If your kids are like mine, when they go online they spend most of their time chatting on the internet with their friends. I like one aspect of this social networking the best, which is them connecting with their school friends during the summer months, especially since their friends don't live just down the street.
In the old days, of course, we just picked up a telephone, but kids these days rely on the internet, and though I like that my kids are computer savvy, like any parent I want to make sure they're safe online. I don't mind them chatting with their friends--but how do I know *who* they are chatting with? And how do they know that the people they are chatting with online are who they say they are?
My Secret Circle is a fabulous solution for parents of girls that worry about who their kids are connecting with online. It's one of those ideas that, when you hear it, you just have to slap your forehead and go, "Why didn't I think of that?!"
Designed for girls 8-12, My Secret Circle uses proprietary technology to allow girls to talk to their friends--and by friends, I mean only other girls they know IRL on the internet, without being exposed to questionable influences. In fact, there's not even any advertising at the My Secret Circle site to distract them!
Here's how My Secret Circle works:
Parents purchase My Secret Circle Access Keys™ for their daughters. The My Secret Circle Access Key™ contains an embedded code that is recognized by My Secret Circle’s™ private browser when connected to your computer. Because this unique code is located in a hardware solution, no personal information, registration or login is ever needed—and no one from the outside world can seek your child out. Also, while entered into the My Secret Circle world, the internet navigation bar is completely stripped away, meaning your child can never navigate outside of the circle to other websites.
Here's what's really cool about My Secret Circle:
Your daughter invites other girls to join her Secret Circle by exchanging, IRL, a unique code. This means that only other girls your daughter has personally met and befriended can find her online. Each girl has her own unique code, which is a 12 digit number generated by the My Secret Circle Friend Code™ Generator.
The My Secret Circle invitation system allows your child to print out her Friend Code and create an envelope to trade her Friend Code in person with a real friend of her choice.
What can they do with their friends once they are online?
Well, there's games to play, places to exchange photos (again, remember, only with their real-life friends), a way to keep journals and share them as well, and of course the internet message system for chatting with their friends.
I really like this low-priced solution for parents. All you have to purchase to get started is one My Secret Circle Access Key pack (19.99).
You can choose to buy the BFF friend pack, which includes two keys, one for your daughter and her BFF, or even a headset for voice chat, but those are optional items.
My Secret Circle is available exclusively at Justice.
My take: Hooray! A common-sense, reasonably-priced solution to internet safety for girls ages 8-12! Why didn't we think of this before?
The My Secret Circle folks, who kindly let me a demo unit to test out myself, have also graciously sponsored a giveaway for Cool Moms Rule! readers! One lucky reader will win a My Secret Circle Access Key pack, , valued at 19.95, like the one pictured to the left.
Here's how to enter:
Just leave a comment on this post to enter this giveaway!
For extra entries, Tweet about the giveaway or share it on your Facebook page, blog or other forum, then leave a comment with the link for me here.
That's all there is to it! Contest ends Friday, July 31st.