New Online Tools for Parents: Anti-Cyberbullying Tool and Tween Social Forum Announced this Week

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This week, two new product introductions have added to the choices available to parents for monitoring their childrens’ online communications – and for teaching them how to use social media.

New Parental Control Tool from Explore Anywhere Now in Beta

This week, Explore Anywhere announced that it is in beta testing with a new parental control tool called CyberBullyPro. The company, which currently offers monitoring tools like Spy Buddy and Mobile Spy, describes CyberBullyPro as having new capabilities for parents. These capabilities include:

  • Passive monitoring for key words – like “staying home from school”
  • A built-in keyword database, “garnered from significant research into social networking sites and cyber bullying reports, helping parents to quickly and easily identify dangerous phrases for passive monitoring”
  • Remote monitoring of any computer

The software is expected to launch next quarter, and retail for $69.95.

The Online Social Savvy team is updating our “Round-Up” of parental control tools document now, to include CyberBullyPro.

New Social Forum for Tweens Launched Tuesday from Everloop

A new social forum, Everloop, was launched this week which aims to be the Facebook alternative for children aged 8 to 13. The site is COPPA compliant and requires parental permission to join. Parents can also receive notifications and restrict the types of the site’s features their child can use (e.g., IM and friend suggestions).

In an announcement this week, Everloop described its plans to launch its forum in April to some 56,000 schools. Everloop is working in combination with the Internet safety education program, I-Safe.

Everloop is not the first tween social forum to offer eduction through schools, and cites Edmodo as another example. However, Everloop describes a more open parternship approach in which kid-friendly content and games will be cross-syndicated among partner sites for the benefit of all.

The Online Social Savvy team is working on a new “Round-Up” document to create a list for our visitors, of social forums which are available. Everyone knows about Facebook and Twitter – but what about Tumblr, ooVoo and others – and tween sites like Everloop, Whatswhat.me, and GlobWorld. Stay tuned for our announcement when the new “Round-Up” is ready.

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In The News: New Website Offers “Training-Wheels” for Social Media in a Kid-Friendly Package

This week, a new kid-friendly social media site with the colorful name of “GlobWorld” was announced. GlobWorld is a free, 3D social media forum created to attract and retain the interest of kids – and entertain them while they learn SM safely.GlobWorld

I had the opportunity to speak to Scott DeVaney, a member of the GlobWorld team, and gain some insight on their mission in creating an SM-positive learning environment for kids under 13. He compared the environment to having SM training-wheels.

“The real mission of the site, is to offer kids a safe learning environment for social media. After all, SM is here to stay. We’re kind of providing training-wheels for SM,” explained Scott. “SM-positive interaction by kids in our environment, done safely and responsibility, is good training on how to use social media for the rest of their lives.”

GlobWorld is the vision of Rebecca Nachlas, self-described as a “concerned mother” of two who was “freaked out” by what was online when her kids became SM-curious at a young age. Rather than turning them loose into the “wild west” of the Internet, Rebecca envisioned a kid-friendly and kid-safe SM forum in which her kids could explore and learn without her concern.

“What really makes us different,” says Scott, “is that Rebecca wanted to create a character-driven world so that kids would stay involved. Other sites don’t seem as kid-appealing – they might attract the parents but they don’t keep the kids. The kids really have to be interested first for this type of site to work.”

To keep the kids interested, each is represented by their own custom Glob character and then interacts in a fully-developed 3D world. The Globs are sweetly chubby, and “unrelentingly” positive and happy in their chubbiness. They also are designed to represent a wide mix of culteral diversity.

The subtle SM-positive message for kids? It’s your attitude that makes you happy, and not your physical image.

To keep kids safe – and parents comfortable – GlobWorld is protected by a host of state-of-the-art moderation and filter software. The software not only looks for keywords, but also patterns in how children interact. If the software detects a suspicious pattern, then it flags a human moderator – who can step in to help, if necessary.

Other features which are designed to avoid and prevent cyberbullying, include:

  • Every child must sign up with his or her parent
  • Parents know everything about what happens in GlobWorld with their child
  • Children can only buddy-connect with kids that they know in real life

GlobWorld is currently in beta, but is fully open and available if you want to give it a try with your child. “We’re designed for kids between 6 and 12,” says Scott, “but we’ve had kids as young as 5 so far.”

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