Social networks have been around for a few years and children under the age of thirteen are often begging their parents to let them join. Social networks are attractive for a number of reasons. Younger children tend to be drawn to them because they enjoy participating in the games and they like interacting with their friends online. While some criticize social networking sites as being unsafe, many see them as a valuable tool. In fact, some researchers have even found that social networking can help children. Here are some of the ways social networking has been shown to help children:
- It allows children to make new friends or build stronger friendships with old friends.
- They help children stay off the streets where they may be vulnerable to gangs and peer pressure. However, too much use of the social networking site can be just as bad.
- Several social networking sites teach needed life skills. Whyville is leading the way in helping children to learn something while they are engaging in a virtual world.
- Many of the sites provide children with the ability to create their own groups. This is a great way to meet new friends and to increase your gaming and social skills.
- Social networking can help to build self-esteem. As children spend time with the online games, many of them will start to build up strong skills and complete difficult levels; this helps to increase their self-esteem.
So what is the best social networking site for children? There are several to choose from. We have created a quick guide to the top four social networking sites for kids so you can decide which one you would like your child to use.
This web site is popular for children and parents because of it’s commitment to keep children safe online. When children sign up for an account, they are required to provide the email address of their parents. Then the parents need to confirm the account. Children will be assigned an avatar that they can change as they participate in games and start collecting points. Kidswirl has several games for children to participate in along with discussion boards where they can talk with other kids. No matter what the child does on the site, an email will be sent to the parents, detailing all the recent activity on the site. Kidswirl tries to protect children from online predators by restricting conversations. Personal information, email addresses, and vulgar language or conversations are restricted from the site, thereby keeping children as safe as possible.
Online sites offer a variety of experiences for kids.
The Walt Disney Corporation operates this online gaming site for children. It is designed for children to go online and create their own virtual world. Children are assigned a penguin that they can change as they play games on the site and earn points where they can shop in an online store to buy clothing and furniture for their penguin. Pictures and personal information are restricted from being shared on the site to try and maintain the user’s privacy.
Webkinz is perhaps the biggest competition to Club Penguin. With Webkinz, you need to purchase a Webkinz plush toy and then use the code on it’s tag to go to the web site. When you input the code, you will create an avatar of the toy you purchased. You then need to care for the pet by feeding it, exercising it, etc. You do need to purchase additional Webkinz toys after 12 months of being on the site with the same Webkinz.
Many parents like Whyville because all of the games and tools on the site focus on education. With sponsors like NASA, this site has gained the credibility that other sites are still looking for. Whyville allows children to ask questions and even answer questions from other users. It’s a wonderful way for your children to learn about science and math, subjects that are often difficult for children to master from the ages six through sixteen.