Sunday, January 07, 2007

Disney to Launch Social Networking Site for Kids

Tomorrow (Jan. 8, 2007), Disney will unveil it's new Disney.com redesign, which is purported to feature a variety of social networking tools modified for children's use and represent a sort of "MySpace for kids." As Mediapost journalist Gavin O'Malley writes,
Catering to kids' penchant to multitask online, users of the new Disney site will be able to carry on Web chats while watching video clips, listening to music, and playing video games simultaneously. The company also will offer a broadband tool, dubbed Disney Xtreme Digital, which will allow users to create customized profile pages and share them with others.

However, the tools will also come with an array of parental controls, which analysts think could result in the site's failure...despite Disney's growing web reach with the rising success of its video-streaming site Disneychannel.com, where kids streamed over 53 million webisodes of Hanna Montana and High School Musical over a six month period alone in 2006. Analysts seem to be of two minds - on the one hand, they argue that past attempts to merge social networking and parental control (such as Walmart's The Hub) have failed, while on the other hand they recognize Disney's consistently good track record in creating highly popular kids' online destinations. I would also point to Disney's Toontown Online as a great example of a very successful past attempt (by the same company) to merge the social expression and play of MMOGs with a fairly extensive array of parental control features.
Check out the full story here, or read the Red Herring coverage here.

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