What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking site that kids can use to organize their online favorites. Kids need to enter a name, an email address, and a password to register and then click on a verification email to use all site features and change their preferences. Kids also can connect Facebook and Twitter to a Symbaloo account to facilitate sharing pages or individual links. It's not too difficult for kids to keep their own content private, but the bigger concern is what they'll see when they view other people's pages; you can certainly find inappropriate stuff (links to violent, sexual, and drug-related sites) if you go looking for it.
What's it about?
SYMBALOO is a website that allows users to compile links to their favorite websites, shown as a series of square image tiles, on personal or public pages called "webmixes." You can add up to 49 news, social-media, shopping-related, music, and other types of tiles by choosing from predetermined lists (a news page lists some stories from Yahoo, and kids can view popular pet and other viral videos in the Fun Stuff section) or entering your own online picks. You can customize the way your webmix looks by changing tile colors, names, and icons. Click on a square you've added for a news site, such as CNN.com, and you'll see some recent headlines; other items link directly to the websites they represent.
Is it any good?
Essentially, Symbaloo is a more picturesque version of a URL bookmark list. As a way to compile information from the Web, its tile-based layout works just fine. But for kid users, it may not be the best place to aggregate content. On one hand, looking at various websites can provide kids with reading practice, and, if they share links with friends, they also could potentially get communication experience. But Symbaloo doesn't offer much instruction or guidance in those areas; the site's educational value likely will depend on the links kids select.
Kids can use Symbaloo to compile bookmarked sites in one, browser-accessible location, instead of having to transfer bookmarks to several devices. This convenience factor might be a big selling point for young users; however, parents may not be so thrilled about how easily kids can access inappropriate images. Search publicly posted webmixes with a keyword such as "sex," and you'll be able to find pages that link to sites with nude photos. Some pages also support drug legalization, smoking, and drinking.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about making pages you create online public. What potential issues could arise if strangers could see your page, even if it's only a list of links to other sites?
Kids can use Symbaloo to track news and events. Ask your child to identify a few news sources. How can you tell if a website is a legitimate source of information?
Users can follow each other on the site. Why would your child not want to follow a stranger on the site -- even if your child thinks that person can't (or won't) try to make contact?