By Jacob Engels
Yesterday, I got to talk to Zach Marks, who founded the social networking site Grom Social. Zach, who may very well be the next Mark Zuckerberg, is only 12 years old and a Melbourne area local. He created Grom Social because of the need he saw for a safe, fun and educational social networking site for kids.
Grom Social, which recently partnered with the National Scholastic Surfing Association to appear at their regional championship events, will be in New Smyrna Beach Inlet from now until the 7th of April for NSSA’s East Coast Regional Championship.
Gromsocial.com will be providing computer access at the mobile “Grompound” and under the tents for groms to come check out the newly launched youth networking site. With over 50,000 in attendance expected overall, this is a great opportunity where families can learn about the site as well as internet safety without missing a minute of the top level competition.
Below is our Q&A with Zach
What is Grom Social?
Grom Social is a safe, educational, and fun social networking site for kids.
How did Grom Social get started?
About a year ago, I wanted to create a facebook account and convinced my dad to let me join. He didn’t know much about social networking sites, so he didn’t see any harm in it and gave me the ok. Within the first couple of weeks, I had hundreds of friends. Most of them I didn’t even know, some adults, some people my age. Eventually, one of my family members saw the things I was being exposed to on facebook and sounded the alarm with my Dad.
At that point, we got into a big argument and he shut it down. A few days later, I started up another account and kept friending strangers, becoming exposed to inappropriate content, and then my Dad caught me. The process repeated itself.
However, that time I made the argument to him that there were no safe social networking sites for kids and that maybe someone should start a social network that was safe, educational, and fun. So, myself and my siblings began working on illustrating the characters and discussing that idea, and thats how Grom Social came to be. My Uncle helped us put together the site and we have been live since November 2012.
How has the response been so far?
In the early stages when we first launched the site, we received over 47,000 hits from all over the world and the site became disabled. After that, we worked on refining the site so that it could sustain heavy traffic. Currently, we have over 20,000 members on Grom Social.
How does the sign up process work and how is it monitored?
When you first sign up on Grom Social, you have to have an adult present. Once signed up, your parents receive updates on everything you do. They know who you are requesting as friends (and have the option to deny requests), what you are viewing, and the conversations and activities that you are participating in. Several times a month, Grom Social members parents will receive a report card that evaluates their child’s activity on our social network.
Grom Social is monitored 24/7. We have a team that is dedicated to making sure no inappropriate content is being posted or shared. Again, we want it to be safe, educational, and fun.
You said part of Grom Socials mission is to be educational, how does that work?
Well, since the start we have worked to have a lot of educational materials on the site, so members have access to fun educational material. Recently, we partnered with Florida Virtual School and they have been providing us with some really cool educational videos. The videos they have done so far have been really fun, and we look forward to seeing more from them.
What does Grom Social look like in 6 months or a 1 year?
No one can predict the future, but I really think it will be one of the largest, if not the largest social networking site for kids.
You can learn more about Grom Social by clicking here
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it’s founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Jasper, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org