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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that WhatsWhat.me is pretty much the same as any well-done social networking site, but with bumpers. Especially created for kids ages 7 to 13, the membership fee-based site (currently in Beta version) focuses on teaching kids safe and friendly online behavior. Kids who are too young for Facebook or who have had experiences with bullying or other negative interactions on social networking sites may feel more comfortable in this more structured environment. Only kids with access to a webcam can register. The "MeKey" sign-in with face recognition is a new login method unique to this site. There are two steps that are used to try to ensure the MeKey login is secure: First, the webcam-related facial recognition software; second, a human who checks the images each time the child logs on. At the time of this review, membership fees were $3.95/mo or $29.95/year.
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Is it any good?
WhatsWhat.me was created by law enforcement and cyberspace experts, so the safety features are top-notch. As one of a number of sites competing for the "too young for Facebook" crowd, there aren't a lot of games or groups on this new site yet, so it may take a while to see how the content will develop and how kids will respond. One of the best features of this site is that site moderators turn any problem posts into "teachable moments" for the kids whose photos or posts are removed or whose group is rejected. Overall, this site has gone above and beyond to create a safe space for kids to learn how to interact safely and have fun with social networking.
Online interaction: Lots of safeguards here for positive online interaction between members. All posts kids receive must be approved by them before being seen by others. Groups are pre-approved by moderators so you won't find mean groups. There is one-to-one, email-style messaging so kids could potentially use that as a way to get around the anti-bullying measures. Kids can only interact with other kids within one grade level above or below them, unless approved by their parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to stand up to a cyberbully. This site has numerous rules and safeguards against bullying, but it's still a good idea to prepare your kids with information on the topic.
Families can talk about being safe online. Review Common Sense Media's Rules of the Road with your child to lay down basic online safety guidelines.