There's a thin line between letting your kids benefit from what the internet can offer in terms of education and chatting to their friends, and being cautious over the various dangers children can stumble upon.
We've talked about how you can keep your kids safe online, but now a new gadget looks set to combine fun and safety in one smiley desktop toy.
The Chatman on the right is a 'plug-in emoticon' that connects via USB to your computer or laptop. Like an advanced version of the 90's hit toy Furby, the Chatman wiggles its arms, ears and blinks whilst chatting away.
The surfing buddy also monitors the sites you visit, warning the user if they're approaching a website that's unsuitable. The people behind the toy, re:creation, kindly sent over a Chatman to try out.
The toy is easy enough to set up, with a simple CD setup to run. Once it's all installed, you plug in the Chatman and customise it with a personality and name.
The toy gives you a variety of options for play, including 'Talk2Me!' which allows you to chat away with the bot. 'Chat Mates' allows you to switch between personalities, 'I want to' offers you the ability to play games, surf for child-friendly sites, and search for images. Unfortunately, it does still pick up on some risky images and websites on the basic setting, but this can be amended in the options settings.
When you're chatting to friends on MSN, Facebook, Skype, AOL and Gmail, the Chatman passes comment on what you're chatting about, monitors for adult content, and picks up on keywords.
The Chatman seems like a beneficial tool for younger children surfing the internet in conjunction with the usual safety and parental standards set on your browser.
ParentView score: 3/5
You can buy the Chatman for around £39.99 from Amazon from mid-late April.
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