Collaboration | FETC 2013 News

Educational Opportunities Envisioned in Kids-Only Social Networking Site

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) and GromSocial.com have partnered for a new social networking experience designed specifically for children ages 6 through 14 years. The partnership was announced at the FETC 2013 National Conference, held this week in Orlando, FL.

The companies' stated goals for the site include providing new opportunities to engage children in educational opportunities and make learning online more fun.

GromSocial.com is the brainchild of 12-year-old FLVS student Zach Marks, who said he was quickly addicted to Facebook when he signed up in 2011 but also quick to lose his privilege to use the site.

"I made mistakes," Marks said in a GromSocial.com post. "One of my adult friends cursed and posted something inappropriate, and I cursed back. Also, I friend-requested grown-ups who I did not know. About a day later, my dad found out. He was really mad. I had to deactivate my account."

Marks's search for a more kid-friendly social networking experience led him ultimately to creating his own, GromSocial.com, in November of 2011. The site is intended to provide the same opportunities for children to connect with others and share information as similar social networks, but with measures in place to create a safer environment. GromSocial.com is designed to comply with and exceed all of the safety requirements put in place by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). ETrust provides supervision and compliance.

Among those safety measures are the requirement that both the parent and child create the account together and share accountability for activity on the site. Adults are not allowed to join unless they are friends or family and connections need to be approved by the GromSocial.com member and the parent.

"We have programs in place that won't allow curse words to be typed in," Marks said. "The site is monitored 24/7 and if we see something inappropriate we may shut that user account down immediately, and we will let the parents know."

FLVS is exhibiting at the FETC conference in booth 1006. GromSocial.com representatives will be on hand in FLVS' booth Wednesday.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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