Teach Children About Anonymity Before They Make Mistakes

childing typingAnonymity presents digital kids with a complicated social obstacle — one they must confront and understand if they are to protect themselves from potential problems. Digital anonymity is not a friendly concept for growing children. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s downright dangerous, but app makers continue to offer the feature. For now these apps are a part of many digital kids’ daily lives, often negatively affecting their digital wellness.

No child with a connected device is immune from possible trouble caused by anonymity, because issues can arise in an instant, often as a part of routine online social interactions. Anonymous opportunities take advantage of kids’ developing brains, encouraging them to make public mistakes in judgment, and enabling young people, sometimes as young as third or fourth grade, to act and communicate with less and less restraint. A mistake made with an app’s anonymity feature can be hurtful or humiliating.

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12-Year-Old Researches Male & Female App Characters

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Symbols from http://www.flickr.com/photos/43812360@N05/6123054395 with my  labels added.

With all the talk in today’s educational world about innovation, inventing, and making things, we sometimes forget that lots of good ideas still develop when an individual takes the time to organize a basic research project, sees it through to completion, and then clearly writes and reports about it. This process takes time.

Sometimes it seems that time is lacking when it comes to many of today’s digital products, an app for instance. Once it’s developed and deployed, it often feels like no one developing the product took enough time to think about and develop perspective about how many ways it might affect consumers.

Parents and educators will want to read I’m a 12-Year-Old Girl: Why Don’t the Characters in My Apps Look Like Me?, appearing in the March 4, 2015 Washington Post and written by Madeline Messer, a digitally native 12-year old. This young woman took the time to investigate the potential effects a product can have on individuals.

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Needed: Ongoing Social Media Conversations About Image Sharing

using smartponesIf your children are using or begging to use  InstagramSnapchat, Vineor the many other apps on their digital devices that share media, it’s time to get serious about conversations on social media and image sharing. Moreover, many other digital device apps exist or suddenly appear that also encourage sharing. (Check out my post that demonstrates just how apps multiply and catch on with kids.)

Sharing apps make users, especially young people, feel like they can have and keep secrets with their friends. Children, and adults, too, like the apps because they claim to offer a modicum privacy and because any media that they share will self-destruct within a few seconds. Voilà – it’s disappeared!

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Top Mobile Apps? Interesting Data from ComScore

top-25-mobile-apps-by-unique-visitor_reference

Click for a larger image.

Parents and educators often wonder aloud just who produces the most popular mobile apps and how many people, especially preadolescents and adolescents, actively use them on mobile devices.

Check out this ComScore image that depicts the most popular apps. Click on the image to visit a larger one at the company’s website that is much easier to read. The numbers represent unique visitors, though we cannot figure out ages. Still, it is interesting to wonder how  many of these apps are on your digital devices? Your children’s digital devices?

ComScore is a company that statistically measures the activities of people on the web. It collects information from all over the world and the website is available in a range of languages. If you visit ComScore you can discover all sorts of interesting digital-world info-snapshots depicted with charts and graphs.

I am not at all surprised by this list of most popular apps in our 2014 21st Century lives. Are you?

How Quickly Do New Apps Gain Kids’ Attention?

See the larger charts below.

See the larger charts below.

As we get ready to return to school for the 2014-15 academic year, my thoughts turn toward the digital life changes that I’ll observe in the lives of my 21st Century students when we come together in September.

After three months of summer activities such as volunteering or part-time jobs and the less structured time at camps and on vacations, most kids arrive at school with new digital experiences, devices, and apps — and they want to share everything. I’ve especially thought about the number of apps that seem to come out of nowhere — suddenly appearing in kids lives and on their mobile devices — and I know popular new ones will appear this fall.

Below I am sharing three slides from digital parenting presentations that I made over six months, from October to May during the 2013-14 school year.

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New York Times Report on FCC Snapchat Settlement

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just announced a settlement with Snapchat over questions of privacy and mis-information.  New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham published an article, Off the Record in a Chat App: Don’t Be Sure, a May 8, 2014 piece that describes the situation and the terms of the settlement.  I’ve written a post, Have A Chat If Your Child Uses Snapchat, with more details at my other blog, Discover Your Child’s Digital World.

Twenty-first century parents — take note.

A Few Apps for Parents to Learn More About

Check out these apps.  Just two months ago, when presented to a group of parents, some of these were not on the radar for preadolescent and teen digital life. I’ve linked each to an article. For additional reviews, but not for every app, visit the Common Sense Media App Review Page.

Poof

hide mobile phone apps

4Chan

image bulletin board – pretty good up front rules

Whisper

share secrets

Wanelo

social media shopping

Yic Yac

anonymous texting

Rumr

more anonymous messaging

Secret

share with friends secretly

Pheed

share everything, including video, pretty good rules