What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that GiantHello is a lot like Facebook, only with much more attention to safety and privacy concerns for young people. This online social network for kids 7 to 17 (formerly known as Facechipz) requires parental consent for kids under 13, and it's a closed network. Kids can only communicate with people they have invited as friends, via email or a code printed and delivered in person. Parents should be aware that the games section (public, no registration needed) includes ads as well as some violent and sexual content.
What's it about?
Giant Hello is a social networking site for kids too young for Facebook. The focus of the site is on playing games and interacting with real-life friends. Since it's aimed at the tween crowd, social networking is highly safeguarded and kids are only able to send or receive friend requests from people they know, after their own account has been approved by a parent. To connect with someone on Giant Hello, a coded message is sent via personal email or hand delivered -– kids are never able to contact or be contacted by strangers. Celebrities and pop culture play a prominent role through fan pages, and there is also noticeable consumerism -- Teen Vogue, Wii, and McDonalds all have popular fan pages. For kids, the games -- racing, dress-up, action, etc. -- may be the biggest draw.
Is it any good?
Overall, GIANTHELLO succeeds as a relatively safe Facebook alternative for tweens. It even provides kids with a letter to print for their parents that promises they'll stay off Facebook until they are 13 if they are allowed to get a GiantHello account. Cute. But although the site is geared toward kids as young as 7, if they venture into the games section they can encounter ads and content unsuitable for young kids. Still, it's a good alternative for tweens whose parents are OK with the iffy content.
Online interaction: Kids are only able to interact online with GiantHello friends they have invited. Communication is in the form of commenting, messaging, and chat. But users cannot edit or delete comments once they've posted them, so they should use caution.
Families can talk about...
Start the habit of getting involved early by asking your child if you could be one of their friends on GiantHello. Read why all parents should have a Facebook or MySpace page if their teen does in Common Sense Media's Social Networks and Teen Lives Parent Advice section.
Ask your younger child if it's more fun to play with their friends online or in person. What are some differences between online communication and face-to-face communication?