Kids are growing up in a generation unlike any other. The sheer prevalence of technology is having a huge impact on their social interaction, the way they communicate and the worlds they are immersing themselves in. Not only are kids trying to figure out who they are in the offline world, but are finding online personas to create as well. Hopefully, they are one in the same, but social networking is one area that kids of all ages are experimenting with and is definitely a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
It has already been revealed that more that 7.5 million Facebook users are under the age of 13, so it’s clear that there is a substantial need for a more kid-friendly way for this demographic to engage with peers online in a safer and more monitored way.
Just yesterday, NPR referenced 10 safe social networking sites for kids that they gleaned from Common Sense Media, an advocacy group encouraging kids and parents to use media in a safe way. These were the social networking sites selected:
1. ScuttlePad (2010) Age 7+
Social network with training wheels is safe, but limited.
2. Togetherville (2010) Age 7+
Kids' social site connects to parents' Facebook friends.
3. WhatsWhat.me (2011) Age7+
Tween social network with top-notch safety features.
4. Yoursphere (2009) Age 9+
Kid-only social network promises to block dangerous adults.
5. Franktown Rocks (2009) Age 10+
Music and social networking combine in safe, cool hangout.
6. GiantHello (2010) Age 10+
Facebook-lite gets a lot right, but watch out for games.
7. GirlSense (2009) Age 10+
Safe, creative community for tween fashionistas.
8. Sweety High (2010) Age 11+
Fun, closed social network for girls is strong on privacy.
9. Imbee (2011) Age 10+
Safer social networking if parents stay involved.
10. YourCause (2009) Age 13+
An easy, fun, socially networked way to fundraise.
Togetherville is probably the most well-known, often being called “Facebook for kids,” or Skidekids, which calls itself a fun and educational “Facebook and MySpace for kids.” Depending on what your kids’ needs and desires are in an online world, there are many choices. There are even social networks going more niche by appealing to teen girls, philanthropic teens, gamers and even environmentalists with a site like MiniMonos.
Other options also include more branded sites like Webkinz, which is affiliated with the popular Webkinz plush dolls and Club Penguin, which is a Disney-owned site. Choices abound when it comes to your kid and social networking. If they (and you!) are ready to take the plunge, just make sure you serve as their life vests as they’re dipping their toes into the whole new world of online exploration.
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