New social network a boon for kids in Bangladesh

Catholic educators welcome web-based platform for children and parents to connect, share knowledge
New social network a boon for kids in Bangladesh

MommyDaddyMe, a web-based global social networking and knowledge-sharing platform for children and parents, kick-started its journey in Bangladesh with a press conference in Dhaka on Sept. 15. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)

Prominent Catholic educators have hailed a web-based global social networking and knowledge-sharing platform that officially kick-started its journey in Bangladesh this September.

MommyDaddyMe, or MDM (www.mommydaddyme.com), launched with a press conference in the capital Dhaka on Sept. 15.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, MDM is the brainchild of a Bangladesh-American and Chinese-American couple — Javed N. Rahman and Leslie Wang.

Through the website and two special apps — MommyDaddyMe and MDM Learn — the agency is enhancing global social connectivity and knowledge sharing for children aged 4-12 and their parents.

MDM spokespeople say the company is pioneering a safer and more secure form of social connectivity to optimize education technologies that benefit children's overall development with the participation of their families.

Catholic educators say MDM can enormously enhance connectivity and knowledge sharing for children.

"With the concerted effort of all involved, I think a web-based concept of social networking can reach out to the next generation," said Jyoti F. Gomes, director of the church-run St. Joseph's International School in Dhaka.

"At this point, many people may not fully grasp the amazing results we expect to reap from this," added Gomes, who also serves as secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board.

Gomes said he first met the couple about six months ago and helped them to present their innovative concept to parents at the school.

"During a parents' meeting, about 100 couples were able to learn about MDM for the first time, straight from the horse's mouth. They found the concept very interesting," he recalled.

However, as with many nascent projects in this space, challenges remain for MDM including a lack of proficiency in English in Bangladesh and relatively low internet literacy. Generally, education in the country is still held back by widespread poverty.

"Our proficiency [in English] hasn't reached an acceptable level yet. Even though many people use Facebook, we haven't embraced social media as a beneficial learning tool," Gomes said.

American Holy Cross Father Patrick Gaffney, vice-chancellor of Notre Dame University in Bangladesh, also welcomed the initiative.

"What MDM is introducing is a way of using computers and technology within the context of socialization and families, and connecting children with parents through the media," he said.

"This is the world our children will soon inhabit — the internet, a way of communicating that is borderless and which can be accessed electronically," he added.

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MDM co-founder Leslie Wang met Javed in New York about 20 years ago. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Sofia.

"We had a very comfortable life working as senior executives at leading financial institutions and we lived in a number of major cities before settling down in Hong Kong," Wang said.

After they wed and Sofia was born, something happened during a family trip to Disneyland in Paris that changed their perspective on life when they briefly lost her amid the crowds and thought she had been taken.

"We felt we didn't have enough time to perform our proper duties and responsibilities as parents," recalled Wang, a former Wall Street banker.

"We weren't enjoying enough family time and we felt like we were short-changing our daughter by not giving her enough opportunities to experience the love and joy of family life [due to our busy schedules]," she said.

"In some respects, we had a wonderful life. But we weren't doing anything that would have a positive impact on future generations. That led to a lot of soul searching."

MDM now has a firm footprint in the U.S., China, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, it intends to reach 3 million young Facebook users — out of 30 million people in the country who regularly use the site.

This October it will launch a campaign in collaboration with a leading local distributor of mobile apps to reach 5 million people in total.

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