MaMaMedia Magazine - A Kids' Guide to the Net
How to Explore and Experience Internet Culture in Print
In the early days of the Internet, many children and families did not have access to the Web or email. Internet lingo such as "www" and "dot com" were ideas many kids had only heard about but never seen or fully understood. Our ideas were innovative and forward-thinking: We wanted to develop a print publication that would appeal both to kids who were early adopters of Internet technology as well as those who had only heard about the Internet, email, the Web and browsers. Remaining true to our constructionist point of view, we set out to help kids learn about all the new exciting Internet experiences. We used a print publication for creating a concrete experience of "going online without going on the computer."
We had two main objectives as we developed the MaMaMedia Magazine. First, we aspired to create a truly "interactive" experience in print for kids who already had access to the Internet as well as for those who did not. We wanted the "old medium" of print to seem like the "new medium" of the Internet-to be experiential in design. Our aim from both the visual and editorial perspectives was to essentially evoke, for readers, the real-life experience "surfing the web." For most kids it was about visiting special places and learning about new people and places, and in many ways, "bigger and more exciting than real life!" Second, we knew that the magazine needed an innovative and colorful visual format that spoke to the exciting, technological world of the Internet. Its content called for a hip and easy-to-read visual format that would allow kids to browse pages, just like they could do online.
The MaMaMedia magazine is big, shiny, and exploding with color in large format images. It features a mix of ideas, activities and information that let's kids "surf the Internet" in print. With three young characters named Jesse, Devin Zack the magazine took readers on an online adventure to nearly 30 sites on the Web, hand-picked by MaMaMedia staff. Because the Internet is interactive, we designed each feature with a "You Do It" section, to inspire children to go online and surf for themselves.
The magazine includes the following features:
Email SeeMail - printed emails from kids about their own web pages, finding email pen pals, games and activities online.
Getting Started - a section designed for parents and families who were learning about the Internet at the same time as their kids. This section discusses issues of safety, Internet software, learning with Internet, and communicating with kids about the Web.
For Real: Internet Stories from the Heart - stories about how the Web has helped and inspired people, aided handicapped and sick kids, and connected families and friends like never before.
Flip Flop - a sports feature covering stories about young athletes and spotlights on some of the best sports-related sites on the 'Net for kids.
Surf This! - a collection of 12 hand-picked fun and exciting sites on the Web just for kids. The sites in this section featured games, projects, movie sites, and learning activities that kids could visit online.
Kids, Drive Your Parents - a section that inspired kids to connect with their families through a shared surfing experience, This feature asks kids to take the "driver's seat" on the Web by escorting their parents on tour of selected sites.
Screenings - a timely collection of sites related to other media, including television, radio, computer games, and feature films popular with kids.
My Planet - a surfing adventure to countries around the world, featuring selected sites about a single country in each issue. Countries featured included Costa Rica, Israel, Japan, and Egypt, among others.
The M-Gang - a section devoted to the three MaMaMedia characters, Jesse, Devin and Zach, who help children learn about and travel the Internet. In each issue, the characters take a "web adventure" in cartoon format, and encourage readers to visit sites and send email online.
More than one million copies of MaMaMedia-A Kids' Guide to the Net were distributed by Scholastic, as part of the Scholastic Software Clubs. MaMaMedia published 12 issues of the magazine between 1996 and 2000-it is the first and only magazine dedicated to the Internet for kids.