Are You Thinking Enough About Phone Apps & Personal Privacy?

childing-typing1It seems so simple when we install apps. Download, click agree and OK a few times, and use. But it’s not as simple as it seems because we may be unintentionally giving free access to lots of our data. When is the last time you read the user agreement before clicking “agree?” When was the last tune you made sure your 21st Century digital kid to read the agreement?  The app install process is not that simple a process after all, because your data is valuable, and not just for you.

To learn more about what apps are inclined to do when you install them, check out a terrific privacy video (below) produced by Silentcircle.com, a company that makes secure communication products.                                                                                     Continue reading

On Digital Parenting Fear, Part #2 – We Must Know More About Kids’ Digital Lives

fear-riskIn our connected world unfamiliar activities make adults worry about kids, and violent and exploitative events, some connected to the digital world, make us fear for our children’s safety. This past week two events, a 13-year-old’s ruthless murder that was associated with online app interactions and a Wall Street Journal article, Cyberthieves Have a New Target: Children, made many of us wonder, once again, whether the digital world is degrading the quality of our lives.

Cybertheives PM

For me the week reinforced the importance of parents understanding what their children are up to on digital devices. It’s a serious responsibility, it requires enormous time and energy, and we cannot hire outside experts to do it for us. The work requires every parenting skill that we’ve ever developed and more, and if you are not up to it you need to consult a parent education organization, such as the Parenting Encouragement Program (PEP) in my area, that offers training to parents. Continue reading

12-Year-Old Researches Male & Female App Characters

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.51.32 AM

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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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