With the popularity of social media these days, it's no surprise that the tween crowd wants in on the action. Social networking for kids may seem to be all fun and games, but some experts believe there is value in these virtual worlds. Lori Takeuchi, Ph.D. says, "According to some scholars, digital media provide young people with the tools, spaces, and communities to develop the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and social practices needed for full participation in contemporary society as consumers, producers, and civic actors." What comes before Facebook? Take a look at these five sites that are perfect for the tween crowd.
Created back in 1999 to encourage middle-school students to be interested in science and math, Whyville is a fun and educational virtual community for boys and girls. Citizens play educational games and earn clams as their currency. Whyville works directly with organizations such as NASA and the Getty to bring educational content to their users in a fun way.
In the Club at Nickelodeon you can customize your own room, hang out in interactive common rooms, watch videos of Nickelodeon shows and play games. The chat feature uses a clean dictionary that makes giving out personal information (such as street addresses) difficult.
Your tween can create an avatar and start playing in the virtual world at Yoursphere right away. Games, chat, blogs and shared interest groups (called spheres) are some of the fun features on this site. Good citizenship is rewarded with credits they can use to purchase actual prizes.
Tied to the magazine by the same name, Girl's Life is a hangout jammed with everything a tween girl wants to chat about. Advice columns, clubs, quizzes, fitness and fashion are among the areas your tween can spend hours navigating on this site.
Parents set age-appropriate parameters in Imbee, and a credit card is required to set up an account to verify identity. Music streaming (with the premium membership) and playlist sharing are a few of the cool features, with 8 million songs in the library. Games, groups and chat are also features on this popular site.
Test drive one of these sites to give your tween a chance to flex their social media skills in a kid-friendly way.