Singapore-based kids-tech company myFirst had announced, at the Consumer Electronics Show, the launch of myFirst Circle — the world’s first social community app for children. myFirst Circle was built from the ground up with features that provide children with a safe and protected environment to experience the benefits of social connectivity alongside their parents who can moderate posts on the fly in this increasingly digital world.
Two-thirds of children aged seven to nine in Singapore use smartphones every day and are active on social media. More than 40 per cent of them have their own Facebook accounts, while a quarter are on Instagram. The poll by online market research firm Milieu Insight, conducted in 2021, highlights exposure to social media from a young age for many children.
Traditional social media networks are built upon uncontrolled peer-to-peer connectivity, which may expose children to inappropriate content, social media scams, cyberbullying, and ill-intentioned strangers. myFirst Circle on the other hand, requires children’s accounts to be tied to a parental account that will approve and classify new members who join their children’s social circles.
Children can create posts and share photos with their circle of friends within a safe environment without the need for parents to approve every post. At the same time, parents can monitor and make changes to their child’s activities instantly if found inappropriate. This creates a balance between creating a safe space for children and freedom to socialise with friends.
G-Jay Yong, Founder and CEO of myFirst said, “We created myFirst Circle because there is no platform currently that allows children to have authentic social engagements in a safe and controlled environment. Children can stay in touch with genuine friends even after they leave for other schools, keeping their childhood friendships alive. With myFirst Circle, we want to let children explore the world of social media, while ensuring we are there to guide them along the way.”
myFirst Circle can be downloaded from the App Store for Apple iOS devices or Google Play for Android devices. It can also be accessed through a myFirst Fone.
Creating safe social circles with contact whitelisting
For safety reasons, children under 13 years of age need their parents to have an account. Parents will need to whitelist and approve the friend requests received by their children before they are added to the children’s social circle.
Before accepting any friend requests, parents can check with their children personally to see if they are really friends. Alternatively, they have the option to chat with parents of the incoming friend if they have any additional concerns before approving the friend request.
Once the friend request is accepted, parents need to set the relationship they have with the person. There are four groups of relationships:
These groups create an expanding circle that defines the types of posts a person can see. If a post is just shared among Family members, only the people who are tagged as Family will be able to see it. However, parents may change the post settings to be accessible to lesser groups or to expand the groups.
Encouraging quality interactions with ShoutOuts
myFirst Circle has replaced the “Like” system with their own “ShoutOut” system as they wanted to phase out low effort interactions that require only a single click or tap. “ShoutOut” aims to foster an engaging atmosphere with voice and text replies, encouraging quality interactions among friends and family. Instead of receiving a simple “Like” on posts, users are encouraged to send 16-character text messages, an eight second voice blurb or emoji reactions.
Instant connection between two close families
Each child will be attached to a nuclear family, which is also known as a family bubble in myFirst Circle app. A nuclear family or a family bubble typically consists of parents and their immediate children.
Two nuclear families can easily exchange contacts for all members in their family bubbles without adding contacts one by one, simply by sending a request.
Using myFirst Circle on myFirst Fone
When using the myFirst Fone, friends can be added automatically when users pair and link their watches. Parents will not need to accept the request on behalf, but they will still receive a notification when the connection is made, and they can choose to remove the friend if necessary.
This will help the children to stay in touch via text, video and voice call. They can also post pictures to share parts of their life with each other.