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Boy, 12, launches youth social networking site

Grom Social caters to kids and their protective parents.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Jan 15, 2013 4:25PM

Boy geniuses and tech startups are common modern marketplace phenomena. The barons of our time may be the 20-year-old programmers who provide Internet services that the public embraces but never knew it wanted.

So, we should expect to see more young innovators offering their unique perspectives on online communications.

Zach Marks, a 12-year-old from Melbourne Beach, Fla., is the most recent, and perhaps the youngest, entrepreneur to enter the social networking market.

Photo: www.gromsocial.comAfter some convincing, Marks’ parents agreed to let him create a profile on Facebook. However, learning that Marks had conversed with adults online whom they didn’t know, they barred Marks from using this profile.

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Exiled from the online social sphere, Marks began his own network, one geared toward an under-18 audience that would also garner parental approval. Although originally created just for his friends and family, the Marks family has decided to release the site to the public.  

Grom Social requires parental permission for users to create profiles. To create a profile users must enter a parent's email address. The site sends parents “report cards” on their children’s site activity and interests.

Marks doesn't think parental involvement will deter kids from using the site. " I personally experienced what happens on social networking sites that are not safe for kids. I saw bad language and I was bullied. It was scary," Marks says. "With all the bad things happening in the world, kids want to know they are safe from bad people." 

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Users create a cartoonish avatar, a grom-atar, that they use on the brightly-colored, animated site to interact with “friends” and explore topics such as health, school, sports and entertainment. The site offers video game tips and help with school subjects for grades 1-10.

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"We're getting 25,000 plus visits a day. Our membership grows every hour and we're speaking with some of the biggest companies in the world about becoming involved with GromSocial," Marks states.

If it continues to catch on, Grom Social just may be an incubator for future Mark Zuckerbergs and Zach Markses.


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Photo: www.gromsocial.com

14Comments
Jan 15, 2013 11:47PM
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My neice and nephew had the following 2 rules growing up (obviously had others). No more than 30 minutes of computer playtime per day and no more than 30 minutes of non-educational TV per day. They had unlimited computer and TV for educational activities.

 

Neice just finished with straight A's in first semester of college. Taking all somphore level classes because she all ready had freshman level credits completed. Active in sports and plays on the school soccer team.

 

Nephew is a sophmore in HS and is taking all college level classes with straight A's. Active in sports and is captain of his hockey team.

 

Parents need to stop letting TV and the internet raise their kids.

Jan 15, 2013 10:59PM
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It is people like this that are why the world is such a horrible place. Everyone spends all their time looking for the worst in any given situation “one stop shop for pedophiles” because the worst is something to talk about. Sad sad day. Perhaps these people should do something just like this young man has and try and be a part of the solution rather than standing back and doing nothing accept bi*#hing about everything that is wrong. Here is a great concept if you think you can do it better than go and do it rather than spending your time here criticizing this young mans work. I mean for goodness sakes a 12 year old boy can do it why cant you.   

Jan 15, 2013 10:54PM
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I hope safeguards are in place.  A kid's social site like this would be a pedo magnet.
Jan 15, 2013 10:28PM
Jan 15, 2013 10:26PM
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If I had a son, I'd like him to be like Mark, a problem solver for whatever interests peak his curiousity.
Jan 15, 2013 10:25PM
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This little "RAT" works for the FEDS...
Jan 15, 2013 9:49PM
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Why is everyone so negative?  Instead of applauding a 12 year old give for trying to create a solution to what he viewed as a problem, you are bashing it.  I think it's safe to say that 98% of the adult population in this country is too stupid to even comprehend what this kid did and because they don't understand it, they immediately don't like it.  To most of America, starting a business means buying a plow.

 

Technology isn't going away and I think it's great that someone that young took some initiative and created something instead of pouting until he his parents gave in.

Jan 15, 2013 9:45PM
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"parental permission" is a "parents" e-mail? That's suppose to ensure only under 18's can access this site? Huh???? 
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