A lot or a little?
Parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site is designed to be an introduction to social networking -- Facebook with training wheels, if you will. Positive features include super-safe posts that use scripted phrases, and the ability to socialize with known friends -- without stranger-danger and inappropriate posts. Parents are kept on top of all interactions and have control over the friend selection process. But because Togetherville trains kids in the ways of social networking, you'll have to think long and hard about what age you want your kids to start. Parents also need to be aware that an adult Facebook account is required for the creation of children's accounts on this site.
Is it any good?
There are many things to love about TOGETHERVILLE. First of all it fills a void as a way for younger kids to get in on the Facebook phenomena. You can post pre-scripted status updates, customize your logo, and play games similar to ones on the grown-up social network site. The games are actually of better quality than the ones on Facebook -- and you won't find all of the scams and annoying ads like you do on Facebook. If you have a Facebook profile, Togetherville is a good option for elementary-aged kids who want to share pictures with relatives on Facebook. It's also a way to start an early discussion about the rules of socializing online.
Online interaction: Pre-scripted status updates and comments resemble Facebook's interactivity. Parents control who their kids can become friends with, and these connections are limited to known adults who have a Facebook account, or the children parents' friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the rules of social networking. Whether sites have safety nets or not, what are some ground rules for safe socializing online? What are some pieces of information that are strictly off limits?
Families can talk about the drawbacks to social networking. Is it something elementary-school aged children should be focused on, or are there better ways to socializing, like playing together outside? What happens to our communication skills if we spend too much time in front of a screen? Do you think it is as fun to chat with someone online as it is to do so in person?
Families can talk about setting time limits on digital entertainment. How much is too much time for an eight-year old to spend online? What other forms of communication and entertainment are you giving up if you focus too much on online social interactions?
For kids who love interactivity on the web
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