Kids want to grow up a whole lot faster than we feel is good for them. You remember what it’s like, I’m sure: you just know that you’re way more mature than your parents give you credit for. They don’t understand what it’s like. They are too old to truly “get” you. I hear from kids in our community on a regular basis, and many of them say these things. They ask me questions about how they can break into the tech scene and start to “get noticed” online for their efforts. I tend to point them towards places such as Twitter and YouTube. But what happens if the kid in question is truly still a kid? If they’re under the age of 13, they are automatically discluded from sites such as Facebook and many other popular social networking sites.
On Tuesday, the answer for these kids will go out of the beta phase, and be available to the public. Togetherville is aimed at kids aged 10 – 13 and the grownups in their lives. Founder Mandeep Singh Dhillon called Togetherville “the first platform that really integrates young children’s ability to use the Web with their grownups close by.” Anonymity is not allowed on the site. Kids sign up as themselves, without even an avatar to use. Parents control every aspect of the experience, right down to who is allowed to be a child’s friend. The site encourages parents “to create neighborhoods of the real people in their child’s life to be around their kid as they grow up online.”
The free site will let kids play games and watch videos. They can also create and share artwork. The chat feature doesn’t work the same as a normal one would. Kids cannot type something into the chat box. They have to instead choose one of the prescreened “quips” that the staff has come up with. This will reduce the risk of a kid accidentally revealing personal information. Videos that are available have also been screened before being added to the site, and deemed appropriate for the age group.
Another unique feature is that “parents must be Facebook members to sign up their children for the service. Parents sign in with their Facebook user name and password. Children’s information is never sent to Facebook so the only way information about a child can get onto Facebook is if the parent or another adult enters it–just as is the case with offline activities. Parents can also chose to allow adult or teenage Facebook friends to interact with their child but all of the interaction takes place on Togetherville, not on Facebook.”
Let’s face it: today’s kids are the first generation of a world that is revolving more and more around social and digital media. Togetherville is an excellent – and safe – way for adults to introduce the young people in their lives to social media. This site can help give you the tools you need to help your child become adept in the world of social networking.