Most of us with computers at home are very familiar with the struggle that develops when children want to start spending time online. Scary issues with the incalculable bevy of kooks who hang out online have put so many parents on edge that some won't even allow their kids to use the computer. When kids are online, constant monitoring of their activities can make it a headache for both them and us. (NNnooooo!!! Don't ever type the word "girl" into Google!!!!)
Well, FINALLY someone has seen the problem and done something about it. Leave it to a group of smart Mamas to come up with the perfect way for girls to enjoy a real online experience --everything from email to chat to video sharing!-- without the standard safety concerns.
How you ask?
With the launch of a brand new website for girls called Girl Ambition! This is SO beyond a simple website. It's the e-answer that concerned parents have been waiting for. But you don't have to take my word for it. I got the chance to chat with the CEO of Girl Ambition, Hilary DeCesare. Check out the interview below…
Me: When I received the e-mail telling me about this new site I was very excited. It's a concept that's long overdue. Can you explain to my readers, exactly what is Girl Ambition.com?
HD: Girl Ambition is a fun, interactive online community for tween girls that empowers them through online and offline activities, videos, contests, communication tools like IM and email and an original Web series made just for them. The icing on the cake is that parents love Girl Ambition because we have integrated internet safety tips as well as self esteem and life skills throughout the site.
Me: What made you realize that something like this was needed, and how did you go about gathering the support necessary to make it a reality?
HD: The three co-founders, myself included, really started to see the types of things our girls could find on the Internet by typing simple keywords into a search engine. We were shocked and a bit horrified by the types of information they could easily stumble across. It became a growing concern and passion for us as we started to research this problem more and we set out to do something about it. Today, it is not if our girls are going to get involved in video sharing and communication tools, it’s when; and our thought was we better step in and give parents a safe solution.
Because we all have previous related work experience in the fields of site development, marketing, sales, etc. we were able to collectively leverage our contacts and resources to build Girl Ambition. Once people learn about the mission of the site and see what we are doing, they want to help.
Me: There are lots of unique features and content on the site that make it more than just a communication tool (email / IM). A girl could literally hang out at the site all day. Can you tell us a bit more about the extra features?
HD: The site really incorporates communication and social networking elements, videos, games and all the other tools girls crave. Features of Girl Ambition include:
- GabLiveTV: A weekly video segment hosted by Dani-Girl that encourages girls to try something new. Segment focuses range from an interview with pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, indoor skydiving and an inside view into the animal care profession. Girls can also submit their own videos and vote for their favorites.
- The Closet: An area where girls can dress up their own 2D avatars in different looks, including stylish clothing, imaginative costumes or even design their own unique fashions.
- Activity Studio: Girl Ambition’s Activity Studio gets girls off the computer to learn about the world around them. Each week new activities are added, such as how to tune up your bike or how to make creative picture frames.
Most importantly, throughout the site we highlight the 5 levels of self esteem and Internet safety fundamentals. We do it in such a creative way that the girls don’t even realize they are learning. With teen suicide at its highest ever and predators targeting our girls, this becomes the essence of the entire site. Today’s parents can’t keep up, and Girl Ambition is there to help.
· Parent Resources: Moms and dads can find information and advice on raising tween girls, conversation starters and activity ideas. Additionally, parents can opt for a monthly email that outlines their daughter’s activities on the site.
Me: Here at Reign, we're big believers in the idea that parents have true control when it comes to what their children are exposed to. I was pleased to see that parental control is a big part of Girl Ambition. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
HD: Yes, that was a huge focus of the site. Girls may not sign up on Girlambition.com without their parents’ consent. Parents must also approve their child’s email and IM buddy lists so they know who their daughter is talking to on the site. We have incorporated the latest, most secure versions of communication tools that tweens want to use such as email, instant messaging and video sharing. We also enable parents to see the kinds of activities their daughters are doing on the site.
Me: I remember that once my daughter hit a certain age, her privacy became very important to her. How do you manage the parent and girl sections of the site so that the girls don't feel like "mom or dad is reading my e-mails / spying on me"?
HD: We really put a lot of thought into this piece of the site and we have a completely separate login page for both the girls and their parents. Parents cannot access their children’s email or IM communication, but they do approve the friends their daughters are corresponding with, alleviating a lot of the concerns around cyberbullying and Internet predators.
So there you have it. How amazing is that? Girls not only get the chance to learn the Internet ropes in a fun, age-appropriate environment, but they also get real-deal lessons on online safety while they're at it. What more can an Informed Mama ask for ??!!!
Head on over the GirlAmbition.com and check it out!