Piczo – A Better Choice for Kids?

Piczo is a social networking site, geared toward young teenagers, that actually does something about online safety- unlike MySpace and others.

Piczo is a closed system- there’s no way to browse pages or to search. There are numerous ways for parents and others to report inappropriate behavior. And best of all- Piczo has full time staff reviewing all complaints and claims to take swift action to protect its members.

This sounds like the sort of site I was describing last night when I was calling MySpace out for yet another round of smoke and mirrors in the name of user safety.

I haven’t tried Piczo, and much of what I report here comes from the C|Net story, the TechCrunch story, the Piczo safety page and the Piczo parents’ page.

I really wish Piczo would require parental approval before allowing kids to register, but other than that one material omission, it seems to have a good approach to online safety.

The question then becomes a choice between a “safer” network and no network at all. I suspect that when my kids get to the networking age, I will first try to write a secure site for them and their friends to use to connect online. If that’s too nerdy or Daddy-infested for my kids, we’ll have to talk about it. I’m not naive enough to think I can keep my kids from the internet, but I’m certain I can and will exert influence over where they go and what they do there.

My buddy Tom Morris pokes some logical holes in my dark alley theory and compares MySpace to a large city, like New York, Boston or London. He says that problems like the ones at MySpace and elsewhere can’t be solved by technological means. And he says that, since MySpace has more rules than the web at large, it’s at least incrementally safer than the world wild web.

Most of what he says makes sense. I guess the difference that I keep clinging to is that my kids can’t go to New York, Boston or London without me, but they are permitted to (and will almost certainly demand to) go to MySpace, etc. all by themselves.

Sure, I can forbid them from doing it at my house, but what about at a friend’s house? I have to be watchful and involved, but I want sites like MySpace to make it easier for me to control where my kids go and what they do online- not harder.

Piczo seems to be to be a step in that direction.

Update (12/27/12):