Social networks are quite a big deal on the internet. Many people use them, but when it comes to younger users they can be risky places. Parents might not know who their child is interacting with and some are reluctant to allow their child access to any. What’s What? is an alternative to the big social networks intended for users that fall into the 7 to 13 year old age group. The network is secure and promotes a bull free environment intended for children and pre-teens. Users can adopt positive online habits while interacting with others of the same age. Parents do not have to worry about their child getting lost in a sea of everyone. What’s What? also provides parents with a Parents’ Resource Center that provides information and tips on social networks and cyberspace safety for their children. What’s What? adheres to the Federal government’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
What’s What? was founded by Vincent Cannistraro. Cannistraro was much like other parents, concerned about his child’s online activity. He believed that both children and their parents should be empowered when it came to safety on the internet. His personal concerns lead him to crate What’s What?, which would help other parents with similar concerns find a reliable place for their children to experience a social network.
The age group intended for What’s What? is what makes the application so unique. Most social networks are actually restrictive and do not allow access to those under 13. While there are very good reasons for this, it can leave children with few options. What’s What? gives children ages 7 to 13 a safe place to explore a social network.
The What’s What? website encourages young users with photos of smiling children and amusing sketch style drawings that make up the site’s background. Even the logo text uses a similar style in blue and green. The site is designed for younger users, so it is very easy to navigate and learn.
A new user can become a What’s What? member by clicking on the blue “Sign up” button found at the very top, middle of the homepage. Another larger blue button can be found along the left hand side of the homepage as well. The following page includes two columns, the right features the main community guidelines which the user should read. The left includes the short registration form which asks for a first name, grade level, username and password. The form is kept vague and brief so children and parents are comfortable giving the information. The next page asks for parent information and a parent’s credit card. The site does not actually cost anything however the credit card is used to verify the user’s identity. The card is charged $1 which is immediately refunded. This is a requirement to follow COPPA compliance guidelines. The website also states that a web cam is needed to use the site to verify that the user is who they say they are.
For the time being, anyone can create a What’s What? membership for free. The site states that this is not a permanent option, however those that sign up now are given a free lifetime membership. Eventually the site will include some kind of a charge for access.
What’s What? goes to great lengths to protect its young user base, making it a great choice for children ages 7 to 13. Parents can also appreciate the security measures and COPPA compliance which helps keep their child safe while enjoying the internet.