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From Norway, A Good Example Of Social Media For Kids

Kuddle Trains Children In The Basics Of Online Sharing

Users of social media are getting younger and younger these days. Data from this year suggests that full a quarter of Facebook users are under the age of 10, despite the site’s policy stating that users must be at least 13 to sign up. 98% of 18-24 year olds are on social media, and it can be reasonably inferred that a good proportion of those have been using social networking sites for most of their lives.

While there are plenty of social media sites designed for children, of which perhaps the most popular is Club Penguin with approximately 200 million users, these sites are markedly different from ‘adult’ social networking sites like Facebook. More like online games with a social element, these children’s sites do little to prepare youngsters for the very different world of grown-up social media.

A group of developers in Norway have taken steps to correct this gap in the market with the creation of an Instagram-esque app for children called Kuddle. The service allows children to add friends and share photos, but has a series of built-in measures to help parents and guardians maintain a watchful eye over proceedings.

Children must register with an adult’s email address, and that adult must approve the account. Following this a notification is sent to that email every time the child uploads a photo or adds a friend, and only approved friends can see posted photos – there is no public sharing option.

Photos are not geo-tagged, so the child’s location is not revealed – a vital but oft-overlooked aspect of online security. Perhaps most importantly there is no commenting feature on the app; friends can view and ‘like’ photos, but cannot send messages.

The app’s similarity to Instagram is a fundamental aspect of the app’s design. By allowing children to participate in what they will recognise as a ‘grown-up’ form of social media while maintaining all the controls which come with a child-friendly design, there is a reduced likelihood of the child rejecting the platform and sneaking onto ‘real’ services where they will be less protected.

There are some who will say that it is wrong for children to be on social media at all, that they should be out running through fields and hitting each other with sticks like normal kids. Opinions like this are often tweeted by adults, who then post photos of their child’s birthday party on Instagram before checking their local mothers’ group on Facebook. That is to say these are people whose own immersion in social media has blinded them to its ubiquity, and to the fact that to expect children not to use to social media is like expecting them not to learn how to read or swim.

Far better that children start at the shallow end of social media, figuring out the basics in a safe environment before they get thrown into the maelstrom of vitriol and credit card scams that is big bad grown-up Twitter.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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From Norway, A Good Example Of Social Media For Kids Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 Rating: 5
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