The City Magazine Since 1975

The Future of Play

December 2017
The Future of Play
PHOTOGRAPHER: 

The iOKids app is boosting kids’ virtual abilities 

Dynepic cofounder Krissa Watry with Lincoln Fraley and Jett Black, who helped develop the iOKids app (shown above), which includes a Chat with Santa feature (above)

Many a parent will report that the digital world feels all too much like the Wild West. How and where do you let your kids connect, and in what ways do you monitor it all? But two local women—Krissa Watry, a United States Air Force Academy- and MIT-trained engineer, and Jacqueline Arn, an educator of 40-plus years—are transforming that unruly landscape into a virtual playground.

Earlier this year, their startup, Dynepic, released an app called “iOKids” that allows children to safely connect to friends, family, and brands (like toy companies), while parents monitor everything from their own accounts.

“It’s the only kid-safe, family platform powering cutting-edge technology that’s COPPA-compliant,” says Watry, referring to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which makes it illegal for online services to collect personal info about users under 13 without consent from parents. As a result, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram simply don’t allow youth to join. And toy manufacturers struggle to create “smart” products because obtaining parental consent is cumbersome.

iOKids aims to bring all of children’s personal info and social interactions under one roof, simplifying matters for parents as well as companies. Kids have a list of approved friends and family members. They can send direct messages and post disappearing “Magic Messages”—photos complete with filters, “stickers,” and words. Users can also connect to companies (such as local toy store Wonder Works) that share videos and more geared to young viewers.

Each account has a “My Apps” list, too. Before an app that requires data collection can be added, “the maker sends a push notification to iOKids. The parent reviews it and can choose to allow it,” says Watry. At press time, Wonder Works and the basketball-themed ShotDoctor (see sidebar) were partnered with iOKids, and Watry says more apps are coming soon.

Get Connected

Here’s how children can use the new iOKids app now

- Send messages to friends and family members who have also created profiles. (Be sure to add emojis like the dog that barks and the poop that, well...poots). Post “Magic Messages” that disappear in 24 hours.
- Use Wonder Works’ app to snap photos for a holiday wish list that’s shareable with family. More fun features are coming later in December.
- Check out ShotDoctor, an app for the Apple Watch that teaches proper basketball-shooting technique.
- Try iOKids’ Chat with Santa feature (psst, Mom and Dad, this is your chance to go undercover).

Resources: 

Photographs by (Dynepic team) Taylor Drake & courtesy of (app-2) iOKids