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.
Snapchat: the free mobile app that promotes itself as a disappearing act. Parents and educators need to know just enough to understand its attraction to children and adolescents and the potential problems that may occur
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?
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 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.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever a new technology feature comes into vogue, children and adolescents come into possession of digital skills in want of copious adult tutelage.
Or at least this should be universally acknowledged.
Just now, in my part of the world, we are in the midst of an Instagram beauty contest phase. Interestingly, however, parents and educators who have spent the past 10 years connected in any way to the teen-tween digital world will recognize that, at a minimum, this is actually beauty contest 3.0.
I recall two other student beauty contest episodes, each occurring on a different digital playground. Initially, they appeared on make-your-own websites, then on MySpace. Now we have Instagram.
As I said the other morning to a concerned mom, behaviors get recycled each time a neat new whiz-bang digital opportunity emerges. Typical kid behavior gets paired with a powerful app, but mostly without the benefit of that adult tutelage referred to above. Also, kids love contests so it’s natural that the idea comes up.
Children are growing up in two worlds. Families and schools now have two childhood environments to supervise — face-to-face and the digital — and kids are learning and playing in two places, irrevocably intertwined. School and home guidance acclimate children mostly to the face-to-face world, assuming that the lessons automatically carry over to digital endeavors. They don’t.
In a matter of weeks last spring quite a few older elementary and middle school children whom I know jumped on the Instagram 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.
The minimum age for the Instagram app is 13, but that hasn’t stopped the site from attracting many children younger than that. While I tend to be someone who takes age requirements seriously, many parents, after checking out various sites, are more comfortable than I am with letting their children use sites when they are a bit 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. Problems can occur when children err in judgment as they make decisions about what to share (and what not to share).
In any event, all of us — parents, teachers, and any other adults in children’s lives — need to learn more about Instagram. I’ve added the app to my phone and plan to get acquainted with it. The list of articles below offers parents and teachers lots of information — how Instagram works and how children socialize when they use the social networking app with their friends. Continue reading “Getting to Know Instagram – Links to Bring Adults Up to Speed”→
I have a new favorite app — Wordfoto. Interestingly it’s designed for an iPhone but does not yet have an iPad version.
With the Wordfoto application, I make a word list and then have some fun designing art. I select a picture as a background to highlight my words. I can use an image that comes with the app, I can use one of the pictures in my iPhone photo galleries, or I can take a new picture.
When I combine the picture and the word list — voila, a cool Wordfoto. The app comes with a variety of editing options, allowing users to play with the image, crop it, create styles, and fine tune the texture of the pictures. Wordfoto also comes with preset styles that introduce texture, color, and depth variations, making it easy for new users to get started.
Newly created images can be easily e-mailed, posted to Facebook, and more. Once e-mailed, the Wordfoto jpg images can be incorporated into other projects.
Potential uses? Spelling lists, messages and cards, vocabulary practice, event signs, and much more. The images will also be useful as illustrations for school reports, and I’m excited because I design occasional images for my blog posts.
In her March 28, 2011 radio report, Neary describes the increasing number of children’s books that are available as apps, useable on smartphones and especially on iPads. These applications make reading children’s books into a multimedia experience.
Some added features of these digital books include:
Words that highlight as the story is read.
Object words that are spelled when a child taps an image.
Activities that relate to the story.
While many parents and teachers love these apps, some experts believe that the reading process is dramatically changed by the addition of other features. One expert, a professor at Kansas State University, suggests that we need a new word to describe the enhanced reading that takes place in the app storybook environment, but he is hesitant to label these interactions as pure reading. Continue reading “Kids and Reading: Widening Digital Opportunities”→