A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What 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'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?
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.