Microblogging: Heads up

It might be interesting to ask your kids if they're Twittering these days ("microblogging" is the generic term if they're using a service other than early entrant Twitter). Microblogging is basically a blow-by-blow account of one's life, sent via phone or Web site. Kind of hard for some non-digital natives to imagine doing ("so very narcissistic" is the dismissal I've heard, or "why would my friends care if I'm at such-and-such a conference or the grocery store?"). Well, some adults and a lot more young people do want to know and share up-to-the-minute activities and thoughts. It's a form of intimacy and presence that express highly connected friendship, manifest in Facebook newsfeeds and prolific phone texting (for a bit more on intimacy, see "Fictionalizing their profiles"). However, as with all technologies, there's a potential downside along with the upsides, and youth don't always think about the former. "There is the risk that teens could use microblogs to reveal personal information or engage in a relationship with someone whose intentions are less than honorable," writes my co-director at ConnectSafely, Larry Magid in Yahoo!Parents. "By default, Twitter messages can be seen by anyone, so if you want privacy you need to go into Settings and click 'Protect my updates' to make sure only people you approve can see what you type. Otherwise anyone can 'follow' you and see what you enter." Please see his piece for more on this. See also "The text version of hanging out" and "Do you Twitter?"

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