What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pinterest is a photo-sharing site. To join this digital pin-board site and app, you need to either enter a username and password or sign up using Facebook. People use Pinterest to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting, tattoos, and photography to cooking, decorating, and collecting stuff. Although most pins people post are pretty clean, there's some not-for-kids stuff that teens may happen across (pins that include nudity in the tattoo category, for example), and they will definitely find iffy stuff if they intentionally search for it. In some instances, Pinterest links to other sites, and some of those may contain content that’s inappropriate for teens. There's no language, violence, or drug filter to be found on the site either, so it's entirely possible that kids can be exposed to mature content. Users will also have to worry about being exposed to various product shots and ads that are constantly posted across user boards.
What kids can learn
- combining knowledge
- making new creations
- conveying messages effectively
- multiple forms of expression
- evaluating media messages
- social media
Engagement, Approach, Support
Users seem to re-pin more than they comment, which doesn't make the experience very social. Still, it's well organized by topics and subtopics, which makes searching for information or just randomly browsing within a particular subject area, and creating boards, easy and absorbing.
Boards are image-based and offer limited information, although text-based informational images (or infographics) can be found, and users can post brief descriptions, which may include relevant facts. Kids may need to click off Pinterest for more information, though.
The help center (found under app settings) includes an overview guide, a browsing section to search for specific help, and a "fix a problem" tab for troubleshooting. Links to additional information are hit or miss.
What's it about?
PINTEREST offers fashion fans -- and art, car, and other enthusiasts -- a chance to fawn over their favorite items. Users can browse topics by tapping on a category or entering a keyword in the search field, easily grab and add photos to a customized bulletin board, and post comments on photos other users have picked. You won't find as many back-and-forth conversations as on Facebook or much background on the items users post: People often primarily use Pinterest to showcase stuff they like. But if you're looking for new looks, hobbies, or activities to try, Pinterest may provide some creative inspiration.
Is it any good?
Pinterest makes it easy to categorize clothes, accessories, art, and other items you find interesting. Just add the "Pin It" button to your bookmarks bar and click on it to add any website image you like to one of your boards. Users categorize their Pinterest boards by topic, such as fitness or food and drink. That makes it easy to search for other users with similar tastes; you can repin their picks or post comments about them. Pinterest is generally a good example of positive social networking with lots of practical purpose and creativity in the vast majority of pins. But Pinterest feels less interactive than Facebook or Twitter; users seem to repin more than they comment, which doesn't make the experience very social; and it’s a user-generated content service, so there's some content many parents may find inappropriate, especially for younger teens.
Pinterest could be made more safe and appropriate for teens if there were an option to filter pins with nudity, profanity, and violence (which can be reported easily by tapping on the send arrow and the "Report Pin" option). Still, many of the user-created boards provide cooking, craft, and other ideas, and Pinterest is a great way to brainstorm and keep track of gift suggestions and other items. Be aware, though, that all the usual social-networking privacy concerns apply. You can limit who posts images to your boards; but if the Facebook or Twitter account you register with includes a photo and your full name, users will view your favorite pics on Pinterest -- and your identity.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about internet safety. Why would you not want other users on the website to be able to access your profile and other information -- even if someone you know invited you to join the site? Which items could you remove or hide on your site profile to make the experience safer?
What kinds of images are OK to share on boards or profiles other users can see? Should you post pictures of you and your friends? What kinds of images shouldn't you post?
Sites such as Pinterest and Facebook offer a way to express yourself -- but what kinds of comments would you not want to post on a site where all users could potentially see them? How can you change your privacy settings to make sure only the right people have access to the thoughts you share?