I am no longer a Facebookuser. I've had "issues" with Facebook since the beginning; not what it was, but how it was done. Facebook does not respect my privacy, and I got sick of only hearing about what games everyone was playing, and I used it more like Classmates than I care to admit.
For those not in the know, I have two boys, ages 5 and 7. They are both pretty computer savvy (despite the 5-year-old not yet being in Kindergarten or being able to really read). They can navigate their way around just about any website, once they've seen it a time or two. Lil P, the 5-year-old, knows his letters so we can actually call out letters to spell things for him and he can navigate that way as well. They are YouTube fanatics, although we have to constantly monitor what they're watching on that (their computers are in the family room; there is no private surfing for them until they are 18!).
I've been debating how to get them involved in social networking, but everything just seemed so overwhelming. And of course none of their friends are on anything yet, so I didn't see how it could be any kind of good thing to sign them up for Facebook (although I think Little E would love the hell out of Twitter - and I'm still thinking about that one).
Today I discovered (via ReadWriteWeb) a new site called Togetherville. To sum it up, it's "Facebook for Kids" and it even links to the parents' Facebook accounts to allow for certain friends to be grandfathered. Which I find interesting, because just because I'm friends with someone on Facebook does NOT mean I want them talking to my child online (see my Classmates reference above). For some reason, that strikes me as a bit creepy. But, nonetheless, I can't keep them from climbing the social ladder forever, so maybe I'll let them try it out. It does have a parent-controlled friends list, so that's a plus. Oh, and the parents have a separate login, which is nice for the child; it gives them some sense of privacy. The downside is that they have to use their real names and a real photo. They are touting security here but you never know...
Some things that make it safe:
- no private chat
- all friends approved by parent(s)
- no uploads
- drop-down, pre-set messaging (wow, so they can't say "I got in a fight with my bro and beat him up"? Frankly, that sucks)
If you don't have a Facebook account (or, like me, you've deactivated it), you are shit out of luck for this one until further notice. They do have a way to sign up for them to notify you when it's available for non-FB users though. I dunno, maybe I'll reactivate my FB account and let Lil E sign up. Sigh, the sacrifices we make for our children! That doesn't mean I have to post anything though, right? Right?
The trick will be getting Little E's friends involved. I don't think many of their parents are very tech savvy, and it won't be any fun to do it without people he knows. And since the school year is drawing to a close, there's not a lot of time to get the word out.
If we sign up, I'll let you know what I think.
**Update: I reactivated my FB account and I'll sign Lil E up later. So, now I'm back on FB. They've really wormed their way into life, haven't they? UGH.