As social media has become ubiquitous in contemporary culture, it was pretty much inevitable that kids would get involved, raising concerns about exposure to unsavory content and people online (and, even more disturbing, off). To mitigate these risks a whole industry of social networks for kids has arisen: the latest addition is Viddiverse.com, a video-sharing site for kids ages 8-13, which is launching this week.
At launch Viddiverse, founded by Malcolm Bird, a former Nickelodeon Executive who founded AOL Kids & Teens, already offers a library of professionally-created videos for kids to prime the pump, and will feature a three-hour live video show hosted by DJ Rick Adams. Like YouTube, users can also create profiles to share their own video creations socially; additional capabilities here include some whimsical tools that allow kids to produce their masterpieces with, say, faux digital mustaches, picture frames, funny backgrounds, and so on.
The site is fully compliant with the standards of COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act: thus it requires parental approval, avoids collection of any personal information about users, and doesn’t link to non-COPPA sites. The site does include advertising, touting the advantages of placements that avoid issues of brand safety and “inappropriate adjacencies.”
Bird stated: “Viddiverse is what a kids online environment should be -- a COPPA compliant, walled environment with lots of kid-friendly content, the ability for tweens to upload their own videos and customize them a la Instagram, and for parents not to be concerned about what their kids are seeing online. If cable hadn't been invented, this is what kids' entertainment would be.”
The launch of Viddiverse got me wondering about some of the established players in the junior social media universe, so I decided to check in on Club Penguin, Disney’s MMPORG for kids where everyone interacts with each other using penguin avatars (why penguins? If you have to ask, you’ll never know). I recalled that Club Penguin was quite popular five or six years ago, but how is it holding up? Is Club Penguin “still a thing”?
OMG, Club Penguin is frickin’ huge: according to the latest stats I could locate, the site has 200 million registered users, of which 150 million are active users, obviously including a very large international cohort. Last month the site launched new mobile apps optimized for iPhone and iPod Touch, following the launch of an iPad version in December; the app has already been downloaded over five million times. And Club Penguin recently kicked off an anti-bullying campaign, the “It Starts With You!” Bullying Prevention and Cyber-safety Tour, targeting kids in fifth to eight grades, which includes live events in schools.
Club Penguin remains ad-free, requiring parents to pony up $7.95 per month or $59.95 per year for a membership.