Minnesota, USA March 9, 2011- The social networking site Facebook is extremely popular and it is becoming rare for anyone not to have it. This makes it difficult as young children who cannot legally use it just sit back and watch adults or older kids interact with each other and use all the features it offers. Although it is not typically known among these older groups who use Facebook, there is a couple versions of social networking sites for children that offer safety that Facebook cannot. The sites are referred to as Togetherville, developed by Facebook and bought by Disney; Everloop, backed up by various security companies; and Imbee, pegged as the children's 'social media' network.
Parents experience challenges when raising children in this age group as they can change their minds at the snap of a finger. No one understands this better than Alan Anderson, CEO of Imbee and a parent, who opened up to Korea IT Times to explain what drives his children's social networking site. Anderson began to understand the complexity of the tween mind after watching his daughter make friends, 'break up' with friends, and get back together.
Anderson explained, "My daughter has a best friend, Kristi.. when one day after school my daughter came back home and kept talking about the bad things that Kristie has done to her. I actually grew to dislike Kristi after listening to her. The next day when I was dropping her off at school, I saw Kristi and said, 'Oh no! It's Kristi!' My daughter responded, 'Don't say that about my best friend!'"
Anderson quickly acknowledged that tweens' lives are dynamic and the advancement of technology is putting great demand in his site and other sites alike as tweens are highly active online. "Imbee is creating a safe network for 'tweens' to connect with friends, share photos and videos, write a blog, play games, create music playlists, see new media, even create groups with your friends plus, message and chat with friends. We are not trying to mimic anyone. We feel Imbee is for a very specific demographic. We like to think of them as 'Super Users'. They chat, do homework, watch a video short, and download a song all at the same time, before their parents can turn on the TV!" He further noted that children in this demographic always want to do everything with their friends, so they typically get involved with all of this on the site together.
Likewise, the other social networking sites who target similar age groups are experiencing the same challenges as Imbee. It is safe to say that these sites are evolving faster than the sites such as Facebook because adults expect less and do not like to see as many changes to websites. The main objective of children's networking sites are to provide a safe and fun environment for children. Children are influential; they are best critics who push websites to innovate to satisify this tough crowd. If Togetherville and Everloop are like Imbee, they listen to these kids to develop bigger and better content for their users.
Before choosing which site is right for you as the parent and your child, it is important to see the benefits and drawbacks of each network. It should be noted that Togetherville specifically targets children up to the age of 10 while Everloop targets the tweens, ages 8 to 13. Imbee does likewise; Although, the span is larger including children from 8 to 14 years old. However, age does not indicate which is better for your child. See the graphics below to get a better understanding of the three networks so that you can make the best choice for you and your child.