How to Lead Discussions in Kids’ Online Communities
Kids’ online communities aren’t necessarily discussion-focused. Most children younger than 13 would much rather play games, design virtual houses, and look at fun images. Still, a fun kids’ community hosts a mix of favorite things: stories, videos, games, and good things to read, as well as town halls or other types of discussions.
You don’t necessarily interact with kids in these communities, especially in activity- or game-focused communities. Instead, you observe, plan programs, respond to questions (mostly from parents), and stay on the alert in case a moderation situation does arise. Mostly, you’re there to make sure that members are having an awesome time.
Kids have online discussions in different ways. A community for kids younger than 12 or 13 may not have discussion forums, but you can still host certain chats and discussions with members. Bringing in an author, sports figure, or other kid role model and allowing kids to ask questions is a wonderful experience.
Another idea is to host a monthly town hall where you can discuss a topic of interest to kids. Discussions can be a mix of serious and fun topics, such as bullying and favorite television shows. Don’t expect kids to participate the same ways that adults do. Some may ask questions; others may prefer posting funny icons or smileys (images with facial expressions on them).
Also, don’t be frustrated if kids aren’t exactly attentive to the subject matter. They may act silly or immature while the discussion is happening or talk about other things among themselves. It’s fine for them to do this as long as they’re being respectful of the rules, other members, and any special guests.
You may have to steer the conversation back on track sometimes if it’s too raucous, but for the most part, your young members are just learning how to interact with other people online.