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.

Young Instagram Users Can Now Embed as Well as Send

InstagramInstagram has announced that users can now get an embed code for any picture, using that code to post an image on a blog or other web page. A July 11, 2013 blog post explains that, instead of sending the picture from one person to another, Instagram users now have a new sharing option —  posting  a picture to a new digital location.

A new share button provides an embed code (essentially a code with specialized HTML), which a user copies and pastes into another site or location (WordPress, Blogger, Tumbler, and others). The picture will then appear on the other blog or website. Young 21st Century learners will probably find some creative ways to use this new feature, and at least a few of them may make instantaneous or embarrassing Instagram decisions.

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Getting to Know Instagram: Getting Adults Up to Speed

In a matter of weeks last spring quite a few older elementary and younger middle school children whom I know jumped on the Instragram bandwagon, and they continue to have fun with it. The social networking photography app, now owned by Facebook, lives on their wireless devices, making it easy to use without getting encumbered with computers. Just a few days ago a colleague of mine commented, “Instagram is the new Facebook!”

instagramThe minimum age for the Instagram app is 13 (COPPA regulations), but that hasn’t stopped the site from attracting many children younger than that, often with their parents’ permission. While I tend to be someone who takes age requirements seriously, many parents, after checking out various apps, are more comfortable than I am with letting their kids use sites when they are younger than 13 years of age.

The biggest challenge for adults is keeping an eye on the content and quality of the photos that their children are uploading to Instagram and sharing all over the place. Problems can occur when children err in judgement as they make decisions about what to share (and what not to share). Common Sense Media’s Jim Steyer, author of Talking Back to Facebook, speaking at GDS this week, described it as “…responding first rather than reflecting.”

What do children like about Instagram? Well, it’s instant.

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