October marks National Bullying Prevention Month and we get to talk to Zack and Caroline Marks, the two teens who pioneered kids’ social networking site Grom Social. Zack and Caroline created a “Say No to Bullying!” playlist especially for YouTube Kids so we get to talk to them about that and the future of Grom Social and social media in general.
October marks National Bullying Prevention Month and YouTube Kids is getting behind this important event internationally. Playlists are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian that are aimed at raising awareness around the importance of being kind and standing up for yourself and for others.
For English-speaking territories, including the U.S., you can check out Zack and Caroline Marks, the two teens who pioneered kids’ social networking site Grom Social. Zack, Caroline, and their team are devoted to social responsibility, good digital citizenship and positive social interaction within the world of kids’ social media. Zack and Caroline created a “Say No to Bullying!” playlist especially for YouTube Kids, which you can connect with directly in the YouTube Kids app by clicking on this link https://ytkids.app.goo.gl/oeCp and you can check it out here as well.
Zach and Caroline tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got into social media?
Zach: I’ve always been interested in technology! I’ve been a homeschooler since third grade, and social media has always been a cool way for me to keep in touch with my friends and what’s going on in the world. When I’m not working on Grom Social, I like to surf, ride motocross, listen to music and play guitar.
Caroline: Well, I am a surfer girl and I spend a lot of my time travelling and competing all over the world. Our whole family really got into learning about social media when Zach came up with the idea for Grom Social. We have six kids in our house so it was pretty important to our parents, and it still is, that we are safe and responsible online.
What made you decide to come up with Grom Social and how do you see it being different from other social networks?
Zach: The idea to create Grom Social came to me when my Dad kicked me off Facebook. I was only eleven years old, and I got caught with over 600 friends. The big thing was there were no other kid sites out there that were interesting to me at the time. They were all made by adults. That’s what makes Grom Social special – it’s created by kids for kids. Everything that you see on Grom Social is inspired, created and approved by kids and family friends, and it’s all curated by me before it goes live onto GromSocial.com . When kids log onto Grom Social, they get an experience that they can’t get anywhere else. We create tons of our own unique content and provide kids with a safe place to hang out online. We teach kids in a fun way how to use social networking properly and educate them about social media and how to stay safe online.
How did you create your “Say No to Bullying!” playlist for YouTube Kids?
Zach: The bullying issue is a main topic we try to help kids with and talk about on Grom Social. When we first created our site we made a character named Trevor. He represents our anti-bullying section of the Grom Social website. We offer pages, groups and videos all designed to get kids to talk about and have a positive attitude towards saying NO to bullying.
Caroline: Curating a list of videos for the Youtube playlist was a lot of work, but we had a lot of fun creating it and I’m proud of what we put together for YouTube Kids. Finding videos that support a healthy attitude and gives kids good examples to include in our playlist was a good learning experience for us too!
If there was one thing you could say to kids being bullied what would it be? What should we all be doing for Bully Prevention Month?
Zach: One thing is, it’s not the person that is being bullied, it’s the bully that has the problem. To all kids that are being bullied, just remember it’s not your fault. Try and understand where the bully is coming from, have compassion but take action and tell a teacher or parent right away.
Caroline: We should all be kinder online and not be afraid to stand up for your friends.
Do you think there is a right age to get involved in social media?
Zach: That is a good question because every kid’s situation is different. Some want to get on social media at a young age. My younger sister is 5 and she takes my phone all of the time and goes on snapchat. I think it’s really up to the parents and the maturity of the kid.
Caroline: I agree with Zach, it’s really up to the parents. Social media can be great as long as kids are prepared and know the rules of being a good digital citizen.
How do you think you will look back on your social media experience when you get older?
Zach: I’m not really sure but it has been a great journey so far. The experience that I had on social media when I was 11 is probably close to what most kids deal with now. I want to educate kids on how to use social media and provide them with a fun, safe place where they can talk to their friends, be creative and be themselves. When I look back five years from now, I think I will be very proud of the social media company I founded and the goals I have accomplished.
Caroline: Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives and it continues to grow.
Teaching kids at a young age is so important. I will probably look back and laugh at some of the silly, trendy things I posted!
Q. Has the good of social media outweighed that bad when it comes to bullying? Has it brought people together to help them with their issues in your opinion?
Zach: Yes and no. This is a hard question because cyberbullying has become such a huge issue and it should not be trivialized. If you ask the person being bullied they would say NO.
Social media does have it’s positive influence in terms of providing an instantaneous connection between people and brands, but I would say that we need to work on coming together and addressing the cyberbullying a bit better.
Q. What has been the favorite pictures/thing you have shared on social media and why?
Zach: My favorite post that I have shared was probably one of the first videos that we ever shot for Grom Social. It was the Harlem Shake video. We literally had like 70 of our friends over at our house and we were all dancing in front of our Grom Social RV.
Caroline: My favorite post has to be the picture of me winning a gold medal for the USA at the World Junior Surfing Championships last month. I was very proud to represent my country and to bring a win to the team.
Tell us what you have coming up for Grom Social in the future?
Zach: Grom Social’s future is looking so good! We recently purchased an animation company so cartoons are one thing we have to look forward to and we also just added a parenting tool app called MamBear to help our parents with keeping an eye on their kids. We are also working on a webisode series called MyGromLife, that is going to be launched on Grom Social’s YouTube channel in January 2017. Keep watching for more exciting developments coming your way soon!
Special Thanks to both Zach and Caroline for taking the time out to talk with us about Grom Social and their Say No to Bullying!” playlist.