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Social media doesn’t have to be an inactive activity. DIY.org is a good example of social media that works best when participants actually move away from the computer and do something—in this case, build projects.
Aimed at children as young as six years old, the website presents its members with a very large collection of building challenges, many of which would even keep an adult interested. You build projects and share the results (as photos or videos) with other community members.
Parents can participate through a dashboard that informs them about what their child is creating. Parents can also give badges, or ‘stickers’, as rewards and encouragement.
Projects are organized in Boy/Girl Scout-like topics: Astronomy, Camper, Wind Engineer, etc. Within each topic are project suggestions. Complete the required minimum number of projects and you earn a badge for that topic.
It’d be possible for members to complete projects on their own, but the idea is to get everyone talking and exchanging ideas between and throughout projects.
The community hub is a website, but there’s also an iPhone app. Both provide plenty of links to Twitter and Facebook, though Facebook is officially off limits to children younger than 13.
DIY.org is a good alternative for parents uncomfortable with many children’s social networking sites that revolve around buying things, either with funny money online or with real money in retail stores. Kids in my world don’t need too much handholding when it comes to spending, and although I never saw this with my own daughters, it seems like those kinds of sites could promote have/have-not sentiments.
Less than a year old, DIY.org is still forming. Significantly, the site’s privacy and terms-of-service pages are blank as I write this. It’ll be interesting to watch DIY’s experiment evolve. To find out more, visit DIY.