Do we really need another online social networking site that targets kids? There is certainly no shortage of options to choose from to prep your child for the Facebook landscape, but as concerns about cyberbullying grow, it's probably best to orient your child toward a site that helps model proper netiquette. And this is precisely what Whatswhat.me claims to do.
Launched in Beta earlier this year, Whatswhat.me targets the tween set, aged 7-13, with a strong anti-bullying platform that works to increase parental involvement in digital activities. Director of Internet Safety Katie LeClerc Greer draws on an impressive background in digital safety to craft a friendly environment where kids learn the basis for digital sociality. Greer worked at Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office as the Director of Internet Safety, and subsequently with law enforcement as an Intelligence Analyst. She has made cyberbullying and Internet safety a platform by which she connects to students, parents, and officials.
Via email, Greer emphasized the importance of creating a secure, online environment where kids could experience the dynamics of online social interaction without fear of bullying. For example, posts are reviewed by members and approved before they're shared with the community, encouraging kids to think about the reputation they may be building by allowing particular statements to be shared. Kids can also immediately report inappropriate comments to moderators, who then take suitable next steps from notifying the member to notifying the parent of the member, to suspending the member for such violations.
Greer is also the point of contact for the Ask the Expert section of the Parenting Resource Center, which functions as a forum for parents to ask and weigh-in on questions and answers, creating a collective learning environment for the parents of digital natives, who may not necessarily be completely comfortable online themselves. Whatswhat.me strives for a highly transparent environment by providing opportunities for parents to ask questions relating to the site and expect a prompt response either via email or the public forum.
Whether this balance of parental involvement and moderation is the right one remains to be seen, but its a step toward recognizing the importance of guiding digital natives online.
Whatswhat.me is a subscription based platform that costs $3.95/month or $29.95 a year.