Imagine being thrown in front of a computer screen before ever experiencing building a sandcastle, riding a bike or even crawling—Togetherville.com makes that nightmare a reality for today’s youngsters. Not familiar with this Facebook-like site for children? Togetherville is a social networking site that provides kids under the age of thirteen with an exciting online community experience—age appropriate of course!
Any parent can create a neighborhood (Togetherville account) for their child by logging into their personal Facebook account. Togetherville allows children and their parents to interact together with online games, projects and even videos.
To be honest, I highly doubt parents are engaging with their children when they place them in front of the computer. It seems all too silly and lazy if you ask me—the internet should not be utilized as a cheap babysitter.
Sure it’s great to teach children the importance of internet safety, but what ever happened to strapping on a bike helmet as a safety lesson and showing kids the fun outdoors? Why is there an urgency to get kids on the computer? Are parents hoping online gaming can drill numbers and letters into their children, so they don’t have to take the time to physically read actual books to them? And why can’t family game nights exist with actual board games (no, not e-games)?
Togetherville is perfect for stage moms! Parents can easily find the children of their friends and can exchange photos and interests of their children. Instead of setting up play dates where children can interact in person, parents are opting to use social media to share “likes” and “dislikes” of their children.
Oh, and you can bet Togetherville is raking in some cash. Parents are encouraged to reward their kids with “T-Bills” , which they can use to spend in their Togetherville neighborhood to buy virtual games, gifts and other gimmicky goods. What’s the cost? $10 will provide children with 1,700 T-bills…perhaps Togetherville isn’t a free babysitter after all.
I agree that children need to be taught the importance of social media safety…but can’t they grow before creating them an avatar? What’s your take on this virtual childhood? What age do you feel is most appropriate for kids to learn the ropes of responsible social networking?