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



Fall 2016 Mobile Apps
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
Developer: KidMix
Platform: Android/IOS

It seems today that phones and tablets have become a part of human anatomy. Everywhere you turn, people are texting, taking selfies, updating status, and so forth. Children are no exception to this and an ever-growing number of children are using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also growing, unfortunately, are the number of stories regarding cyber-bullying, inappropriate content, and even victimization. If you allow your children to use social media, how do you help them learn good habits while also keeping them as safe as possible?

KidMix, a social networking site for tweens and teens, was designed to do just that. Parents download the app on both their and their children's devices and then register for an account. Parents are required to verify their identity either via a $1 charge on their credit card or via the last four digits of their social security number (I must admit, this part made me a bit nervous). After verification, parents can set up their account and their child's profile. Through the app, which is similar in nature to Facebook, children can take and share pictures, send messages to one another, and even schedule play dates. They can even access the SmartZone where they can view, like, and share educational videos. (Parents should note: Although the app and the majority of the features are free, including a view-only version of the photo editor, the version offered as an in-app purchase allows users to save edited photos to the photo gallery.) Through the Parent Dashboard, parents can fully monitor their children's activities, view their news feed, approve play dates, view friends, etc.

The app works well and the concept is sound; however, it is really only helpful if your child's friends are registered users as well. So be prepared for that task. Bottom line? As "safe" as KidMix appears to be, don't let your children use social networking sites until you've thoroughly discussed ground rules and safety procedures and feel confident that your children are ready. And, of course, close monitoring of their usage is a must no matter which app they are using. We think KidMix LLC would agree.

Sharon Heuscher   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Sharon holds B.A.s in English Literature and Ancient Studies as well as a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently a masters-level trainee in Clinical Psychology specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. For the past thirteen years, Sharon has focused primarily on raising, educating, and nurturing her five children who range in age from three to thirteen.

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