Parents don’t let kids social network alone.
That’s the thinking behind Togetherville, a juvi-social network where the 10 and under set can hang out with their parents online and give social networking a whirl in a safe online neighborhood.
It’s free to join and parents create their child’s account through their own Facebook log-in. Parents can “play” with their kids online – hence the together in Togetherville – and can approve or reject friends that their children ask to bring into their neighborhood. Creator Mandeep Singh Dhillon told CNET.com that it’s all about creating accountability. He said, “Togetherville allows parents to create neighborhoods of the real people in their child’s life to be around their kid as they grow up online.”
Similar to Disney Digital Books, the site looks different for parents and children. And in this kiddie-size version of Facebook, your kids can comment on a status update using canned responses called “quips.” The site does let kids write their own free-form messages, but they must be approved by the parent before being sent. From the kids site, the games, videos and other activities are all pre-screened and no ads are allowed. From the parents site, you can send your kids notes and gifts, look at their activities and see what they’re creating. Kids also get passports that they can fill up with badges by playing games and watching videos on the site.
Let’s face it, kids under 13 are not allowed on Facebook, but they are joining anyway. And while there are some really nice things about Facebook, the perils aren’t worth the trouble that can happen if your young child isn’t supervised.
The question is whether parents will take the Togetherville step before letting their kids loose online. And, we’ll find out soon enough whether the Togetherville model even proves to be “safe enough.” Let’s also hope that Togetherville doesn’t turn into Addictedville and shut out important real-life experiences for young kids.
For now, it seems to me like a great solution for parents whose kids who are chomping at the bit to get online. It may just provide a valuable head start in teaching kids early on netiquette and the importance of safety and privacy on a social networking site. There is no denying, these sites are here to stay and will only evolve and grow.
So please share, would you use Togetherville with your child?