Kids, who are considered legally too young under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to join Facebook, now have a reason to be excited with the launch of Togetherville – a site that is specifically designed to suit the social networking needs of children. The site not just serves as a digital babysitter, but also offers a chance for kids to connect with their existing friends and also to build a network of new friends. Not just that, kids can also enjoy Facebook like features that are harmless and secure. All this and more is made available primarily for children aged between 6 to 10 (kids aged under 13 can sign up too). It must be mentioned here that it is the parents or trusted adults who do all the social networking deeds on behalf of their kids.
Togetherville is linked to Facebook, thereby adults who possess a Facebook account can sign up and register their kids. Parents can then assist their kids to network with children of their acquaintances. Each and every message update, interaction and activity on Togetherville would be supervised by adults. This ensures privacy and a more protective environment to kids in the social networking world which is prone to be inflicted by adult material, and thereby enabling parents to breathe easy. There does not appear to be major advancements with regard to the features or activities that exist at Togetherville. Social networking sites for kids had already taken shape – for instance the 2003 launcher GaiaOnline.com served as one, however the need of kids to enjoy Facebook like features drove Mandeep Singh Dhillon to become the co-founder and CEO of Togetherville.com.
Togetherville is a mere imitation of Facebook, where children can stream Youtube videos (non-adulterated), engage in games, comment and ‘like’ certain content of their kid-friends. Apart from this, the site is regarded as a potential training ground for young geeks who yearn for smooth online networking. Many a time, parents are round-the-clock worried about the safety of their children, which they believe is hampered when kids go online and browse the internet. Here, parents avail peace of mind where there is no room for menace. In fact, there would exist expectations among adults that their little ones would learn to socialize, play games, watch videos, create artwork, express thoughts and feelings, etc. of course under the guidance and protection of parents.
Often, I have come across many family friends and relatives who seem petrified of their children surfing the internet and more so petrified when they log onto social networking sites. They believe doing so would hamper a child’s habits or even lead to insignificant incidents. Would launching Togetherville deprive parents of this worry or would it add to their worries?