Kids Too Young for Facebook Try Kibooku!

Originally published on Chelsea’s Blog.

Kibooku was originally established by Jamie Tosh, a Scottish father, whose 10-year-old daughter was involved in cyberbullying, as a safer social networking site for kids.

With stats indicating that one in five children are victims of “aggressive or unpleasant behavior” online, Jamie hoped to create a haven for kids – between the ages of 6 and 13 – interested in social networking; Kibooku would offer a safe space for kids to post updates and photos and play games.

In Jamie’s own words:

Most children reach the age where they start pestering their parents to join a chat room or social networking site, and amazingly, many parents are willing for them to lie about their age in order to sign up. The parents often think their child is safe by befriending them on the site and casually overseeing what they’re up to, but with Kibooku, we have put control firmly in the hands of parents. If parents choose not to be involved, the site simply shuts down in the interests of the child.

After a “soft launch,” which attracted significant and crucial feedback from users – including his own twin daughters – Jamie has now weaved a number of additional safety features into Kibooku’s design. He has simplified registration and incorporated a variety of popular online games.

From the outset, the parent and child have to register with the site together; this creates a control panel for both – with separate usernames and passwords. So, children cannot create their own page without their parent creating one first. Once established, kids have full access to it and can link with their friends through schools, hobbies, etc. Parents can monitor the account at any time, including friend requests and private messages. The system ensures that parents know who their child is in contact with and who might be attempting to contact them.

The parent is required to “verify” the child’s site every 15 days, checking all previous activity, or the page will close down. This means parents have a window within which to report any abuse or cyberbullying or any other concerns they may have about other users. By having this feature available, Kibooku ensures that parents remain active and involved with their children’s online activity.

Note: Kibooku requires all adults to provide credit/debit card verification (under 3D security), meaning the adult can be traced to an address. By paying an annual admin fee of just £3 (~$4.72 USD), a reduction on the pilot version, Kibooku will be allowed to crosscheck personal details in order to avoid false account set-ups that could lead to undesirable interactions with children sans any traceability.

Meanwhile, if the child deletes any content (as they might if they are being cyberbullied or intimidated), the parent receives a notification of that deleted content – something that would go unnoticed with other social media sites, as Jamie himself experienced when his daughter was being bullied online. Such alerts would give parents the opportunities to intervene if necessary. According to Jamie:

It’s important to stress that Kibooku isn’t just about safety – it’s about fun, creating a social networking site with a “grown-up” feel, something children will want to be part of until they are old enough to go elsewhere. With games and the facility to create events, such as birthday parties, post photos, and discuss everything from homework to holidays, the site is a cool place for youngsters to meet and exchange news, views, and fun. Nowadays, we’re often dissuading our children from talking to strangers, but on Kibooku, they can make new friends worldwide, searching by hobbies for example, and expanding their horizons and experiences – but all in a safer environment.

Kibooku donates 50p of each registration fee to the national charity, Cash for Kids, benefiting thousands of children across the UK.

The site has been welcomed by parents and children throughout the world.

Is Kibooku the social networking site for you child? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo: Courtesy of Kibooku

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2 comments

  1. p2paaa

    If you need advanced parental control that records everything children do on the web (such as Facebook) , and filters nasty websites, and does linguistic analysis detect dangerous behavior –
    such as internet predators or cyberbullys –
    check out McGruff SafeGuard’s Parental Control system:
    http://www.GoMcgruff.com

    McGruff “Take A Bite Out of Crime” is known in America for family safety since 1979.

    For FREE iPad/iPhone parental control, check out http://www.GoMcGruff.com/browser

    • Thanks for the tip! It looks like McGruff covers a wider range of ages than Kibooku — “Is your teen out of control on the Internet?” Some parents might need to resort to taking measures to monitor everything their teens do online, but it might actually be best to get in the game earlier on with sites like Kibooku that are specifically made for kids below the age of 13 (the legal age requirement for other social networking sites like Facebook). Doing so would help parents prepare their kids for Facebook before they’re old enough to join the network — presumably, at that time, parents wouldn’t need to do so much “con-trolling” because their teens would be ready to tackle Facebook. Well, that would be the ideal.

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