America Online Launches the KOL and KOL JR. Services Created Exclusively for Kids Aged 2-12

DULLES, Va.--()--Sept. 29, 2003--

  New AOL/DMS Research Shows That Kids Are Online at Least Four Days a Week on Average, 20% Are Online Every Day(1)  

Groundbreaking New Services Provide Kids with an Entertaining, Educational and Safer Online Experience

America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, today plans to unveil the KOL(TM) service, a robust new experience on the AOL(R) service for kids aged 6-12, and the KOL JR.(TM) service, a customized version of the AOL service for pre-schoolers and parents. Available to current AOL members through AOL(R) 9.0 Optimized, the newest version of the AOL(R) client software, the KOL service is the first version of the AOL service designed entirely for kids that allows them to customize their own Welcome Screen, toolbar and Buddy List(R) feature with special desktop themes and innovative navigation effects. From exclusive content from industry leading kids' brands and all-new original programming to enhanced safety features and educational resources, the KOL service is an entirely new experience designed from the ground up to offer kids what they want most.

According to an America Online/Digital Marketing Services, Inc. survey released today, nearly half (46%) of kids go online at least four times a week and nearly 20% go online every day. Other recent industry research shows that kids are among the fastest growing online audiences. Jupiter Research predicts that 57% of kids under the age of 11 will be online by the year 2007.(2) In addition, parents, especially mothers, recognize the benefits of having their children online. Ninety-two percent of mothers believe the Web is a great tool for their children and 53% of moms say the Web has brought their family closer together.(3)

The KOL service offers kids aged 6-12 their own fun and engaging version of the AOL service that is integrated with AOL's industry leading Parental Controls for a safer and more secure online environment. The unique KOL experience begins at the desktop where kids can customize their own version of the service by choosing from a range of six desktop themes that offer fun, game-like navigation features for them to explore the different content and departments. Kids can access exclusive content from their favorite, industry-leading brands, including Cartoon Network, Looney Tunes, Kids' WB!, DC Comics, Mary-Kate and Ashley, TIME For Kids and Sports Illustrated For Kids. In addition, the KOL service offers kids a host of all-new original programming, including AOL's first-ever live online daily radio show, 45 all-new online games and exclusive original cartoon shorts.

"The launch of the KOL service reinforces AOL's commitment to kids and parents alike," said Jim Bankoff, Executive Vice President, AOL Programming. "We've concentrated on creating an all-new service based exactly on what kids want - a fun and engaging online experience that is unlike anything else. By offering exclusive games and entertainment, plus interactive features such as monitored chats, polls and AOL's first-ever live online radio show for kids, we've maintained our focus on building an all-new online environment that both kids and parents will love. The launch of the KOL service is a great example of our commitment to giving our members more reasons than ever to rediscover the AOL service by providing them with distinct and comprehensive experiences that cater to their interests and needs."

"The all-new KOL experience represents the most comprehensive step AOL has ever taken in the kids area," said Malcolm Bird, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Kids and Teens, America Online. "We have conducted extensive research regarding what parents and children want most in an online service for kids and translated that into the valuable and relevant programming available now on the KOL service. Kids can explore this interactive and educational online service that gives them a one-stop-shop for fun and exciting online content and features, while parents can be assured that their kids are enjoying an entertaining and enriching online experience - all within the protected and monitored environment of the AOL service."

The KOL(TM) Service Offers a Host of Fun and Engaging New Features

-- Customized Kids' Desktop Themes: Kids can customize their own version of the KOL service and express their interests and personality by choosing from six desktop themes that appeal to a wide range of ages, genders and interests, including "Space," "Ocean," "Jungle," "Hypertech" and "Style." Each graphically rich theme changes the entire appearance of the KOL service and incorporates dynamic, game-like navigation features for kids to explore the different content and departments.

-- Games: Kids on the KOL service can check out 45 all-new original online games created exclusively for the KOL service, including Booger Bowling, Mimic the Monkey and Funwordz, as well as play some of their favorite games from Cartoon Network, Kids' WB! and Sports Illustrated For Kids. Kids can also customize their own online Arena for quick and easy access to their favorite games and get the latest news, hints, previews and tips from the game world.

-- Radio KOL: This daily, live online radio show offers kids a radio experience that's fun, irreverent and unlike anything else available online. Hosted by Rick Adams, a leading UK radio and TV personality, Radio KOL aims to transform online radio into a proactive and interactive experience that is perfect for kids because it gives them the chance to impact the show's programming and get their jokes, shout-outs and requests on air. Each day, the live show begins at 3:00 p.m. ET and runs until 7:00 p.m. ET, offering kids four hours chock full of fast and furious energy where anything can happen.

-- Interactive Storybook: Each day, kids can check out a new episode of the O5(TM) ("Outcast 5") online interactive storybook created by Los Angeles screenwriters Patrick J. Doody and Chris Valenziano and illustrated by DC Comics. The O5 storybook tells the story of the adventures of five freshman superheroes who battle villains while uncovering the truth about their unique powers. Within each chapter, kids will find hidden interactive clues and dynamic animations that bring the story to life. In addition, a special vocabulary word feature helps kids quickly find the definition for challenging words featured in the story.

-- Hangout: Kids can enjoy AOL's popular community features in their own Hangout area that lets them interact with other kids in a protected and monitored environment. Kids can sound off with their opinions in kids-only monitored message boards and chatrooms, vote in polls, rate new products, movies and TV shows, take quizzes and more.

-- Homework Help: A customized version of AOL's popular Homework Help feature is available directly to kids on the KOL service. Kids and parents can get a wealth of trusted educational resources right at their fingertips, including the complete unabridged World Book(R) Encyclopedia and Merriam-Webster's(R) Dictionary and Thesaurus, educational content from TIME For Kids and an enhanced education search feature for specific educational sites powered by AOL@SCHOOL. Students can also get live homework help through AOL's "Ask a Teacher" feature, which enables students from all grade levels to post questions on a wide range of subjects in special message boards and receive a response from a teacher.

-- Create It: Kids can express their creativity in this special area that lets them design their own self-expressions, display and share pictures, learn to draw and send online greetings to family and friends. Each week, kids can submit their art for the chance to have it featured on the KOL service.

-- KOL(TM) Entertainment: This one-stop-shop for kids' entertainment offers exclusive premieres, the latest news, reviews and behind-the-scenes celebrity gossip. They can check out First Look, First Listen, First View and Inside the DVD(TM) features on the KOL service for previews of upcoming movies, songs, music videos and DVDs before they hit the street. In addition, kids can catch up on the latest gossip from popular celebrities, check out fun Celebrity Diaries and enjoy original programming created exclusively for the KOL service, including "The Adventures of Princess Natasha," which is available only to AOL(R) for Broadband members.

-- Music: Kids can access popular songs and music videos on demand through the "I Want it Now" feature. Kids can also vote on their favorite songs in the daily Fresh 5(TM) feature that lets them rank their favorite videos. The top vote-getters will be featured KOL Music and played on Radio KOL the next day.

-- Bookshelf: Kids can get cool comics such as the never-seen-before daily Batman comic "Batman and the Shadow of Sin Tzu," which was created exclusively for the KOL service by DC Comics. The new Batman comic introduces Batman's new nemesis, Sin Tzu, who makes his cyberspace debut only on the KOL service. In addition, kids can access new Spy vs. Spy comics and daily wacky excerpts from the classic Mad Magazine, check out the latest episode from the O5 interactive storybook and enjoy AOL(R) First Reads of the coolest new books.

-- Cartoon Network World: Cartoon Network, a leader in animated entertainment, has created its own world exclusively for KOL members. The world will feature sneak peeks of new games starring some of Cartoon Network's most popular characters, as well as creative activities and TV highlights from the Network. Kids on the KOL service will have the exclusive opportunity to participate in Cartoon Network's "Game Tester Club," where they can plan Cartoon Network games and then tell the people at Cartoon Network exactly what they think of them.

-- mary-kateandashley World: Kids can explore exclusive content from the worlds of high fashion, beauty and Hollywood and get special access to the real lives of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Designed in a Lifestyle Directory format, the mary-kateandashley World on the KOL service provides original content for kids interested in spotting the newest cool trends. Kids can check out a host of content and features, including Real Beauty, Fashion Forward and the Ask-Mary-Kate and Ashley advice column, pre-publication access to chapters of Mary-Kate and Ashley's books, and quarterly original features such as Hollywood How-To's, that offers kids the inside scoop on Hollywood stylemakers, and Real Girls in ACTION, that documents various important days in a 'tween's life.

-- Toy Time(TM) Department HQ: Kids can become secret virtual "field agent" toy testers for the KOL service and receive soon-to-be-released toys in the mail that they can play with and provide their feedback on what they like and don't like. Other kids can read the reviews from the toy testers and sound off with their own opinions.

-- Fashion and Beauty: Kids can explore and rate the hottest new fashion trends, see what top stars are wearing, test out new looks by mixing and matching outfits on virtual paper dolls, experiment with virtual makeup and check out fun horoscopes.

-- The Big Red Button: Threaded throughout the KOL service is the zany "Big Red Button," a unique and interactive feature that appears on each theme. Kids never know what will happen when they push the big red button, which is full of new and different tempting sounds and special effects for kids accessing the KOL service either through the AOL for Broadband service or a dial-up Internet connection.

The KOL JR.(TM) Service Provides a Virtual Online Playground for Preschoolers and Parents to Explore Together

The KOL JR. service is a customized version of the AOL service that offers a special online destination of bright colors and fun activities organized by skill set for parents and younger children to learn and play together. Designed to look like a musical pop-up book, the KOL JR. service features big, colorful buttons that rotate between alphabet letters, numbers, animals and symbols, which activate different sounds when pressed, helping kids learn while having fun. In addition, kids and parents can enjoy family reading time in a whole new way through the special "Bedtime Stories" feature. AOL and Little, Brown Children's Publishing have teamed up to transform popular kids books into dynamic online stories read by some of the top voice talent in the kids industry such as Tom Kenny (voice of Raimundo in Warner Bros. Animation's new television series "Xiaolin Showdown" premiering on Kids' WB! in November 2003).

Kids on a parentally-controlled account on AOL 9.0 Optimized can access the KOL and KOL JR. services through the AOL for Broadband service or a dial-up connection. Kids accessing the KOL service through a high-speed connection can enjoy an even more enhanced experience with rich multimedia and video content, including the latest music videos, secret facts and animations from the O5 interactive storybook, special animated surprises from "The Big Red Button," exclusive original animated "shorts," and exclusive edutainment offerings and flash content, such as games and animated stories made exclusively for the KOL service.

AOL is dedicated to working with parents to help provide a fun, enriching and safer experience for their child online. AOL's Parental Controls let kids enjoy the world of the KOL service, while also allowing parents to determine what types of experiences are appropriate for their child, through a host of industry leading tools including:

-- AOL(R) Guardian: Enables parents to review their child's online activities through regular email reports that inform them about how their kids are using the Internet through the AOL service, including the sites they have visited.

-- Email & Instant Message Preferences: Allows parents to set special email preferences that allow children to only view email from people they know, determine whether or not to enable instant messaging for their child and accept or deny access for their child to enhanced instant messages that may include video clip, file and image sharing.

-- Internet Access Controls: Helps parents with high-speed Internet connections restrict access to external browsers or other Internet access programs.

-- Online Timer: Allows parents to control how much time their children spend on the AOL service.

-- Web Unlock(TM) tool: Enables parents to override AOL's web filtering settings and create a customized list of sites their kids are allowed to visit on the Internet.

Both the KOL and KOL JR. services are available today at no additional cost to current AOL members through AOL 9.0 Optimized, the newest version of the AOL client software. For the KOL service, kids need to be on a parentally-controlled account. For the KOL JR. service, kids can access it through the KOL service or they can be on a parent's account and access the service through the AOL(R) Parenting Channel.

About America Online, Inc.

America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:AOL). Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.

(1)Source: America Online/Digital Marketing Services, Inc., August 2003

(2)Source: Jupiter Research, 2007

(3)Source: Cyber Dialogue, 2001

Contacts

America Online, Inc., Dulles
Tracy Williams, 703-265-1876

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Contacts

America Online, Inc., Dulles
Tracy Williams, 703-265-1876