What Should a ‘Parent Resource Center’ for Social Networking Contain? [INTERVIEW]

A new study in the U.K. found that half of parents with children aged 5-15 and 70 percent of parents with kids ages 12-15 admit they know less about the Internet than their children do, even as the number of kids online keeps growing, and the dangers for kids online get worse. What do you believe a parent needs to know when it comes to social media and kids?

A new study in the U.K. found that half of parents with children aged 5-15 and 70 percent of parents with kids ages 12-15 admit they know less about the Internet than their children do, even as the number of kids online keeps growing, and the dangers for kids online get worse. What do you believe a parent needs to know when it comes to social media and kids?

As hackers and scams become more complex, is it enough for parents just to know the difference between ‘texting’ and ‘friending,’ or a ‘wall post’ and a ‘tweet’?  We posed that question, and more, to Katie Greer, Director of Internet Safety for WhatsWhat.me, a newly launched, Facebook-lite social network site for the middle school set.

Greer is also the brains behind the site’s Parent Resource Center (PRC), one of the few, if not the only, one-stop, comprehensive resources available on the Web for social networking novice parents, or just parents with a lot of questions.

The site, and the PRC, are still in Beta version and will continue to evolve, so read our interview and then tell us, social media users, what should a social network-centric ‘Parent Resource Center’ contain?

ST:  How did the idea for a ‘Parent Resource Center’ originate?  Was it created based on user demand, or something the site’s founders had always envisioned including on the site?

KG: Our CEO Vincent Cannistraro, a father of three, had this idea all along, as he wanted a safe social networking site for kids, but didn’t want to leave the parents out. One of the biggest components of WhatsWhat.me is education; with that in mind, he wanted a place parents could go for Internet safety education. Through our discussions, we realized that there wasn’t one place where parents could go to get all this information, so he tasked me with imparting my knowledge in this space for parents. The concept of the PRC started out small, but has and will continue to expand into other resources for parents in addition to Internet safety and technology information.

ST:  What were the first steps in creating the PRC?  How did you decide what topics to cover and what issues to highlight?

KG: The PRC was started as a small site with some good resources and articles.  It’s since grown into a place where various WhatsWhat.me employees contribute articles and content, and has expanded to include things like podcasts, a glossary, and an Ask the Expert area where parents can directly ask our expert questions relating to safety and technology.

A lot of topics that the PRC covers are driven by what’s happening in the media and in the world of technology. The media drives many stories about technology that we can then expand upon and explain either in articles we cover or podcasts directly addressing the components of what’s been in the news. It’s a goal of ours to use the PRC to appeal to a broad audience: those who are overwhelmed and confused by the current technological trends, and those who are immersed in it. Where the media tends to point out the current issues and problems that are arising with kids and technology, we try to educate parents and let them know what they can do about these things as they come up.

The PRC is designed to be a valuable resource for all parents, not just the parents of our members.  We realize that there are many others with areas of expertise, producing excellent content as well.  We feel it is our responsibility to collect and curate links to these articles, white papers and studies, so that parents can be secure in the knowledge that they have a trusted resource where they can stay informed about this broad topic.