Social networking for eight year olds. How young is too young?

Mar 23, 2010, 2:48 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

When Fisher Price came out with iPhone apps for toddlers last week, I thought that was a bit much. What’s next? A social networking website for eight year olds? Yes.

DEMO wraps up today in Palm Springs. If you haven’t heard of it, DEMO is the place to be if you want to launch a product or pitch an idea. Each person is given only six minutes on a stage to demonstrate how their product will change the world. It’s a fast-paced event with “no PowerPoint or flashy corporate presentations allowed.”

girlwithlaptopOne product pitched at DEMO is a social networking site called Everloop. It’s for kids between the ages of 8 and 13 who are too young for Facebook.

Everloop offers social games and groups young people can join. Kids can also customize their own pages in a way that looks like mini-MySpace to me. Because these online socializers are so young, there’s an emphasis on privacy and “age-appropriate” content.

Is any kind of social networking appropriate for a child?

This site isn’t the first to go after tweens. My 11-year-old niece is into Webkinz. Children as young as five can have an account with KidSwirl. And Disney has a number of ways to grab young consumers, including their Club Penguin.

I understand why advertisers would like the young people social sites – it gives them access to 23 million tween consumers. But I don’t see the value of having kids under the age of 10 (11 and 12 is even pushing it) involved with an online world.

Is social networking a good way for kids to interact? Everloop’s CEO answers, “yes.”

“Today’s tween has outgrown virtual worlds,” says founder and CEO Hilary DeCesaree on their website, “and they are ready for their own social community that is based in the real world.”

I’m lucky that my 10-year-old son is more interested in the real, real world for now, and in his zillion little Lego bricks. Actually, his Legos are difficult to move and impossible to dust. I now see one benefit of having him play online instead of in his room. Nah, not really.

What do you think? How young is too young for social media?

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Social networking for eight year olds. How young is too young?