By Anne Collier
Brilliant concept. A source of quick, digestible social media literacy delivered by an app, not parents (one reason why it’s so digestible). I’m talking about the ThinkUp app. It’s definitely not just for teens, but what a great application for a reputation-curation and media-mindfulness tool. It’s so much more powerful than just googling oneself or getting a service like to help clean up your social media act post-facto (and cheaper than the latter). Mindfulness in social media is something every user needs, but nowhere does it pay more to start young!
“ThinkUp, a year-old subscription service that analyzes how people comport themselves on Twitter and Facebook [something that teens are unlikely to want their parents to analyze, right?] with the goal of helping them become more thoughtful, less reflexive, more empathetic and more professional — over all, better behaved,” reports the New York Times, referring to the benefits to a user of any age.
“In addition to a list of people’s most-used words and other straightforward stats like follower counts, ThinkUp shows subscribers more unusual information, such as how often they thank and congratulate people, how frequently they swear, whose voices they tend to amplify and which posts get the biggest reaction and from whom,” says the Times’s Farhad Manjoo. And what an endorsement from him: “After using ThinkUp for about six months, I’ve found it to be an indispensable guide to how I navigate social networks.” So, for teens, it’s not “don’t do this” to make social media work for you; it’s positive: what they need to know for social success in digital media. [Please read Manjoo’s great piece for more details.]
The app charges $5/mo. for each social media account your child gives it to analyze, after a 14-day free trial. So far it’s just for Twitter and Facebook, so you’ll probably only need the $5/mo. for Twitter, since it’s so popular with teens now. I hope ThinkUp will add Instagram at some point!
This isn’t the all of social-emotional learning of course, just little digestible bites. The thing to remember, here, is that social literacy has all kinds of good effects: For our kids, it makes things go better in life and school (including academics, research shows) as well as social media. Social literacy – one of the three literacies of this digital age (see the last bullet below for more) – protects relationships and reputations while increasing social efficacy.
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