youtube kids icon

Late holiday gift for parents – YouTube Kids App

Most of my blog posts focus on teens and what they are doing online. With touchscreens and tablets, younger and younger kids are playing in the digital world. Like the real world, there are places in the digital world where you do not want your kids hanging out. How do parents allow young kids the freedom to explore while keeping them out of adult spaces?

This is a tough question. Take YouTube. Kids love watching YouTube with so many choices of cartoons, shows, tutorials and music. Here, a child can find a humorous Minecraft video right next to one full of swearing that would make most parents cringe. Kapersky Lab found that kids, clicking on YouTube’s suggested videos displayed beside children’s programs, were just three clicks away from adult content. YouTube does have a safe mode. While this may eliminate some of the adult content, it doesn’t remove all of it.

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youtube kids icon

This Monday, YouTube released its own video app just for kids.  YouTube Kids is available on Google Android and Apple IOS. The YouTube Kids app is not YouTube with more parental controls. This app is designed for kids and has only content appropriate for children. Kids can browse channels and playlists in four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. Yesterday, I played around with this new app. Continue reading

vine #10

Vine App – What can you do in 6 seconds?

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Vine is the video app to watch. Twitter launched Vine in January and it now has over 40 million users. Vine sits at #10 on iTunes free app chart, right behind Instagram. What makes Vine different from other video apps is it has no special tricks, just sharing 6 seconds of video on a continuous loop. Vine has all sorts of videos ranging from the humorous and clever to the silly and stupid and finally the terribly offensive.

vine optionsVine takes after its founder Twitter; it is Twitter with video. One of the reasons, I think teens like it is there is no pressure to make a masterpiece. Vine has no special filters or editing tools, teens record 6 seconds of anything and either post it or delete it.

Like Twitter, Vine is a social network where you have followers and people you are following. Your followers can comment on or like your videos. Videos can be shared widely by revining them or posting them to Facebook or Twitter.

All Vine accounts are automatically public. This means, anyone can see your profile and videos and anyone can share them and post them outside of Vine. Now, you can choose to have a protected account. With a protected account, your videos are visible only to your approved followers and only you can share your videos. Users cannot choose to make some videos private and some public. Like Twitter, it is all or nothing. Continue reading

snapchat ghost

Snapchat’s only privacy setting is a good friend

snapchat ghost

When I watch my kids online, I often wish the internet was a bit more forgiving. I am not talking about the freedom to do whatever they want without consequences. I am talking about sharing a silly moment without it stalking them for they rest of their lives. The Snapchat app appears to promise kids this freedom by allowing them to send a disappearing photo.

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Snapchat lets kids take and send photos to their friends that cannot be saved. It does this by including a self-destruct button. Kids decide how long their friend can view the photo, with a maximum viewing time of 10 seconds. When time is up, the photo disappears. Snapchat photos cannot be saved by the recipient.

Snapchat is intended for kids over 13. It is one of the top 5 apps for teens. Over 60 million photos or messages are sent each day on Snapchat. The latest version will let teens send videos that self-destruct within 10 seconds.

When Snapchat first launched, many people wrote about the potential for teens to use it for sexting. A self-destructing photo seemed the perfect way for teens to send naughty pictures without worrying about the photo ending up splashed all over the internet. Some teens probably have used Snapchat for this purpose and parents should definitely talk to their teen about the dangers of sexting.

silly snapchat photoAn online search for #Snapchat reveals a lot of teens are using it to take funny pictures of themselves. They are making an ugly face or drawing a mustache. These pictures share a silly moment then disappear. They can have fun without having their crazy duck face follow them into adulthood. Unfortunately, these faces may not always disappear.

Continue reading