A SCOTS father has created a social networking site for children to combat his fear of internet child predators.
Jamie Tosh, from Abroath, Angus, claims Kibooku.com will show youngsters the “fun side” of the internet, without exposing them to paedophiles and cyber bullies.
Almost half of 8-17 year olds in Scotland have set up their own profile on a social networking site and after conducting his own online research, Jamie claims none of them are safe or secure for children.
Jamie, who has twin 10-year-old daughters, said: “We were constantly being pestered by our 10-year-old twins who wanted to go online and chat to their friends but not on a site they thought was babyish.
“However, when we did online research into a number of sites, I found there weren’t any that provided a safe and secure environment for kids to talk to their peers for us to be sure of who they are actually in contact with at all times.”
Kibukoo works by asking adults to provide personal details that can be traced to an actual address before allowing children to subscribe.
Unlike free social networking sites, Kibukoo costs members £2 a month and 50p of each sale is donated to UK wide charity Cash for Kids.
Jamie said: “We think that people who enter sites under false pretences will not divulge this information freely.
“We also have a double log-in system at the sites set up. At the beginning of each month the parent or carer will be required to unlock the site and check all the previous month’s activity, even deleted items.
“That means they will be in a position to report any abuse or bullying or any other concerns they may have about other users.
“Children can’t open their own web page without their parent creating a page first.”
Kerry Swankie, also from Arbroath, tested out the social networking site with her six-year-old.
She said the site gave her the confidence to let her child play on the internet.
“The security aspects of the site have helped put us at ease, making it easier for us to relax when our youngest is interacting with others on the computer,” she said.
A recent study in Scotland found that just half surveyed parents have installed blocking software on their home computer, leaving their children open to exposed to hardcore porn and horrific violence online.
Last summer Hearts football club defender Craig Thomson was fined £4,000 and placed on the sex offenders register for sending explicit messages to underage girls on social networking site Facebook.
Paedophile James Grenfell was tracked down in Edinburgh last summer after running away with13-year old Teagon Feakins, who he met and groomed for sex on Facebook after lying about his age. He was jailed for 18 months.
Drinks firms have been criticised for exposing children and teenagers to alcohol marketing using social media to promote alcohol marketing.
Alcohol Concern, the UK’s national organisation on alcohol misuse, raised concerns that advertising alcohol existed on social networking sites, and video sharing sites, such as Youtube, after figures showed that almost half of 8-17 year olds in the UK have set up their own profile on a social networking site.