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Bringing Kids to Togetherville

With Facebook recently embroiled in privacy concerns, other sites have started popping up to capitalize on Facebook's troubles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

One such site, called Togetherville, aims to be the kid-friendly (and safe!) version of Facebook, as Wired reported this week. (Otherwise, you could take the route this N.J. middle school principal did, and e-mail every parent in your school asking them to keep their kids off Facebook.)

Togetherville is a social network designed for kids ages 10 and under. The site's users can do many of the same things Facebook users can—interact with their friends, play online games, and watch videos—but the service ensures that parents are involved with their child's online activity by making the parents create their child's account. (The site uses Facebook authentication to confirm the parent's identity, and Togetherville accounts are verified via e-mail to complete the parent-child link.)

"Togetherville is social-networking training wheels for families," said Anne Collier, co-director of Connect Safely. "It models safe social-Web use for kids and shows even parents who are already keen Facebook users how social networking works best in the family context."

The site developers worked closely with officials from Connect Safely and the Family Safety Online Institute to design a system beneficial to younger children.

"We built Togetherville using the spirit of the neighborhoods most of us remember when we were kids," said co-founder Mandeep Singh Dhillon, "where everyone knows everyone else and watches out for each other. In Togetherville, parents have peace of mind that their kids are playing with people they know and trust and kids have fun while learning the tools they need to become good digital citizens."

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