When my daughter was in fifth grade, she was the victim of cyber bullying. I later found out that she wasn’t alone. This cyber bullying was all done on Facebook, a site that has no parental controls and anyone can “friend” anyone. The major thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t see what she was writing or saying unless she “friended” me, which she didn’t do. It was a scary time for me as I’m sure it was/is for other parents.
In May 2010, a new social networking site was launched, called Togetherville. The site is free and specifically geared for children under the age of 10 and their parents. The best part is that a child cannot link with another child or adult that his/her parent doesn’t know. This provides a sense of safety and security for both the parent and the child.
Interestingly, Togetherville is associated with Facebook. When a parent signs in, he/she does it through his/her Facebook page. Friends and relatives can be found through Facebook.
The parent has the opportunity to interact with his/her child and see what the child sees. Parents can also see weekly reports on what the child is doing. He/she can also view artwork and share with his her community either on Togetherville or on Facebook. Most importantly, the parent has an all access pass to the child’s profile and has control over who the child interacts with.
The child has a very different experience. As a child, it’s all about fun! One of the ways to have fun is to create things like Happy Birthday cards, gifts, logos and other artwork.
Children can play various games that are both male and female oriented. Application developers that allow children to experience online social interactions with an educational component designed these games.
And, children can watch trailers and other age appropriate videos that also appear on YouTube. However, all of the YouTube videos are age appropriate. For example, there is one video where a basketball player received the world record for dribbling. Another video demonstrates the use of Crayola Crayons and various “new” techniques for the 100-year-old product.
Once both the children and the adult logs in, they could post a status update. Then every time they do something on the site, it asks them various questions and gives a pull down menu to select the most appropriate answer.
Interestingly, there is a trendy topics area very much like Twitter. This area talks about current events and asks children what they think with the pull down menu.
Other elements include gifts that can be given from a parent to a child or visa versa, badges, which can be earned on or offline and allowance which enables children to purchase virtual goods, games, and gifts within his/her community or neighborhood as the folks at Togetherville call it.
When you log into Togetherville, there are beautiful photos of diverse children smiling, playing and just being happy. It puts a smile on your face when you see these photos.
As a matter of fact, I’m really happy that co-founders, Mandeep Dhillon and Rajveer Singh Tut invented this site. It’s fun, interesting and entertaining for both parents and their children. Hopefully this site will alleviate some of the cyber bullying that was and is still on Facebook.