Eleven-year-old Zach Marks had a problem. He had not one, but two Facebook pages which he acquired by fibbing about his age, an all too common occurrence. His parents were unhappy when they found out about the pages, and they made Zach deactivate his account. This made him unhappy because he was left without the ability to connect with his friends over a social network.
Rather than sulk, Zach did something about his situation. Using a $2,500 loan from his older brother, he started a free social networking website geared to pre-teens and others too young to be on Facebook. He named the site GromSocial and while it is new, there is already quite a bit of free content such as video games, sports and entertainment news on the site, as well as the ability to link up with friends and make new friends with whom you share common interests.
The site has developed its own apps and features integration with Twitter and Instagram. It even has a section to help members with their school work.
The site has been designed to meet rigorous standards. The site has filters in place and live monitoring as well as adult forum monitors. Emails are sent to parents/guardians to advise them of their child's contacts and which topics their child is interested in. Parents can create a parental account, available to people over the age of 16, to check up on their kids' activity on the site.
It supports "No Bullies, and saying No to drugs and smoking". Filters are in place to ensure that even cursing is not allowed on the site. Bullies can be reported by parents and children to the GromSocial account.
"Grom," by the way, is defined as "A promising young individual, who is quick to learn."
The site is certainly not just Zach alone. At first it was his parents, Darren and Sarah Marks, who helped set it up. Now there is a professional team involved.
At the core of the site is parent monitoring:
- A Parent/s or Guardians must approve every friend their child communicates with.
- Emails/Report Cards are sent to parent/s or guardians outlining who the child was communicating with and what topics the child is interested in.
- ALL members over 16 yrs. old will be marked "ADULT". The only way an ADULT can become a member is by being approved by an existing child's parent.
The site now claims over 7,000 members. It is certainly worth a look especially if you have pre-teens desperate to get onto Facebook, or you're desperate to get them off Facebook.