Kolkata: Parents of seven-year-old Mehul Chowdhury were a worried lot after they found out that a paedophile stalker, who had befriended him on Facebook, was abusing their only child.
Like what many other parents would do, they banned Mehul from accessing the Internet resulting in angry outbursts from the Class three student, up until his chartered accountant father found a new fun, educative social networking website, which promised online safety and privacy for children.
Ever since Worldoo.com was launched in April, more than 20,000 children have already signed in for the first of its kind online ecosystem designed specifically for Indian children, in the age group of 6-12.
Harsh Wardhan Dave, Head (Experience and Brand) of worldoo.com, says with an increase in the number of cases of child stalking and abuse they have put in multi-level security checks on their website.
Besides having moderators who round the clock monitor chats and children's activities, the website prevents uploading of pictures and personal information on their profiles or via any other activity.
"This is to prevent any form of personal information like telephone numbers and addresses to be shared and to ensure that the child's privacy is protected," Dave explains.
Children often fake their age in order to access sites like Facebook or Google's Orkut. The two companies have already been asked by the Delhi High Court to spell out their mechanism to deal with complaints including misuse of social networking sites by children below 13 years of age.
The website also has made it mandatory to obtain parental consent via email for all children desiring to use the site.
According to estimates, about 27 per cent of urban children in India currently use Internet, through various mediums including computers and mobile devices.
A recent study by Boston Consulting Group has said over 4 million children in the country may potentially be exposed to harmful online content and as many as 35 million children may have experienced some form of cyber bullying.
An official of Worldoo says the website has specially designed characters (Doo Crew via actual moderators) to ensure that no one uses bad words. Those trying to use unconstitutional language are banned from accessing the site after being warned for one or two times.
The webcompany has also tied up with leading brands, which lets children play games from miniclip, the gamebox and zapak while cartoons are from Cartoon Network and Chota Bheem.
For edutainment it has tied up with ZeeQ, National Geographic and JeffCorwin Connect.
Movies and trailers from Warner Bros, Shemaroo, Sony Pictures and Reliance Big Flix can also be accessed on the site.
Children can also read books and comics from Amar Chitra Katha, Crosswords, Landmark, Dreamland, Britannica Books, Robinage and Champak.
"It is our endeavour to make kids aware about animals, places and things which they might not have known from their regular school syllabus and textbooks. We have designed meaningful engagements for kids which are fun as well as make them learn new things," says Dave.