FB & Oculus VR: The potential of a virtual-reality platform

For years we’ve heard about the potential of virtual reality, but even when the virtual world Second Life was a hot tech-news story, it hardly felt like a second life to most people. I wrote about it a number of times because of the amazing work some very cutting-edge educators and their students were doing […]

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What’s (importantly) different about Snapchat

It’s not what you might think – or what you might’ve read in the news. What makes Snapchat stand out in the crowd of social media apps, in fact what makes it “matter,” as social media researcher danah boyd put it, “has to do with how it treats attention.” Snapchat users don’t just swipe through […]

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The evolution of online safety: Lessons learned over 20 years

When I wrote the original version of Child Safety on the Information Highway (click here for 20th anniversary updated version), in 1994, “online safety” was largely defined as keeping kids away from porn and predators and the solution was pretty much focused on parental controls. But, over the past two decades, there have been a lot […]

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We ‘like’ faces in social media: Study

That we like faces in our photos – or simply that we like faces – was reconfirmed by a new study at Georgia Tech. “Instagram photos that include faces are far more likely to get likes from followers than those without,” Mashable cites the study as finding. “Of 1.1 million randomly-selected Instagram photos analyzed with […]

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Yik Yak update: How the app came to geo-fence off US schools

After Yik Yak “fenced out” her daughter’s entire high school in southern California, Diana Graber of CyberWise.org did some investigating to find out how the app was blocking use in schools. What she found out is an example of digital citizenship on the part of an app developer (see this for an example from the […]

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Smart safety: YouTube’s ‘neighborhood watch program’

In every neighborhood, there are neighbors and then there are visitors, and it’s mostly the neighbors who make it what it really is – great to hang out in or maybe not so much. That’s true in social media too, only digital neighborhoods can be geographically based or interest based. They’re interest communities. Some sites […]

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The app ecosystem & very public secrets

These are crazy times in the mediascape, and not just because of crazy valuations of startup apps. How do all these socially risky apps get out into the digital ecosphere? They don’t take a lot of people, time or other resources to build anymore – not like digital media products and services of lore, anyway, […]

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Will safety ever be ‘baked in’ to social apps?

Whether or not social apps can be made as trolling- and cyberbullying-proof as possible before they hit the app stores is a question more and more people are asking – and asking that question is a step in the right direction. The spanking-new anonymous app Secret is already making some changes after a “flap” in […]

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How Yik Yak is different from other social media

Based on news reports and conversations with educators about troubles with Yik Yak, the location-based anonymous texting app, at schools in many parts of the US, three scenarios leap to mind…. Remember that kid at school (or maybe that frat house) who felt the need or the pressure to set off the fire alarm to […]

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Family Contract for Smartphone Use

Pledge for kids and teens I will not touch or look at my phone when it’s dangerous to do so such as driving, riding a bike or walking. I will be considerate of others and not use my phone to text or talk when it may disturb others or at inappropriate times or places such […]

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