FACEBOOK founder Mark Zuckerberg denied this week he was working on plans to open up the social network up to children under the age of 13.
The newly-married internet billionaire said the complexity of keeping kids safe online meant it was: “not top of the list of things for us to figure out right now”.
However, a Scots father of ten-year-old twins reckons he has found a way to involve children in social networking with the launch of Kibooku, a site which can be monitored by parents.
Kibooku founder Jamie Tosh said: “It’s important to stress that Kibooku isn’t just about safety – it’s about fun, creating a social networking site with a ‘grown-up’ feel, something children will want to be part of until they are old enough to go elsewhere.
“With games and the facility to create events such as birthday parties, post photos and discuss everything from homework to holidays, the site is a cool place for youngsters to meet and exchange news, views and fun.”
Both parents and their children have to register to sign up for Kibooko, which charges a £3 annual fee for membership. The parent is required to verify membership every 15 days and can also monitor private messages and e-mails.
Tosh said he came up with the idea for the site after one of his own daughters was bullied: “Most children reach the age where they start pestering their parents to join a chatroom or social networking site and, amazingly, many parents are willing for them to lie about their age in order to sign up.
“The parents often think their child is safe by befriending them on the site and casually overseeing what they’re up to, but with Kibooku, we have put control firmly in the hands of parents. If parents choose not to be involved, the site simply shuts down in the interests of the child.”
If the child deletes any content (as they might if being bullied or intimidated), the parent receives a notification of that deleted content – something that would go unnoticed with other social media sites
Kerry Swankle, who was one of the Arbroath parents involved in testing the site, said it had allowed her six-year-old son to explore social networking on his own.
“The security aspects of the site have helped put us at ease, making it easier for us to relax when our youngest is interacting with others on the computer.
“We think it’s a great idea and feel that the annual subscription is very little to ask for a safer place for our son to interact.”
However, Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said she felt better communication between parents and children rather than monitoring was the key to online safety: “I appreciate there will be parents who will feel this is useful, but it doesn’t strengthen their resilience to deal with things like bullying.
“Bullying can reach incredible proportions and be incredibly distressing, but we have to deal with it in the right way.
“I think what we have to do is talk to our kids and help them manage online relationships. It is also very important that children learn to ask for help when they need it.
“These sorts of ideas generally come from a good place, but the trouble is, no one is learning anything from this process.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
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