Nipagesh: The Kids-Friendly Alternative To Facebook
Two years ago, Itay Eshet’s daughter told him she wanted a Facebook account. She was 10 years old. Facebook’s great, Eshet told her, but it’s not for kids. So instead they built a new social network for preteens called Nipagesh, which means “let’s meet” in Hebrew.
Facebook and most other social networks require users to be at least 13 years old, but lots of kids want to join sooner. That leaves many parents struggling with how to manage their kids’ socializing online, not just because of legal barriers, but also concerns over possible inappropriate interactions with strangers and bullying.
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Eshet says his network trains future Facebook users to be smart. “Nipagesh is for young kids in elementary school,” he says. “Because we want to build them and to prepare them for using social networks when … they’re old enough to use Facebook, WhatsApp or whatever social network they want to use.”
Trying to build something both safe and fun
Eshet knew the network had to be safe. His daughter said it had to be fun. What evolved was a network that signs up schools, not individuals. Once a school is on, every student is a member. Eshet says this makes it easy to learn how to socialize online.
“First of all, all the kid’s friends are inside [the network], which makes it much more interesting for the kid, and he doesn’t have to look for friends outside,” Eshet explains. “Second, every member of the network is authenticated.”
So far, 100 schools in Israel are participating. Users have to use their real names, and kids can chat with and friend any other kid on the network — even strangers at other schools. ”They are strangers, but we know for sure that they are kids,” Eshet says. “And we know what age they are. And we know what are their interests.”