Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren’t allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this.
“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” he said. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”
But just how would Facebook’s social features be used by younger children?
“Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”
Here are my first thoughts.
1. PESSIMISM: Of course Mark Zuckerberg wants kids on Facebook – Facebook is a advertising & trend analysis GOLD MINE dressed as a happy, friend-connecting social network. Kids are the largest licensing group, and advertisers would LOVE to get their hands on that kind of market.
So much for the ENTIRE POINT OF COPPA – which wasn’t created for your immediate privacy, but created to PROTECT CHILDREN FROM MARKETERS STEALING OR SWINDLING PII.
Also see: Facebook Forced to Address Legal Gray Area of Kids and Advertising from AdAge. http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-forced-address-kids-advertising/227633/
2. FEAR: Oh, that’s a GREAT idea. Why not make more PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT MINORS available? Tre sigh. Yes, education is VERY important – particularly about secret identities. But, children under the age of 13 DO NOT HAVE THE COGNITIVE CAPABILITIES TO BE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR PUBLIC PERSONA. Part of being young is that you’re protected and allowed to make mistakes – by allowing that on Facebook – a public platform that reaches far beyond the lunch room, and far beyond your mom telling your aunt about that stupid detention you got? BOO. Not ideal.
3. LOGISTICS & CONCERNS: MODERATION. SCALABILITY. COST. Even if Facebook DID man up and start pre-screening all content contributed by U13 sources, what a nightmare! Staff to cover something like that? Insane. And neither revenue nor cost efficient.
4. HOPE: Any sort of “educational program” that comes with U13 on Facebook would have to be an entire new entity. Think: Facebook Junior, profile training wheels. It would have to be limited, with tutorials and information, and educational guidance. Leverage the sort of YouTube content that SweetyHigh has created (worth checking out). But in no way, would Facebook be able to cruise right into allowing U13 without redesigning the fundamental/core use of Facebook.
4. REALITY: I deal EVERY SINGLE DAY with kid chat, and kid posts, and kid interactions, and behavior crises from U13. I worry about social networks for children that do NOT rely on fantastical role play or themed-content. Those two elements help protect direct attacks (or even mistaken, indirect attacks) on a sensitive and underdeveloped child by allowing creative persona & identity hiding (to a certain extent, of course – real friends playing in fantasy worlds blends that reality vs role play, and takes interaction to a different level). Children are still in the process of social learning. Social learning CAN be expanded – and I do applaud the idea of social network education… but tossing youth into the deep end, where there are daily Trojan attacks on accounts, stolen identity issues & account phishing, cyberbullying, advertising lures, and STRANGERS is not ideal. Think about it: not even normal, rational adults can successfully navigate Facebook accurately…
If there is a way for Zuckerberg to incorporate social networking education, with Facebook structure, I’m eager to see it – but there are quite a few MASSIVE problems in his path. And with this audience? Bowling through the ideals without proper guidance, understanding, or safety nets = not a safe agenda.
I hope Zuck collects his facts, has the necessary research concluded, and (excuse the phrase) gets his shizzz straight before he really dives into something like this. For as much as I applaud optimistic philosophy, I desire educated practicality.
This fine young man has a different type of impact on the community. He impacts more users … without his participation, about 2% of the community no longer participates. He does not impact the total oxygen of the community as much, in other words, he doesn’t impact the number of tweets or number of conversations. But he does bring along 2% of the community. And his impact lasts through the forecast cycle, meaning he impacts new participants as well.
This exercise can be run for every user in a community. We can easily forecast what impact each user has on the overall future of a community. By looking forward, we get to see what might happen, and we can take steps to change the future. When we simply look back into the past, we only measure what happened in the past.
In this simple example, when we remove just two users from a community of about four hundred weekly participants, we lose close to 8% of all future activity in this community. In spite of a ton of new users, these two folks, @michelehinojosa and @immeria, foster a wonderful and vibrant community. That’s a decent measure of influence, don’t you think?
Over the last year there have been THREE huge benefactors to understanding an audience that I feel like I can’t stress enough:
1. Avoiding the operational FAIL WHALE (oh man, do I have withheld rants on this)
2. Understanding that a competitive site in this industry must have diversity in everything (from gaming, to customizations, to approaching an audience)
3. SMART METRICS
For a few short minutes here, and I stress short, I simply must ramble about the importance of metrics and how our industry HAS to step to bat and start finding the value of users NOT just the abuse.
And when I say “our” industry – I mean specifically the CS, Moderation, and Community. We need to TOTALLY BFF-up our Metrics peeps… and if there aren’t metrics peeps at your biz, then you need to step up to bat and figure out enough of a base line understanding regarding metrics and analytics to be able to support what you do.
Why? WE’RE EXPENDABLE. That’s a lie. I know it, you know it, but there are many a board member who don’t understand why CS & Community & (more specifically) Moderation staffing/tools/practices are so important – POST launch, when the belt gets tighter and the big bucks are takin’ a bit longer to roll in.
We’re just people who manage people – anyone can do that… interns can do that, right? PUUUUUUUUUUUKE.
WRONG. UGh. Shudder. Frustration + fist at the sky with some sort of user engagement battle cry! Just because you have a background in marketing – that doesn’t mean you have that GUT understanding, nor ability to read a community. Marketing folks can spin statements and emphasize the value of advertising and approaching product, but it’s not the same […feeling another tangent coming on. Must jump off this tangent path, my apologies].
What was I talking about? Oh yes, Metrics. Analytics. Whatever you wanna call it – basically, this day and age those of us people-people need to have back up. Stories are fun for conferences and for nailing a point home. Leaderboard-esque insight into top players is great to show your front-line knowledge of the audience’s ability. Social media platforms and conversations are great for keeping the product within fingertips of users everyday conscious. But when it comes to number crunching – dude bettah getz some backup. For realzies.
So far, metrics have been great for game designers and registration flows. It’s been great for microtrans and heatmaps (which, may I say – I love me some well developed heatmaps).
Blargh – OKAY, I’m biting off more than I can blog-chew at the moment. I’m going to kinda filter through my metrics conversation from the big point (overall metrics and their importance), and wittle it down to SPECIFICALLY moderation + community necessity.
– Individuals who abuse the system / community / experience
– What is the individual abuse (on a case by case, report, basis)
– Brings questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content?
– Is it a growing group behavior?
– What exactly is the abuse of this growing group behavior?
– Brings again the questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content? Is it the lack of appropriate competitive interaction? CAN YOU FIX THIS?
– Individuals who represent the best of the community
– Individuals who engage from within
– Individuals who lead by example
– *Individuals who seem to be the best of the best, but actually become somewhat cancerous in their righteousness and maybe should be used as a best case
– Groups who lead by example
– Groups who promote desired community efforts
– Areas that promote desired goals for game or specific area
– Individuals or areas that can help promote the MONETARY VALUE OF UPGRADING (via microtrans or subscription)
Remember – you want to gently lure and entice users into becoming monetary assets… and not just monetary assests but SUPER USERS. For as gross as statement from a “purest” perspective as that is… YOU CANNOT RUN A GAME WITHOUT INCOME. Just can’t.
Why would you just use metrics for landscapes and game agendas, or finding bad users? Dude – it’s the day and age of community! Of social media! Own it.
BALANCING THOSE OF ABUSE AND VALUE
Just as this AWESOME article above points out – not all users are just “good” or just “bad”… Use metrics and analytics from:
– Chat (a filter that reads positive chat and associates percentages, a chat filter that reads abusive chat and associates separate percentages)
– Interactions (Community event item clicking and purchasing metrics, guild-grouping, chat submissions, logins, time spent online, friending, time spent in social areas, time spent in gaming areas, time spent multiplayer gaming/interacting, leaderboards, time spent in “home” areas customizing, etc)
– Friending – viral quality outside of game, as well as inside the game.
If you are in the MMO or VW space… I would SERIOUSLY suggest taking a moment to have a solid “think” regarding understanding the bookends of your community, and the elements that drive the bulk middle either direction over the course of their experience. The more you can automate that process for your moderations, customer service reps, and community managers – the stronger / swifter / and better the process will be for you!! You will still need the insights and stories and multisocialmediaextravaganzamadskillz of community pro’s – naturally. But you also need number crunching and proof of pudding products.
So, my dears, in this slightly confusing, probably ADD fueled post – my point is this:
Community and Moderation and CS folks… go rogue for a moment, totally ninja-BFF any metrics/analytics people on staff. Make tools or practices that will help you to find the value, find the abuse, and back it up with the best kind of numbers you can find… AND THEN use your mad community skills to help understand why numbers show what they show, and improve your audience, your product, and the WORLD.
Make sense? Hope so. If not, as always, leave a comment at the beep……
How would you like to design a beautiful, colorful, stimulating website that is captivating, memorable, and allows you to let your creative juices flow without the need to worry too much about conventional usability and best practices? In today’s web design market, it’s rare that such a project would present itself — unless you were asked to design a website for children!
Websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in web design articles and design roundups, but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis. There are also a number of best practices that are exclusive to web design for children’s sites — practices that should usually not be attempted on a typical website.
This article will showcase a number of popular commercial websites targeted towards children, with an analysis of trends, elements, and techniques used to help keep children interested and stimulated.
CHECK THAT LINK – THE ONE IN BLUE JUST ABOVE THIS SENTENCE… do it.
I can’t go into a ramble, as it’s Friday and I’m a busy-busy gal. However, its definitely FANTASTICAL for the amount of content the author goes through. Seriously – check it out.
And to you, Mr. Louis Lazaris, thank you for creating such a jam-packed info-share!! Props.
ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Build-A-Bear Workshop®, the interactive entertainment retailer of customized stuffed animals, today announced new data that supports an evolution in how kids play and connect in their real and virtual worlds.
“Children and their parents have helped us develop a space that combines fun, learning and community service. We are in a new world of play for kids and we want Build-A-Bearville to be one of their top choices”
With over 200 virtual worlds for kids in existence or in development today, Build-A-Bearville® is one of the only virtual worlds for kids integrated with actual retail store locations in the United States. Build-A-Bearville, launched in December 2007, enhances the experience of Build-A-Bear Workshop, extending the social engagement that begins in the store with the creation of each new furry friend.
“Because of the unique perspective with our real world stores and the extension into our virtual world we see firsthand, how kids blend the way they play. This new generation of kids is changing the boundaries of play between traditional and virtual types of interaction,” said Dave Finnegan, Build-A-Bear Workshop chief information and logistics bear.
Finnegan is a featured panelist and presenter at the 2010 Kids@Play children’s technology program which takes place during the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 7-11.
An example of how soft touch and high tech experiences can result in total brand engagement is demonstrated by recent survey results from Build-A-Bear Workshop:
Finnegan will discuss this topic as part of his presentation on the Build-A-Bear Workshop virtual world, Build-A-Bearville.
“The interactivity of the in-store Build-A-Bear Workshop experience is the foundation for our Guest engagement with Build-A-Bearville,” said Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear Workshop founder and chief executive bear. “Today’s kids want to combine their experiences and the friendships they develop in the real world with those in the virtual world. This process is seamless for them and a part of their everyday lives. Our aim is to provide positive real and virtual world experiences to reflect children’s imaginations and natural interest in learning, sharing and having fun.”
Forgive the PR-fluff that covers that post (at least they’re light on the “beary” creative spelling, which I’ve seen in the past).
What I found interesting was the stat I highlighted.
With sponsorships growing more and more all the time – I find it fascinating to watch the patterns between buyables like stuffed animals (webkinz mentality) and virtual worlds: how entry points affect (or don’t) and how trends occur. Partnerships from the likes of fast food restaraunts, toy packages, store marketing intiatives, etc… these are only now starting to ramp up, but there are that many statistics regarding this right now (at least none that people are eager to share, lol).
There are going to be interesting advertising techniques popping up in this VW sector over the next year… I’m very very keen on eagle-eyeing this particular revenue source and how it either camoflagues itself into the experience (which many will not like) or works WITH the experience as a opportunity for the users.
One game, however, stood out among the rest as the Best Family Game of 2009. The nominees were:
- Club Penguin
- Free Realms
- Fusion Fall
- Wizard 101
The Winner: Wizard 101
Wizard 101 has been heralded as the kid’s MMO for adults. The game is geared toward a younger audience with its playful characters and cartoon graphics, but don’t be fooled by its exterior. Inside Wizard 101 is an intense MMO that uses great special effects for spells, daring and risky card game style combat, and a fun universe to explore for players.
The reason Wizard 101 takes home our Best Family Game of 2009 is because kids can play it with their parents and no one will be bored. Hardcore MMO players have come forward and said the game is fun and exciting to them as well.
LOOKIE LOOKIE, WHO HAS THE COOKIE!
YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I am really pleased with this out come. For as much as I still nod-in-appreciation to Club Penguin, this is really a well-deserved win.
Think about it:
Wizard101 came from an independent company without broadcast support (aka, no big dog marketing pushes, like Disney / Cartoon Network / MTV / Sony, etc). It was smart enough to find an IP that could be both independent in content & game play, but also capitalize on a desired-yet-missing brand (HARRY POTTER, PEOPLE).
It’s got boy game play, girl game play, school play, card play, and it effectively finds ways to suck a wallet drive (subscription only gets you so far – potions & rides/mounts are extra $$).
It’s the MMO I play as often as I can, and because I ENJOY playing it – not just for work / research.
What I’d like to see Wizard101 do in the next year?
1. Make houses more important – why do I care I’m in the Fire house? Why do I care others are in the Fire house? Give me reasons to be Fire-House-Evangelist in the game, please!
2. Change the chat set up. By “redding” out the words that I cannot use – you are giving me clues to work-arounds. OH, I can’t say “dork”? Well then, let me try “door k” DONE. Thanks red for telling me WHICH WORDS weren’t allowed, and confusing me other times when you’re not allowing me to say something I need to say (like “fizzling”).
Other than those two wee things – keep on keeping on, Wizard101. I’m psyched for you!!
ON a SIDE note… why the heck is MapleStory in there? Um, last time I played that game a guild named “Pedophile” was causing rukus through the servers… Kids swear like they’re afraid its going out of style, it’s Ad Mad, and it’s not family appropriate.
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