In Australia, at least, parents are convinced social networks — Facebook, Twitter, ‘RooSpace (trust me, it’s huge Down Under) — are ruining their children’s brains. Half of ten-year-olds already have a social network profile. Usage stats are similar here in the U.S., and no doubt parental worry runs high here as well. After all, t(w)eens and online life have proven a combustible combination.
And yet…or perhaps because of that…new social networks are springing up all the time for the kiddies, including the new Togetherville, which pushes the demographic as low as six-years-old — or lower, as CEO Mandeep Dhilllon tells us in this episode. Toddlers are already tugging on our shirt hems to see what we’re doing all the time on the com-poo-ter. Why not give them a safe space to build up their online IQ?
OK, I’m listening, I’m listening…
One of the innovative things Togetherville brings to the table is the way it lets…nay, requires…parents get involved in the process. Parents and kids register as a team — parents using their Facebook log-in (via Facebook Connect — the two sites are totally independent). There’s a parallel level of interaction where parents connect with the parents of their kids’ friends.
But hold up. Isn’t this just another reason for kids to nurture computer addiction? Shouldn’t they be out collecting bugs to put in jars or something? No doubt there are child psychologists who might find this whole trend deeply troubling. But they would be somewhat blind to the modern world, says psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge, who says social media literacy can’t start too young.
I’ve got a two-year-old, and this topic got me a little riled up thinking about it. Now after doing the show, I’m not sure what to think. We’d love to hear your experiences — have your kids tried out Imbee, Togetherville, Club Penguin, or any of the other kid-focused social networks?