Last week we looked at imbee, a social networking site targeted directly at kids aged 8-14. This week we checked out Everloop, another “Facebook for tweens” for 8 to 13-year-olds. Marketed towards kids as “a place where WE can connect,” Everloop promises users “no mean people, no party crashers, and no grown-ups allowed.” However, similar to imbee, Everloop requires credit card verification from parents to make sure that every account created is associated with a parents or other responsible adult. Everloop lets parents be as involved, or as hands-off, with their child’s online activity as they want. And by promising that real people are trained to identify “early signs of troublemakers,” the site abides by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
In addition to trying to replace the dangers kids can encounter on more open and wider-used sites like Facebook (including cyberbullying, online reputation damage, and online predators), Everloop also offers more overall features than Facebook that could appeal greatly to kids. According to a Time Magazine “Techland” review, kids can participate in educational projects, decorate and customize their profiles, conduct voice chat conversation – in addition to posting and commenting on photos, instant message, join groups, buy virtual goods and play games as offered on Facebook.
While these kinds of sites – imbee, Everloop, and others – sound ideal for kids, multiple reviews including Techland’s and one by Mashable question if the sites will really reach their target audience. Techland says that “growing up means always struggling with what it means to be cool,” which is currently Facebook, at least in the world of social networking and online activity. And Mashable questions Everloop’s ability to convince “teens to make the site their online home base.”
While Everloop seems like the perfect solution for young kids interested in social networking, it’s still very easy to create underage profiles on Facebook. So what will be the push needed to get kids to use these “tween” Facebooks? Will kids be unsure of which sites their friends are using, and choose to fall back on Facebook even though they technically can’t create profiles on there until they’re 13? While every parent hopes their child is participating in age-appropriate online activity, there is still the risk of oversharing, encountering online predators, and being involved with cyberbullying that we constantly need to watch out for no matter what social networking sites our kids are using.
Have your kids expressed interest in using Everloop? Has there been a push towards it at your kids’ schools?