Grom Social

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Grom Social App Poster Image
Good intentions for kid social network, poor execution.

Parents say

Not yet rated

Kids say

Not yet rated

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational value

Kids can start to learn about social media and how to interact with others online. Unfortunately, the broken parent controls and unstable app undermine some of that potential.

Ease of play

Overall experience is a bit confusing. Not clear at first glance what you can do. Parts of the app say "coming soon." App crashes frequently. Videos and games don't always load properly.

Violence

Some of the available games include weapons and cartoon violence. 

Sex

One game is a simulated chat between a girl and her boyfriend. Chat is fairly mild -- "I miss you," "I want to see you now. It's so lonely here..," "I wish I could cook for you now" -- but winning the game requires the girl saying just the right things to the boy. 

Language
Consumerism

There are pop-up ads before every game you play (including replays). Some of the Grom accounts post products and product overview videos. Avatar customization includes premium content offers.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Grom Social is a social-networking site that was founded by a 12-year-old who was frustrated that he was too young for Facebook. The site is intended to be kid-friendly with an antibullying slant. The app claims that kid accounts require parental permission that involves a permission slip, a phone call, or a $1 charge to a credit card, but we were able to start an account with only an email address and a click on an email link. There was no separate registration/password for the parent account, giving kids access to all the controls. According to the publisher, content is moderated 24/7, and nothing iffy appeared during the review. However, ads surround the game content, and a lot of commercial posts from some of the Grom character accounts (brand-name sneakers, a marketing video for a laptop, and the like) appear. The games listed "for girls," in particular, include one that simulates an inane online chat with a virtual boyfriend and another that's all about avoiding participating in gym class because it's "boring." Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared. 

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What's it about?

GROM SOCIAL is a social-networking site geared toward kids who are too young for the Facebook terms of service. Founded by a 12-year-old with the help of family and friends, it is intended to connect kids. Kids can share status updates, pictures, and videos and then can like and comment on each other's content. They also can create an About page to share their interests. To expand their networks, kids can send friend requests and messages to each other. As of this review, the chat feature wasn't working; public messaging was all that was available. An avatar designer (Gromatar) lets kids design a profile picture if they would like. There's also a collection of games that includes some math games, as well as games that focus on cooking, arcades, puzzles, and so on. Some of the games seem to be designed by the Grom team and named after family members. Though parents have a lot of control over content and privacy, kids also have access to those controls.

Is it any good?

Despite the best of intentions for safety, this kids' social media app feels incomplete and full of flaws. Grom Social talks a good game about parent permissions, safety, and positivity, but there's little followthrough. The parent portal is a fantastic idea with the kind of granular controls many parents would love, but if kids can access those controls, what's the point? And then there's the irony of creating a "safe space" for kids and then filling it with advertising, especially ads that aren't even appropriate for kids. Even if that's not important to you, the user experience is shaky. The app crashes regularly, some features don't work, and there still isn't that much to do. Grom characters (largely made up of the family behind the app) do most of the talking, and not all of them seem to have a handle on what kids generally want to talk about. In some of the content, there's also some less-than-desirable messaging about girls, both in the virtual boyfriend chat game and the one about gym class. With better games, true privacy and parent control, and a more stable platform, this network could be a fun place for tweens to try their hands at social media.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about your social media rules about what should -- and shouldn't -- be shared online. How is Grom Social like other social media apps you've tried?

  • Talk about the benefits and drawbacks of safe social-networking sites for kids. How does this one stack up against others? When is a good time to start using the big sites like Facebook?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Math: arithmetic
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles
    Communication: friendship building
    Tech Skills: social media
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (premium accounts available, though "Gromatar" avatar designer might be only premium feature)
  • Subscription price: $4.95/month with discounts for 6- or 12-month subscriptions.
  • Release date: September 10, 2016
  • Category: Social Networking
  • Topics: Friendship
  • Size: 14.70 MB
  • Publisher: Grom Social, Inc.
  • Version: 3.2.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.4 and up

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love social networking

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