Innovation That Matters

Online network for tweens requires offline introductions

Work & Lifestyle

Niche social networking sites aren’t new. We’ve written about plenty of them, covering a diverse range of people and interests including travellers, property owners, office workers, restaurateurs, people with disabilities, baby boomers and even dogs. So, who is the newest kid on the social networking block? FaceChipz, a safe, age-appropriate online networking site for “tweens” where friendship links can only be made as the result of face-to-face exchanges in the real world. Created by parents concerned about whom their kids were communicating with online, FaceChipz caters for tweens, who have outgrown traditional children’s websites but aren’t yet ready for the open social networking experience. FaceChipz has all the features of any other social network, but the one major difference is that kids can only interact with people with whom they’ve physically exchanged unique tokens—FaceChipz. The way it works is: parents register their child on the site for a one-time fee of USD 1. Kids purchase packs of five collectible FaceChipz tokens from select retailers and then register each token online by entering the unique code printed on the chip. Once the FaceChipz are registered, kids hand them out to friends. A receiver goes online and they also enter the chip’s code. The FaceChipz database then confirms the friendship, and the two people are linked. It remains to be seen whether FaceChipz will be able to thrive alongside existing social network giants. But there’s no doubt that tokens are a clever angle, providing parents with a sense of security while potentially unleashing the viral power of a schoolyard collectible craze. Spotted by: Frederick Ashton



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