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Asia’s first child-friendly social site to parents: Brands cannot talk to kids without your approval

GeckoLife pageThe co-founder of Asia’s first “family-focused” social network for children has responded to scepticism among parents that the site is a platform “to shape a new generation of consumer droids” as one journalist and father has suggested.

GeckoLife officially launched last week, inviting brands to communicate with children through ‘canvases’, sections of the site for discussion and content-sharing built around specialist interests.

But criticism of the site has emerged, with some commentators questioning the need for a social network for kids, and a concerned parent scrutinising the role brands might play in influencing a child’s activity in GeckoLife’s ‘safe spaces’.

One poster on Mumbrella, who is parent, said they were not convinced that they wanted brands communicating with their children in social media.

“In fact, I know I don’t,” they said. “My kids are already exposed to so many commercial messages through other channels and I like the fact that there are restrictions on some types of advertising (fast food, etc). How does the site propose to handle those areas?”

Journalist Rob O’Brien tweeted: “‘This is so needed’. Basically a kids platform for brands to shape a new generation of consumer droids.”

Rajeev Gupta, who co-founded the platform with fellow father and technologist Ashish Trivedi, defended the platform in an interview with Mumbrella, saying that “anything and everything [on GeckoLife] is controlled by parents. Nothing touches your child unless you approve it.”

“If a brand creates a canvas, a parent must approve their child’s involvement first. We’re empowering parents with choice,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do is not pure advertising,” he added. “You can get people involved in the marketing or product development process much earlier, say in the design of a football. And you can amplify your brand through quizzes or competitions with a voting system that we are soon to introduce.”

Gupta says the platform, which does not carry traditional display advertising, will soon launch a platform called “Discovery” for GeckoLife users to search for their favourite interests, giving brands an opportunity to be “discovered”.

“This is the ‘pull’ versus ‘push’ concept. Banner ads are pushed upon the user. we’re trying to create a pull mechanism,” Gupta said.

By the end of the year, GeckoLife also plans to introduce an e-commerce facility for brands to enable users to buy directly from the platform.

On his ambitions for GeckoLife, Gupta says he wants to have grown the site’s audience from 5,000 to 50,000 users globally by the end of the year.

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