Thursday, February 19, 2015

Living & Learning in a Digital World

In response to the presentation in bluejeans.com I was quite surprised that the video came on immediately.  Was anyone else taken off guard?  I was prepared to not turn on my webcam as I had just had a bath and was in my pajamas....lol  I was a classic fail for me personally but no one seemed to notice.

I was also surprised about all the new social media sites that the youth are using today that I wasn't aware of (ex. Tinder, YikYak, Kik Messenger, Tumblr, Whisper, etc.)  I thought I was in the know with Snapchat and Instagram.  However the other online students were quite aware as they were quite recently in face to face schools experiencing requests from their students.  I have the odd Facebook request from my online students who are for the most part adults.  However unless I am ready and willing to have a coffee with them outside of work I do not add them as a friend.

I found this great article/website called Common Sense  "Common Sense is the nation's leading independent non-profit organization dedicated to empowering kids to thrive in a world of media and technology." I enjoyed this site as it has "Parenting, Media, and Everything in Between."  The article is called "15 Sites and Apps Kids are Heading to Beyond Facebook.  I particularly enjoyed it as the headings included "Why its Popular" and "What Parents need to know"  which could easily apply to educators. See an example section below:
8. Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting that kids use for social networking. It's free to use but has lots of ads.
Why it's popular
It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features, making it decidedly more fun in many ways than SMS texting.
What parents need to know
  • It's too easy to "copy all." Kik's ability to link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive "app adoption" (purchases) from its users for developers. The app also encourages new registrants to invite everyone in their phone's address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app.
  • There's some stranger danger. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. There's also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users' full names) to contests.
  • It uses real names. Teens' usernames identify them on Kik, so they shouldn't use their full real name as their username.

In the classroom it would be great to have an open discussion about these apps and ongoing discourse as to why the app maybe helpful and how they could also be harmful.  In most cases the apps have not been blocked at the school level....yet.  In other cases it may be peer pressure to be in the "in crowd" with that particular app on the user's mobile device.

Perhaps discussions around the ability for an individual to be able to "quit" the app for a day, week, or month could be discussed.  Has anyone ever tried to have this conversation with their students?  Addictions to media are a reality and they should be handled with support and understanding similar to any other addiction.  Teaching "balance" and "rights" and "responsibilities" would go hand in hand with this discussion.  By using "Common Sense Media" you will you be able to know what you are talking about and be a little more unbiased than parents to discuss the pros and cons of the apps.

On a happy note my son cleaned up his Instagram and I am one happy momma.  At first I felt awkward about looking at his Instagram (similar to looking at his diary/journal) without an invitation or permission.  However we must remember as parents/educators that the rest of the world has access to these social media websites at all times, thus we shouldn't feel bad ;-).