Grom Social

 

Learning(i)

Social network for kids, by kids, is safe but flawed.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Grom Social provides a safe environment for kids to explore the world of social networking.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Female avatars are more sexualized than males. In the Exercise video section, the "10 and Over Girls" link sends you to a YouTube video that promises "Super fast at-home abs workout to flatten and tighten your stomach for a sexy look."

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Brief, unrelated ads appear before games.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

The site's privacy policy is ambiguous. It reads, "While there is no absolute method of ensuring a completely safe environment, we take seriously our mandate to secure 'verifiable parental consent' as required under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ('COPPA'). We are always looking into new and better ways to verify your consent so that we are not collecting or potentially disclosing information from your child that you did not authorize." From this statement, it's not clear if the site is collecting information or using cookies. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Grom Social is a social network geared toward kids age 5-16. An automatic filter prevents any cursing on the site, and kids can't sign up without a parent's approval. Kids will create a cartoon avatar for themselves, and their real names don't appear on the site. If your kid is desperate to be on a social network, Grom Social is safe, but it has some weird quirks you should keep in mind. Female avatars are unnecessarily sexualized, and links aren't always appropriate. As a parent, you'll have access to their account (and even have to approve each friend they add), so you'll be able to monitor all their activities. To approve your kid's participation on the site, you sign an online document, but they also want your mailing address, which is a little weird.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • writing

Hobbies

  • cooking
  • sports

Skills

Self-Direction

  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • self-awareness

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Tech Skills

  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

If kids join with friends, they'll have fun chatting, sharing videos and pictures, and leaving comments on each other's pages. Kids also will enjoy customizing their pages and avatars. Design is flashy and overwhelming.

Learning Approach

Kids will learn to socialize in a safe environment, and these skills hopefully will transfer to their future experiences on more grown-up social networks.

Support

There's a lot of support for parents, who are given access to their kids' accounts, and plenty of details about privacy and safety.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • writing

Hobbies

  • cooking
  • sports

Skills

Self-Direction

  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • self-awareness

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Tech Skills

  • social media

Kids can learn to interact in an online social-networking environment. They'll share favorite media, add friends (with parental guidance), and read articles about popular subjects. They also can learn new hands-on skills by following the site's DIY project tutorials; they include some fun cooking and gardening opportunities that the whole family could work on together. Although it contains some mildly questionable content and its learning potential is limited, the Grom Social site can work as a starter social network.

This Learning Rating review was written by Polly Conway

What's it about?

GROM SOCIAL was created when 10-year-old Zach Marks was kicked off Facebook by his parents. The experience led him to build a social network \"for kids, by kids,\" which he did with the help of his family. Kid users, aka \"groms,\" can sign up with a parent's approval. They can then browse around Grom Social, checking out the Grom Weekly, which features a variety of categories such as Entertainment, where kids can read reviews of films like Smurfs 2 and of TV shows like Dancing with the Stars. The Sports, School Responsibilities, and Health & Fitness categories also contain newsy articles. The Video page offers sports videos, funny videos, and retro cartoons, with links to YouTube.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The design is pretty in-your-face and almost too colorful. Kids probably won't bat an eye, but its appearance is pretty unappealing to adults. It's marketed as being for kids age 5-15, but it's difficult to imagine any good reasons for a 5-year-old to frequent a social network, no matter how many activities are available there.

The site is a family's pet project, and it's apparent. Lots of content is by founder Zach Marks, who is now 13 years old. Though his contributions are fine, more contributors would round out the site. There's a nice selection of DIY-themed videos, which teach you things like how to make your own greenhouse or build a skateboard, but they're difficult to find. There's only one parent comment, which is anonymous; some feedback from other sources would make the site feel more legitimate.

The cartoon images of both a female child and a midriff-baring mom are more sexualized than one might expect, and the link to a "sexy abs" video, which appears when you click "Exercise for Girls 10 and Up", is inexcusable. This kind of ignorance holds back Grom Social.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about communicating through a social network. What sorts of things can you share online that you can't in person?

  • Make sure your kids know why online safety is so important; check out our Social Media and Kids video for advice.

Website details

Genre:Social Networking
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Grom Social was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byJohnG 1 November 3, 2014
age 6+
 
LEARNING

Grom Social - A grandparent perspective

The Grom Social website is a safe, fun, adventurous website for children from 6 to 16 years of age. The site promotes no bullying, no cussing and is monitored 24/7. My wife and I are not sure why the site was not rated on those qualities. Grandparents (like my wife and I) want a site that is safe for our grandchildren. One that promotes their positive development while being fun and educational. Unfortunately, the Common Sense Media evaluation appeared to focus on the "sexism" of girl avatars. This omitted the equally important criteria of safety and learning. Perhaps a more objective review (non-feminist reviewers) would present the Grom Social website as the fun, educational, user friendly and safe environment that the site is intended to be. Thanks for listening.
What other families should know
Great messages
Educator and Parent of a 9 year old Written byBlessedEB May 9, 2015
age 6+
 
LEARNING

Amazing Site

This Social Media is great. My home-schooled child has made many friends, some from all over the world. The education they receive may not be book smart, but this site teaches them how to be a better and responsible person especially online! I have no idea why it is rated so low. The site is the only I have found that is monitored 24/7 and allows check using my parent pin and see all the activity that my child does online. It is so secure and is a good place for kids to spread their wings. I am so glad I found this site and so is my child. I really love the no bully stance and my child loves reading all the articles, playing the games and chatting with her friends online!
What other families should know
Great messages

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