August 9th, 2012

Social networks confront challenges in rush to attract youngest users

By Celia Kang
The Washington Post

A growing number of social networks are racing to capture the loyalties of the Web’s youngest and most vulnerable users.

Last month, Silicon Valley-based Kazaana launched with $3 million in funding and with hopes of attracting subscribers younger than 13 who will be addicted to friending, photo-sharing and farm-tending games. Kidzworld, with its 2.2 million users, has signed up advertisers such as Crocs and Crate & Barrel. Yoursphere boasts AT&T and the American Youth Soccer Organization as paying sponsors who want to lend their services to the site’s 500,000 subscribers — from preschoolers to 17-year-olds.

Sites including Kazaana and Facebook spark concerns over children’s vulnerability as they tap into a market they hope will commit now — and remain.

Then, of course, there’s Facebook, which is pondering whether to allow preteens to join its massive social network with their parents’ permission.

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