I’m a recovering Facebook junkie. About a year ago, I was an addict, but I’ve gotten things under control. I only log in about five times a day now, and rarely spend more than thirty minutes on. I no longer comb through friends of friends’ profiles and pictures and posts, much.
This is not ideal, I know, but it’s so darn fun I can’t not do it. And from the looks of things, Facebook and sites of this nature are here to stay. Joy!
I’m not a mom who has issues with being ‘friends’ with her son. He’s 21 and anything he wants hidden from me I’m sure he’ll make sure to hide. I certainly don’t pry into his junk. But when my seven year old daughter wanted to create a profile, I was 100% against it. She’s a girl, she’s trusting, and for Pete’s sake, she’s seven.
But she got me with her darn reasonability. Her friends were on (seriously, they are. KIDS, little ones, have Facebook profiles), she wanted to do the games (although thankfully she wasn’t sure what they were. I’m not a fan of the Facebook game world), and she wanted to look at pictures. Heck, I can understand this. I am this.
Well, just in the nick of time, there’s Togetherville. I’m really jazzed about this. It’s a new online site for kids, with a social network focus, much like Facebook and MySpace. The site is in complete compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and is focused on six to ten year olds. On Togetherville, kids can talk to their friends (real world friends), play games, create art and watch videos. Moms and Dads have the responsibility of being the ones to ask other families to join your child’s online neighborhood.
The site is ad-free and geared to be a training ground for parents and their children; you’ll be teaching them the skills of proper online etiquette. Note: Updating your status every twenty minutes is not proper online etiquette. Nobody cares if you’re having a tuna on wheat for lunch.
And it’s smart too. Togetherville collaborated with officials from Connect Safely and the Family Online Safety Institute to develop areas of social activities and technology. The site has three main areas ~ entertainment, education and self expression. They’re even adding an allowance system, ready later this summer, which lets moms and dads create and feed an account for their kids to draw from to buy virtual games and gifts, which is another aspect I’m looking forward too as Liv doesn’t seem to get this whole real world allowance thing. She thinks giving the dog water should get her five bucks.
There seems to be lots of monitoring, which allows me to rest easy. Posts from kids will need approval from staff (Liv cried foul here, but too bad, so sad), and there’s a feature that logs the child’s activity (the trunk) for parents to check out whenever. You can even link to your Facebook page.
Liv and I are wading into this carefully, but so far she’s a fan and I’m liking the experience she’s having. My mom piped in with her “what happened to the days of talking to your friends face to face?” which gave me momentary pause, but I dunno. We’re moving forward, you know?
By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting.