What Parents Should Know About Instagram (Now With Video)

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s entry stems from an update about Instagram which I talked about a couple weeks ago. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

With the purchase of my new phone (I went with a new Droid for those that took interest in my ridiculous struggle to pick a phone) came a bunch of shiny new features to a lot of my apps. I was thrilled to discover that my banking app now allows me to make mobile deposits (more on that later), my camera is amazingly awesome, and Instagram now has video!

With that discovery under my belt, I realized that people more than likely have questions about how this new addition affects the Instagram experience and what parents should know about it.Instagram-video-1

If you read my entry about Instagram last month, then you are pretty caught up in the ins and outs of the program. Take pictures, filter as desired and share with the world.

Following in the footsteps of Twitter with Vine, Instagram (read: Facebook) decided to add in their own video feature. Unlike Vine, Instagram’s videos can be up to 15 seconds in length and can be filtered (much like photos).

CHECK OUT: What Parents Should Know About Vine

Privacy
If your Instagram is private, your videos will be as well. Profiles on Instagram are still public even though your content is not so it is important to be sure that your kid’s full name or other revealing information isn’t posted on the site. Remember, a lot of people are posting their Kik Usernames as part of their profiles which allows strangers to message them on their phones.

Content
As Instagram is owned by Facebook, the restrictions on mature content are securely in place. It’s even mentioned in their Terms of Service: “While we respect the artistic integrity of photos and videos, we have to keep our product and the content within it in line with our App Store’s rating for nudity and mature content. In other words, please do not post nudity or mature content of any kind.”

In addition to this warning about mature content, users can report anything they deem inappropriate to Instagram and the offending user will be investigated.

Josh, You’re On Instagram?
Oh yeah! I joined Instagram about a year ago and have had a great time with it. My username is TheJoshGunderson if you care to follow. I will warn you, there are a lot of cat pictures. And Disney pictures. You’ve been warned.

If you’re struggling with the idea of letting you child use Instagram (now with video), I don’t blame you. Even though it’s a photo sharing app, issues like bullying and sexting can come up. I suggest having a conversation with your child about appropriate use of the app and let them know you’ll be keeping an eye on their activity (make being a friend a requirement). Let them know what is and isn’t acceptable to be posting on the app- cat sleeping in the bathroom sink, okay. Your front yard, including your home address, maybe not so okay.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Vine

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s question comes from a parent in Melbourne, Australia. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

I have really had no interest in the Vine app, though I am often asked if I have a Vine Account. Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t.  I’m a hands-on learner so I have downloaded and began using the app to get a better idea of what it’s all about.vine

Vine was created in June of 2012 and acquired by Twitter in October of the same year. Vine is a mobile app which allows users to create and share short video clips with other users. Since its inception, the app has been used in many ways including coverage of important news events and advertising.

Many of the “vines” I have seen come from friends in the comedy world and are a lot of fun to watch. Friend and TV personality Justin Willman often posts behinds the scenes vines from Cupcake Wars which can be a lot of fun to watch.

That being said, to the question, is Vine safe for children? Should parents be concerned about Vine?

Maybe.

Privacy
Privacy does exist on Vine (at least in the Android version that I have). Under settings, select “Your Content.” This will being you to a screen which gives you the option of setting your Vines to private. Which this setting in place, your Vines can only be viewed by users that you have approved (much like privacy on twitter, those you approve are able to follow your content feed).

While there is this option, it doesn’t stop content from leaking out into the online world. There are web sites out there dedicated to showing recent vines from users, bringing videos from the app to the web. These sites even allow for viewers to record the content onto their computer. Don’t believe me? Check this site out.

User Interactions
If you know Instagram at all, you already have an idea of how to interact with others on Vine. You are able to follow users to create a feed of content for you to view.

When users post or comment they can use hash tags which allow others to search for similar content.

Users have the ability to “like” and comment on content.

Vine also gives me the opportunity to throw back to an earlier post about Kik Messenger. A lot of the mature content I found on Vine had the posters also revealing their Kik Username and encouraging users to get in touch with them if they like that they see.

 

Speaking Of Content
It really didn’t take long for me to find inappropriate posts on the app. Pornography isn’t against Twitters guidelines so those posting graphic content do so without fear of punishment. Because pornographic content violates Apple’s terms of service, on February 5, 2013 Twitter raised the minimum age limit to download the Vine app from 12 to 17 following a request by Apple. Unless you have set restrictions for content on your child’s phone, they are going to still be able to download the app.

Who is on Vine?
The site allows you to follow just about anyone from friends to celebrities. Though there is no set age restriction, the site does comply with COPPA in that users under 13 are not allowed (though it doesn’t nothing to check the age of its users despite the plethora of inappropriate content).

Josh, You’re On Vine?
For now. I created an account to learn more about the app. I plan on playing around with it to get a good feel for it. I may end up keeping it! Who knows!

I suggest parents use their better judgment which it comes to their kids using the app. It’s important to keep in mind that while kids over 13 may join up, the app is rated for users 17 and over. The site does offer a creative outlet for those interested in video and animation, though the availability of pornographic content is cause for concern. If users under the age of 18 are creating this content it can lead to some pretty serious charges against the creators and those looking on.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Tumblr

This week’s question comes from a parent in Florida. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

It’s become impossible to go a day without hearing or seeing something about Tumblr. The guy sitting next to me in Starbucks is surfing the site as I type this. Chances are you have heard your kids talk about the site at one point or another.

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Tumblr is a microblogging/social networking site that allows users to post various forms of multimedia to their page. The site operates on a “dashboard interface” where bloggers have the option to create content, follow other blogs or re-blog entries by others. In May of this year, Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo! for $1.1 Billion. (This isn’t important to the entry, I’m just bitter).

Bonus! This week’s entry includes a vocabulary lesson!

Dashboard – The dashboard is the primary tool for the typical Tumblr user. It is a live feed of recent posts from blogs that they follow. Through the dashboard, users are able to comment, reblog, and like posts from other blogs that appear on their dashboard. The dashboard allows the user to upload text posts, images, video, quotes, or links to their blog with a click of a button displayed at the top of the dashboard. Users are also able to connect their blogs to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, so whenever they make a post, it will also be sent as a tweet and a status update. (This is something a lot of sites are allowing users to do- WordPress, for example, allows me to cross-post entries to Twitter, LinkedIn and even my own Tumblr Blog!)

Queue – Users are able to set up a schedule to delay posts that they make. They can spread their posts over several hours or even days. (This is a feature I LOVE! I am able to write a bunch of entries and schedule them- if you’ve ever wondered how I do it…this is my secret. I queue.)

Tags – For each post a user creates, they are able to help their audience find posts about certain topics by adding tags. If someone were to upload a picture to their blog and wanted their viewers to find pictures, they would add the tag #picture, and their viewers could use that word to search up posts with the tag #picture.

HTML editing – Tumblr allows users to edit their blog’s theme HTML coding to control the appearance of their blog. Users are also able to use a custom domain name for their blog

So, to the question, should parents be concerned about Tumblr? Like a lot of social networking sites out there, it’s totally up to you whether or not you want your child using this media. I, personally, enjoy my Tumblr and often find myself getting incredibly distracted while scrolling through my Dashboard (this is a good and bad thing). Here are some things to keep in mind:

Privacy
Tumblr is not private. That being said, it is. Here’s what I mean. When you create your Tumblr blog, it is completely public and you have no option to change this. The only way to have a private Tumblr blog is to create a secondary blog. This second blog can be set to be password protected so that only people with the password may view it.

From there, privacy is up to the user. Educating your kids about what is and is not appropriate information to post can help keep them safe. Even pictures can reveal too much information. Monitor your child’s blog as you would what they are watching on TV and what videos games they are playing. Let them know what content is appropriate for them to follow as well.

User Interactions
Tumblr allows users to set up an option to have fellow blogger contact them through an “ask” button. There are a few options to how people can contact you. On the settings page for your blog you can select the “ASK” option which allows users to send you short messages. With this option selected only registered users can send a question. There is an additional option which allows for “anonymous” asks. This options allows people to contact you anonymously whether they are a registered users or not. I don’t suggest this option to be suggested for kids because this lends itself to bullying and harassment issues.

The blocking feature is rather limited in that you are able to block a user from contacting you but given the open-sharing environment of the site, you can’t block a user from seeing your content.

Speaking Of Content
Content on Tumblr is completely and 100% unrestricted and unmoderated. Unless something is reported as inappropriate, administrators aren’t combing through what others are posting. This gives users, including kids, unrestricted access to a wide variety of pornographic materials and other explicit content that you may not want them seeing. It is up to you to moderate and let your kids know what is and isn’t inappropriate content to be sharing and viewing.

Who is on Tumblr?
The site allows you to follow just about anyone from friends to celebrities. Though there is no set age restriction, the site does comply with COPPA in that users under 12 are not allowed (though it doesn’t nothing to check the age of its users despite the plethora of inappropriate content).

Josh, You’re On Tumblr?
Yep! When I first decided to start blogging I polled students about what platform they use. Tumblr was number 1 so I started both a personal and professional blog. When I found that my professional blog was being view more by parents and teachers, I decided to move to a more interactive-friendly site. My WordPress posts are still cross-posted to Tumblr for my followers there, but I blog more on this platform.

That doesn’t stop me from following my favorite Tumblr blogs! For a good Boston-related laugh I check out “The MBTA Ruined My Life.” As I’m a massive trivia-buff I’m a big fan of the “Did You Know” blog. And I, of course, follow my friend, fellow Disney buff and fashionista extraordinaire “Leslie Kay’s Disneybound“.

If your kids are on Tumblr, rather than going nuts and telling them they can’t use it. Take the time to check out what they are viewing on the site. Getting involved and being interested in what they are doing is going to go a lot further than lecturing. Maybe create your own blog and share and follow your kids blogs. This will give you piece of mind and keep you on top of what your kids are up to in the online world!

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 3

This marks the 3rd and final entry in the Blogging in the Classroom Series! To catch up on the previous entries you can see Part 1 Here and Part 2 Here! As always please feel free to share comments below or by shooting me an e-mail at info@joshgunderson.com. Want to catch up? Check out the archives link! Next week I will continue with Part 3 which includes some great ideas to get your classroom blog rolling!

What it comes to blogging in the classroom I feel like the ideas are endless! I have to be honest that I’m a bit jealous that this platform wasn’t available when I was in high school! Across the curriculum there are a number of ways blogs can be introduced to the classroom. A student can use one blog over the course of the year, or even over the course of their career at an education institution. This creates an amazing portfolio of their work!

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what are some ideas to get your kids writing!

Use Regular Writing Prompts
Put up a weekly or biweekly writing prompt for your students to respond to, setting a due date for the responses. Have them comment on one another’s responses to get a conversation going. Depending on your blogging platform, you can moderate comments before they are visible to ensure that nothing inappropriate comes through.

Respond To Class or Homework Readings/Discussions
Run out of class time? Post the topic of discussion onto your blog, letting the students know, and have the discussion continue. Ask students to discuss how a current reading applies to a student’s own life. This would be great for history classes and discussing how past events may mirror current happenings.

Current Events
Post a link to a current news article and ask students to respond with their thoughts and ideas. This is especially great if there is something that is going on that may affect their world!

Book Reviews
Ask students to write a review (positive or negative) of a book they read for pleasure, summer reading or a book your reading in class. If it’s a book they read for pleasure, perhaps offer extra credit for a review?

Free Write
Rather than investing money into notebooks (think of the trees!) have student do their free writing on a blog. This allows you and their fellow students to respond to their thoughts. Again, depending on the blog platform you choose, students can set entries to be viewed only by you.

Photo Blogging
Great for art and photography classes! Encourage students to share their projects only by uploading their photography or scanning in their artwork. Like with writing, this allows students to build an online portfolio for themselves and to share their work with the world!

Review Fieldtrips and Assemblies
As homework following a fieldtrip or assembly, ask students to react and review what they learned or saw. Did they take pictures? Ask them to include those moments in their entry as well. This allows students to work on their writing skills as well as getting feedback on these activities.

These are just a few ideas! A simple web search can find you loads more! Talk with your fellow teachers about how they would use blogging in the classroom and work together to create a blogging community!

Are your students already blogging in the classroom? Share your ideas for blogging in the classroom in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Kik Messenger

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s question comes from a parent in New Jersey. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

I’ve been asked about Kik Messenger before during programs (mostly by parents) over the last couple years. It’s one of those apps I’ve never paid much attention to because I have no use for it. With Kik being this week’s topic, I went about my normal methods of learning about the app.

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Unlike last week’s post about Omegle, I’m less inclined to issue a straight up warning against the app. Instead, I think parents just need to understand the ins and outs of the app and come to their own conclusion about whether or not their kids should be using it.

So what is it? Kik Messenger is an instant messaging application for mobile devices. The app utilizes a phone’s data plan or available wi-fi to allow the user to send messages without having to use their phone company’s messaging plan. It can be used on smartphone platforms as well as app-enabled devices like tablets and iTouch. The app allows users to send text messages as well as pictures and videos.

I decided to take the hands-on approach to this week’s app and downloaded it to my phone. The first thing that struck me as odd were the number of reviews for the app. To give you an idea of what I mean- I compared Kik Messenger’s number of reviews to that of equivalent messaging services. Others averaged around 200,000 reviews, Kik had just under a million.

The reason for this made itself very clear right away. Users were posting their Kik names in the reviews and asking people to get in touch with them (see the pictures below…these are the tame examples. Click to enlarge the image).

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Kik is another sad story about social apps gone wrong. Meant to be used as an inexpensive way to chat with friends has turned into a breeding ground for sexting and other problems. That’s not to say that everyone using it has ill intentions, it just means that parents should be very aware of what their kids are using the app for.

Privacy
In terms of privacy on Kik, it’s up to the user to determine how safe they want to be. Like old-school AOL Instant Messenger, in order to contact a Kik member, you need to have their screen name. If your kids are using the messenger, establish a rule that, much like their phone number, they should keep their screen name private and limit who is allowed to have it (friends, family, etc). The messenger does access your current contacts to tell you who has the app as well (a blessing, a curse, and the reason I removed the app when I was done with it.)

Personal Information
The most personal thing the app asked for was my name and e-mail address and, as far as I can tell, there is no way to search for a user with this information. With that in mind, it’s important to note that the only way anyone would obtain this information is if another user gave it to them.

Is Kik Messenger safe? Yes- it’s a safe as long as users are smart. In terms of whether or not your child should be using the messenger, that’s entirely up to you as the parent. Setting guidelines for the appropriate use of technology is important and making sure you are upholding the rules that you have set.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 2

Last week I introduced part 1 of Blogging in the Classroom. The response has been amazing. I thank you all so much for the e-mails! This week I continue to Part 2 where I will discuss the pros of blogging in the classroom! As always please feel free to share comments below or by shooting me an e-mail at info@joshgunderson.com. Want to catch up? Check out the archives link! Next week I will continue with Part 3 which includes some great ideas to get your classroom blog rolling!

Have you picked out your blogging platform? Now it’s time to move on to the pros of blogging in the classroom blog!

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Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One thing a teacher friend pointed out to me is how blogging can help with the federal mandate that literacy is to be a cross curricular activity. Try thinking outside the box for how students can use writing in each subject matter. A social studies class can blog about current events, science students can report regular findings on experiments, language arts classes have an entire world of possibilities! Now is a great time to start thinking outside the box!

Even math students can use their writing skills. I took a class in college called “Math for the Liberal Arts” (which translates into Theatre Kids that are Bad at Math but the Subject is Required). Rather than spending day after day doing math worksheets, we focused on one math formula or theorem and wrote a paper about it. It allowed for us to be creative and learn something at the same time (my paper of dimensions involves aliens from a 4th dimension- totally aced it)!

Blogging can also be a great way to give voice to students who may not feel they have one. This is one of the ideas that I presented in my pros and cons list of social networking in the classroom. Kids that are less inclined to speak up in class may end up being the best commentators on a discussion post made by a teacher or fellow student.

With technology being another cross curriculum requirement, blogging in the classroom helps students build skills they will be needing in college and beyond. In addition to building writing skills, blogging also builds typing skills, enhances their knowledge of working with media like photos, videos and, in some cases, HTML.

I also look at blogging as a fun way to enhance the creative process. Students will begin to look at the world in a new light- anything could be fodder for their next entry. It is a fun way to allow students to engage with one another and the world around them. Depending on whether your blog is private or public- it allows outsiders to stumble upon and share their thoughts on a topic. I’ve stumbled upon kids blogging about seeing one of my programs- not only do I read them, I’ll comment!

At the end of the day, blogging can also be a lot of fun! I do most of my writing on Tuesdays and set up a queue to get me through the week. I look forward to my weekly trip (read: hostile takeover of a corner) to Starbucks to take in the world around me (ie. eavesdropping on blind dates) and get my writing done! I think students would feel the same way once their start working to find their voice!

Are your students already blogging in the classroom? Share some of the pros that you have found in the comments below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Omegle

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s question comes from a concerned parent in Hawaii. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

If you were to stop me on the street and ask “Josh, should my teenager be on Omegle?”  I would more-than-likely start laughing while trying to get the word “no” out.  The site’s slogan is “Talk To Strangers!” At 28-years old, if I were to tell my mom that I was using a web site with that slogan, I’m pretty sure she’d ground me. I don’t even live with her!

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Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Launched in 2008 by a 18-year-old, Vermonter, Leif K-Brooks, Omegle is a a free online chat website that allows users to communicate with strangers without registering. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the handles “You” and “Stranger”. In early 2009 the site added video conferencing feature in addition to chat.

In compliance with COPPA, the site requires users to be at least 13 year old to use the service but as it collect no personal data, it’s not that hard to get around that requirement. It also asked that users under the age of 18 get their parents’ permission before using the site.  Cause that’ll happen.

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This warning features prominently on Omegle’s home page. It’s also enough to tell me I don’t want to be on this site. You should feel the same way.

 

Stick with me here, it gets worse.

The site, according to its privacy policy, participants’ IP addresses are recorded and stored for up to 120 days. They record the following: “the time your chat began, your IP address, a randomly-generated ID tag assigned to your computer, your chat partner’s IP address, and your chat partner’s randomly-generated ID tag.” Why? For “purposes of law enforcement.” Is anyone else seeing the red flag’s here?

Because of complaints, the site now had moderators keeping an eye on chats to make sure that only appropriate things are happening. However, one can easily click on the option to join an unmoderated chat if you pinky-swear that you’re over 18. How do they check this? Well, this nifty window pops up, and then you just click OK.

Trying to escape the moderators? Just click on the link for unmoderated chat. They ask you to confirm that you're old enough to be there without asking for any information to verify.

Trying to escape the moderators? Just click on the link for unmoderated chat. They ask you to confirm that you’re old enough to be there without asking for any information to verify.

 

Once a chat is ended, each user has the option of saving the transcript (when it’s saved, it lives on Omegle’s servers forever). Free software has also allowed people to trap and record video conferences- many of which can be found on tame sites, like YouTube.  An image search on Google gave me enough reasons to never go near the site.

I strongly encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids about sites like Omegle. Remind them that talking to strangers, even with a computer screen and, potentially, hundreds of miles between you, is never a smart idea. It is so easy to give out loads of personal information without even realizing it. Also remind them that the internet is forever and any videos that may be perceived as inappropriate can have a lasting effect on their future.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 1

A few weeks ago I introduced my new series “Social Networking in the Classroom” and the response has been inspiring! In the introduction to the series, I weighed the pros and cons of integrating social networking in the classroom. In the following weeks I discussed Facebook followed by Twitter. This week’s topic? Blogging!

This week’s topic is being broken into three parts! Why? There’s so much to talk about! This week’s entry will look at some blogging platforms I think are pretty awesome for the classroom environment. Next week I’ll talk about the pros of blogging in the classroom. In the third part I will share ideas for blogging in the classroom. (The other reason is that I wrote the whole entry and saw how long it was so breaking it into multiple parts just made sense to me.)

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You might notice right away that I have avoided specifying one specific blogging platform to use. There’s a very simple reason for this, there are so many! I think it’s best to find what works best for you and your students. I’ve done a quick web search just to get an idea of the best blogging platforms for a classroom.

These are in the order that I thought of/discovered them and I promise I’m not getting anything special for promoting them…unless they want to give me something. Free Edublog? Hint hint WordPress!

WordPress- Since starting this blog back in June, I’ve really grown to love all that WordPress has to offer. The platform is simple to use and pretty straight-forward. It’s free to use though a premium account offers a few more perks but they aren’t important if you’re looking to keep things simple (I’m a simple user and paying $99 a year doesn’t seem worth it to me… I need that money to support my Starbucks habit!) The only drawback I would see with WordPress is that each student would need to create an account in order to become a contributor on the classroom blog. The perk I see with that, is that students are free to continuing their blogging once the class has ended!

Edublogs– Edublogs is exactly what it sounds like- blogs for education! The site is run by the people at WordPress and has all the same features!  The site is safe, secure, and for education only. While a simple blog is free, if you want to be able to embed video and HTML, you must pay for an upgrade. $35 will get you a year of Educator Pro and is great if you want to be able to facilitate blogging in your classroom and create accounts for students.  You can moderate students entries and comments with this feature as well.

Looking to connect the entire school? Edublogs offers that as well. Create a massive blogging community of students and educators. The cost varies by the number of blogs you wish to create. You can contact Edublogs for a quote. Not sure if Edublogs is a right fit for your school? They give you a free 30-day trial to give it a chance!

ClassPress- ClassPress is much like WordPress in its functionality. A one year subscription is the same at $35 with discounts if you subscribe with 5 or more teachers. Once you are a member you are able to create an unlimited number of students accounts. The site also automatically filters content in students entries unlike other which require you to actively look out for inappropriate language. One thing I really like on ClassPress is the drop-box feature which allows students to submit assignments digitally into one place. There’s no worrying about students misspelling your e-mail address. This also allows the teacher to upload files for download by students. Supported formats are Microsoft Word, Excel, PDFs and Powerpoint. Want the kids to have a record of their blogging at the end of the year? You can download PDF journals that can be printed, e-mailed or loaded onto a thumb drive!

Kidblog-While featuring all of the perks of the above platforms, Kidblog goes a step further to ensure the privacy of its users. Student accounts are private by default and the site is fully COPPA compliant, not requiring any personal information from students using the site. Comment privacy settings allow for filtering out unsolicited outside comments. As the audience is fully limited to those in the class, the site allows for the creation of password protected parents and guest accounts. As far as I can tell, the site is free to use but I’m not 100% on that.

Have you used any of these platforms in your classroom? Have any suggestions for other sites that can be used (I know they’re out there!)? I would love to hear more in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Instagram

After my post about SnapChat, I’ve had a number of parents e-mailing and asking about other Apps and Social Media. Inspired, I’m now making answering these questions a regular series on the blog. These entries will be posted on Fridays. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

I will admit that I’m a big fan of Instagram. I joined and posted my first picture just over a year ago and I’ve been hooked. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it allows me not only to share photos from my time on the road, but geo-tagging helps me create a fun map of places I have been. This past spring, I began taking photos of schools I have visited and using these posts to give a shout-out to the great audiences and allow students and teachers to comment and share their thoughts on the program.

instagram

While I’m having a lot of fun with the app, it seems others are having a less enjoyable experience. Parents are growing very concerned with the safety and well-being of their children. I’ve compiled some things all parents should know about the app and how to best keep their kids safe.

Privacy
Like most social apps, Instagram allows users to protect their privacy by selecting the option “Photos are Private”. By selecting this you are hiding your photos from the outside world and you, from there, can select who is able to follow your posts. Please note that this only hides your photos- information like your name, bio and profile picture are public no matter what.

Geo Tagging
While it’s great to have a map of your travels, it’s important to understand what it means to be creating this map. The option to “Add to Your Photo Map” is turned off by default. Once it’s turned on, however, it remains that way until you turn it back off. It’s important to make sure you are aware of what setting is active when uploading, especially when doing so from home. Forgetting to turn it off will allow others to see where you were at the time of upload.

Sharing
Instagram allows users to share their photos beyond the world of the app and onto social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. If a user chooses to share beyond the app, it’s important that they check the privacy settings on that particular network. For instance, on Twitter, the photo and location will be public unless your profile is set to private.

Friends
Keeping your friends real is the best thing you can do with this app and all social networking. My general rule of thumb is: if they aren’t a contact in my phone, they aren’t my friends. I would even expand that out to: if I’ve never been in the same room as this person, I’m not going to be their friend. In the digital world you can’t be too safe!

Keeping Safe

Like on Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by the Zuckerberg empire) users can be tagged in the photos of others. It’s important to keep an eye on what photos you or your child are being tagged in and how they could affect them. It is possible to untag yourself if the person’s profile is public. Otherwise, you’ll have to ask that you be removed.

Instagram also allows for a user to block another. Once a user is blocked, they will not be able to see your profile or pictures, tag photos of you, or mention you in comments. This is a great tool if you don’t want someone having any access to you or if they are repeatedly harassing you.

Users can also be reported for violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines. If you or your child find that someone is misusing the app or violating anything mentioned in the guidelines, report them. The claim will be investigated by the folks at Instagram and appropriate action will be taken.

As always, I encourage you to learn as much as possible about the app and share in your child’s experiences. Ask them questions or even ask them to teach you how to use the app on your own phone. Follow them and their friends and let them know that you’re keeping an eye on the things they post.

What have your experiences with Instagram as a parent been like? I’d love to hear about it!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.
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Social Networking in the Classroom: Twitter

Over the past two week’s I’ve been introducing ideas for how to integrate social networking in the classroom. This week we’ll continue the discussion with the micro-blogging site- Twitter!

When it comes to social networks, Twitter is probably one of the least complex. Created and launched in 2006, Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows users to send and read text-based updates limited to 140 characters.

twittereducation

When it comes to uses in the educational setting there are many possibilities. One of the perks of twitter is that people do not need an account to access someone’s twitter feed (the exception being if the feed was only available to followers). If you wanted to create a classroom twitter account to post announcements, links to supplemental materials, or reminders the process is quick and simple.

From there, you have the world at your fingertips! I’ve compiled a list of some ideas I’ve found around the web and heard from others about using Twitter in the classroom!

Like I mentioned last week with Facebook, don’t require students to follow you on Twitter as many may not have accounts or may not be allowed to by their parents. Find other ways to share information with them if this is the case.

Keep The Conversation Going: Use a classroom hash tag to facilitate continuing discussions after class has ended. Use hash tags to create a specialized Tweet feeds to share information and discussions. I’ve been to many conferences where a specialized hash tag was used by attendees and presenters to share what they were experiencing. It’s a lot of fun! I even use the tag #JoshOnTour when I’m on the road so family and friends can keep tabs on what I’m up to! Students and educators will also use this tag to share their experiences during my programs! Tweetdeck is a great tool to help keep you organized!

Follow and Share: Use a classroom twitter to follow and share ideas with other teachers at school and all over the world! Maybe another classroom is learning about the same topics and a you can tweet ideas to one another. Stay in touch with other educators to discuss teaching trends, classroom ideas, or upcoming events and conferences.

Real-World Updates: Big news event going on? Follow hash tags and buzzwords to get a real time stream of news coming in from all over the world! (Again Tweetdeck is a great tool in these situations to help filter in content surrounding what you want to be tracking)

Share Links And Videos: Find an interesting article or YouTube video that goes along with a class discussion? Use the “Share on Twitter” option to instantly send the information out to your students. Discuss what you found the next day in class.

Classroom Tweeting: Watching a video in class? How about taking a field trip? Encourage students to tweet during these events to share ideas and thoughts about what they are experiencing. This can be helpful in creating discussions and sharing ideas. You might also find some of the shy students standing out in these discussions! Remember to create a hash tag to easily follow the proper discussion! You never know who might be watching! I’ve heard great stories of authors, filmmakers and even myself jumping into classroom discussions via Twitter!

These are just a few of many ideas out there. I also recommend checking out Edudemic’s blog post “100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree of Difficulty

Have you used Twitter to enhance the classroom experience? I’d love to hear about it!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

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