Facebook announced recently that children under the age of 13 — who are currently denied access to the popular social networking site — may soon be able to create accounts of their own. Parents, however, remain unconvinced that pre-teens are really ready for the possible change.
Are you concerned too? Don't be! Forget about Facebook, and check out these 6 safer social networks that have been specifically designed with the younger crowd in mind.
Everloop is a self-described "safer, online, social homebase for kids under 13." Tweens and pre-teens can chat, play games, share photos, and develop individualized profiles — all within safe, parent-approved "loops." The site is also strictly monitored to ensure privacy and prevent bullying and inappropriate sharing.
Scuttlepad won't appease the 12-year-old who wants a Facebook account — and it's only for ages 6-11 anyway — but it can introduce elementary-aged kids to the world of social networks. Users can add friends, post status updates, and make comments, but they have to choose from a list of pre-approved words that were carefully selected to prevent inappropriate sharing.
Established in 2001, KidzWorld was designed as a comprehensive online home for tweens and teens between the ages of 9 and 14. According to KidzWorld, all social networking on the site is "continually supervised ... consequently there is no ability to share or disclose personally identifiable or private information."
However, Common Sense Media warns that "the site provides many opportunities for tweens and teens to communicate with people they don't know," which can lead to bullying and other social situations that kids may not be ready to handle.
4. Skiddy Kids
Skiddy Kids is a social network specifically designed for girls ages 6-14. Girls can socialize with friends, watch movies, and participate in swaps and book clubs, and parents always have complete access to view their daughter's friends and activities.
Founded by mother of 5 and online safety expert Mary Kay Hoal, YourSphere is intended to be a fun, upbeat, and safe social network for the under-17 crowd. At Yoursphere, Parents are required to submit the last 4 digits of their social security number before a child can create an account — a move meant to keep sex offenders from fraternizing with your kids.
Designed for tweens between the ages of 7 and 13, GiantHello boasts a wide variety of games, as well as the friending, profile pages, and instant messaging opportunities that are typical of most social networks. And kids can only connect with friends they know in real life, so they'll be talking and sharing with people like classmates and cousins, rather than strangers.
Overall, GiantHello receives fairly positive reviews, but be aware that there are ads in the games section of the site, and some of the content is considered inappropriate for younger kids.
Do you think 13 is too young for Facebook? What social networking sites do your children use?