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Culture

When only Big Bird is safe enough

New plug-in console let's kids into safe sites.

Fisher-Price

Toy makers have made good progress in robots and pretty much anything with a remote, but they've never quite been able to figure out computers for tots. Usually they're just toy laptops with lame black-and-white screens that are barely legible, making them kind of like fancy Etch A Sketches with some flashing lights and a mouse.

The latest offering from Fisher-Price, the "Easy Link Internet Launch Pad," takes a different approach. Rather than just try to look like a notebook for kids, it's a plug-and-play navigation device that works with any regular computer with a USB connection. The pad's software, which blocks access to the hard drive, allows kids only into Sesame Street sites, where they can play games using the figures on the console. Access to other kid-safe sites is possible only by plugging in different "smart keys," which are sold separately (of course).

That means they won't be going anywhere near YouTube, where they might accidentally catch Cookie Monster's brother devour a computer. The horror.