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The Barnardo's Community - a protected social network created by KidsOKOnline (KOKO) for the Barnardo's team has just launched its Northern Ireland Beta, with a specialised Group community designed for a Barnardo's centre that supports disabled children and young people across the region.
The new community was designed and built by the KOKO team, who drew on years of experience of creating and running safe online communities for children. Its design is informed by the latest research and international guidelines on online child safety practices. KOKO started afresh, and using new generation technologies, they created the new KOKO Community Engine (KCE), which replaces their original Intuitive Community Engine and now drives the Barnardo's Community.
Robert Hart-Fletcher, Director of KOKO said'
"The new KOKO Community Engine is what we've dreamed about for years – a community engine with robust and fully scalable underpinning technology. User safety is hard-wired into the design with safeguards such as Profile Privacy by Default and a Sponsor Validation System, where every member is authenticated by a Barnardo's approved and CRB-checked Group Sponsor. Flexible Group Functionality allows Sponsors to switch on only the functions they need for their members. The all new software, now provides sophisticated child safety systems and a new generation of what we call 'Simply-Sophisticated Moderation' tools to ensure cost-effective moderation."
The initial reactions from the young members were highly enthusiastic. Within their first session, they had created their personal profiles, uploaded their avatar images, uploaded videos and taken part in their first forum discussions. That evening they were online from home – social networking safely with their friends.
The Barnardo's staff were delighted that at last the young people in their care could enjoy all the social and learning benefits of social networks without the risks that disabled or vulnerable youngsters can face in unprotected networks.
Silvia Pilotto, Head of Digital Strategy at Barnardo’s, said,
“We are delighted to work with KidsOKOnline and explore the potential and practise of using social networking sites for youth participation. Barnardo’s is looking to actively engage children and young people online in safe and positive ways that help them to reach their fullest potential”.
The Northern Ireland Beta tests with disabled youngsters will help Barnardo's and KOKO to further refine the design to prepare for rollout to other Barnardo's groups around the UK.