After talking with parents over the summer, I am compelled to unequivocally state the following:
Social media companies expose your kids to risk by choice, not necessity.
The data-grabbing, tracking, voyeuristic apps that kids flock to are implemented that way because the company chose to build their app that way. I was dumbfounded the first time I saw a parent react to that statement, they were shocked and then kind of disgusted.
I, as the builder of iXMessage Social Media, decided how to implement the social networking piece. People often lump social media and social networking together. I don’t. Social media to me is sharing photos, messages or an instant video clip from a vacation, or writing a blog. All this in the context of fun. In other words, sharing media can be just a fun engagement with the world.
When I think of social networking, I see the dark side of technology. I see the data confiscation, tracking, commercialization, and branding, poking, friend-ing, searching, liking, the potential for bullying, and the stalkers and the predators. This behavior is now endemic to the social media landscape because that is how companies chose to use the technology available to any and every app builder.
I left all this out of iXMessage, except friend-ing, but even that is within the boundary of the trusted-environmentTM. This is the commitment I made. It is kind of an old fashioned commitment. You, the customer, buy my product and you get just the product. There is a boundary around around it and you can trust the company. I’m not doing anything in the dark, behind the scenes.
Other social media apps may be free, but at a huge cost to privacy, public exposure on the Internet, and the ever-present threat of frightening incidents perpetrated by strangers.
I am hoping that parents look at iXMessage as something more valuable that just another messaging app, late to the game. A friend of mine defined the current landscape as
“…they say use my product for free, but [wash their hands] of any moral responsibility…”
I think existing apps proved there is a messaging market with girls, which is valuable. Girls have definitely appropriated messaging. Just like boys appropriated gaming in the 1980’s and 90’s, except boys grew into wanting to make games so they pursued computer science degrees. Education and industry leaders attempted to interest girls in gaming, it didn’t work. iXMessage takes messaging, the space girls have appropriated, and within that space, quietly steers them toward the idea of being builders.
My niece Amy said about iXMessage,
“…it’s more than text in a black box…”
The corporate commitment from iExchange Software is to deliver social media and social networking within the trusted-environmentTM, along with creating a space where girls think of themselves as builders, not just consumers, of technology.