button-1015632_1920This may seem as backward and antiquated as you can imagine, but the Stone Ridge MS asks students to NOT use google to search for homework or activities and projects for school. Before anyone starts a campaign against our Neanderthal-like thinking, let’s start with some background.

  • Stone Ridge has one of he most comprehensive and well thought out collections of resources accessible on the internal side of our website. It would be nice if this came free, but we believe that the companies and people who put these resources together and vet them, should be paid for their hard work.
  • We believe that all students should give credit to the authors and owners of website or resources where we get our information from. We should also work had to use proper citations when using various resources – many of these resources make it easier to cite and reference their material.
  • Even when safe search is turned on in student browsers (by default), there is still a possibility that inappropriate content, be it in words or maybe even worse, images or video, can still make it’s way onto a student’s screen.
  • Both the Library and the Ed Tech team do ongoing work and present activities regarding online safety, citizenship and using online resources in an effective way.
  • In the summer, SR requires an hour-and-a-half MS student/Parent Orientation session that introduces MS students and families to the technology program. Students also receive their 2 in 1 devices at that time and are instructed on how to use these devices, as well as discuss the Responsible Use Policy that goes over the dos and don’ts when using school-owned laptops and using the school network. In this orientation, we let families know that we ask them not to use google search at school, but they can decide if they will allow their girls to use google (or other open ended search engines) when at home or in their care.

So, with all of that information, does it make sense to try to enforce this rule, even though everyone and their grandmother use google outside of the classroom setting? We at Stone Ridge still say yes. Let us explain our thinking on this. It’s complicated.

First, the art or skill of deciphering whether or not a website you find using google search is unbiased, without agenda, and accurate takes a long time and even adults have a problem with this  – There are stories that teachers actually have listed this website  – https://www.allaboutexplorers.com/explorers/ as an actual resource that their students used for their research. Take a look at the link. It looks good and the explorers names are spelled correctly. Take a gander  at Christopher Columbus bio and you’ll immediately see that it’s a hoax. In actuality, it’s a website that was made for teachers to TEACH students how to spot fake or inaccurate websites. It even has lessons or activities that show you how to use allabouteplorers.com the right way!

Secondly, during student’s middle school years, they work hard to follow rules and do what their teachers ask of them, but it’s also a time when they begin to exert their independence and sometimes do the opposite of what’s asked of them in the classroom. Outside the classroom, families, siblings, friends type things to find in google all the time. For the most part, this process is useful and mostly harmless. We’re certain that as a parent you and your child(ren) have come across google search queries that are not exactly what you had in mind and on a  regular basis, you’ll see things that okay for your eyes to see, but maybe something that would be hard to explain to  your younger ones. In the worst cases, images or words or even videos might pop up that would take a long long time for you “unexplain.”

Finally, a google search that brings up a youtube video can be even more problematic. It’s not necessarily the video that google points you to (it CAN also be the video), but it’s the comments or suggested videos thatpool show up all around the edges of a youtube video that can cause scars for life! Some of the most offensive comment threads happen in these areas of the web. It’s generally a good idea to keep our middle schoolers eyes away from these spaces.

During their time in the middle school, students learn how to evaluate websites and how to use key words to have more effective web searches. Between our MS Librarian and the ed tech team we  work to expose them to accurate and usable websites, as well as coach them to use our amazing virtual resources. By the time they reach the 8th grade, we begin to loosen the “no google search” reigns a bit and even allow them to use google towards the end of the school year because once in high school, their teachers will expect them to make smart choices when researching online AND their grades will be impacted if they make bad reference and resource choices.

Whew! That was a lot of words used to explain something that we think makes a lot of age and developmentally-appropriate sense. We hope it makes sense to you, as well.

Which way do I turn?

Which way do I turn?

I wish I coded back in the day when I was in high school and one of my classmates tried to convince me that coding and programming was the wave of the future. Well, I didn’t bring my surfboard back in the late ‘70s and missed those enormous waves before the internet, smartphones, tablets, twitter and Snapchat!

I can do this!

I can do this!

Our hope here at Stone Ridge is that our girls will be regularly exposed  to the many entry points, projects, and activities that involve coding in their tech classes so much so

Can we do this next week?

Can we do this next week?

that a percentage of them will change their ideas of what they’d like to do in high school, college, and beyond. Last week, we completed the Hour of Code school-wide week with the middle school choosing from a selection of activities found in code.org. It was clear from the tone and tenor of my classes that I actually need to find even more opportunities for them to tinker, experiment, Screenshot 2015-12-09 at 11.43.03 PMand create with coding and programming. One of the most engaging coding activities our girls partook in was the robot rattle activity – link. Our girls used a visual coding program, Scratch, to plug in code to manipulate a virtual robot arm to move, lift, pick up and drop objects in a virtual space. Their ability to think creatively and understand that these actions are the building blocks to eventually program real robot arms, legs, may well be the thing that hooks them! ManyScreenshot 2015-12-09 at 11.45.08 PM
of our girls worked so hard that they forgot that class was over. I adjusted this week to extend the Hour of Code. Let’s see if I need to give them even more time to tinker when we get back from Christmas break!

From B&H Website

From B&H Website

Please know that I wear the badge  “Tech Nerd” as a compliment. Myself, I have a the pictured wireless 3D printer sitting in my office at home. I call it research. My family calls it a problem. :)

I digress. A teacher recently asked me for advice on how to pick and choose a 3D printer for her high schooler. I started my reply to her, but I realized it might be worth posting in my blog, just in case anyone was facing the same decision. I’ve done some editing of the email, but it generally went like this:

Samantha, It’s great that your high schooler is wanting a 3D printer. There are so many options out there, compared to 10 years ago when it was Makerbot or bust, for the most part. Certainly, there are many build-from-a-kit printers, as well as order-all-the-pieces and build projects, but it might be best to stick with one that’s already put together so he can concentrate on printing, not fixing.

Here is a list of printers that are ranked and mostly available on amazon.com that might be of interest – https://all3dp.com/1/best-3d-printer-reviews-top-3d-printers-home-3-d-printer-3d/
One thing to be concerned about is viability and support from these 3D printer companies. Over the past few years, I’ve seen several go out of business, which means that their printers don’t have support after the company folds. That’s a risk that might make sense to stick with well known companies, but that also increases prices.
Other things to consider:
  1. Will the printer be for just tinkering or eventual real, useable model creation?
  2. What will the size of your printed objects be?  Our 3D printers can print 8x8x8 inch creations with just one color at a time
  3. Most do it yourself printers have the ability to upgrade their products to create larger build plates – allows for expandability
  4. Do you care about proprietary filament printers? It may cost a bit more, but depending on your build volume, you might not notice the price difference
For some reason, I was drawn to XYZ printers – https://www.xyzeshop.com/us_en/. They were one of the early companies to come out with 3D printers that were almost affordable. My builds have been pretty solid, and about the only thing I notice different from our school’s 3D printer builds is that you have to lay down a layer of glue stick goo on the masking tape-like base provided base or the filament won’t stick. It’s also a bit harder to pry off the plate when it’s completed.
There are several models made by XYZ that I’ll point out here. I have the orange one (second one below) for my own personal use:
Upsides:
  • cheapest, ready to go printer I can find
  • 5.9x.5.9×5.9 builds – at the top of the mini-sized builds
  • Decent footprint – would fit on a student-sized desk
Downsides:
  • Proprietary filaments with a chip (You can’t buy off the shelf filament)
  • Looks like it was made by Crayola for kids (It kind of is for kids, but who cares?)
  • No wifi printing
  • Can’t build large objects
The orange printer I have is now on sale at B&H Photo for $189 GREAT PRICE FOR A READY TO GO WITH STARTER FILAMENT – https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1280962-REG/xyzprinting_3fm1wxus00f_da_vinci_mini_3d.html
  • It has all of the pluses and minuses of the above printer, but it can be set up to print wirelessly. A spool of filament costs $20-$25, though sometimes they have sales on their website
Da vinci printer 1.0 – $239 – https://www.xyzeshop.com/us_en/product/daVinci10Junior – From the xyz website. Don’t know how long that will be at that price, but it is an older version than the two above.
Upsides:
  • Use any filament out there
  • Upgraded printhead, better quality
  • 5.9x.5.9×5.9 builds – at the top of the mini-sized builds
  • Decent footprint – would fit on a student-sized desk
Downsides:
  • Can’t build large objects
  • One color at a time
  • A bit older technology means it might not be supported for much longer
I hope this makes things easier vs more confusing for you and your child. Let me know if you have any questions.3dprinter
Rick (MS Tech Nerd)
Perhaps, some of this information will be interesting to you. If not, you got to read martian or greek for the past 3 minutes!

smiley-163510_1280In my ed tech classes this rotation, I’ve started using the “Ask a question” section on my google class pages to work with our girls on how to post comments or reply to other people’s comments when online. I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever we leave a texting conversation or email back-and-forth, the people on both ends should leave that conversation skipping and whistling, happy with the “conversation” they just had and ready to go out in the world, be it to dinner or heading out to with friends spreading their joy and sunshine with the rest of the world.

Yes, that is a bit overblown, but think about it, in a world that seems to be brimming with negativity and disrespect, wouldn’t it be nice if this little corner of the world did their best to not allow a single text message or comment thread to end in a cloud of negativity? My hope is that our 7th, and 8th graders will get something out of this activity and even recall instances in their short texting life, where they wish they hadn’t posted something or wondered why someone was offended or hurt by their innocent text.

For the second activity, I had our girls post their favorite dessert along with a description of why it was their favorite. After they posted, one person from the class had to comment on a classmate’s to respectfully explain that, although the person’s choice was a good one, they thought there dessert was better. The tricky part was that they had to try to respond in a way that didn’t make them feel bad or like they were being mean or disrespectful. Below is an example of how our girls posted. I’ve blanked out names to protect the innocent.

Wilma Flintstone
Nov 14
My favorite dessert is a banana split because of the whipped cream and different flavors in one. Thank You!
2 replies

Betty Rubble Nov 14
Bananas are my least favorite fruit, but we can have different opinions!

Wilma Flintstone Nov 14
Thank You for your opinion and I appreciate your positivity.
Reply

Jane Doe
Nov 14
I love ice cream and I love brownies, so my dad and I combined them, so we go get a big bowl and chocolate ice cream and a brownie and whipped cream plus a cherry on top and BOOM!! Best Dessert ever!!
2 replies

Elsa Flan Nov 14
Jane, brownies and ice cream are excellent separately, but if you want to combine them to make one dessert and enjoy it, there should be no reason why you can’t. I just prefer them on their own.

Jane Doe Nov 14
Thank you for you opinion :) :)
Reply

Joan of Arc Nov 14
in Potomac, we go to this restaurant called the Pony Express. For dessert, they have this really yummy warm cookie sundaes with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream! It is so delicious!
2 replies

Betsy Ross Nov 14
Sound good, but I thing that a restaurant in upstate New York has the best ice cream and brownies.

Joan of Arc Nov 14
It probably does. Thanks!
Reply
You can see that the girls tried their best to be respectful of one another while find a way to disagree. I think it was a great first attempt and will continue to work with our girls to help them leave themselves and their texting mates skipping and spreading rose petals whenever they finish texting one another!pretty-woman-1509956_1920

I’m cheating here because I’m just reposting a video that I started showing to teachers and families more than12 years ago. There’s not much to say before, but I think it forces you to stop, pause, and think about what that information means for our middle schoolers as you peer into their future. The numbers can be kind of frightening, but it does suggest that our world is changing in ways that we could have never imagined and it’s in our best interest to allow our girls to take a deep breath and then help them prepare for whatever the world might throw at them in the coming years. Enjoy and contemplate!

Stone_Ridge_logo

Update – Thanks to the families that joined today’s Parent Coffee that focused on guiding our daughters in a digital world. It’s clear there are so many things to think about regarding how to help our girls be safe in this always-connected digital world. The questions raised today suggest that we create more online resources that can be immediately accessible to our concerned parents and families of Stone Ridge. I hope you come back regularly and comment and ask questions in my Middle School Ed Tech Blog.

Greetings all! I wanted to invite you to my Middle School Ed Tech blog that I’ve maintained (not as consistently as I’d hoped) fort the past three years. All three educational technologists at Stone Ridge have been writing about all things ed-technological for the past three years, but have geared our posts mostly to our peers and educators throughout this world.

Today, I will start a bi-weekly (I think that means once every  two weeks) blog post specifically meant for parents and families of the Gator community. Here, you’ll find updates to the kinds of things we’re doing with technology in the middle school, share information on online safety and etiquette, as well as point you to the latest tech trends and more.

I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions of blog posts you’d like me to wax technologic about. So, if  you’d like to get a reminder of when IScreenshot 2015-12-09 at 11.45.08 PM post to my ed tech blog, click on the green button to your right and subscribe to my blog.

As an added bonus for my first parent blog post, here is the link to the presentation I used for the summer laptop orientation sessions. Here you’ll find much of what Ms. Shah and I shared with you in MS Parent Coffee on Wednesday morning. Link

PS – Click on the Home button  way up above and then scroll down the home page to see all of the blog posts I’ve written over the past three years. You can also drill down or narrow your viewing by clicking on the various categories on the right of this page.

 

 

 

 

jumping

I always felt that my sweet spot as an elementary school teacher was the 2nd grade. The family joke was that that was the point where I knew I was teaching at my intellectual level. Funny. Not.

Actually, what I really loved about teaching second graders was that, for the most part, many of those students had the basics of reading and writing down. I didn’t have to start from scratch. I only had to make sure the stuff I was putting in front of them was “just right” or a little out of their reach so they could grab it and run with it and continue to grow. For writer’s workshop, it was making sure I gave them time to develop thoughts or ideas in their writer’s notebooks and help steer them toward a genre that matched wha they were writing about. I’m a softie for poetry, so oftentimes, I would move them into that genre just to see what magical and memorable words they would write. For reading, I spent an enormous amount of time developing and organizing a classroom leveled library so students didn’t have to go far to find perfectly matched books, topic and reading level specific.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.52.37 PM

Here I am 23 years later, no longer a classroom teacher, but a middle school educational technologist. I find the same methodology still applies – it’s my job to research and tinker with the latest forms of technology, be it a website, a program or a piece of hardware and develop lessons and activities that allow them to try things out and figure out for themselves if it is something worth exploring and working with.

At Stone Ridge, our girls have learned to use the basics – keyboarding, google docs, google mail, electronic whiteboard graphic apps, Moviemaker, basic photo editing applications which they use in various ways in their subject area classes. What is new to many of them, is that we are exposing them to coding, 3D modeling, robotics, computer aided design programs (CAD), movie and image editing, and basic photography skills.

On Gator Grill Day last spring, we got to see how this works in real time. My classroom is strewn with digital cameras of all sorts. One of my job at Stone Ridge is the middle school yearbook sponsor. Along with editing the middle school pages, I get to help with the layout and choose photos of the middle schoolers in class, sports, arts, plays, hallways, outdoors, Calleva, and more. Many students ask to take photos at sporting events, so I give them a quick intro to taking photos and send them on their way.

The morning of last year’s spring Gator Game Day, a fifth grader asked if she could take photos of her sister playing lacrosse on the turf. Not wanting to lend out one of the more expensive cameras, I handed her a $25 digital camera I just picked up from the Goodwill store in Rockville, MD. I hadn’t really taken any photos with it, but it had a good zoom and was reasonably easy to handle, so I sent her out to the game with it, not expecting terribly too much. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the camera or the photographer! As I bulk downloaded hundreds of photos from the day, I was quite pleased with all of the photos “I” took. After sending several lacrosse action shots to our web master, I began to realize that I wasn’t actually the photographer for those shots. So many of those shots were taken by my 5th grader with my Goodwill camera! As soon as I realized this, I let this budding sports photographer know and within a couple of days several of those shots were running, full Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.00.55 AMsized, on the SR website, as well as the electronic bulletin board in the front entrance of Hamilton House! I really don’t know if this talented and energetic 5th, now 6th grader will continue to develop her skills as a photographer, but I realize that these are the types of experiences that sometimes point students into areas of interest that happen outside of the subject-area or classroom experience, through some good luck, timing, trust, and a lot of praise and support! Here’s to hoping this young lady asks for the camera for this fall’s Gator Game Day! I know she’ll take some more amazing shots and I’ll even hand her a better camera!

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 10.04.06 AMI’m sure you’ve heard the above sentiment before – it’s generally meant as a bit of a slight  – “You know, as a chef, you’re a pretty good plumber!” . In this case, however,  I think it’s a metaphor for how teachers should view students (and probably vice versa). Although I’m a passionate educational technologist and I spend many hours honing and developing my profession, I’m sure I sometimes fall into that category of the classic classroom teacher, teaching subject area specific content to my students. It is in that latter,  very narrow description, where the danger lies. If we, as teachers, only see our students as pupils listening or not listening to what we are teaching them, then we are sorely missing out on the other 99.9% of who they are – incredible, multi-faceted, yet still-learning-the-ropes, individuals. The insights you get from seeing them doing something outside the classroom is often more valuable than anythingScreen Shot 2017-04-19 at 10.05.06 AM you might learn from them inside it.

The other day, I headed off campus to cheer on the MS softball team in a game against Woods Academy. As per usual, I took my camera along to snap some pix for the yearbook and other MS purposes. I got there during the school’s end-of-day carpool and weaved my way back to the softball field where our Mighty Gators were just coming off the field after a multi-run top half of the first inning. Supportive parents and siblings cheered on their girls as I set up along the third-base line to take pictures (and give Coach Basney a hard time).

I watched each and every ballplayer on our team work their specific positions on the field, and while at the plate, in such a serious and proud manner. Imagine a little girl building a sandcastle, protecting it from the crashing waves at the beach, and you’ll get the focused demeanor. The before and after part of a play, hit, defensive gem, or bobble is often more important than the play itself. These players, at such a young Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 10.04.48 AMage, already get this  – you want an authentic assessment – you got it!

To continue, one of the Gators, with runners in scoring position, crushed a deep deep homer over the head of the center fielder during the latter part of the game. I watched her (took pictures) rounding the bases, yes, with a smile on her face. But, as she crossed home plate, she retrieved her bat, trotted back to the dugout, got a couple of pats on the back, but then proceeded to go about her business as a teammate – not dwelling on her own moment – cheering on the next batter.

I don’t even remember the final score, but I know I got to watch a dozen of our Gators working together, selflessly, passionately, confidently, skillfully, supportively, and so many other “-lys” for me to write down here. I know I will look at them differently, even when it looks like they’re goofing off behind the screen of their laptops in my next tech class!

Who won? I did, actually. Our girls are incredible in so many ways. Period.

 

 

button-1015632_1920

Being a human being, and I’m assuming that you are because you’re reading this, you and I are prone to view things subjectively, as we are shaped and formed by our own diverse experiences. I know for a fact that the highway sign said the speed limit was 65 mph. That’s why the officer pulled me over and ticketed me for going 67 in a 55 mph zone. A bit of advice – always say thank you, regardless of whatever an officer does or doesn’t hand you. I digress.brain-605603_1280

It has ALWAYS been important to make sure you find and state facts, as accurately as you can. It is also equally important to be ready to state why you believe something is a fact – either as a first-hand witness to the fact (there was only one sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints, not two, before I finished off the box) or share where you got your information. Saying “some” have said or “they”  or “I’ve heard” doesn’t make it a fact. There is still so much work to be done with my middle school students in getting them to properly and accurately cite the resources they use for their various reports and projects. I’d like to say that they have mastered this important skill, but they still think it’s okay to use and restate most things so long as they paste the url somewhere in their report/project. I know, I know. That’s not quite enough.

mistake-1966448_1920If you do find yourself on the short end of information regarding a current topic, theory or statement, and you don’t have time to develop a 15 page Google Slides presentation on your findings, there are a few websites that do the best they can in confirming or dismantling facts or statements put out there for people to chew on. Thanks to Connie Mitchell for sending along this link – https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-spot-fake-news-and-teach-kids-to-be-media-savvy# Commonsensemedia.org lays out how to check for fake news. If you you’ve never been to commonsensemedia.org take a look as soon as you can as it’s a great website that helps teachers, families, and students navigate through the never-ending assault of video, movies, music, and social media on our children in the 21st century.

Along with the video link above, here are some websites that do a pretty good job of staying down the middle regarding theories, facts, information that is at times ambiguous. I hope they will be good resources for you as you try to navigate what is real and what is UN-real.

An aside  – I actually pulled the following list from mediabiasfactcheck.com, which was an adventure in itself. The website is about a year-and-a-half old and has the look of a sketchy website. The owner of the website uses anonymous information regarding website information, but it’s based in Scottsdale, Arizona and has a specific address associated with the company. Not knowing if it was reputable forced me to look at the links that it supplied to validate their accuracy and lack of agenda or slant.  Each website seems neutral once you get to facts that they research. One might give pause by the inclusion of  thefact checker link by the Washington Post. It is widely held that the Post leans left, but the facts they seek to prove or disprove seem objective in the research. Take a look for yourself and decide which of the sites work best for you. I’ve always felt that snopes.com was down the middle. Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 11.51.25 AM

The 10 Best Fact Checking Sites (from the mediabiasfactcheck.com website)

7/20/16

The purpose of this website is not only to deliver news, but to also be a resource on media bias and fact checking.  When checking facts these are the 10 sites we find to be most valuable.  In most cases, one of these sites has already covered the fact check we are seeking, making the job easy.  Listed below you will find our favorite (most trusted) fact checking websites.  Bookmark them or just visit MBFC News and we will filter them for you.

Politifact– PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida. Politifact is simply the best source for political fact checking.  Won the Pulitzer Prize.

Fact CheckFactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.  They are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.  Fact Check is similar to Politifact in their coverage and they provide excellent details.  The only drawback is they lack the simplicity of Politifact.

Open Secrets– Open Secrets is a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, run by the Center for Responsive Politics, which is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.  Open Secrets are by far the best source for discovering how much and where candidates get their money.  They also track lobbying groups and whom they are funding.

Snopes– Snopes has been the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation for a long time.  Snopes is also usually the first to report the facts.

The Sunlight Foundation– The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all.  Sunlight primarily focuses on money’s role in politics.

Poynter Institute– The Poynter Institute is not a true fact checking service.  They are however a leader in distinguished journalism and produce nothing but credible and evidence based content.  If Poynter reports it, you can count on it being true.

Flack Check– Headquartered at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FlackCheck.org is the political literacy companion site to the award-winning FactCheck.org. The site provides resources designed to help viewers recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.

Truth or Fiction– Very similar to Snopes.  They tend to focus more on political rumors and hoaxes.

Hoax Slayer– Another service that debunks or validates internet rumors and hoaxes.

Fact Checker by the Washington Post– The Washington Post has a very clear left-center bias and this is reflected in their fact checks.  Their fact checks are excellent and sourced; however their bias is reflected in the fact that they fact check right wing claims more than left.   Otherwise the Washington Post is a good resource.

I hope these links are useful to you. Please, comment if you think some of the sites listed are too slanted, one way or another.

All images from pixabay.com, except the screengrab of the mediabiasfactcheck.com website.

Stone_Ridge_logoIt’s taken a couple of years, but I wanted to welcome you to a space that the edtech team has been working on for the past three years. Although we created this blog and the LS and US blogs to support teachers over the years, we realized that families could benefit from a weekly blogpost speaking directly to your needs. Today marks the first post. Please, comment, make suggestions or ask me to share thoughts on all things technological. If you click through other parts of my blog, you might even ask me to make recommendations on personal tech bargains.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.03.56 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.41.02 AM

From B&H Photo website

From B&H Photo website

FIRST TOPIC – Do you know all of the websites your daughter has signed up for?

For my 10-year old daughter, it was Club Penguin – a cute and attractive kids website that required a boy or girl to type in some information and create a username and password in order to gain access to fun games and stickers and other tasty tidbits designed to attract pre-teens into their domain. There are mostly positive reviews about Club Penguin as a website for kids (see commonsense media.org link – there’s a chatting feature that can be problematic), but my big problem was that took about six months for me to find out she signed up for the website. I had no idea that she had done this, but more importantly, I had no idea of what type of information she needed to give up in order to sign up for this site. Turns out, the most personal thing she had to input was my email address. Not too much of a biggie, but there was nothing there that showed that you needed to be 13 years or older to sign up.

After finding out about Club Penguin, I sat with my daughter and asked first asked her about the website and if was fun. I didn’t want to make it a negative experience for her, so we had fun with the site together and then talked about what she did to sign up. After we finished I mentioned that if she finds another website that she needs to create a log in and password for to find me or her mom to help her sign up. exclamation-48283_1280

As she (and her brother) got older, I shared with them the problems of signing up for websites without mine or her mom’s permission.

My advice to you as parents is to sit down with your daughter and ask her to show you all the websites that she goes to that required her to sign up. You might be surprised to find out what kind of information she might have given up to get access to those games or virtual stickers or whatever.

The main reason you want to have this sit down with your daughter is to let her know that you love and care for her and you just want to make sure that she is being safe when going online.

image from pixabay.com

image from pixabay.com

Thanks for checking out my blog. Check back every now and again or subscribe by clicking on the link in the upper righthand corner.

Also, please check out commonsensemedia.org – it’s an incredible and reputible website that reviews current movies, books, online games and more.

image from pixabay.com