Tag Archives: technology

Prosocial media – WeHeartIt.com

Image from a user WeHeartItTeens often get demonized by adults when it comes to their use of digital technologies and social media. We spend an awful lot of time talking about how it dominates their lives, replaces face-to-face interaction, fosters bullying and cruelty, etc. It’s just human nature to focus on the problems and downsides, I suppose.

But it isn’t fair.

The majority of teens use these tools in friendly, prosocial, creative and/or productive ways most of the time. That just doesn’t make for a great news headline.

Which is why WeHeartIt.com made me smile. The brand new social network gets little notice from adults, but it’s already garnered more than 25 million users, 80% of them under the age of 24.

So how does We Heart It work? It’s essentially a mashup of Tumblr (the popular microblogging platform that encourages use of images, videos and GIFs) and Pinterest (the theme-based, pinboard-style photo-sharing website). It’s a fresh, young, creative collection of images that link to other places on the web, with a positive spin. Users are encouraged by the site to curate collections (or “canvases”) of hyperlinked images that you love, or that inspire or move you.

We Heart It collageFollowers can choose to “Heart” someone else’s post, which then automatically cross-posts it to one of their canvases. There are no comments allowed, so as to discourage negativity or bullying. Users can tag photos, but don’t write descriptions the way they would on Pinterest.

Kids are interested in the next big thing. Facebook is increasingly crowded with their parents, grandparents and nosy prospective college admissions officers and employers. They are constantly on the lookout for fresh new ways to curate an online personality and share it with friends.

So is WeheartIt.com here to stay? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s certainly of enjoyable to see a popular site that’s all about sharing and encouragement.

Parents, kids and technology survey – update

This isn’t just your usual boring, annoying reminder to participate in my quick parenting survey about kids and technology. That’s because the initial response has been so positive, and I’d like to share a few of the emerging facts BEFORE I urge you all to: 1) spend two minutes to complete it yourself (if you haven’t already) and 2) to please share/ repost it for your friends and followers.

One of the questions I ask parents was what their top concerns were about having their kids online. Now it’s important to bear in mind that all my respondents, since they found me through my blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or some other online source, are already at least somewhat comfortable online, and this may colour their responses somewhat. Nevertheless, their top 5 concerns jive pretty closely with what I’ve been hearing from parents in workshops over the years.

Chart

Personal information is really a huge concern, as it should be. Not only do parents worry about the privacy issues, but they are also concerned their kids may jeopardize their future job and social prospects with inappropriate posts now while they are young. Time is a huge issues, and helping our kids control the impulse to be online constantly is a difficult battle to win when most adults struggle with the same issue. Finally, dealing with sexual and violent content on the Internet remains a justifiable concern, as research indicates in desensitizes our kids to these things at younger and younger ages. There are other concerns listed here as well, and some parents were kind enough to share their own fears with me as well.

These results are fascinating to me, and I plan to spend a lot more time discussing them individually, but I need your help. The amount of data I’ve collected is a great start, but I’m still limited by what I can say until I get the numbers of responses up there. Please help me out by sending the link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RWRparentsurvey) to your friends and colleagues, sharing it on your walls or Twitter accounts, or even putting it at the bottom of your own blog posts.

In return, I promise to write about the results and offer some practical suggestions to parents and teachers based on current research, best practices and whole load of common sense. Because as a mom of three pre-teens/ teens myself, I know how confusing it can be to stare at a lot of scary numbers.  My goal is to translate those charts into practical steps that will make sense in your home, with your kids.

Things that make you go “hmmmm”

In my travels across the web, I come across some interesting articles about kids, technology, pop culture and high-risk activities. This post offers a selection of the stuff that caught my attention this past week, including stuff on Facebook, bullying, digital skills, eating disorders and risky behaviors in general.

In sharing these articles, I’m not necessarily endorsing them. Some offer compelling new research, but numbers can often be twisted to say what we want them to say. In reporting these statistics, the media often forgets that simple correlation does not necessarily imply causality. However interesting they are, it’s always helpful to maintain a critical perspective. One way or another, all of these pieces made me go “hmmmm….”

Schoolchildren can use an iPhone but cannot tie their shoelaces, poll finds

MANY schoolchildren are more confident using a DVD player or iPhone than tying their shoelaces, research claims.
As many as 45 per cent of children aged between five and 13 can’t tie their shoe laces – but 67 per cent can work a DVD player, according to a poll.
The study showed a large proportion can log on to the internet, play on computer games, use an iPhone or iPad and work satellite television services like Sky Plus.
But 65 per cent can’t make a cup of tea, while 81 per cent can’t read a map and 87 per cent wouldn’t be able to repair a bicycle puncture.
(Read the full article here.)

Teen sues over Facebook bullying

A teenager in Georgia has decided to take things into her own hands after her school and police said they could do nothing about the classmates bullying her on Facebook.
Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston and her parents are filing suit against two classmates and their parents for libel after the two classmates allegedly created a fake Facebook account in her name, using a photo of her that they distorted. The account was also used to post a racist video to YouTube that implied that Boston hated African-Americans, and to leave crude comments on the Facebook pages of other friends, suggesting she was sexually active and smoked marijuana.

(Read the full article here.)

American Teens: Live Fast, Die Hard

The teenage years should come with a warning label:  Being an American teen may case early death.
At least, that’s the gist of a new study published in the British medical Journal “Lancet.” The study of teenage behavior in developed, higher income countries, indicates that U.S. teens tend to live faster and die harder than kids of the same age in other countries.
Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, smoke more pot, drink nearly as much alcohol and are more likely to die violent deaths, compared to young people in the same age group around the globe.

(Read the full article here.)

Beyond anorexia, bulimia: Lesser known eating disorders

For decades, the eating disorder lexicon had two main entries: anorexia and bulimia. But modern research reveals that these fall woefully short of encompassing the many facets of disordered eating. In the early ’90s, the American Psychiatric Association introduced a new diagnostic category: eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS). A catch-all label that includes dozens of subdiagnoses, EDNOS applies to patients who don’t meet the exact criteria for anorexia or bulimia but still have very troubled relationships with food or distorted body images. Today, EDNOS diagnoses significantly outnumber anorexia and bulimia cases. “The atypical has become the typical,” says Ovidio Bermudez, M.D.

(Read the full article here.)