Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GromSocial: Mission Gromtastic

As a parent you need to be vigilant monitoring your children's social media activity.  Start by talking with your child, having a social media policy for your family, and then regularly checking in on their digital activity. Many parents struggle with the constant monitoring thinking they are  too busy to stay on top of all accounts, especially if they have multiple children.

I have found a social media website, GromSocial which may be a great solution.   I first read about Grom in the local newspaper.  The article explained how Zachary Marks, at the age of 11, created the site after battling with his parents over his Facebook activity. You can read more about that journey in this article in the Huffington Post.  Last Sunday afternoon I had the good fortune and honor of talking with Darren Marks, Zack's dad.  While I thought I was going to be interviewing him for this blog post, we had a real discussion about how important it is for parents to monitor their children's activity.  We are like-minded parents who actually believe in parenting our children and not driven to be their friends.

Grom was created by kids for kids with parents supervising every step of the process.  Parents are involved right when their children sign-up approving accounts and always have the ability to check-in.  Every 2 weeks parents get a full report card of their child's activity on the site.  Parents have reported that these report cards help them to better understand their children when presented with information of topics their children are discussing.

Grom is a training ground for Facebook.  The goal, is to teach kids to be responsible citizens on the internet and build a safe community for children.  An overwhelming number of Grom members come into the site because they have been bullied elsewhere and this type of behavior is not tolerated on Grom.

In addition to bullying, inappropriate content (pictures and videos) and conversations about sex and drugs are not permitted and dealt with immediate when found.  How?  There is constant and relentless monitoring, 24/7.  At all times there is a bad word filter for all posts and messages with and 14 live monitors are watching the site.  Monitors reach out to parent and child when they think there is even a problem.  When there are problems and a child's account is suspended and Grom staff starts a process of educating the child to be a better member.  Bullies are not alienated, the Grom staff works with them.  Some of the best Grom community members are kids who have needed a bit of help.

Now, you may be asking yourself, can they really catch everything?  After all, kids are smart enough these days to set-up dummy gmail accounts to look like parents.  But remember, they are just kids and eventually they will slip and get caught either by a monitor or reported by another member.  With the constant monitoring the problems are uncovered, accounts suspended and investigated.  While there is no replacement for parent monitoring, the Grom staff is a great partner to your effort.

The Marks family is really onto something in the creation of GromSocial.  I applaud their efforts and look forward to checking in often to see how they are doing.  When talking with my own daughter about this post, she said it sounded interesting so I may also be a participating parent in the not too distant future...Gromtastic!

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