Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Website
Ages: 8 - 13 yrs.
Contributions From: Kim Bruce
Contributions From: Hilary DeCesare
Contributions From: Paige McCullough
Publisher: Everloop

The biggest strengths of this social media site for tweens (12 years and younger) are its safe environment and its direct appeal to the age group. This is Facebook for kids, essentially, and as such it mirrors many Facebook features but without the worry of inappropriate content.

It's a tightly controlled environment. No one over 13 is allowed to participate on the site. Parents have an account for monitoring purposes, but may not chat with or friend users. There are both technical and human elements in place to keep it free of inappropriate language, images, or bullying.

Content caters to the age group. Games are geared to younger kids, graphics are cuter, and stickers or Goobs - pranks like a pie to throw at a friend - can be purchased with tokens. The look and feel, in other words, is decidedly adult-free.

Parents have control on how active their children can be on the site. The parent account has a dashboard where features like friending and chatting can be turned on or off. Children's messages can be viewed, and friend requests can be routed through parents for approval. It's a transparent community, which should be reassuring for anyone nervous about letting children loose in an online network.

The cons I found were minor considering the peace of mind the environment provides. Still, I'll mention them. There are ads -- the one that played before the first game I pulled up was a video ad for Sensodyne toothpaste. Some pages don't have clear navigation back to the main menu, which I found briefly frustrating. And the site, in and of itself, will get old fast for kids who don't have a group of friends to interact with.

That said, it's an excellent starter site for kids anxious to try social media, and the company appears to have good funding and backing, so will likely only improve.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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