Facebook vs. Google+

Google Facebook privacy

A portion of the Veracode infographic

Many parents and educators observe children (their own and friends’ kids — under age 13) using Facebook or Google+ and sometimes both. In the connected world, these social media sites are fun to use, and staying connected with friends and other people has never been easier.

While the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) sets 13 as the legal age for users of these two social media sites, many adults don’t know about COPPA or don’t believe it is sensible enough to apply and enforce with their younger children. Thus many kids start using Google+ and Facebook at ages well below age 13.

One significant difference between the two social media sites is the way users handle friends and contacts. On Google+ a user cannot add a contact without putting the person into at least one circle (Google’s term for groups). A circle is a category that is set up and defined with certain characteristics — friends, school friends, work friends, business contacts, etc. When a Google+ user sends out a status update, he or she specifies the group or groups that will receive the updates — clear and easy for users to figure out right away. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Do We Confuse Privacy With Transparency? James Steyer-Articles and Books

Note:  This post is about Jim Steyer, the author and founder of Common Sense Media, who will speak at GDS on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at the Lower-Middle School. His presentation begins at 7:00 P.M.

This image is borrowed form the book's webiste.

This image is borrowed form the book’s website.

Our digital society hasn’t figured out what to do about privacy. More importantly, it hasn’t figured what to do about the privacy of our kids — we keep confusing privacy with transparency. A recent book,Talking Back to Facebook, by James P. Stayer, addresses this confusion and tries to help adults make some sense of it.

It’s problematic enough that we adults are diving willy-nilly into the digital world, sharing lots of things, private and not so private, but now it’s also a world where everything a child does and almost every mistake he or she makes may also become public. These days we are giving children and adolescents no cover and no protection as they blithely explore the digital world while making what in any other era would be common and developmentally appropriate errors.