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Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ruff Ruffman, PBS's helpful canine "media genius," teaches kids about responsible digital media use, ranging from photo-posting best practices to texting, on the site. Kids can create a PBS Kids account, but it's not required to access any of the site content. (In fact, they can't save quiz scores, even if they do register.) If they do choose to create an account, they'll need to enter a username, which kids are told shouldn't contain any personal information. They're then given a randomly generated password and select a picture-based secret code, in case they forget it.
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What's it about?
RUFF RUFFMAN: HUMBLE MEDIA GENIUS is a digital-literacy project-based website from PBS KIDS. Using animation and interactive elements, Ruff -- an energetic cartoon dog who knows his way around the Internet -- teaches kids about safe and responsible texting, Internet searches, posting photos, and other general digital use topics, such as limiting the amount of time you spend online. Instruction is provided in a variety of formats, including videos, written recaps that outline key lesson points, and quizzes that offer detailed explanations with each answer to help drive the point home.
Is it any good?
Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius provides a basic overview of several popular digital media uses, ranging from safe Internet searches to texting and posting appropriate content on websites.
The videos and other items feature a kid-friendly tone, music, and intermittent jokes, and they're short enough to hold kids' interest. The tips are mostly general media use guidelines -- for example, avoid posting things that would embarrass you or someone else. As a result, the site content likely will work best for younger children; it doesn't go into in-depth detail about some of the more nuanced situations tweens or older digital media users may come across. However, the site -- which PBS designed for kids age 6 to 11 -- can serve as a helpful introduction to responsible media use practices before those circumstances arise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how to stay safe when using the Internet. What kind of information should you never share with people you talk to or meet online?
Talk about posting photos on sites like Facebook. Can your child identify several things that shouldn't be shown, such as your street or home address, in an image shared with the general public?
Responsible digital media use also involves posting positive messages and responses. What words or phrases might hurt someone else's feelings and should be avoided?