First-ever COPPA-certified Messaging App Offers Real-time Monitoring, Identify Verification and Safeguards So Young Kids can Learn Valuable Lessons on the Digital Playground

Today’s kids are growing up in a digital world, and the menu of options available – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger and so on – requires kids to be 13 or older. Younger kids, aged 7-12, are left to either lie about their age or not play on the digital playground. If kids choose to register with mainstream apps, they are set free in a world designed for and marketed to adults. There is a void of legal, safe options available to them for social messaging.

Why are there age limits? The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act(COPPA) aims to protect children under 13. The rule brings strict requirements and stiff fines ($16,000 per violation) so most companies avoid younger age groups altogether.

Parents struggle to keep up as well. The recent McAfee survey, “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids,” reports that 52 percent of kids spend six hours a day online, but 80 percent of parents say they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.

One father-daughter software development team is confident that their newly minted app will ease young kids into the world of social media with the help of their parents as digital coaches.  It started when co-founder and then 8-year-old Annelise Schiebler asked if she could chat with her friends online. Her father, co-founder Andrew Schiebler, was surprised that there wasn’t already a range of options for young kids.

After more research, the father-daughter duo developed Marimba Chat, the first COPPA-certified messaging app for kids. Andrew explained, “There are very few social networking products made for this age group. Our goal is to give elementary school kids a safe place to chat with their friends and family.” Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

Marimba is designed to be safe for kids and easy for parents. Highlights include:

  • Identify verification of all new accounts using information from a parent’s government-issued ID.
  • Parents review all invitations and friend connections so they can approve people they trust and block those they don’t.
  • Filters and alerts for geolocation, profanity, and overall security.
  • An ability to monitor chat activity from the parent’s own phone in real-time.
  • Time controls so parents can limit chat hours.

Marimba is the first messaging app certified by kidSAFE, an independent safety seal-of-approval program, to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Co-founder Andrew Schiebler notedseveral key areas in which parents can teach their kids “digital etiquette” so they learn and practice safe methods from the start. “We help parents teach kids about online interaction like appropriate language, how to treat their friends, and what to do if they feel threatened. These life skills are just as critical in the digital arena as they are on the school playground.”

Kids and technology are here to stay. According to Marimba, kids should be supported by carefully designed safeguards so that their experience is both fun and age-appropriate.

Marimba – Our Story, by Annelise

My 8-year-old daughter Annelise wanted to chat with her friends and we couldn’t find a safe solution that didn’t require us to lie about her age. We built this together as a daddy-daughter project. This video tells our story in Annelise's words. Learn more at http://marimbachat.com.

Posted by Marimba on Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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About Marimba

Marimba is a mobile messaging platform designed for children under 13. Co-founders Andrew Schiebler and then 8-year old daughter Annelise Schiebler created Marimba to help parents introduce children to social media. Andrew has 20 years’ experience building software products and startup companies. Annelise is currently in 3rd grade and enjoys karate, basketball, and building software with her dad. For more information about Marimba, visit https://marimbachat.com.

Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

Credit: Marimba. No compensation was received to post and no review was completed by SoCal City Kids.

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