"To find a friend one must close one eye; To keep him, two.”

-Norman Douglas

Social-Networking Traing Wheels
Actually, I think these sites may be teen-social-networking training wheels as much for parents as for their users (parents who don’t already have MySpace profiles, anyway). Newsweek leads with how Club Penguin (4 million visitors/month) kept a child, who was in the hospital for five months, connected with his then-distant friends. But this site for 8-to-14-year-olds, Newsweek says, is just the “tip of the iceberg” in the category targeting tween socializers. Some, such as ClubPenguin.com, Whyville.net, Nicktropolis.com, Habbo Hotel, and Disney’s VMK are more like a kid version of Second Life, others – such as Tweenland.com and Imbee.com – are more in the MySpace or Xanga category (profile or blog creation + IM). “Most of these sites are remarkably safe,” Newsweek reports. “Still, experts warn against growing too complacent,” because site moderators probably can’t tell, for example, if a group of peers has decided to give a friend the cold shoulder offline and online – a form of social harassment or bullying.

BlogSafety Community: Social-networking training wheels …

Tis a shame that Tweenland.com bids us adieu today. Anthony Zinnanti, the rockstar who created tweenland, had really great intentions and worked hard for his communtiy. Best of luck, Tony!

I’ve got particular thoughts about most of these “teen socializing sites” they’ve mentioned. But I think I’ll hold my tongue for most (*cough* Whyville.com *cough*) :|. Nicktropolis could be fun, but it’s young and it-the-works. Imbee is an interesting place too. Very-family-friendly. Reminds me of facebook more than myspace. Strangely enough– I have a faux-credit card from Imbee and I get mail from them to my apartment. …ooookay?

I’d love to do some research with kids about their interest in the virtual worlds. VMK & Nicktropolis & Club Penguin have so many rules and barriers… and they’re not always well hidden. In Nictropolis, I couldn’t write the words “El Tigre“, which is their newest cartoon (the website is cute, fun, but very flash-heavy… prepare for stalling, just like the rest of nick.com). They use a predictive text dictionary which would continuously change “El Tigre” to “Elbow Tiger.” Frustrating. Although, I did have a GREAT conversation with a snowman. One-sided, naturally. I think next week I might do thorough run-downs on most of these kid social networking sites.

Stay tuned.

(Or check out my run-down of Disney’s Fairies website relaunch)

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