There are over 1 billion Facebook accounts which leaves it little space to grow. Facebook needs to attract millennials to continue to grow as it stated in its IPO last year. So perhaps it is about time that Facebook had a competitor which is also aiming to capture the youth market.
However, some parents are concerned about exposing their children to adult content. They also have concerns about privacy and unsuitable language. Some are unhappy about their children using the site.
Zach Marks was one of these children who were prevented from using Facebook by his parents. He lied about his age to create an account on Facebook. He quickly became addicted as Facebook consumed all of his time. He began to accept friend requests from adults that he did not know.
A friend of the family told Zach’s father about Zach’s activities. He had over 600 friends and was exposed to adult content, conversing with adults ‘in a fashion that no 11 year old boy should be doing’ said Darren Marks, Zach’s father.
Zach had to deactivate his account, and a second Facebook account that he activated. The 11 year old then started to look around for another suitable social networks for kids that were ‘safe and cool’.
Not being able to find any suitable sites he decided to create his own site, Grom Social: a ‘Facebook for kids’.
According to the site a Grom is ‘A promising young individual who is quick to learn’. The term is usually applied to boarders or surfers. Grom Social is specifically aimed at children under the age of 16.
Zach’s parents, Darren and Sarah Marks are part of the Grom Social team and make sure that the site meets rigorous standards. Members over 16 years old are marked as adult and must be approved by an existing child's parent or legal guardian.
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.
Grom Social makes it difficult for children to become influenced by peer pressure.
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 Grom Social account.
The site has almost 7,000 members and around 6,000 page views per day according to Florida Today. It has simple video help topics to help users on the site. There are forums, videos and images and a section to help users with their school work.
Zach wants users of the site to ‘have fun with it’ and he hopes that parents can encourage their kids to make ‘the right choices’ and get their kids on ‘a safe social networking site’.
Grom Social has a real chance to succeed. Social networking sites for under 16’s are limited and children want to join Facebook because their friends are there. Being exposed to adult content makes Facebook a no-no however for many parents.
As membership grows and Grom Social reaches the tipping point with its members, more and more teenagers and pre-teens will turn away from other social networking sites such as Facebook and join their friends on Grom Social.
Then, without the influx of youth, Facebook growth will stall as its value to the next generation diminishes.
Grom Social is certainly one to watch.