December 1, 2008
By MALLARY JEAN TENORE
The Dallas Morning News
By the time Abagail Kanter was 2 ½ months old, she had friends her age from around the country.
She has never met these infants, but she has received messages from them on TotSpot, a social networking site for babies.
"Hi, Abbie!" reads one message from Abagail's friend Olivia. "Any good burps or [gas] lately? I've had a bunch today." "When I stretch," Abagail responded, "I leave some good burps and [gas]."
The messages, of course, are from parents, usually moms, who say sites such as TotSpot provide them with time-saving alternatives to play dates and face-to-face relationships, while helping them connect with parents and children in nontraditional ways. . .
TotSpot isn't the only social networking or online journaling site for babies. Other sites, such as AboutMyBaby.com and ScrapBlog.com, let parents create multimedia scrapbooks, while TotSites.com lets them build Web sites. On Kidmondo.com, parents can blog about their babies and, for a fee, turn blog entries into a print version called a Kidbook.
Camille Kraeplin, who has studied social media as an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University, says that while social networking sites provide parents with beneficial ways to connect with one another, they shouldn't be used as replacements for the face-to-face relationships that are crucial to a child's development.
"If you're directing children from the time they're infants and toddlers toward a life on the computer instead of directing them toward the park, it seems to me that you're starting them out in an unhealthy way because, believe me, they will want to spend time on the computer without your assistance," Ms. Kraeplin says. "If you have a healthy child, they need to be exposed to so much more."
Read the full story.
# # #