea, though it’s far too early to judge how well Skydog will be able to deliver on this concept. Smart home systems have a long way to go before they’re friendly enough for most nongeeks to use. Ultimately, though, webRover could be the first step toward turning the lowly WiFi router into a home automation hub—an interface to both the web and the Internet of Things

Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com