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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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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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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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Social media reality check from Canadian youth: Key study

Before releasing its report on online conflict, MediaSmarts presented a much broader picture of young Canadians’ experiences in social media: “Life Online.” This is important context for any discussion about cyberbullying and other negative aspects of digitally informed life, whether we’re setting policy at the household, school or national levels. “There are a lot of […]

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Safety through mindfulness: Watch ‘The Science of Character’

I’m not sure who decided this but March 20th is “Character Day” and it’s also the day that filmmaker Tiffany Shlain released a superb 8 minute video, “The Science of Character.” In addition to making the film available, Shlain’s website Let it Ripple, is encouraging people to: Join a global Q&A through Google Hangout with Dr. […]

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Major study of teen online conflict in Canada, insights for all of us

Though “cyberbullying” is in the title, the just-released study from Canada’s premier digital and media literacy organization, MediaSmarts, is about far more than that. The study offers a wide range of insights from young people themselves on the full spectrum of negative behaviors that turn up in digital media, including meanness, gossip-spreading, acting out of […]

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