Apr 3, 2013
Introducing children to computers is a very delicate process, and one that I do not look forward to when I am finally thrust into parenthood. On the one hand, any parent wants their children to be proficient with technology as well as use all the available resources to expand their imagination and knowledge of the world. But along with that comes the unbridled mature, or immature, corners of the internet where no parent wants their young child entering. Parental controls on modern machines are clumsy and fairly easy to circumvent for especially apt kids, and they generally get in the way of everyday functions when the children are not on the computer. Seeing as the PC market is dominated by Apple and Microsoft with no viable third option catering to parents it was only time before the borderless possibilities of Android came in and lent a hand.
This week’s KickStarter Spotlight focuses on an ambitious, and impressively polished product that is squarely aimed at parents who are concerned about their child’s computer usage called MiiPC. It is not so much the content as the amount of time wasted that most parents worry about, and it is a fact that technology can be a major distraction for young people with homework. I can attest that even in the course of writing this post, I have looked away to a USA Today update and watched a few YouTube videos that were sent to me by a few Facebook friends. What MiiPC aims to deliver is a computer that, in all honesty, is not much more than a converted, overpowered tablet in a box. The main feature is the complete control parents have over the device. From setting time restrictions on apps or websites, to monitoring exactly what activity a user is doing at any time; MiiPC allows a parent to have total peace of mind while still ensuring their children get an appropriate introduction to the vast wonder of the internet.
The machine runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and essentially functions as a Mac Mini, coming with no keyboard, mouse, or screen of any kind. There is not access to the entire app market, just a few that are more suited to mouse and keyboard interaction, but a basic suite of apps, for web browsing, word processing, and media management are all included. One of the biggest feature is an included mobile app that acts as a command center for the device, allowing for the user to monitor and allow or restrict their child’s actions on the MiiPC. Custom settings can be changed for each user’s profile, and there is practically nothing that escapes a parent’s control. This is why I have no reason to believe that MiiPC will not find a niche somewhere in the market immediately, and maybe a few years from now their unique strategy of marketing to young families will make MiiPC a household name.