Disney Buys Kids' Social Net Togetherville
This week has seen a flurry of activity in social media for kids, with the launch of imbee (targeting 8-14-year-olds) followed by the news that Disney has acquired Togetherville, a social network for kids under the age of 10, founded in 2007. Like other social networks for kids, including imbee, Club Penguin and Minyanville's Minyanland, Togetherville aims to provide a safe online environment for kids to socialize, with more parental oversight and control than may be offered by general market social nets like Facebook and MySpace.
Like some of these other social networks for kids, Togetherville seeks to enable many of the same activities available on the Internet at large, including playing games, watching videos, and creating and sharing art -- all within a safe, secure environment which isn't accessible to strangers. However, Togetherville doesn't eschew the established social nets altogether: kids and parents can create online "neighborhoods" composed of Facebook friends, as well as "school communities," which allow kids to connect directly with each other (provided they attend the same school). The school communities also provide forums for kids and parents to talk about school-related issues. Parents control what content their children can post online, including publishing posts to Facebook and Twitter, as well as which children and adult friends are allowed to communicate with their child. According to the site, "Parents can always see what their kids and their kids' friends are doing at any time and have comfort that when they step away, other trusted adults are nearby."
As noted, yesterday I wrote about the launch of imbee, a free social network for tweens described by its creators as "part YouTube, part Amazon.com, part iTunes," whose mission is to provide a "safe place for kids to chat with friends, upload videos and photos, play games, check out original shorts and web series and get the latest pop culture news." Kids can also create avatars and participate in interest groups and "fanzones;" in the next couple months imbee plans to introduce music downloads and e-commerce through an online retail store.
I've also written about Minyanville's MinyanLand, a virtual world where kids can learn about financial responsibility, which last year announced it had grown to over half a million members ages 6-12.