Best Activities for Kids: Most innovative social networking site

Imbee.com

What do you do when you catch your nine-year-old secretly logging onto MySpace? Sign her up with Imbee.com, an Oakland-based networking site launched last July. Imbee offers kids eight through fourteen the chance to connect with friends online and generate content — all under the supervised eye of a parent. Although it’s free to join, registration requires a credit card, the idea being that having mom or dad on board helps ensure a safe environment. Members can customize their pages, send messages to friends (most of whom they know in the real world, too), generate playlists of their favorite songs from a music library, upload and share photos, and blog. In other words, they learn to navigate new media in ways they can’t by simply watching TV, surfing the Web, and playing videogames. “Imbee provides them with new opportunities to express themselves and enhance critical thinking skill sets,” cofounder Tim Donovan says. An added bonus? No advertising, which means that when kids log off, they won’t be begging to use parents’ credit cards in the real world.

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