Frienedy, an all ages social network, puts parents in charge.

frienedy iconWhen I first started talking to elementary schools about digital citizenship, I rarely mentioned specific apps. With every year, I see more young kids with phones and tablets. So, I have added slides about Instagram and kik. While I understand why kids love these apps, these places are for people 13 years old and up. This is a tough environment to learn about digital citizenship where mistakes are easily shared and hard to erase.

A few weeks ago, I got chance to talk with Janel Patterson, a parent and CEO of Frienedy, who has created a better approach. She has designed a social network for all ages. Frienedy is for everyone and allows both parents and kids to create private social groups. These groups can center around family, friends, teams or classes. Within a group, members can share activities, photos, videos and documents. They can also post an event on a shared calendar as well as create a WishList for equipment and supplies.frienedy ex

Designing a social network for all ages is not easy. Because of COPPA, most social networks choose to simply limit users to 13 years or older. A few social networks cater only to young kids. Frienedy is unique in bringing both these groups together. Janel said they were able to do this by integrating privacy software directly into the site. Frienedy makes it seamless and simple for parents to provide verifiable consent for their children under 13 to have an account.

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Once kids are on, they can join and create their own groups under the watchful eye of their parent. As Janel explains, “Frienedy is designed such that parents have “view only” access to always oversee, but not participate in, their children’s groups. So, they are default members of every group a child joins or creates. However, there is not a risk to the child of being embarrassed by the parent, because the parent cannot comment, chat or upload photos or documents.”

On Frienedy, parents are their child’s digital coach. Overseeing their child provides the perfect opportunity to kick off the digital citizenship/cyberbullying conversation. Behind the scenes, parents can keep the digital talk going by teaching kids what to post and what not to post. If a kid makes a mistake or posts a comment that is misinterpreted, parents can immediately step in and work with their child to remedy the situation. Janel believes “that when, as parents, we have the opportunity and tools to teach our children how to be good digital citizens, we will inevitably see fewer cases of cyberbullying in the long run and fewer kids who post their way out of scholarships, colleges, and jobs.”

Frienedy is an excellent way for families, teams and classrooms to share information privately while teaching kids how to communicate responsibly on a social network. Right now, parents can sign up for Frienedy on their mobile friendly site. In July, they are coming out with their IOS app. For help with talking to your child about staying safe and sharing smart online, Talking Digital provides scripts and tips for kids from preschool to high school.

Celebrate Earth Day with these 5 Apps

earthHappy Earth Day! Today, April 22, is Earth Day’s 45th anniversary. For 45 years, people have come together to help our planet by supporting environmental programs, cleaning up their neighborhoods or living a more sustainable lifestyle. This year, I have 5 earth-friendly apps to celebrate Earth Day. Download these apps today to discover how to transform a water bottle into a piece of art, learn more about the environment or make healthier food choices. Continue reading

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Stressed? 5 Apps to help you Unwind

self introNext week is spring break. When the kids were younger, vacations were simply a chance to do something fun and miss school. I have noticed, as they have gotten older, they need a vacation. With AP classes, extracurricular activities and the fear of missing out, they are dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety. Both of them are looking forward to a week without the social and mental pressures of school.

According to the NIMH, about 8 percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder. Some studies have linked increased anxiety with social media, coining the term Facebook Depression. Whether or not social media contributes to a teen’s anxiety is debatable. What I find interesting is the role technology can play in helping teens with anxiety. We have Fitbits and other wearable technology examining our physical health and now we have apps to help with our mental health.

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Friday Rewind – Articles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Phone Contracts & Digital Parenting

rewindOn Pinterest, I have a list of books for parents on managing their family’s technology use. I finally tackled my own stack of books and added many new titles to this board. For families with younger children, I found an excellent book on managing screen time and media. Beside the book recommendation, I have some other interesting links for parents and teens. 

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What parents need to know about ooVoo

According to researchers at Penn State, when it comes to privacy management, adults and teens think very differently. While most adults think first and then ask questions, teens tend to take the risk and then seek help. Unfortunately, the privacy settings on many apps are initially set at the most lenient level. While teens prefer to download and go, making them slow down and change the privacy settings in the beginning can limit problems in the future. This is certainly true with ooVoo.

oovoo logoooVoo is a messaging app like Kik. It has been around for a while but recently it has been popping on my twitter feed and news alerts. Teens are moving to this app because unlike other services, teens can chat with their Apple friends as easily as their Android buddies or even their laptop friend. While ooVoo is ideal for hosting a study group session, parents and teens should take care. If teens do not lock down their settings, they may see a lot more than a smiling face.

What is ooVoo?

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