WiredSafety Seal of Approval and How to Rate a Site or App for Safety
STAR (Site Team and Research)
As a part of WiredSafety, this division handles approved sites, services and reviews of products for a seal of approval and evaluates those products for permission to place links on the WiredSafety site or any of its other sites. The site researchers, all WiredSafety STAR members, continuously scour the Internet looking for sites and apps that deserve the WiredSafety Approved Seal. (Note that while we use the term "Site" we are also referring to apps and games.)
They then sort the approved sites into groups based on content (dinosaurs, space, music) and age-appropriateness (for pre-readers, for adults, for teens).
WiredSafety's unique system allows the sites to be evaluated based upon a number of criteria. These tests are subjective, but since the evaluations are conducted by at least three people per site, the decisions are consistent from review to review. Senior members of the STAR group handle any disagreement about the rating of the site. The sites, once approved, are permitted to carry the WiredSafety Seal Approval.
The team members take several classes to learn how to review sites using WiredSafety's standards. Once trained, they are given a stringent set of guidelines to follow when evaluating a Web site. They must determine whether a given site:
contains any violence such as harm to others or oneself
promotes intolerance to any other group because of race or religion, or is part of a hate group
glorifies the use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs
refers to sexual acts, promoted any sexual preferences, or permits sexual chat, or has graphics that do so
contains any curse words or foul language
contains any nudity, partial or full, in cartoons, animations or in images/videos
contains any gambling
collects personally identifiable information
has hidden costs or charges
has a responsible linking policy
Each site is then rated according to age appropriateness:
A) All Ages
B) Recommend Adult Supervision
C) Pre-school Children / Ages 0 to 4
D) Primary school Students / Ages 5 to 7
E) Elementary school Students / Ages 8 to 10
F) Jr. High school Students / Ages 11 to 13
G) High school Students / Ages 14 to 16
H) Older Teens / Ages 17 & 18
As mentioned, three different team members review and rate each site. When all three members agree, these sites can then be compiled and made available to parental control software manufacturers and placed on the WiredSafety site as "approved safe sites."
While surfing, the tireless members of the STAR team also look for special interest Web sites such as suicide prevention, drug education, homework help, and many others. These are then approved as links for WiredSafety's own Web site. All links must be approved and rated by STAR teams before they are added.
Parents, educators and even children are always looking for safe sites for children and families. Parry has tried to focus attention on good sites, rather than trying to filter inappropriate ones. As a result, webmasters can submit their sites to STAR for review. The WiredSafety Seal of Approval is a highly sought-after honor. The seal, often mentioned by Parry in the media, has helped dramatically increase the traffic of many sites following its receipt.
STAR reviews filtering and blocking software, as well as other software and services that are recommended for review. The filtering and blocking software is evaluated by using a list of our pre selected inappropriate sites (bomb making, pornography, hate sites, etc.) to see if the software blocks them. We also check the software against a list of safe sites (i.e., alcohol and drug education) to see if it blocks these sites inadvertently. Our reviewers use the programs for a minimum of two weeks to see how family-friendly they are.
The STAR group also selects one site every week for its Approved Site of the Week award. These are the sites that offer something special, as well as meeting our stringent criteria. And, once a year, WiredKids and WiredTeens announce the WiredKids Best of the Web Awards for outstanding sites that children, teens and their parents can agree upon. After passing the parents' approval, and following the recommendation by thousands of children around the world, STAR calls upon Parry's expertise as a leading children's Internet industry lawyer to make sure that the site complies with applicable privacy laws.
Celebrating the wonders of the Internet and valuable and fun content online is what WiredSafety is all about. As part of the essential foundation upon which WiredSafety was built, our STARs shine brightly in cyberspace.