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.

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.

Social Networking in the Classroom: An Introduction

With more and more schools moving towards having a 1:2:1 environment, educators are trying to find the best ways into incorporate popular social networking sites into the educational environment. This entry marks the first in a weekly series to give teachers some ideas on how these web sites can be used in the classroom.

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Today, over 60% of educators are using social media in their classes in an effort to better relate and connect with their students. Rather than trying to keep students from accessing social media in schools, educators can take advantage of these site to enhance the classroom setting.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to integrating technology into classroom and it’s important to pay attention to the pros and cons when planning to do so. Many advocates feel that it is the natural evolution of education to begin to enhance learning with technology and social media while critics are calling for strict regulation and even reject the idea all together.

When considering to go ahead and use social media in the classroom it’s important to decided if the benefits outweigh the risks. To give an idea of what people are saying, I’ve compiled some of the pros and cons here.

PROS

Using the Tools They Know- Our students are already walking into the classroom with a working knowledge of the world wide web. They are already using many of these social  networking sites and by adding these site into the educational setting it may help aide them in creating smarter decisions online and create a positive digital resume.

Real World Uses- The internet has become a part of daily life along with the many social networking sites that are out there. By integrating these sites into the classroom environment, educators are helping students develop the skills they will need in the real world by way of effecting communication skills both online and in the real world.

Preparing Students- As students are preparing to enter the world of higher education or the workforce, a working knowledge of social networks can be a big help! With many colleges and universities engaging potential candidates through social networking, students who are savvy in the online world are at an advantage. Ditto for moving into the workplace. Many site today allow you to create you educational or professional profile to broadcast to potential educational institutions or employers.

Improving Student Communication- Students who may not be the most talkative in class may be inclined to participate more in an online forum. In this environment they are able to organize their thoughts and present them to their peers. Students may also be more inclined to ask for help through digital communication means.

CONS

Cyberbullying- With any technology the issue of bullying is a major concern. By bringing technology into the classroom there also the risk of bringing this behavior right along with it. Critics of social media integration argue that educators are inviting trouble into their classes by allowing students to be so connected. This is also an issue that can be easily avoided by educating not only ourselves about these issues but the students as well. Establishing rules and regulations from the word “go” is key.

Techno Distractions- Critics feel that instructors are inviting students the opportunity to goof off an not pay attention. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a major distraction for students if not properly regulated. It is up to the instructor to make sure that the technology is being used for the purposed intended and not abused.

Social Interaction- I mentioned in my post yesterday about cell phones and the potential to stunt regular social interaction. The same arguments can be made for social networking. While the digital world can help increase communication from quieter students, it may also be stunting their abilities to interact in the real world. Students well-versed in the online world may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to college or even professional interviews.

IN THE END

While this debate will more than likely continue for quite some time, there’s no arguing the influence that social networks have over students today. Many of the most tech-savvy are already using these networks to collaborate and develop relationships. It is only natural that their educational environments get on board and embrace rather than reject these learning tools.

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.

How Much Information is Too Much Information? Take a Look!

One of the biggest things I caution my audiences about is how much information we give away without even thinking about it. Some people are amazed to find out that even the simplest status update or tweet can reveal so much more than we even intended. In my programs I give an example of how one profile picture and three status updates can tell you so much! It boggles the mind!
In a recent internet search I came across an interesting Infographic on the TrendLabs Blog that reveals The Risks of Posting in Social Networks. You can check out the entry by clicking here or checking out the Infographic below!

TrendLabs Infographic

 

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.