Safe Networking for Kids - kiddzchat.com

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Have you seen a seven-year-old work a computer lately? It's kind of stunning how advaned they are ... and kind of scary. It's only a matter of time before your child realizes the full potential of the Web and wants to join the social networking craze. Club Penguin is already wildly successful, as is Webkinz. But one concern reigns supreme - how safe is a child online?

Created by a public school teacher, Kiddzchat.com wants to help ease parents' concerns over the inevitable and offer a safe social networking opportunity for the little ones. Kiddzchat provides all of the normal functionality of a social networking site - profiles, IM, blogs, messaging, photos, video and games. To make the network safe, there are five steps taken:
  1. Parents must sign up their kids with a valid credit card to confirm identity.
  2. Parents' identities are checked with a national criminal database for child predators and sex offenders.
  3. Membership is approved after checking with the database - if not approved, the individual is reported to the proper authorities.
  4. The new adult member sets up administrative capabilities (ID and password) then sets up their child's profile.
  5. Parents must approve requests to befriend your child - if not, the member will no longer be able to contact your child or see their profile. Once approved, those friends are able to freely communicate.
It's nice to see that people out there are responding to concerns over kids and the dangers of technology. But there are always ways to beat the system. And threats don't come only from predators - cyberbullying is real and can be a major problem. Kiddzchat could be a nice thing for kids, but like most things kids do, this should be closely monitored. Most online child safety groups recommend Internet activity for kids only when a parent or guardian is present.

Information for online child safety is widely available. Here are a few resources:

SafeKids.com
WiredKids.org
FBI Publications

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