A new social network that aims to be a Facebook alternative for children between the ages of 8 and 13 is launching on Tuesday. Schools, brands and investors are already on board.
The network, Everloop, operates much like Facebook (virtual currency, photo albums and games included), but requires verified parental permission to join. Parents can also select which of their child’s actions on the site they would like to be notified about, and have the option to restrict features like IM and friend suggestions. All activity on the site is monitored by the company to prevent inappropriate behavior.
These key features make Everloop compatible with The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits websites from collecting information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent. Most tweens bypass this law on other social networks by simply lying about their birthdays. Schools, on the other hand, generally block social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same reasons that unsupervised public platforms make some parents of tweens nervous.
Because it is COPPA-compliant, Everloop can be used in schools. In April, a partnership with Internet safety education program i-Safe will bring the platform into about 56,000 schools. I-Safe will incorporate a white-label version of the network into its curriculum in order to demonstrate social media skills (and get parents to sign over permission to use Everloop sites in the process).
Everloop is not restricting itself to schools as other child-safe social networks like Edmodo have. Nor is it ignoring brands that are clamoring for the attention of its demographic. The network has already partnered with virtual concert site Planet Cazmo and other children’s brands that are eager to share their content on a platform that kids already go to rather than build one of their own. Branded goods, such as stickers that children can use to decorate profile pages, are also in the works.
This business model has persuaded vFormation and other angel investors to put $2.5 million into the company. But will the platform persuade kids to move from Facebook to Everloop?
While various national news stories have made it clear that Facebook isn’t age appropriate for tweens, its also clear that the line between “age appropriate” and “not cool” is delicate. Everloop argues that the content on their site will be more appealing to children than content designed for adults on other social networks. (FarmVille for sixth graders?) The company has been successful with pitches to investors and partners, but convincing tweens to make the site their online home base might be its toughest sell yet.
I think this is one of the best things that could have been created because it will cut down on the number of child predators found in today’s social networks. If you have a tween then you need to sign them up on Everloop.