What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Twitter is a free "microblogging" and social networking site that brings up issues of safety, privacy, and lasting digital footprint. The service allows users to post brief, 140-character messages -- called “tweets” -- and follow their friends' activities through the web, IM, or cell phones. Updates to Twitter appear immediately and, while you can remove Tweets, your followers can still read what you wrote until it's gone. Anything you upload to the Internet -- including Twitter updates -- can linger in cyberspace for a long time. Users can choose to keep their tweets private and individually approve followers, and this is what we recommend for teen users. Twitter is increasingly being used as a promotional tool for products and celebrities, though users can limit their exposure to ads and promos by keeping their Twitter circle among real friends. Users can choose to post their location along with each Tweet, which raises privacy and safety concerns, but users must opt in to this feature.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
Thinking & Reasoning
- asking questions
- applying information
- asking questions
- conveying messages effectively
- multiple forms of expression
Responsibility & Ethics
- following codes of conduct
- evaluating media messages
- social media
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
It can be crazy fun for kids to tweet back and forth with friends, so hopefully some of that will spill over into more educational content. Twitter's design is always top-notch, and kids will like personalizing their pages.
Twitter can help teens learn to write concisely, and hashtag chats on various topics can offer new perspectives on specific interests.
There's a huge base of support for Twitter users, and teens should be able to figure it out pretty quickly. Data is well-preserved, and it's possible to tweet pictures and videos for those with different learning styles.
What's it about?
TWITTER is an online social networking and microblogging platform that allows users to communicate through 140-character messages ("tweets") on a computer or smartphone. It's used by millions of people worldwide to keep up with news, gossip, events, weather, and more. Once you sign up with an email and password, you'll be directed to start "following" people. The people you follow will show up in your Timeline, a scrolling list of real-time tweets. When you tweet, the people who follow you will see your tweets in their timeline.
Is it any good?
Twitter can be great for keeping in touch with friends, or keeping up with what's going on in the world -- especially trends in technology and breaking news. Twitter attracts a lot of web-savvy users, many of whom are developing services that enhance Twitter -- like a search engine and a round-up of the most talked-about topics. But Twitter is not for kids. The ability to post anything you want to say can get kids in trouble if they say something in the heat of the moment. Also, the service's location-sharing features make it too easy for kids to post their whereabouts, which can lead to face-to-face meet-ups with strangers. Finally, Twitter allows kids to receive tweets directly from celebrities they admire, like sports stars, actors, and musicians. These messages can be extremely influential to impressionable minds (and are very often promoting products the celeb is getting paid for).
Online interaction: Online interaction can be a very mixed bag. Twitterers often engage in ugly, public fights, or use the service to cyberbully.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what's safe to post and what's not (e.g. "prnts gone, party @ 123 main st tonite!!"), and why it's a good idea for teens to limit tweeting to friends only. How do you know if you can trust someone enough to make them a "friend" so they have access to your private information?
Families can also discuss what's a reasonable amount of time to spend using Twitter and related services, since it's very easy to get carried away.
For more information about what Twitter is, check out our tips: What is Twitter?