I think I had heard of this new little social media site called Togetherville, but when I saw this on the Orange Leaders blog today it peaked my curiosity. Togetherville.com is a site where the “pre-Facebook crowd and their grownups” build an online community out of real world relationships. The adults connect through Facebook, but the kids never interact with the Facebook side. This allows the grownups to leverage the information they have access to while keeping kids safe. The video below hits some highlights about this beta site.
It’s an intriguing concept, and I hope it takes off. But here’s my quandary. Togetherville is listed as being for kids under age 10 and their grownups. Rightly so. It looks like most of the options are the types of things I see kids up to about 4th or 5th grade looking to do online anyway: play simple games, view funny (but parent-approved) videos, have conversation with friends. In short, learning the skills for becoming a good “digital citizen.”
It’s a huge leap from that type of setup to the free-for-all (by comparison) that is Facebook. I don’t know that I would be able to support shifting the minimum age for Facebook below the current 13. (Consider that FB started as a gathering place only for college students only.) Many kids I know younger than 13 – that really shouldn’t have Facebook to begin with – are mostly interested in playing games like Farmville or answering goofy survey questions anyway. Not unlike what Togetherville tries to facilitate. But what 12 year old wants to sit at the kids’ table when all their friends are sneaking into the grownup party?
I’m not sure what the solution is. We’ll see how Togetherville does with the younger kids. Its genius is in making the adults an integral part of kids’ online experience. What can be created, or adapted, to take the training wheels off without thrusting young adolescents into the freeway? Would love your thoughts.