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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Togetherville brings kids together online -- but why?

Togetherville Okay, my headline gives away my bias. Between all the television, texting and cell phone use, computer use and video games that kids are already wrapped up in, along comes Togetherville -- or as I like to think of it, the candy cigarettes of online social networking.

Unveiled last week, Togetherville is billed as a way for kids under the age of 10 to have a social media network like Facebook. Parents select the kids and adults who will be in their child's inner circle. To comment on a child's post, a friend can pick from a preselected drop-down menu of chatter. If that friend wants to say something else, he or she must submit it so that it can be vetted by a grown-up.

This is supposed to be an intermediary step between an interactive game site such as Club Penguin and Facebook, which is not supposed to have users under 13 (but we already know that's not the case).

I do like that this was devised by a parent. Mandeep Singh Dhillon told CNN that it's based on "the spirit of the neighborhoods most of us remember when we were kids." I am glad that (so far at least) the site carries no advertising. And I like that there are a lot of parental controls on Togetherville, too.

But my big question is: Does anyone really need this? We're already worried about our kids sitting inside too much and snacking -- do we need to give them another reason to veg out at the computer instead of "interfacing" with their friends outside in the sunshine?

All in all, I have to agree with the expert the New York Times interviewed: “From the child’s perspective, I’m not sure what the benefit is. Believe me, kids will learn how to use technology and media when the time comes.”

-- Sherry Robinson

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[Last modified: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:24pm]


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