How young is too young for social networking? That’s a question my parents definitely didn’t need to ask themselves, but today’s parents are presented with frequently. Social networking sites often restrict users who are preteen, but that certainly doesn’t stop the incessant complaining from your moody adolescent about wanting an account.
There’s a market for social media sites for kids. Unfortunately, not many are available for all ages and most aren’t customized for parental monitoring. So what is a parent to do? Here’s a list of social sites and tips to keep kids safe online.
Social Sites for Kids
Designed exclusively for children ages 6 – 11, this site is a great website for kids to get started with social networking. The site provides resources and learning material to help children understand how to use social networks in a safe environment.
With Togetherville.com parents are able to create a neighborhood for their child (under 10), using Facebook to enable connections with people you already know. Every new friend must be approved by parents, it’s easy to sign up and your child never has to enter Facebook.
Developed by three moms, Everloop is a site for kids under 13 with state-of-the-art privacy protection. The site is also partnering with educators and was selected by iSafe as the “on ramp to teach kid’ internet safety and social media skills”.
Designed specifically for tweens age 7 to 13, giantHello offers games, friending, customizable profiles, internal messaging, fan pages and more.
Described as a safer social networking site for the young, hip and trendy, imbee.com offers a one-of-a-kind social experience. Kids can share music playlists, talk to others around the globe, share videos, get updated on pop culture and news, and more.
A site developed only for girls, SweetyHigh.com is for the next generation of social gamers. In a safe online environment girls can play with virtual currency that can be used to win prizes and opportunities.
Build your sphere and connect with other kids on yoursphere.com. Offering kid appropriate activities, the site is exclusively for kids up to 17. Members have their own blog, access to games, a virtual world, contests, rewards and even a scholarship program.
Started by a father of three tweens, WhatsWhat.me promises to offer kids ages 7-13 a safe (and fun) social networking experience. Launched in 2011, the site is still new but offers parental approval which is lacking on other sites.
Kids are encouraged to design their own avatars and chat and play with other members. Kids can virtually hang out with friends and the site encourages learning and being socially responsible.
More Social Sites for Kids
Offering both free and paid membership plans, this Disney site promises to create a safe and fun online entertainment experience for your kids. The site offers games, mini-games, 24/7 moderated environment, adopt pets (puffles), and customized experience.
Popular plush toys with online components, Webkinz.com allows you to virtually take care of your Webkinz pet. Buy items for your pet, feed or play with your pet. There are also quizzes and games for kids to play too.
10 Internet Safety Resources for Parents
Before you allow your children to start their social networking adventure, be sure to examine privacy policies and terms of service on each of the sites. With the links above you’ll be able to fully understand each sites policies and expectations of each of its site members. Additionally, we’ve listed several resources below to help keep your kids safe and teach them about internet safety.
Keeping Children Safe Online – National Cyber Alert System
Safe Searching and Social Networking – GetNetWise.org
National Cyber Security Alliance – StaySafeOnline.org
Keeping Kids Safe Online – FBI.gov
Online Safety & Civility – SafeKids.com
Children’s Online Safety Web Resources – Consortium for School Networking Initiative
Age-Based Guidelines for Kids’ Internet Use – Microsoft.com
Children’s Online Privacy: A Resource Guide for Parents – PrivacyRights.org
Family Safety Center – Google.com
Internet Safety and Help Group – WiredSafety.org
Have a social networking site or resource we should add to the list? Share with us in the comments below!