As a mom who spends a lot of time online, I worry about what happens when my 8 year old son is online. Oh sure, we follow plenty of online safety rules and the computer my son uses is right next to my own, but still, I worry. Especially now that he’s starting to play more online games and take part in some kid communities. I find the Internet to be a wonderful tool for children, so I allow my son to take part in supervised research, and, also, hang out in some safe social networks for kids.
If you’re also wondering about some safe online communities for kids, here’s a list of some of the better bets.
8 Safe Social Networks for Kids
1. Club Penguin
An Ng family favorite, Disney’s Club Penguin offers both free and paid membership. Online, kids are part of a community of penguins where they play games, take part in charitable events, and even chat with each other. Chatting is done publicly via conversation bubbles. Also, kids can choose pre-written comments from a menu with is helpful for youngest kids. One of my favorite aspects of Club Penguin is how kids can learn to manage money. Many games pay out coins and these coins can be used to purchase and furnish igloos and buy and care for Puffles – fluffy pets. This network is geared for kids ages 6 – 14, but I’m thinking it’s probably mostly used by 7 to 11 year olds.
Parent-managed privacy control makes Togetherville a safe choice for kids of all ages. In fact, parents manage friends lists via Facebook, so they always know who their children are talking to online. Togetherville helps to develop computer skills while kids play games, chat, do art projects, watch videos and have safe and friendly competitions with their friends. P.S. It’s totally free.
Scuttlepad is sort of a Facebook or Twitter for kids aged 6 – 11. This free network doesn’t have games or anything like that, instead kids learn safe social networking and online communication by creating an approved profile and choosing words and phrases from an approved list. Parents manage friends list via Facebook and oversharing isn’t allowed so you don’t have to worry about your children giving up details that are too personal.
At Dizeo they’re concerned about two things – safe social networking and education. Thus, Dizeo is a social networking and homework help site for kids aged 8 to 13. The site isn’t free, and it’s mostly UK-based, but parents are assured membership insures safety as all chatting is carefully moderated. Because there’s plenty of grownups paid to moderate, they can make sure kids are acting responsibly and respond immediately to anything inappropriate.
5. What’s What
Unsavory types can’t be bothered signing up for What’s What as parents truly have to jump through hoops (but not in a bad way) to sign their kids up.That’s right, parents have to sign up kids and not the other way around. Though membership is free, parents still have to submit credit card details to prove their adultness. Also, they have to take several live webcam shots of kids to prove that kids are using the site. Cyber bullying won’t be tolerated and socializers must abide by the rules of conduct. Plus, kids are separated by age so 8 year olds aren’t hanging out with 14 year olds.
6. Giant Hello
Giant Hello is sort of like a safe Facebook. Kids can socialize with invited friends. However, they can’t search for friends so there’s less of a chance of them friending total strangers. Appealing to older tweens and younger teens, Giant Hello allows kids to play games, socialize, share pictures and more. Parents will have to prove they’re grownups by providing a credit card or some SSN digits. What’s What also has a section featuring parental tools so parents can temporarily ban their kids and add additional family members. This is probably the place your want your kids to go before Twitter or Facebook so they can practice responsible social networking.
Geared towards kids aged 9 – 12, Kidzrocket ensures safety through the friends list – all friends MUST be approved by parents. The KidzRocket web filter also reports what kids are doing while surfing the Internet so parents can also monitor their kids habits beyond the social networking sites. Parents have to sign kids up, and confirm the membership before children can chat, play games and have fun. Oh and there’s a small fee involved to help keep out the riff raff.
8. Skid – e-Kids
An acronym for “Super Kids In Development Enjoying Kindled Interest Driving Success”, Skid-e-Kids is a heavily moderated community where both parents and kids create profiles. Kids get to choose from a variety of activities including healthy recipes, games, socializing, movie night, kids news and even a toys and games swap where kids and parents can trade or giveaway the stuff they no longer use.