Rucha Pradhan, a 7-year-old from St Joseph’s High School in Pune, is now being called the ‘Mocomi girl’ by all her friends, after she was featured on the kids’ edutainment site Mocomi.com. Her cousins in the US are thrilled by this. This site, which formally opened to children just a few days ago, has a section to bring to limelight talented children under 12 years across schools in India.
Mocomi joins the league of edutainment sites catering to children under 12 years in India. As it is being formally launched during the summer vacation, it is expected that the website would be able to find young audience. Sites like pitara.com, chimpoo.com and kidswebindia.com have already been catering to this segment.
The essential feature of these portals is that they offer edutainment ranging from short stories, folk tales to puzzles to engage children with people of their age groups. Poems, stories, interactive videos, applications, art and craft ideas and a range of other elements are also there. Mocomi has started offering interactive learning tools on the Apple app store. This include apps related to knowledge of Hindu deities, learning alphabets in a fun way and interactive tales. All these apps would be accompanied by audio clips to make the experience interesting.
Offering distinct fun elements from the others is a prerequisite for the websites. Take chimpoo.com for example. It is a virtual world designed for children where they can play, explore and interact with other Chimpoos in a safe environment. Your child can create a Chimpoo character with which he/she can explore the world, play games, dress up their Chimpoo and own virtual homes (such as a sand castle) for their Chimpoo. In addition, they can also chat with children of their age .
“Our website has around 25,000 visitors a day. The growth is 40 per cent higher than last year. We are trying to offer Facebook-like experience to children who cannot access Facebook due to age restrictions,” says Alok Kejriwal, co-founder and CEO of Games2win India that owns Chimpoo.com.
Kejriwal adds that the trick is to get the kids undergo skill development through fun activities rather than through the gamut of education.
Another portal, Pitara.com, as a network is edging close to a million users a month. “Pitara was started 15 years ago. It started out as a personal project, in response to a very personal challenge of not being able to find good books for my child. We started out by publishing illustrated content for children. It was as if the world was just waiting for it; we were overwhelmed by the response. And we set our sights higher. Over the years we have experimented with a wide range of products — animation, audio, print, e-commerce, software, apps, games and more,” says Ajay Jaiman, founder & CEO, Pitara Kids Network.
Jesh Krishna Murthy, director, Mocomi.com informs that the site will soon offer networking opportunities to parents of kids who use the website. The site, which already has more than 1500 modules for learning, is adding several more. It has had 10,000 hits in the initial stages itself. He says that the portal differentiates itself from others, purely through the interactive content and the design. The site already has converted the content into Hindi and is looking at offering the same content in major Indian languages.
Kids have no reason to complain. Aparupa Roy, a five-year-old student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan school in Kolkata, uses the website to discover science in an innovative way. “The videos, especially, of the cola and mentos experiment at Mocomi.com, helped me understand how the actual process takes place, and I can even try it at home. This is any day better than reading a boring textbook,” says Roy.
Says Rucha Pradhan, “I love going to sites like Mocomi.com, as it is a useful resource for school projects.
Moreover, it offers interactive stories which holds my attention rather than the same content in a textbook." She, however, informs that she uses the site with the guidance of either her parents or her elder sister.
The safety aspects have also been catered to, by the websites. Rucha Pradhan's mother Rashmi Pradhan says that she personally found sites like Mocomi to be very safe for the child. Also, she adds that this was a learning experience for her as well. "I think that schools should also put forward this medium for the kids, who are quick learners at this age," says Rashmi Pradhan.
Kejriwal further informs that chimpoo.com will soon be having a software to check the typing speed of the users of the site. "This will help us identify whether the user is a kid, adult or even an anti-social element. Kids have a slow typing speed, which would separate them from the others. The IP address of suspects will be tracked to prevent any untoward activity," he says.
Looking at the way ahead, these players expect the numbers to grow. "We believe more and more kids will get online and this trend will continue to spread across socio-economic classes. I believe that the games have just begun," says Jaiman. Kids, too, have their own demands. As Aparupa Roy puts it, "I want interactively at all levels in the sites. I want not just colourful pictures, but characters that talk and explain what they are trying to do. That i what will hook me and several of my school friends to use it as a learning tool."