SOCIAL MEDIA FOR KIDS: IS THERE A SAFE OPTION? - The Daily Guardian
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SOCIAL MEDIA FOR KIDS: IS THERE A SAFE OPTION?

Noor Anand Chawla

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Now that social media has effectively taken over the lives of adults, giants in this space like Facebook are looking to modify their offerings and aiming at children under the age of 13. In fact, a plan to launch Instagram for kids was imminent but was stalled when critics cried out against the potential mental health issues among children whose minds are at their most impressionable at this age. YouTube is the only platform that offers kids-only content, but the ‘social’ aspect of interaction between people uploading the content and consumers of the content, is missing from this platform. The core idea of social media was never problematic – in fact, it encouraged everyone, regardless of their skill sets, education or level of confidence, to be creative and display that creativity to the world. So, if social media can be presented in a safe manner for young ones, there is potential for immense creative growth.

This was the exact thought in the minds of the team that created VoxBox – a social community for kids under the age of 13. Founders Aditya Jaishankar and Sunder Raman first created a storytelling app for kids called MaPa Story, to allow them to express themselves through stories with anyone in the world.

Jaishankar explains, “However, with MaPa Story, we felt that we were not tapping into the entire gamut of creativity and expression that kids are capable of. We realised kids were keen on a platform where they could interact with other children, while expressing their thoughts and ideas. So, we came up with India’s first social community for kids below the age of 13, where children can share their ideas, experiences, thoughts and stories with one another.”

The basic premise of social media was to allow teens and adults to share their thoughts and experiences with others, however, children below the age of 13 do not have a platform where they can express themselves freely. The main reason such a product has not yet been created is their safety and security. VoxBox claims to address these issues. Jaishankar explains, “We are a safe and secure social community for kids below the age of 13, where they can interact with other kids and freely express their thoughts, ideas, experiences and stories. VoxBox is an audio-visual platform where kids do not need to reveal their name, age or any other personal details. We are also COPPA (Children’s Online Protection Privacy Rules) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulated.”

He is emphatic in his belief that because they follow the mandated regulatory structures, VoxBox is a safe app. Children cannot upload posts on this platform without parental consent, ensuring that no post can be harmful in any manner. The name is derived from the French word for voice or Vox, because every child’s voice matters. It has been envisioned as a fun box where imagination has no limits. The app also stimulates every child’s imagination by offering several prompts that inspire and encourage kids to create more if they feel they are stuck in a rut. They can choose from a selection of prompts that include ‘Spark an Idea’, ‘Relive an Experience’, and ‘Explore a City’. These diverse categories allow them to express themselves in a language of their choice.

The app can currently be accessed only on Google Play Store, and caters only to children within India. Despite this, since its launch 4 weeks ago, it has been downloaded over 1000 times, proving a worthy testimony to its popularity.

“We nurture the natural creativity within children, spark their imagination, enable them to become more expressive and allow for bonding to happen between kids across different cultures,” shares Jaishankar with pride. The app comes with multiple categories but the team is constantly working on creating newer and fresher content, as well as including more inspiring topics to pique the imagination of the children. Programs have been selected on the basis of suggestions of their content team that looks into various topics to help kids expand their imagination and express themselves. As all parents know, kids grow up tremendously fast and it is important to keep looking for something worthy that keeps them entertained while encouraging overall development.

The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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