• The Internet is a dangerous place

    • By : Don Semora

My wife is a experienced Preschool teacher, who is certified in High scope. In 2011 my wife came home one day and was aghast that some of her kids had a facebook page. At the time our oldest was just under ten years of age, so I decided to get on Facebook and see how many of her friends who also were 9 and 10 were on there. I was shocked to see almost ever one of them was online. Further, 9 of the 11 had their pages totoally open.

So my wife asked me, why is there not a safe place for kids online? I did some further checking and low and behold the options were scant. There were a few sited who touted themselves as "social networks for kids". However, really they were just advertising avenues that were designed to shove into kids faces preprogrammed advertising for larger companies.

So my wife asked me a very simple question. Why cant we make one for kids, after all. I was a programmer, and designer. I naivley said sure, it should be easy to do. It was not, I had no idea as to the daunting task of designing and coding a complete social network for kids. I also further had no clue as to the legal issues and unique security concerns that would come to light. However, in June of 2013 I with the help of my friend decided that we would help my wife make her idea come to light, and so we began My Friend Spot.

We began by designing the site, and this was no easy task. How do you make the experience seem like a traditional social experience, yet also keep it age appropriate and also fun for kids? It took eleven months of design to get the basic format down. I also began educating myself on the law of how to handle the information for kids, and what we could do and not do. There was a Federal law called COPPA that was strict, so we involved an attorney in this, and he graciously donated his advice and time in helping us make the site conform to the various Federal and Michigan laws that were on the books. We also then tackled security and safety.

Security and Safety would prove to be the largest challenge to us. We met with various online child safety groups, asking for feedback and advice. However they were reluctant to talk to us, as lets face it. We wanted back end information on how to trap the predators and scumbags, and they met us with caution as they did not know who were were at first, however as we gave them more information about us, our plan several hopped on board. We also met with various law enforcement and internet crimes specialist, learning how we could make the site safe and secure. We took their advice seriously, however then we had to implement the ideas they gave us into live code, we had to make the site almost self aware as to who was online, and what they were doing. We literally became experts at internet child safety, and also how to code into a site the protections that would be needed.

So in June of 2014 the first edition of My Friend Spot went live, at first things were slow, however as word spread about the site, and as word spread about my wife, her vision and her desire to protect kids membership grew. Since then we have constantly updated the site, improving security and the user experience for the kids and parents.

Finally, My Friend Spot has grown, and we are looking to hopefully exceed 500,000 users in 2016. Safe Social Networking where parents have total control over their kids experience online is what the site gives. As a parent of two young daughters, I want my kids to be safe online, and to be protected online. With My Friend Spot you can be promised of that and more.

Latest Snapshots

My Friend Spot uses over 300K lines of code

12 days ago

Parents control all aspects of their kids online experience. From what is seen, posted and received and more.

8 hours ago

Check out my Twitter feed, I will be starting to use Twitter a lot for instant news and lecture info.

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  • 38 hours ago

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    testimonials

    My Friend Spot is a great site. Thank you to Tina for her vision and execution of this site. My daughter loves it.

    Pam - North Carolina

    I feel safe for my child when they are on the site. Your design and layout is so child friendly. Thank you for loving our kids.

    Linda - Vancouver British Columbia

    I love the parent control panel, I love that I can control what my kids are exposed to. And this site is free also.

    Michelle - Hasting, MI

    A Video For My Friend Spot I Made