Itay Eshet’s 10-year-old said she wanted a Facebook account. Nothing doing, said Dad. But everyone’s using it, the little girl complained.
At that point, some parents would have caved in and others would have ignored the whining. Eshet did neither. He agreed that children under 13 – the official minimum age for Facebook – need a safe social network of their own, and he created one. In Israel, it’s called Nipagesh (Let’s Meet) and elsewhere it will be NetoKids.
Children sign up through their schools. So far, about 150 Israeli schools have registered to use the program for free, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education.
“Since at that age kids’ lives are centered around school, we decided to give them a platform that will enable them to connect with other kids with similar interests, share ideas and chats, and connect to school as well,” Eshet tells ISRAEL21c.
Teachers can use Nipagesh to send students assignments and announcements, start and moderate online group discussions, and cooperate in educational projects with other schools using the network.
And not just in Israel. Moty Kanias director of the Jewish Agency’s School Twinning Network, tells ISRAEL21c that three Israeli and three South American Jewish schools participated in a Nipagesh pilot program this year. Funded by the Jewish Agency, the L.A. Pincus Fund for Jewish Education in the Diaspora and Beit Hatfutsot-The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, the project is to expand next year to encompass 10 schools in Israel and 10 in South America.
“We hope to connect Jewish kids from around the world on a daily basis through Itay’s network,” says Kanias. “We chose Nipagesh after researching all the possibilities. It has the signature of the Education Ministry, and it really serves our needs. The next phase will be connecting US schools to South America and to Israel – a sort of triangle. And we are working with Itay to add more languages.”
Continue reading at Israel21c.