London-based tech company Mind Candy wants to become the go-to social network for kids aged 7-12, with a new service called PopJam that launches today.
PopJam is described by Mind Candy as "a creative community for kids," and sees youngsters cooking up artistic "creations" using stickers, doodles and photos that can then be shared online. Like photo-sharing app Instagram, young users will be able to follow friends or other users, as well as like, share and draw responses to creations they encounter.
London-based Mind Candy -- founded by entrepreneur Michael Acton-Smith in 2004 -- is best known for creating the Moshi Monsters franchise, which began as a social site where youngsters could adopt a virtual pet, interact with other users and take part in puzzles to earn virtual currency. Last year Moshi Monsters hit the 80 million registered users milestones, and the site's popularity has spawned a range of toys, magazines and videogames.
PopJam has, in fact, existed on the iOS and Android app stores for a few months now, under the name "JellyChat." Today sees the formal launch of the final product, however. In a blog post to be published today, Acton Smith says the social network will let kids follow brands, authors, bands and games, but will also host "a large amount" of educational activities.
Any online service aimed at children will rightly come under scrutiny in terms of how safe it is for its users. CNET spoke to Laura Higgins, helpline manager at the UK Safer Internet Centre, who said that Mind Candy's approach to child safety online had in the past been "very, very responsible."
"Child protection is at the heart of what they do," Higgins said, noting that the British tech firm has "great moderation processes."
"They generally are seen to be one of the better organisations when it comes to these issues," Higgins said, noting that although she hadn't had a chance to use PopJam yet, good advice for parents is to try out kids' apps for themselves. "As with any app," Higgins said, "if you're going to download something your children will be playing with, go and familiarise yourself, look around, have a play."
Describing PopJam as a "walled-garden where kids can be kids," Mind Candy founder Acton Smith said, "We feel very strongly that without a viable community designed for this younger demographic, kids under 13 will continue using apps designed for over 13 year olds like Instagram, SnapChat and Tumblr."