These days, kids are just as likely to be chatting online with their friends and e-buddies as they are talking on the telephone. With the recent growth in online communication among kids, the makers of YTV have launched Yabber.net, the first online community in Canada that is geared exclusively to 8-14 year olds.
Designed with an emphasis on safety, Yabber.net offers subscribers a full range of applications including chats, message boards, e-mail and instant messaging/paging – all modes of communication that are rapidly becoming mainstream among the young surf-savvy crowd.
Today, two out of three Canadian tweens aged 9 – 14 have access to the Internet at home, up from one in two a year ago. These kids are spending an average of 3.8 hours a week online, compared to 2.4 hours a week last year. Instant messaging has become a very popular Internet application for kids, with industry research showing that 75 per cent of online youth are currently using this instant form of communication.
“The Internet has become an electronic playground for kids creating a need for safe and appropriate destinations for them to interact online,” says Paul Robertson, president of Television, Corus Entertainment Inc. “YTV has been in the business of children’s programming for over 12 years, so developing an online community that provides them with a safe and entertaining environment is a natural extension for us.”
The site (http://www.yabber.net) offers kids a monitored, online hangout where they can express themselves, chat and interact with other kids their own age about topics that reflect their specific interests. Yabber.net membership is free with the consent of children’s parents. Members gain access to their own e-mail box, chat rooms, themed bulletin boards, diaries and instant messaging between members.
Yabber.net also offers members lots of content to spur discussion such as articles about movies, TV, sports, books, fashion, games, hobbies and current events. Members can even help write the content for the site by submitting news and story ideas.
(News on the Net continued on page 27)