Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Parent power

Online sites aimed at children are becoming increasingly focused on giving parents and carers reassuring messages about safety- they realise that the path to commercial success has to take account of parental needs. Club Penguin is popular with parents because of its limited chat possibilities and the close monitoring of open chat, strategies that are explained carefully to parents in specially marked areas of the site. The social networking site aimed at 8-14 year-olds, imbee, even considers the needs of parents whose technical skills might be less well developed than their children’s. Their marketing brief states:

"For adults who might be intimidated by technology, has made its powerful parental monitoring tools easy-to-use and making it simple for parents and guardians to have effective insight and control over their child’s online activities."

These moves are proving to be persuasive (link here for an example of a parental review of Club Penguin, for example). For younger children, this attention to the needs of parents will be irrelevant to their own engagement with these social networking sites - what do they care who else the sites they like cater for as long as they are fun for them? But at a later age, children will start to get a little itchy about this... it would be interesting to trace children’s developing sensitivity to social networking sites’ orientations to the parental audience. Another project I'll never have time for,'s enough just to be focused on tracing children's changing interests in popular culture and media and considering the implications for educators!

I will be away from a computer for the next 10 days, so no more blog posts from me for a while. I hope to be seeing some sea life, not the virtual penguin kind (fun though that is), here.


Industrious Kid said...

Thanks very much for posting about

We purposely designed to keep our young members safe. That’s why on the front end we require a credit card (no fee is charged) to authenticate the parent and then by proxy, their child. Next, we are the only social network to provide a built-in parental control panel – which means mom or dad can set age-appropriate parameters related to their child’s content development or communications activities. Parents can see every blog post before it’s published, every message before it’s sent and they have 100% approval on any friend request made to their child. Next we keep all of our members content private – that means you can’t search for a profile / personal information using Google, Yahoo! or any other search engine. We also don’t’ support search within We facilitate what we call “controlled scope of publishing” that means that kids only publish or share information with others on their approved circle of friends list. Finally we actively monitor all public groups within

As you can see with all these layers or security, it’s virtually impossible for someone with devious intentions to connect to our kids. Parents are involved. We are involved and we provide more tools and layers of security than any other social network or virtual world.

We also believe that Parents should be involed with their kids online, as they are with their kids off line.

Tim D

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