Social Networking Training Wheels for Younger Kids

By Anne Collier
Reposted from NetFamilyNews

Actually, I think these sites may be teen-social-networking training wheels as much for parents as for their users (parents who don’t already have MySpace profiles, anyway). Newsweek leads with how Club Penguin (4 million visitors/month) kept a child, who was in the hospital for five months, connected with his then-distant friends. But this site for 8-to-14-year-olds, Newsweek says, is just the “tip of the iceberg” in the category targeting tween socializers. Some, such as ClubPenguin.com, Whyville.net, Nicktropolis.com, Habbo Hotel, and Disney’s VMK are more like a kid version of Second Life, others – such as Tweenland.com and Imbee.com – are more in the MySpace or Xanga category (profile or blog creation + IM). “Most of these sites are remarkably safe,” Newsweek reports. “Still, experts warn against growing too complacent,” because site moderators probably can’t tell, for example, if a group of peers has decided to give a friend the cold shoulder offline and online – a form of social harassment or bullying.

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