Everloop Co-Founder & CEO Hilary DeCesare talks about Tween Social Networking, Education Gamification and Facebook
Privacy and safety have always been key issues in social networking, especially when it comes to children. While Facebook's terms and conditions say that kids under 13 aren't allowed on the site, no one is going to stop a 12 year old from claiming that she was born a year earlier. To make things easier for parents and provide a place for 8-13 year olds to connect, Everloop is a site that "creates a privacy loop around kids' connections." Below is my interview with Hilary DeCesare, co-founder and CEO of this social network for tweens.
1. What benefits does Everloop provide to tweens that may be too young for Facebook and too old for Club Penguin?
Online, tweens want fun while parents want safety, and Everloop delivers both. With more than 600 million Facebook users across the world, social networking site has changed the way people communicate and share information. Everloop has created a unique age-appropriate social media experience by interconnecting customized micro-social networkscalled “loops”. Loops featured on Everloop include community loops of common interest (art, science, culture, reading, sports, fashion, etc.). Social “looping” was specifically designed to allow tweens to share, communicate, and collaborate discretely with their friends while online.
The site also features creative applications, music, games, videos, photos, animation, user generated content and other integrated online experiences. No other social platform on the market today offers as many real-time communications, content-sharing, and collaboration features designed specifically for tweens.
2. What are some of the things that these kids are most interested in doing in social networks?
We’ve found that kids love sharing content with each other, chatting, playing games, creating groups and using technologies that are similar to those being used by their older siblings and parents.
3. Today's tweens are growing up surrounded by technology and social media. It's all very normal to them. What kinds of things do you think they will expect from the websites of the future?
I think kids expect and deserve a lot of the same tools adults use and that’s why we offer many similar features provided by major social networks.
Unlike many other tween platforms, we don’t deny them these exciting technologies they’ve become familiar with, we enhance them to become safer and more enriching for younger audiences.
4. What are your thoughts on the gamification of education?
There is definitely a place for play in education and we’re eager to see how social networking can contribute to that intersection of gaming and learning. Since computers entered the classroom, gamification has taken many forms, from spelling, math and typing challenges to geography and more. What we’re now calling “gamification” brings it to another level through social interaction and mobility and it’s a natural way to get kids thinking strategically as they aim to “win” their educational challenge or get the right answer.
5. You offer self-serve tool options for companies, organizations and brands. Are you already working with any schools and brands?
Yes, we have relationships and programs with a leading supplier of digital content for schools and with top brands such as Mad Science and Simon and Schuster.
6. What happens when Everloop tweens get older. Does Everloop grow with them or is Everloop just an in-between social network?
We are working on a tool that enables Everloop tweens that grow with the platform to export and transfer their content and memories to 13+ social networks.
7. How do you keep the wrong people from coming into Everloop?
Everloop has the most comprehensive, safe, and fully COPPA-compliant social network designed and built specifically for tweens age 8-13 in the marketplace today. While competitive social networks such as Imbee, GiantHello, and whatswhat.me offer a subset of these tools, none offers full suite and level of sophistication that Everloop employs.
We approach security from 3 perspectives: Secure Sign Up, Parental Monitoring, and Moderation.
Secure Sign Up: We have developed a process where any kid can sign up without parental approval but cannot interact or post to any member. Parents are immediately involved upon sign up.
Parental Monitoring: Using our Privacy Panel, parents have the ability to see incoming/outgoing email, friend requests/acceptances, group activity and Evercredit purchases.
Moderation: Everloop applies a 3-prong-approach to moderation, including 1) Everloop uses the Crisp NetModerator U13 moderation and profiling system for social environments. Crisp Thinking is the world’s leading expert on child safety online and designer of NetModerator and provides world class automated moderation technology for posts, groups, IM Chat, email and SMS. 2) an internally developed UGC/Messaging human moderation tool. 3) empowers kids to identify communication that does not feel right or even un-friending members.
8. What can parents do to protect their kids online while also encouraging them to connect with friends?
Outside of Everloop, parents should educate themselves on the risks involved in adding their children on Facebook. It’s illegal for a reason. Parents should also be aware of COPPA-compliance and seek platforms that adhere to those safeguards to maintain secure Web experiences for their kids. Parents don’t have to deny their kids Internet use, they just need to monitor and participate in their activities to ensure that they’re learning how to be good netizens.
On Everloop, parents control and set their Privacy Panel to monitor their child’s activities and are alerted of actions through email, SMS/text message, or on their Privacy Panel’s dashboard.
9. Bonus: Any advice for future entrepreneurs?
As with any endeavor, it’s essential to build a product or company that fills a void and provides vital resources for an underserved need. Focus. Live, breath, run your company around specific focus area. Every member of the team needs to all be on the same page or distractions will kill the business.