Saturday, December 17, 2011

5 Facebook Alternatives for kids

Nannies, sitters and other child caregivers face many dilemmas when trying to keep their young charges happy without breaking the ground rules set by parents. Kids are very aware of the world around them and want to try everything. They've probably seen their parents use social media sites like Facebook and may have seen you using it as well. Being infinitely curious, they will probably ask you to create a profile.

As tempting and harmless as this might seem, it's not a good decision. Facebook has a rule prohibiting children under age 13 from creating a profile, and without supervision, the Internet and social media can be a dangerous place for a child. Not to mention, the parents of your charges might not be very happy with you. But you don't have to listen to them beg and cajole. These Facebook alternatives for kids make nanny jobs easier while keeping both the kids and their parents happy.

1. Togetherville
Togetherville is actually made by the same people as Facebook. On this site, a set of drop-down messages allows kids to safely communicate with their friends and even grownups. Games, similar to the ones on Facebook but without the ads, are also available, as well as platforms for artwork and videos.

2. giantHello
This site is specifically for kids who are in that “in between” stage -- too old for the sites designed for little kids, but not quite old enough to be on Facebook. At giantHello, kids can play social-based games, friend people, create a profile page, upload photos, chat with friends via instant message, update their homepage and more. The friending system at giantHello only allows you to add people you know in real life. Before a friend can accept you, they must enter a code that you have given them.

3. Webkinz
This is a fun option for the younger set that is also appealing to many teenagers. Webkinz pets are stuffed toys that can be purchased at any toy store. The toy comes with a code for the Webkinz site. The site itself is free, and once you are logged in with your pet, you can take care of it, interact with other pet owners and play games.

4. Club Penguin
Club Penguin is owned by Disney. The site is geared towards younger kids. According to the site itself, it's for kids ages 6 to 14, but it probably wouldn’t be very appealing to most kids over age 10. Kids are represented by a penguin avatar, which they control. Through the penguins, members can communicate with each other using chat and emotes and can also perform actions like waving and dancing. Different games are available that award coins, which can be used by players to dress up their penguin and their home.

5. Whatswhat.me
This site is geared towards teenagers and has a strong focus on Internet safety. A webcam is required for login, using facial recognition. Kids are only allowed to friend kids who are one grade level above and one grade level below to keep conversations and topics age appropriate. This can be waived with parental approval. Whattswhat is constantly monitored to make sure that everyone is being safe.

Anything that keeps the kids and their parents happy makes your job easier. You can find more useful childcare tips plus nanny job listings at Nannyjobs.org.