If corporations and neighborhoods and small startups and niche interest groups can have a social network, why shouldn’t families?  

SquareHub released an update and the Android version of its app today, which helps families stay more connected. 

Cofounder and CEO Dave Cotter said social media has gotten extremely noisy and the lack of privacy is worrisome to many parents. Families rely on emails, text messages, and calls (and of course, in person interactions) to communicate, and SquareHub saw an opportunity to leverage the strength of social media for the benefit of families. 

squarehub1“We noticed the more gadgets we had and the more networks we used, the more difficult it was to keep everyone coordinated and emotionally connected,” Cotter said. “Meanwhile, social networks are too public for young children and family communication, kids today rarely use email, and filtering text messages from those who matter most was just too cumbersome. So we designed SquareHub to be a single application for all things functional and fun for the family. Think of it as a digital family room.” 

A family has communication, scheduling, and organizational needs, just like any other group. Furthermore a recent study showed that adolescents who maintain social media connections with their parents tend to have better relationships with them offline and exhibit fewer behavioral issues.  

Squarehub is a private social network for your family, where you can send private messages, photos, coordinate activities, and manage schedules from one central location. 

The app comes loaded with a number of features. 

Kids can tell their parents they got an A on a math test, parents can keep track of errands and send chore assignments, and everyone can contribute their ideas for a vacations or restaurants through the “Family Bucket List.” 

squarehub2You can also store events, tasks, reminders and to-dos, get updates and make comments, and there is a location-based check-in feature so kids can let their parents know where they are. My mom would have loved this.  

The app even has a digital star chart for giving and receiving rewards.

SquareHub also released a “Family Sharing” feature today which Cotter said has investors very excited. 

“The concept behind Family Sharing is simple — it allows individual families to share chosen photos, events, and location details with extended family members and close family friends, without granting them full access to their immediate family’s private network,” he said. “Yet it still allows a dynamic, two-way conversation to happen.” 

Cotter said this is significant becomes it will help SquareHub overcome the “paradox of private social networks.” 

This “paradox” is what private social networks like Nextdoor and Path can face when trying to grow. These companies want to seek rapid market adoption and acquire a large number of users as fast as possible, but the features and methods that drive this kind of growth can alienate users, who joined the network because it is private in the first place. 

squarehub3It is a tough balance between viral acquisition and customer privacy.  

Family Sharing aims to overcome this challenge by enabling sharing outside of the network, but giving people a high level of control over their content and permissions. 

Facebook has over one billion monthly active users and has become as much an advertising platform as a social network. This has made private, more-focused alternatives desirable to consumers, and Nextdoor has experienced wild success with its private social network for neighborhoods. 

SquareHub wants to become the go-to app for families, but it is not the only one. 23snaps, FamilyLeaf, eFamily, Karoo, and others all offer comparable products. 

SquareHub is based in Seattle. Investors include execs and board members from AOL, Amazon, Expedia, and others.