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

What on Earth is a Flash Mob?

A lone cellist gets the music started.

A lone cellist gets the music started.

When a group of people gets together suddenly and unexpectedly for a purpose (sensible or not) that group may be called a flash mob. These gatherings, appearing to come out of nowhere, have gained some notoriety in the connected digital world — it’s just so easy to arrange them via communication tools and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Most often when I hear people talk about flash mobs, it has to do with crime. A large group of people descends on a small store, for instance, and clears off the shelves. Several countries have gone so far as to make flash mobs illegal. But most of these crowd events have nothing to do with crime or criminal behavior.

After a few more musicians join in the conductor arrives.

After a few more musicians join in the conductor arrives.

Most of the flash mobs today are for fun, and may even offer surprised audiences the opportunity to learn something. Interesting “mobs” may include dancers, music, improvisational theatre, poetry readers, or social protesters. Now, as experience with flash mobs expands, another purpose of these gatherings is to promote products

Sometimes a flash mob occurs and the event has nothing to do with digital communication. It becomes a performance  — not at all related to the social media-inspired gatherings encouraged by Twitter or Facebook.

In December 2013, a few of the visitors at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum were surprised by a single musician, a cellist, who came in and began playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring in the huge main atrium. 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.

SnapChat! Instantly Deletable Images? Well Not Exactly…

Snapchat: the free mobile app that promotes itself as a disappearing act.

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Visit the Snapchat site.

Teens and, yes, some tweens are now playing with Snapchat because it’s designed to make pictures disappear at their destination — in ten seconds or less.

I’ve tried to use the app, and pictures really do disappear. Voilà! The content is gone. So does this mean a child (or an adult) can go ahead and send all sorts of pictures?

Well, not exactly. Read A Warning about SnapChat, Teenagers, and Online Photo Sharing, appearing on February 11, 2013 over at the Forbes website.

After downloading and installing the Snapchat app on a mobile phone, a user chooses a picture, text, or drawing and decides how long to allow the a picture to reside on the recipient’s screen — anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds. For Snapchat to work the sender must trust that the recipient will allow the picture to delete and that the recipient will be trustworthy and respect the wishes of the sender. Any user is supposed to be 13 or older.

Continue reading