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Is Facebook Coming for Your Kids?

Facebook plans to announce a kids site soon - is this a good idea? Everloop, a moderated social network built just for kids, teaches kids how to be responsible digital citizens. Read more.

My inbox has filled quickly, and my cell phone's been ringing since morning Australia time (late last night), over the story in the Wall Street Journal today that Facebook is planning a version of their service for kids under 13.

It's not news to us. We've been hearing this alarm for over a year. Competition means there is a need that needs to be filled in the marketplace. It means we weren't wrong when we decided to build a way for kids to connect safely over the Internet.  And while Everloop is #1 with kids, frankly we've always expected other services to join us.

The possibility of Facebook creating a version of its site for kids under 13 generates concern from many sides. Facebook has had a tough enough time with their corporate governance regarding adult privacy, resulting in Facebook as one of the least trusted brands in all industries. In 2011, Mark Zuckerburg declared that privacy was dead. We disagree and believe privacy and safety for kids is critical and we don't believe the open Internet is a safe place for children. 

Facebook has been a proponent of an open Internet for all, and they've never addressed the fact that nearly 7.5 million underage kids are on their site. 

We don't think the open Internet is a safe place for children. We want kids to remain kids as long as possible, and that means keeping them in a kids' world. Free from bullying. Free from inappropriate conversations. In touch with real friends they know and new kids they "meet" around shared interests, but whose real identities they don't know... because we block all of that. 

Digital mistakes kids make can last a lifetime. Everloop moderation helps kids understand how to behave in the digital world and prepare them for going into the broader digital world when they are 13. Adults with far better judgement abilities than kids are losing jobs, reputations and, in some cases, even worse over mistakes they make on Facebook.  

And because every kid on Everloop is verified through a grown-up account, we keep grown-ups in the proper role -- supervising their own kids.  No grown-up can talk to any kid on Everloop. That's what keeps potential predators away, and kid communication pure.

Our Team Includes Nickelodeon and Disney Pros

We've got something else no other site has - the most amazing team in this field.  Including the best experts in safety, technology and entertainment for kids. 

Our advisory team includes the original architect of the Nickelodeon TV identity, who helped make that channel the homebase for kids for close to 20 years.  And we've got the person who ran global marketing for Disney for nearly the same stretch, and whose understanding of what motivates kids can't be matched.  The best way to keep kids off sites they SHOULDN'T visit is build yours in ways that make them want to be there.  That's what we focus on.  Safety is our given. The part we work on is making it engaging.

Everloop's robust content provides a homebase for kids to connect with friends, create, collaborate and learn, and our unique looping technology allows kids to join groups by interest. Loops are the true social fabric around which kids create identity.  For example, 'I want to save the whales.' 'I love my AYSO soccer team.' 'Here are my favorite books.' 'I know every Justin Bieber song by heart.' By comparison, Facebook is a stream of loosely organized information. Facebook implemented Timeline to visually organize your life but has done little to create community around personal passion.

The Future of Everloop

We have some amazing advances in store, including the first-to-market social mobile app for kids under 13. For millions of kids whose primary experience with the Internet is mobile -- can you imagine texting that's safe in all the ways Everloop is safe?  And a way for kids to goob their friends' phones from their own devices?  Insane, right?

Plus, we are on the brink of announcing key deals with partners that will extend Everloop into services kids and their parents really, really want. We think it's significant that Facebook and most other social networks are banned in schools, while teachers are among the most enthusiastic supporters of Everloop because of the way it can be used to model responsible digital citizenship.

The rules about being a website and a digital service for kids are clear, and they are strict. We've subscribed to those rules beyond the letter of the law from Day One, and if Facebook wants to be in this business, they'll have to change their attitude toward safety and privacy and obey those rules, too.

Then, it comes down to how you make your site. We're not in Facebook's shoes -- our efforts for children have never been about dumbing-down something meant for grown-ups to create a larger advertising platform. We made it solely for kids because we have kids. It's the only business we're in. And we think our kids deserve it.

Our strategy is to be the preeminent brand providing tweens access to the Internet and social applications. We know if Everloop can own the tween space, non-regulated age-appropriate sites will clamor at the opportunity to capture our users as they graduate into the non-COPPA compliant world.

Stay tuned for more posts, and in the meantime start bridging the gap.

Hilary DeCesare, a Danville area resident, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Everloop.com, the safe, online headquarters for kids to connect, create, share and goob. Hilary’s concerns over cyberbullying and online predators set the foundation for Everloop.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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