Over 20,000 kids age 13 and under try to cheat the age limit and sneak into Facebook every day, and it s easy to see why. What kid wouldn t want to watch funny videos of their friends, chat with their neighborhood peers or play an addicting game like Farmville? Unfortunately, Facebook and other popular social networks are also filled with adult content, unfiltered comments and potential for cyberbullying, identity theft and child predators.
With this problem in mind, several companies have attempted to create safer alternatives that are essentially Facebook for kids safe social network platforms where kids can be themselves without all the risks. Social networks for kids are built on the balance of entertainment, expression, experience, education and engagement without endangering exposure. Facebook isn t for kids, but social networking can be.
Social networks for kids are a safe alternative to Facebook because they are built with safety in mind and age-appropriate fun. The best social networks for kids have all the features of traditional social communities (friending, chat, photos, profiles, comments, etc.) but also have more kid-friendly features like games, virtual gifts, contests, art projects and more. Most importantly, kid-friendly social networks are monitored and include parental oversight to make sure everyone is safe.
More than just a digital babysitter, social networks for kids can be a useful teaching tool, helping kids learn about appropriate social network etiquette, safe sharing practices and online citizenship. You and your kids can enjoy social network training wheels while they prepare for the inevitable rite of passage of one day getting a real Facebook page. When they're ready to move on to the real deal, you can still keep in the loop by using Facebook parental controls.
Click on any of the top 10 social networks for kids to learn more about the exciting features and benefits in store for you and your kids. You can find an age-appropriate social network that your kids will love and you can approve of. Your kids will like them better than Facebook, and you ll rest easy knowing they re protected.
For the kids: Togetherville is an online neighborhood for kids and their parents. The social network includes kid-friendly games, video clips, art projects and more. Kids can customize their own profile page and use pre-written status updates, text message comments and virtual gifts to interact with each other.
Adult supervision: Togetherville works in tandem with Facebook. Parents need to have a Facebook account in order to sign up their kids for Togetherville. Then parents will be able to log in and monitor their kids' Togetherville account directly from Facebook. In fact, your child s online circle of friends is populated only with people they already know who you approve of through Facebook.
The lowdown on Togetherville: Disney put their trust in this online neighborhood, and so can you.
What s What
Kid tested: This kids-only social network is fun, safe and secure. A webcam is required to log in with biometric facial recognition for added account security. Once logged in, kids can customize their MePage, watch videos, play games, take polls and earn MePoints.
Mother approved: Friends are limited to kids within one grade level (unless the parent approves). Kids can share photos, join groups (school class, sports team, etc.), message friends and show off their talents. All photos and videos are moderated, and comments from peers will only display on your child s wall if they approve to show it.
Our verdict: What s What is a fun Facebook alternative for kids, complete with face-recognition login.
For the kiddies: ScuttlePad is a new kid-friendly social network for basic status updates, friends, messages and photo sharing.
Supervised safety: The unique safety feature of ScuttlePad is that content in messages, status and comments are kept age-appropriate by only allowing pre-defined words from the special ScuttlePad sentence tool. All photos are reviewed by ScuttlePad staff before they are posted.
Our overall opinion: With fun features and supervised interactions, ScuttlePad is an especially good social network for younger kids.
Hi kids: giantHello is specifically devoted to kid-friendly social games but also includes profile pages, an internal messaging system, photo sharing and fan pages (animals, teen celebrities, games).
Hello parents: Friends are made through email addresses you already know, not from random online invitations. With plenty of games and other fun things to do, giantHello is a fun and safe place for kids to play.
Game on: If your kids are into games, giantHello is the social network for them.
Kid-friendly features: Skid-e-Kids is filled with video games and social tools. Kids can socialize, sell or swap toys, watch full-length movies and even get help with homework.
Skid-e-Parents: Parents are always in charge, with special features that allow you to track all activity and monitor friends.
Should you skid? The rules, educational applications and pictures of kids wearing sweater-vests make it pretty clear this one is marketed towards parents; but kids might like it.
Kool kids: Self-billed as a social media mega-platform, Imbee has everything a kid could want in a social network: chat, photos, videos, blog, a shout wall, music, groups, avatars, games and celebrity news.
Parent features: Parents have full access to everything done on Imbee and can set age-appropriate parameters and enable or restrict certain features. Everything is constantly being monitored to ensure that Imbee is a safe place to play.
The verdict: Imbee is a trendy and feature-filled social network for tweens.
Kids world: Kidswirl is a fun online environment for kids, complete with games, photo albums, quizzes, videos, music and more.
Parental controls: The parent control panel lets you monitor all of your child s activity and ensure that everything is appropriate.
Should you give it a whirl? While the idea behind Kidswirl is great, it doesn t have the same finesse or security as the best social networks for kids.
Fun for tweens: Everloop is a social looping platform where kids can create custom profile pages, play online games, buy virtual goods and talk about what s important to them with other kids via email, instant messaging and voice chat.
Keeping parents in the loop: Your kids private loop of friends is protected from anonymous intruders, and you can monitor all actions and approve age-appropriate activities.
Is it for me? Everloop is a new social network for kids that proves to be a compelling alternative to Facebook.
Kids Club: Disney s Club Penguin is more of a virtual world and multiplayer game, but it s hugely popular and does have some social-network inspired features. Kids represent themselves with a penguin avatar and can interact with others through emoticons, chat and social games.
Penguin Parents: Parents can sign up for a parent account to manage their kids' activity, and everything is monitored by adult moderators and secret agent veteran players.
Facebook alternative? Club Penguin isn t a replacement for social networking, but it s a friendly social community for younger kids to learn safe online interactions.
Cool stuff for kids: Yoursphere is a social network for kids that has games, contests and prizes, personalized avatars and access to the private social gaming community ourWorld. The kid-oriented social network lets you ask and answer questions with friends and chat about what you re interested in. Spheres of interest include music, sports, gaming, fashion, art, animals, travel and more.
Parentsphere: Kids under the age of 13 can t sign up with Yoursphere without parent approval, which also grants you access to a special parent portal where you can monitor everything your child posts (but only what your child posts).
Overall: Yoursphere is a pretty cool place for kids to interact, combining social networking features with a virtual world.