Have A Chat If Your Child Uses SnapChat

Visit Snapchat.

If your children are using or begging to use the Snapchat app on their digital devices, the time has come for a conversation.

Kids love Snapchat because it makes them feel like they can have secrets, sharing them with others by choice, and occasionally venturing into out-of-bounds territory. They like it because it’s private. And they like it because everything self-destructs in a few seconds.

Well, not really disappear, because the digital footprints we make are never lost and are always lying around — often for a long time.

According to a New York Times article, Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure, the Federal Communications.Commission (FCC) has declared that Snapchat’s claims of disappearing messages and privacy are false. This is a good time to sit down with kids and review the situation — emphasizing that none of us has much privacy anymore, no matter what app makers claim. The privacy which many pre-adolescents and teens thought that they had, does not exist, according to Times reporter Jenna Wortham, who also goes into detail about the settlement with the FCC and the terms that Snapchat has agreed to.

Also take a look at the FCC’s memo, aptly titled Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False. It states:                        Continue reading

Parent Guides Aim to Demystify Apps and Social Media Sites

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A Parents’ Guide to Instagram

I am just back from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) 2013 conference, where I discovered a set of well-written, succinct, and easy-to-understand parent guides about various popular apps, social media sites, cybersecurity, and more. If knowledge truly is power, then these publications will help parents gain that knowledge as well as become more secure and even a bit less fearful about the activities of their 21st Century children. These 21st Century learners — our children — work and play in the almost-always-connected world.

The guides, from ConnectSafely.org, are freely downloadable as PDF files. Sometimes the download pages include additional resources.

Written by digital life and learning leaders, Anne Collier (NetFamilyNews.org) and Larry Magid (LarrysWorld.com)  the parent guides will be helpful to schools, church groups, and parent organizations. Collier and Magid collaborate at their ConnectSafely.org site.

A Parent's Guide to Snapschat

A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat

Parent guides are currently available on the following topics.

I expect these writers will write and release additional guides in the future.

Vine Video Sharing

vineVine is for video sharing, and the app works best on a mobile phone. Techies in the Twitter universe conceived and developed the app, and a user is supposed to be age 13 or older. Once a person sets up Vine on a mobile device, he or she creates and shares short videos with followers or the general public.

Vine Explore

The explore window features the post trending hashtags.

Just  as Twitter limits contributions to 140 characters, Vine videos also reflect this short and succinct philosophy, so a user is limited to six second clips. Videos can be organized and tagged with hashtags so it’s easy to search for a topic. Vine even has a blog on its site.

Author’s Note: I do not have an account. Instead I explored Vine with a friend who is an accomplished user.

A big reason that Instagram (owned by Facebook) added videos to its app features this year is because Vine (owned by Twitter) quickly grew into a strong social media competitor. A TechCrunch post, Instagram Video vs. Vine: What’s the Difference, offers some other comparative information. Read last year’s class-on-a-blog post about Instagram, Getting to Know Instagram and Getting Adults Up to Speed.

Two Quotes from the Vine Terms of Service Continue reading

Change a Website into a Mac App So It Works Like a Program

If you have a favorite website application (Twitter, Facebook, Google Drive), and you would like it to operate more like a program on your Mac computer, check out FluidApp.com.

How have I used this digital tool?                 Continue reading

Programming (a.k.a. Coding) Resources for Kids

Summer is a perfect time for kids to explore and learn more about basic programming, and it’s possible to do it with game-like fun and style. Weeks-long computer camps or classes are not necessary — they can come later.

Watch Mitchel Resnick, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, deliver a TED Lecture about why coding is important for kids.

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Scratch!

The truth is, we all need to learn more about digital world building blocks, even if it’s just an itsy-bitsy amount of knowledge about how coding works. Some kids are drawn to programming like magnets. However, many children, girls especially, first get interested in coding when parents or friends initiate the connections and encourage exploration  (and it’s great for kids to see parents ponder or even struggle as they learn new things).

It’s less important to master all sorts of programming minutiae and more important  to help your child learn just how easy it is to create and invent. People code in order to create and invent things — that’s the understanding you want to help your child understand.

Continue reading