Togetherville: Let your child on kid-friendly-type ‘Facebook’?

This video explains how Togetherville works and what kids can do on it.

This video explains how the kids find “friends” safely and with their parent’s approval.

This is a link to the Togetherville channel on You Tube that explains even more stuff about the site.

Togetherville is a new web site for kids that basically is a kid-friendly version of Facebook. (See the top video for how it works.)

Mashable.com explains:

“Togetherville is meant to offer a more colorful and safe Facebook-like experience for kids ages six to ten (though any child under 13 can become a member), and it includes parents in the entire experience.”

“ ‘Grownups’ can sign up using a Facebook account. They then create an account for a child and help connect the child to real-world friends by pulling data and relationships from the adult’s own Facebook social graph. Parents can easily find the children of their adult friends and connect them to their child on Togetherville. Parents also have complete control over who communicates with their children and can share the child’s activities with their friends on Facebook.”

“Once an account has been created, a kid can comment on and “like” content from friends on his or her very own age-appropriate activity wall. The wall also allows for posting pre-fabricated “quips” selected from kid-friendly categories like “LOL.” Of course, kids can also participate in fun activities such as art projects, compete in games against one another or watch on-site videos. The site also encourages parents and children to use it together for a more educational experience.”

“Togetherville doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to social features. YouTube videos (pre-screened, of course), games and activity feeds are all apart of the experience, and they have the features you’d expect elsewhere. The only difference is that they’re devoid of adult material and tailored toward young kids.”…

“Togetherville really delivers on its intention to create a child-appropriate, Facebook-like experience for young people. With social networking and the web becoming a more integral part of the lives of young adults, the site could help to teach the next generation of Facebook users a more responsible way to use social media.”

I watched the video and I do like that there are preselected games and You Tube videos for the kids to watch but I worry they would be too small-fry for my older kids. Also since my kids know the whole You Tube world is out there I am afraid the cat is already out of the bag. (They started out on some innocent “iCarly” videos the other day but then through innocent clicking wandered off into some dirty videos of someone mocking “iCarly.”)

I think Walsh in particular would like hooking up with his friends on it. But I just worry that it would be a huge time suck for him and something else I would have to limit (although it might be a good punishment to lose it.). We know how much time we waste on Facebook. I don’t really want my kids doing that too.

My other worry is the micro-transaction. As we know sites like Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters get the kids in with free play but then encourage them to spend some money for special privileges.

From Mashable:

“(Togetherville) recently introduced a virtual currency system that is both child money-management tool and parent reward utility. The feature is aptly named Allowance, and parents can award kids “T-bills” — $10 gets you 1,700 T-bills — that they can spend in their neighborhood to buy virtual goods, games or gifts.”

So what do you think: Is Togetherville a nice, safe way for kids to interact online or a time suck they don’t need to follow their parents into? Should it be a goal for kids to learn how to be good online citizens and get comfortable in that world in a safe way or is that just justification to drag them in early? Would you set your kids up on Togetherville? What do you think of the features such as approved games and videos? What about those pesky micro-transactions?

20 comments Add your comment

DB

March 1st, 2011
7:22 am

NOOOOOOO!!!!!! Kids need to be meeting other kids in person and learning to interact with them in the real world, not pseudo-interactions using a fake social interface on the computer. Friends are not computer avatars, and anything that encourages them to sit “safely” behind a computer making “friends” instead of getting out and getting their hands dirty in the messy, wonderful world of human relationships is a BAD thing, in my book.

shaggy

March 1st, 2011
7:25 am

I am sorry, but just how can introducing kids to social networking at an even earlier age than “freakbook” be good for them?

I propose that it is far better for them to have actual, physical, friends and actually interact with them by…(hold on to your seats)…playing together. Let the kids be kids as long as they can be kids. There is more than enough time for them to worry about being addicted to social networking and rarely seeing the light of day. They will become pale, witless, cell phone-attached-to-head creatures by middle school anyway. This is more of a baby sitter (and a bad one) for the adults to exploit for dumping their kids, while they do their “all about me” stuff.

motherjanegoose

March 1st, 2011
7:31 am

As many of us have said, time and time again, get your kids outside for some fresh air and PLAY time with others and away from electronics. I love kids who know how to kick a ball or fly a kite!

madmommy

March 1st, 2011
7:35 am

I would never allow my child onto a site like this. Anyone else worried about child preators or any other sicko that makes up a page? How do they plan to monitor who is who on this site? Is it like facebook where you post personal information? How do you guide your children not to give out their home address or phone number or any other sensitive information that could get into the wrong hands? Just doesn’t have “safe” anywhere on it to me. Maybe I am a “controlling parent” or just watching to much “Dateline,” I just can’t wrap my head around this one.

Let the kids get outside in the fresh air and run and play. I think this is one of the main reasons kids are so heavy these days, not enough time outside. Please don’t give me the song and dance that it is not safe to play outside, that’s what a back yard is for and get out there with your kids for a change. You might just find out you enjoy it and have fun while spending time with them. That is one of the reasons to have kids, right?

A

March 1st, 2011
7:55 am

Much like the breast milk discussion yesterday, a big resounding NO! I have no problem with places like Webkinz World, where your child can send pre-written messages and small items to their friends, but they first need to know their friends’ screen names, and there is no chat or anything else FB-related.

jarvis

March 1st, 2011
8:43 am

Looks like an enormous pain in the ass.
Like I need one more thing to manage in my life.

Ally

March 1st, 2011
8:44 am

I agree with the rest — nope! This is a terrible idea. I encourage my kids to play outside, play with other people or entertain themselves. We almost never have the TV on either. The only time they are allowed to use a DS is if we are on a long trip (we regularly travel in a plane or car for 8-9 hours in one direction). They are only allowed to use the Wii is if it is freezing, steaming hot or pouring rain outside, and I want them to do something semi-active. With all of that, they should have no time for something mind-numbing like this.

I’m sure they will easily pick up online socializing as they get older without the help of a site like Togetherville. This is like teaching someone how to surf the Internet. They’ll figure it out without us hovering.

And, yes, madmommy, I would be concerned about the crazies out there. Although you logically would only connect with people you know, there’s a strong possibility that strangers would try to connect when you’re not looking.

motherjanegoose

March 1st, 2011
8:54 am

Is this crazy? When mine were little, we installed a privacy fence in out backyard and a huge play structure. Most days, out they went, with the dog… a 75 pound labrador. I could see them from the kitchen window but could hear most anything. We even let them ” camp” outside in a little pup tent…with the dog. I put the baby monitor out there at first ( to listen) but could not stand all the silliness and giggling I was hearing, so I turned it off and went to sleep. The gate was locked and they were right outside our bedroom windows…had a blast! Maybe I needed to sleep out there with them…LOL…NOT.

Ann

March 1st, 2011
9:29 am

I agree with @Ally that this is a terrible idea. Keep the TV turned off and limit computer use to a minimum of time. Have your kids play outside or inside “creatively” in ways that will help them develop and stay healthy. This type of site is just a way to capture a young audience for marketing purposes and make sure they are becoming good “mind numbed” consumers at an early age. If you think the purpose is some noble gesture of making “a safe place” on the web for kids, pay close attention to how these businesses make their money (marketing and advertising). Many teens are glued to their computers or cell phones, so why would any parent want to start on this path earlier? I am trying to avoid these things as long as possible for my son.

Lady Strange

March 1st, 2011
10:05 am

I agree with the other, NO. Kids need to socialize in person and play together. My son’s computer time is limited to educational games only and then only for about an hour. Too nice outside to not go out and play!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 1st, 2011
10:44 am

“Is Togetherville a nice, safe way for kids to interact online or a time suck they don’t need to follow their parents into?”

i’m sure that every person on it is who they say they are….no chance a sexual predator would see a facebook for kids as the greatest gift to him ever given and immediately create a fake profile as a 14 year old right after he dressed in his grandmas panties and smeared himself in peanut butter!

Cammi317

March 1st, 2011
10:45 am

My child’s 13 so this issue is moot. I can’t think of any reason that I would have allowed her to be on a social network at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11. Off topic, did you see the story about the man posing as a child psychologist who “convinced” so called mothers to molest their own children on webcam while he watched? These women need to be burned at the stake!

JJ

March 1st, 2011
10:53 am

I actually feel bad for parents and kids these days. LONG gone are the days of using an imagination and going outside and rounding up other kids. LONG gone are the days of kick ball, hide & seek, kick the can, etc.

Parents are worried to death about pedophiles on every corner, just waiting to nab their children. They are terrified of on-line predators……scary stuff these days and parents just won’t let their kids our of sight,. Even in the fenced-in back yard…..such a shame……

I say NO to computers until a child reaches the age of 10. Get outside and socialize……round up a group of kids and play outside.

But that just doesn’t happen anymore. I am a dying breed. My child NEVER sat in front of a computer or any video gaming system at all. We lived in a neighborhood full of kids, bikes, games, etc. They were NEVER inside the house……..they ran as a pack……riding bikes, playing tag, softball, kickball, etc…….

But today’s parents are way to paranoid to give their children a normal healthy life…..keep em indoors, infront of electronic babysitters……

I’m telling ya, it’s the best way to a healthy adulthood…..

jarvis

March 1st, 2011
11:57 am

I’d giggle with delight if one of these topics didn’t spurn a “good ole days” response.

Things weren’t always better when you were a kid.

motherjanegoose

March 1st, 2011
12:09 pm

@ jarvis…I would not want to repeat my childhood. Discipline was a board and verbal abuse was common. No things were usually not better.

Ugh!

March 1st, 2011
12:32 pm

Togetherville looks silly. What kid will want to join a lamed out, parent friendly social networking site when the rest of his/her peers are on Facebook? Parents need to be parents.

While you can’t ban them from the Interenet forever, as a Parent you should know your child well enough to make those age appropriate decisions. My oldest was allowed to FB at 13, my youngest won’t be mature enough till he turns 18 (just kidding). C’mon parents – sometimes we make things harder than they have to be or we loosen up too much – just use common sense!

Young@heart

March 1st, 2011
12:37 pm

Please, Please, Please don’t encourage the use of any type of Social Networking, the sooner we phase it out the better! Even in a kid friendly area you will open them to the REAL facebook when they are old enough. It is a horrible, horrible place for children and adults to spend their time!
Recently in the news a young teen girl was killed in a car accident, a memorial page was set up for people to write their goodbyes, and before her funeral a troll took over and posted awful pictures and wrote horrible things. Someone else even set up an account acting like they were her from the grave! This sickens me! Cyber bullying is real even after their gone. Now not only does the family have to grieve the loss of their Baby girl, but to log on to go see nice things people posted and find X rated material and mean comments is adding insult to injury.
I say PHASE IT OUT! Don’t use it. Don’t encourage your children to use it either! Adults that use and encourage facebook should be throwing a baseball to their kids, doing a silly dance, or play a board game, teach them to play cards anything just get involved. People feel they can be mean because nobody knows who they are and its BAD! I know some of you out there swear its the best thing since sliced bread, but I for one think who cares what someone I haven’t talked to in 20 years did today. If they are my friend I would know. As far as keeping up with family, are we so outta touch that the only way we know whats happening is to log on?…..Even if you set it up as private if someone gets mad at you they can start I hate you page. Not to mention how many marriages this has helped break up because people get addicted its very very sad.

Alecia

March 1st, 2011
9:38 pm

Just think of all the data mining. Kids do not realize that once they enter the world of social networking, they give up alot of privacy. How long until companies use the info to target jr.? Aside from the sea of predators, there’s also the risk of hackers. It would be easy for a smart hacker to figure out mom’s maiden name in addition to other common security questions, because the demographic. Considering that the info will be out there forever, the chance for junior to be compromised in the future(when id. really matters) goes up considerably.

Skeptic

March 3rd, 2011
1:04 pm

As much as I want to say “This is a terrible idea” I have to say that social media is here to stay. As is with most things moderation and guidance is key for kids. My fear is if you don’t allow your kid to learn how to use social media till their late teens then they may very well be at a disadvantage. The media landscape is changing daily and teaching your child at an early age how to use social media in a good, managable, meaningful way might actually be good. I don’t know but before I make a final judgment I’ll have to learn more about it. Just think of it this way, being too strict can lead to even more terrible results and acting out when that structure has been lifted maybe taking responsibility and teaching your kids how to navigate the world at an early age might benefit them in the end but this is definitely a family by family decision. Not sure where I land yet.

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