There’s a new social network on the block, and this one isn’t designed just for college students or to improve the perceived privacy deficit on Facebook. Instead, Togetherville is aimed at children, 10 years or younger. Now, some people might balk at the thought of encouraging young, impressionable children to venture into the open, unregulated, and potentially dangerous world of online social networks – and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, Togetherville overcomes many of the concerns that parents have about their children socializing online through its innovative definition of chat, community, and safety.
Togetherville has all of the features that makes Facebook great: games, videos, gifts, status updates, messages, and even a “Like” function. However, these things are implemented with safety as the number one priority. Status updates and messages, for instance, are available only as pre-screened text “quips” – phrases that children scroll through and select. In this way, contact between children on the network is limited to only positive sentiments and avoids any potential privacy breaches. The quips also prevent cyber-bullying, as well as the unregulated sharing of any personal information.
Parents are encouraged to sign up for the social network as well, and “friend” their children. They can monitor who is friends with their children, and create a virtual neighborhood that consists of the children and adults that their child knows in the real world. Also important is the fact that parents must approve all friend requests sent to their child, and they have access to all of their child’s information at all times. Togetherville aims to involve parents in the online world of their children in a positive way, rather than keeping them at a distance.
Togetherville teaches young children the basics of internet navigation and social networking in a safe, secure environment. Its features are designed to foster a community between children, their parents and other relatives. Some people might still have reservations about introducing social networking to children at such a young age, but if trends hold, social networking is going to become an increasingly important part of the lives of all demographics, young and old. And teaching children the basics early might just be the best way to prepare them for the adult social networks in the future.