A social network for tots and 'tweens

Mother and daughter look at computer screen together.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Checked your Facebook page yet today? Well, if you did it in front of the kids, you probably got a "hey whatcha doin'" or maybe "can I try that?" All those photos and games and messages from friends -- what's not to like? But of course, you have to be 13 to get a Facebook account. Or at least say that you're 13.

But Marketplace's Eve Troeh tells us that starting today, younger kids can post to a new network just for them.


Eve Troeh: When I call first-grader Sophie Shin...

Sophie Shin: Hello?

...I ask what she does after school.

Sophie: Usually do my homework, and then practice my piano and then I go on Togetherville.

That's Togetherville. It's a new online social network aimed at kids aged 6 to 10. Sophie's used it for about a month as part of a test group. On it, she can play a game picking out states on a map...

Game noises

Or watch a Justin Bieber video...

Justin Bieber, singing: Your world is my world...

Or she can post her score or share that video on her profile. Yes, Sophie has a profile, with a real picture.

Sophie: It's a picture of me with like, this, like, princess gown.

Sophie's mom, Eunice Shin, says her daughter constantly asks to go on Togetherville.

Eunice Shin: She wants to go on there every day to see what her friends sent her.

Sophie gets gifts like a picture of a heart from Jackie or an e-card from Ryan. These are kids she knows in real life. They get to Togetherville through their parents' facebook accounts.

Togetherville founder Mandeep Dhillon says it's new for kids to show up on the Internet as themselves, rather than creating an avatar. He says the site prepares them for real life on-line.

Mandeep Dhillon: Why don't kids just do what adults do? But do it in a safe way and a secure manner.

Parents set up Togetherville profiles. They approve every friend request, and can see every activity on the site. Kids can send messages like "Way to Go" or "You're talented!" They can't write their own.

Right now, Togetherville is free. But Dhillon says it might soon charge for some games, apps and virtual gifts.

Dhillon: You may want to get a super special birthday card or a little cake. That would be an easy 25-cent or 50-cent type of transaction that a kid could use their allowance to buy.

Allowance that parents put in their kids' accounts -- also known as, the Togetherville business plan. And it doesn't end there. The site doesn't take ads or sell data on kids' profiles, but it can still pay off, says Marc Blinder. He's with the social media marketing firm Context Optional.

Marc Blinder: Marketers will now actually have a very good way to tell which Facebook users are actually parents of kids of that age.

Blinder says parents may get more ads for "Toy Story" or Fruit Roll-Ups on their Facebook profiles.

In Los Angeles, I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...