A 12-year-old boy, twice banned by his father from using Facebook, has created his own social network designed exclusively for children.
GromSocial was created by Zach Marks of Melbourne Beach, Florida, after asking his mother for permission to build a ‘safe’ site for his friends and siblings to use, and borrowing $2,500 from his older brother to fund its development.
After four months, Zach’s work so impressed his father that the whole family pitched in to get the word out.
“After seeing Zach interacting on Facebook, with older kids and adults that were using language unsuitable for any child, I wanted to take control of the situation and eliminate my children’s exposure to unprotected social platforms. Amazed by what Zach put together we began contacting schools in the area and passed out material promoting the GromSocial network and getting about 500 members overnight,” said Zach’s father Darren Marks.
“Parental approval is an integral part of the site and is required before a child can begin experiencing the many wonders of the site. We built an environment that not only gives parents continued control but encourages safety and allows kids to be themselves. We have anti-bullying, anti-drug and anti-smoking sections. Educational videos are available in the Grom tutorial section for grades 1-10, in addition to places where kids can comment on current events and of course games and entertainment. We wanted to create a safe and secure place that benefits kids’ lives and we are hearing back from parents that it is doing just that.”
The site now gets over 25,000 daily visitors from as far afield as China, India, Indonesia, Australia, Russia and Europe as well as the United States.
Visitors are quickly converted into “Gromers” a term coined on the site by kids after a few short visits. The word Grom is an Australian slang term for a young surfer which Zach translated into “a promising young kid, who is quick to learn”.
A new web site has launched — SuchASmartMom.com — which lets parents pool resources by asking questions of other parents.
Shrinking school budgets, crowded classrooms and fiercer-than-ever competition to get into college make it more important than ever for parents to be involved in their children’s education.
“As a mom, I understand all too well that parents have just 13 precious years to get their kids from kindergarten to college,” said site creator Ruth McKinnie Braun. “Such A Smart Mom will be there every step of the way as a trusted resource.”
Braun started Such A Smart Mom after more than two decades as a reporter and editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune. She’s a mother of two teens and a former parent group president with more than a decade of school volunteer experience.
Her extensive background in journalism shows through in the caliber of her reporting and writing. Her instincts as a mom and parent volunteer guide her story choices and bring a unique voice to her first-person blog that also appears on Such A Smart Mom.
“Our children can’t put their education on hold until the economy turns around,” Braun said. “Their time to learn is now. Fortunately, smart moms and dads can turn to Such A Smart Mom to help their kids get where they need to go.”
The BBC has expanded the reach of its incredibly popular online TV catchup service, BBC iPlayer, by creating a special version made specially for under-6s.
Though children’s content is readily available on the standard iPlayer, this version is not only more colourful and accessible for younger computer users, but will only show CBeebies content. This makes it much easier for parents to control what their children are viewing, particularly as it’s possible to add parental locks to various programmes.
As per the main iPlayer, most shows are available to watch for a week after broadcast, with series being available to catchup on for up to 13 weeks.
CBBC iPlayer, aimed at 6-12s, launched last year.
There’s a new online destination where kids and parents can connect in their very own virtual kingdom.
Kidlandia allows every child to be king or queen in their own fantasy kingdom with whimsical characters as companions, from horned Uniquills and scowling Grumps to long-trunked Yuhoos cavorting in Peppermint Meadows.
The child’s unique fantasyland online becomes home decor as a wall art map that displays islands, cities, mountains, and other features named after family and friends. The map is a legacy gift that can be presented as a family heirloom to decorate a child’s room, or ordered as a canvas scroll for sharing on a play date or at family reunions.
Kidlandia is the inspiration of Brian Backus, who started drawing the fascinating, illustrated characters that populate Kidlandia when he was just 4 years old, after being inspired by the stories of family neighbour Dr Seuss.
“Every child is enthusiastic about being the king or queen of their very own kingdom, with places named after a parent, brother, or best friend,” he said. “Kidlandia provides a personalized and safe way for parents and children to spend quality time online together, learning about and recording their own family stories in a kid-friendly way that then becomes a legacy. I wish my grandmother had one!”
By Andy Merrett
Apr 27, 2009
Welcome to Family Relationships Magazine’s weekly roundup of news about the Internet, particularly as it relates to children and families
Adult games sold to British kids
Trading Standards recently discovered that a number of online retailers are selling “mature” video games to children.
“The teenage volunteer visited 16 separate outlets and found that a dozen of them sold games. Only U.K stores Gamestation, Game, PC World and WH Smith refused to sell the titles.”
Children dependent on Internet
A new survey has discovered that Taiwanese children are more dependent on the Internet than ever before.
“Cartoon Network, from Feb 24 to March 23, interviewed a total of 1,001 children (aged between 7 and 14 years old) and 1,001 parents in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung in order to find out more about the local children’s lifestyle habits. It released its survey results yesterday and found that more than 90 percent of child respondents use the Internet frequently, with nearly 50 percent of children whose age falls between 13 and 14 years old using the Internet to play online games, download music, write blogs, send e-mail or use instant message services on a daily basis.”
It’s inevitable and a trend that’s likely to be reflected in other industrialised countries across the world.
It reinforces the need for parents to remain vigilant when it comes to their children’s Internet usage, including setting rules and boundaries.
Twitter challenge raises money for UNICEF
Whether you’d heard of the “Twitter challenge” between Ashton Kutcher and CNN, or even cared, the real winners appear to have been children, as UNICEF announced on Friday that it has received $100,000 from CNN designated for the provision of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) meant to stem the spread of malaria.