Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fun and Safe Social Networking for Kids

One of the challenges most parents face in the 'internet age' is walking the line between 'access' and safety. When we hear the terrible stories of people abused by 'friends' they have met on social media sites we are rightly cautious about what our kids are doing online.

There are of course precautions we can take when kids are younger, including filtering or blocking software, physical location of computers (in the family room, not the bedroom) and parental supervision. But where do we allow them to go online when they want to start using social networking.

In our house the teenagers use 'facebook'. We rely on their maturity and good judgement - but their parents are also among their FB 'friends'. The pre-teenagers are more likely to be interested in Club Penguin, where each person has a penguin avatar that can interact (to a limited extent) with others. They especially like the races against other penguins (that earn them points).

But what if you want something in between? This review by Sarah Kessler of five 'fun and safe social networks for children' on mashable could be the answer. For the record the five are:
1. Togetherville
2. What's What
3. Scuttlepad
4. Giant Hello
5. Skid-e Kids
While none of these will be perfectly safe, there will probably be something here you will find acceptable. Just remember to keep talking with your kids about what they enjoy (or dislike) about the site.

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