Despite 13 being the minimum age requirement to sign up for an account on the most common social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube (18 without parental permission), most kids simply bypass it by altering their date of birth; and hey presto, they can sign in.
So if you have an eight or nine year old on your hands, desperate to get online, you could try deterring them by checking out ClubPenguin, a social network specifically created for youngsters.
What is ClubPenguin?
The creators aimed to build a space they would feel happy to let their own children roam around in. It grew really quickly and was added to the Walt Disney Company back in 2007. It is now based down in Brighton, Sussex.
It is clear as soon as you open the website its aimed at kids. To set up a profile, children customise a cartoon penguin, give it a name – it advises not to use your real name or email address for this – and then asks for your parents email address to create the account with their permission.
But what can children do on ClubPenguin? How do they try to make it safe? Well, it is a virtual world where once they have created their penguin, they can play over 20 different games and they can adopt pets, which the site claims to help teach them responsibility. They can also talk to other users – something some parents may find a bit worrying – however, the site uses an intuitive safe chat system, blocking inappropriate language and preventing users from talking freely. Instead it only allows them type into a chat bar, which then suggests words for selection until the message is complete.
Strict set of rules
The website also enforces a strict set of rules to keep kids safe – any members found breaking them have their account deactivated.
They provide a parent’s section, which is worth checking out. It has tools to manage a child’s membership, a guide to the website and it even lets you control the amount of time your kids can play. There’s also an online safety video.
There are other sites aimed at a younger audience such as Jabble and Kibooku, but it is always good to research them before letting kids access them. Like ClubPenguin, the good ones usually require parental permission, have restricted chat, and will provide a safety guide or a parent’s area.
Or use our ‘Your Child and Social Networking’ page if you want to get clued up on safety tips for other social media.