Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Last week I talked to Kori Chambers, anchor for the PIX11 morning team about social media do’s and don’ts for parents. Covering apps that keep your family pictures private, social media shaming and creating a digital footprint for your kid before they can even walk – the segment covered a lot of advice for parents online!

Watch the segment and let me know if you have other online and social media parenting topics you’d like to see covered!

NYC Department of Education Releases a Social Media Guide for Students That Says…Nothing?

A lot of local media press is swirling around the new social media guide put out by the NYC Department of Education this week.  At first glance that sounds great.  Administration is stepping in to help kids navigate social media, provide tips and guidance and empower kids to make smarter choices online – or so you’d think.

But in fact if you read it, it is not a guide – it is a set of cliché ridden guidelines.  Complete with links to multiple Chancellor’s Regulations – because there’s nothing kids won’t enjoy more than reading the A-831 regulation to understand peer sexual harassment.

This guide contains such gems as this advice if you are cyber-bullied and would like to report it to the adult in charge at your school,”If you are not sure who your school’s Respect for All Liaison is, please look for their name on the RFA posters.”

And this warning about crossing the personal-school life boundary, “Sometimes, personal social media use, including off-hours use, may result in disruption at school and the school may need to get involved. This could include disciplinary action such as a parent conference or suspension.”

In other words, this is NOT a social media guide, it is a set of regulatory guidelines, and we shouldn’t be giving the NYC Department of Ed a big hurrah for publishing them.  They are not curriculum or actual teaching tools.

The good news is that there is a media literacy bill right now in the New York Legislature that would mandates the Department of Ed will develop standards and provide resources for incorporating media and social media literacy in K-12 curriculum.  And, it will make teacher training available for media literacy as well.
https://www.facebook.com/rebeccalevey/posts/10202911221120416?stream_ref=10

THIS is worth your time in sharing and talking about so we can actually create media savvy kids.

Martha Stewart proves that no one can talk sh*t about bloggers – except other bloggers

Martha Stewart at BlogHer 2012  photo credit: BlogHer

Martha Stewart at BlogHer 2012
photo credit: BlogHer

Yesterday a Bloomberg News video with Martha Stewart made the rounds on Facebook and ignited a frenzy of indignation from the women’s blogging world.   In the interview, Martha disparages bloggers by saying they are “not experts,” that they don’t fully test recipes, that many just repost other people’s work.  Here’s a sample of the conversation that exploded on Facebook yesterday. (Shown with permission from an expert in many things, Amy Oztan)

So, here’s the deal.

Martha is totally right.

And she didn’t say anything that bloggers haven’t said amongst ourselves every time we get together.  I had this conversation over and over again at BlogHer this year.

Are there amazing bloggers who are absolutely experts in their fields?  YES.

Are there bloggers that are full of it, steal other people’s work, put up anything any PR person sends them, are completely based on smoke and mirrors and everyone wonders why any brands work with them?  HELL YES.

Now aside from the fact that you can tell the Martha Stewart interview was edited down to just these perfect controversial sound bites – I’d love to see the context of Martha’s discussion of bloggers – there also has to be a reality check in the blogging world.  Not everything is cause for outrage.   And sometimes the very media outlet that puts out the video and calls it

Martha Stewart Speaks Out: Bloggers Are Not Experts

needs to be called out for playing this game in the first place.  This is 30 seconds out of who knows how many minutes of footage.  I’m guessing at least a half an hour.  And they got exactly the reaction they wanted – all of the bloggers making this video go viral.

Martha Stewart should know better than to ever say what she said, even just from a savvy PR point of view.  But, she is someone who truly knows the media landscape.  She knows that blogging and the content machine have changed the way people get and want their information.  As Cecily Kellogg points out over at Babble, Martha Stewart’s company has taken a major hit, as have all large publishing companies, as they try to evolve in the changing digital media world. But that doesn’t mean she’s wrong about how many bloggers operate – or large online platforms – Babble, Baby Center and even the New York Times have certainly had their share of plagiarism scandals.

So let’s take a step back and get real.  Martha Stewart certainly doesn’t need me to defend her, but we also don’t need to be piling on one of the most successful female entrepreneurs – someone who elevated the crafting, food, and style niches to begin with, and proved there was a business model there – just to make bloggers feel justified about what they do.

If you’re an expert, prove it by turning out great, original content, and hopefully you will be able to make a living doing what you love.  And I bet if Martha asked you to contribute to her Pinterest Boards you’d do it in a heartbeat – because nothing proves you’re an expert more than the seal of approval from an indisputable expert in your field.

What’s a #Hashtag?

The pound/number sign (#) has become a celebrity symbol now that it has been reborn as “hashtag.”

What started out simple has of course become out of control – especially on Instagram.

It’s used as an aside, a note of sarcasm, a way to track interests or participate in twitter chats, run contests, aggregate content, and sometimes just be goofy.

Still don’t understand?

Watch this:

Don’t Blame the (KiK) Messenger – What the REAL conversation needs to be about Cyber Bullying

There was an extremely sad story in the New York Times about a 12 year-old girl in Florida who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied both on and off-line.  It’s unfortunately an all too familiar heartbreaking story involving mean girls, cyberbullying, school officials who didn’t really know how to intervene, and a parent who did every thing she could to prevent this from happening.  And unfortunately the reporter took an equally well-tread path in blaming the use of apps as a catalyst for the suicide.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think social media and mobile tech can amplify the effects of cyberbullying, and make it harder and harder for kids to escape bullying.  Whereas kids used to be able to come home, or go to an after school activity, and leave the school bullies behind, social media photos and texts follow a kid from place to place.  Even changing schools has less positive impact since so much bullying can live right in the palm of a kid’s hand via their smart phone or iPod Touch.   BUT there are key points missing from the reporting of this story, and in my opinion blaming the apps, specifically KiK Messenger and ask.fm, and the technology is diverting us from the real issues.

First of all, there was no mention in this article that at 12 years-old it was not legal for this girl to have a KiK messenger and ask.fm account.  That is because of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) which prohibits companies from collecting personal information about kids under 13 without express verifiable parental consent.  Most companies don’t want to deal with that legal headache – and they want to collect as much info as possible about their users – so they are NOT COPPA-compliant.  But of course kids know how to easily lie to get on these social media apps.  All you have to do is scroll down and select the right birth year.  Most parents don’t even know that Instagram and these other social media apps aren’t allowed for kids under 13.  They’ve been so focused on Facebook as some boogeyman of the web that they haven’t noticed that kids are on apps – and Facebook is just not one of them. Though this young girl also had a Facebook page that was shut down.  So she was very immersed in social media – and that is very common.

Parents who think that shutting down a Facebook page is going to be enough, or commenters who said that kids just shouldn’t have smart phones and that would solve the problem,  are massively missing the point.  THIS is our kids’ world.  They are online.  They might not have a smart phone, but they may have an iPod Touch or a tablet.  Being connected is not just about a phone.  And in the end what we are left with is a generation that needs to have the tools to manage social media responsibly and safely.

And that takes me to the next big omission – where are the parents of the girls using these apps and social media as weapons?

At the core of this issue is the freedom that kids (and adults) feel to be outrageously cruel online because hiding behind the screen has a way of emboldening people to bring out their worst.  And tweens and teens who are already in a narcissistic haze of hormones and myopia are particularly susceptible to pushing these boundaries via social media (and in real life too.)  That doesn’t mean we should ban social media, it means there has to be real discussion about how to use it. There needs to be consequences for the bad behavior online – and not arrests after something horrible happens – but parents who are monitoring their children’s online behavior not just for being bullied but for being the bully too.

I’ve written extensively about how parents can and should monitor their kids’ online and social media use, and as the co-founder of KidzVuz – a site made expressly for kids under 13 – I see every day the kind of behavior that kids try to get away with and the information they try to put out there.  They desperately want to connect and share.  We give them a safe space to do that, but the truth is they see the huge popularity of Instagram and YouTube and it’s beyond exciting to them.  They don’t get that those sites aren’t going to moderate for inappropriate content or bullying, they are on their own.

There are so many emotional and maturity level reasons they shouldn’t be on these apps and sites in the first place, but they are – and at 13 they are allowed to be legally.  A 13 year-old isn’t exactly the epitome of a careful, thoughtful person.  So even if you are shutting your kids out of social media until they are “legally” allowed to be there, they will have NO idea of what to do or what the ramifications of their behavior will be when they turn 13, unless you teach them.

The most important take-away parents must learn is not to just monitor but to participate.  Have the same social media apps as your kid, connect your iTunes account, friend them on everything, and most of all if your kid is the bully shut THEIR account down.  Take away THEIR phone!  Most of all, don’t be afraid to parent.  You would never say you don’t want to know the friends your child hangs out with everyday or going to parties with, but parents turn a blind eye to the “friends” online all the time.  There is no distinction between the online and offline world for kids – and parents need to respect and understand that in order to parent Generation Z.

Easy Tips for Parents to Keep Kids Safe Online

On July 1st the new regulations for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) went into effect.  But, COPPA really only concerns the collection of information from a child under 13.  It does not care about content, about moderation, about bullying, about many of things that actually concern parents when they think about their kids online.

Last week I was on the CBS show The Couch talking about what parents can look for to keep their kids safe online:

We were very ready for these changes at KidzVuz.com.  In fact, we’ve always required parental consent for kids to make videos on KidzVuz.  Now we have taken that a step further and implemented new methods of verifiable parental consent, starting with an easy to fill out form for parents, and some of which will be rolled out later this month.

On KidzVuz we watch and moderate every video and comment before it goes up – not just for lewd content, but for a kid wearing the name of their school on their shirt, saying their address or cell phone number, giving out their location, and more.  However, that’s not true of many sites – and certainly not true of YouTube and Instagram, two of the most popular places for kids to virtually hang out.  And, trust me, we see kids trying to give out this information all the time.

It’s important that kids under 13 do NOT lie about their age and open accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Vine.  It’s illegal, and it’s also dangerous because they are naive and earnest enough to really, really want to connect and get feedback from strangers.  From anyone.

Here are the Online Safety Tips for parents and kids we recommend from KidzVuz.com

Don’t Share Personal Information 
That means making sure your kids know what personal information is. Tell your kids never to share their phone number, email, full name, address or school name (even if it’s just a logo on the shirt they’re wearing in a picture) on any site, text, or app — even if they think the site is “safe” or “private.”

Treat your kid’s smart phone like the computer it is
Smart phones are basically powerful computers in the palm of your hand. So whatever safety precautions you take on your child’s computer should apply to his or her phone. (And don’t forget about geo-location – turn it off on your kids’ phone.

Have a Game Plan 
Your kids can’t protect themselves from what they don’t know: talk to your kids about what they might see on the internet — and what to do when and if they do see something they shouldn’t., or if someone contacts them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Having a game plan will make your kids more likely to respond in a healthy way to unsafe situation.

Keep up on the latest apps and sites
You can’t protect your kids from what you don’t know. Your kids should know that you’re aware of the newest sites and apps they’re on, and ready to intervene should something go wrong.

Repeat yourself 
Parents need to have the Digital Safety talk with their kids early and often. Tell your kids about what they might see. Remind them about passwords and privacy. Let them know you mean it!

Read the Fine Print!
Read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of the sites your child is joining (and your own!). It isn’t fun, we know. But at least the new law has made it mandatory that sites make all that legal mumbo-jumbo easier to understand.

Opt Out
Many sites offer “opt out” provisions for being tracked on the web. Sometimes you have to dig tor them, but if you care about behavioral tracking this is key for you and your kids.

Set a Google Alert for your kids’ names
It’s an easy way to keep track of new content being posted or created by or about your child.

and finally -

JOIN!

It’s not cool to be a Luddite when you’re a parent.  Get in there.  If your kids are on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube 0r even Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters you should be too.  You don’t have to live there – but you need to know the rules and your kid needs to know you care enough to want to know ALL their friends, virtual or real.

 

The Digital Family Summit: A Weekend Devoted to Tech, Video, Social Media for Tweens and Teens!

At KidzVuz we believe that technology is not the enemy, and that our kids need the right tools and knowledge to become creative, responsible digital citizens.  That’s why we are so excited to be part of the first ever Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia from June 29th-July 1st.  The Digital Family Summit is an interactive, hands-on conference for teen and tween digital media creators and their families.  If you or your kid is interested in blogging, entrepreneurship, creating videos, games or animations this conference will help build skills and make connections that will take him or her to the next level.

We also believe that the Digital Family Summit is the perfect way to kick off your family’s summer so that your kids can apply the amazing skills they learn over the weekend all summer long, and have a technological leg up starting the new school year.  Plus, we hope that your kids will take this new-found video making and editing savvy and become a member of KidzVuz.com where they can safely create and share their videos with other like-minded kids from all over the country!  We will certainly be looking for future star reviewers in this fabulous crowd.

Now the fun part.  You can get a 25% discount on a family pass right now using code KIDZVUZ at checkout.  Even more exciting, we are giving away a Digital Family Summit Family Pass for you and your kids to attend!  Just click on over to KidzVuz Parents Blog and enter to win!

Building Social Media Savvy Kids

So excited to be in the Wall Street Journal today in the article, Tweens’ Secret Lives Online.  It’s a great write-up for KidzVuz.com and an issue I feel passionately about.  Kids are online.  Kids are going to make mistakes.  The two realities are not a great combination.  But, they are realities nonetheless.  So we have to empower our kids to take control of their digital lives and learn how to be digital citizens.

We started KidzVuz with empowerment, creativity and safety in mind.  The earlier kids learn how to master content creation and become responsible people in the virtual space the better it will be for them and all of us.  I am amazed by the original and hard work my daughters are already doing online, and I hope that they continue in that vein.  But I also know cyber-bullies and trolls are out there, and are inevitable.  All I can do give them the tools to deal with those evils in the future and hopefully rise above them to see the great, positive potential in technology and social media.  We constantly hear from parents telling us that KidzVuz has been a source of positivity and confidence for their kids online, and that is the very best feedback of all.

No One Puts Women Bloggers in a Corner – Except Women Bloggers?

Earlier this week Susannah Breslin wrote a post on Forbes Women titled, Why Women Shouldn’t Go to Tech Conferences.  In a nutshell, she was upset about the frivolous and seemingly non-tech way that women were presented, and chosen to present, at Tech Week.  Having just spoken on a panel at CE Week in New York a few weeks ago I gave this article a serious reading – and commented accordingly.  But, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Something about what Susannah touched upon is all too true – and with BlogHer just a week away I haven’t been able to shake the thought that women are being put into tech “lite” panels more often than not.  I have complained quite publicly that many panels and conferences aimed at women are incredibly lacking in real data, concrete takeaways and information and are often full of generalizations and “feelings.”  But, looking back on all of the panels and conferences this year I also felt that way about many of the panels that had men on them too.  Maybe the truth is that few people are actually experts, that many conference agendas are packed with people who know someone, or have an entertaining power point presentation or a huge twitter personality that is fun to be a part of in person but doesn’t give you a whole lot to work on when you leave the room.

I don’t want to see the ghetto-ization of women at tech conferences.  I hate the idea that women need a separate “mommy” track or that all they want to do is gab about being better at social media because hey, women like to talk!  On the other hand, who can hold forth on a panel about how brands should and could work with mom bloggers other than mom bloggers?  The goal is to have women talk about SEO, programming, coding, sales, raising capital, growing a business and social media, marketing, PR and more.  When women are fully integrated into all programming, the specialized “women” tracks won’t seem so precious.  That should be the goal – not that women should just forget about being a part of tech conferences, but that women should get their geek on and fully embrace aspects of the technology they are using everyday – not just be a conduit to the coveted female consumer.  There is power in that influence for sure but there’s even more power in not being pigeonholed.

I will be heading to BlogHer next week, and make no mistake about it I am thrilled to connect with so many brands I love, I use and I hope to have sponsorship and campaign partnerships with in the future – for Beccarama, the Blogging Angels and most importantly for me now as the co-founder of my internet start-up, KidzVuz.com.  My focus is on building a business – and I will take all of the information, guidance and resources I can get.  That’s what I look to get out of every conference I go to and that I’m a part of – no matter what the gender make-up of the panels and workshops.   Maybe it’s hypocritical to demand parity at tech conferences and yet celebrate that BlogHer is for women only – I can live with that.  As I’ve said before, I’m thrilled that BlogHer is for and by women.  I will be hanging out at the Geek Bar to learn from some very tech savvy women and then I will turn right around and have an awesome day sponsored by Sony, getting new profile pics and my hair and makeup done, because I for one won’t be put into a virtual corner.

Ain’t No Party Like a BlogHer Party (except the 50 other BlogHer parties)

As BlogHer looms ever closer the party haves and have-nots are starting to make their voices heard on Twitter and across the blogosphere.  It’s inevitable that when there are 3000 women at a conference, but only a small amount of invitations available for many events, that jealousy – or even panic – will set in.  I am co-hosting two events at BlogHer this year – one for KidzVuz and one for the Blogging Angels - for the first time ever.  For both events guest lists had to be created – and agreed to – by the different hosts, and everyone had their reasons for choosing certain people.

But, truth be told I just don’t know everyone at BlogHer, and many of the people I might want at an event won’t be at BlogHer.   And then there is the added requirement that the blogger actually fit the event.  Bloggers write across many niches and when you’re thinking about who will get the most out of the sponsors or event theme you have to consider that too.  So, we’ve done the best we could and I hate that some people might feel left out.  They shouldn’t.  See, the best thing about BlogHer is that all of the official parties are open to everyone.  There are endless opportunities to meet new people and grab a drink and wear your most fabulous shoes or sparkliest earrings.  It’s not about the number of invites it’s about what you make of the parties you do attend.

This is an article I wrote for Mom Blog Magazine way back after the Disney Social Media Moms debacle.  I think it still applies, and hopefully makes sense to those looking for guidance on how their social media footprint looks to event organizers:

So you weren’t invited to the big event that everyone is talking about.  Maybe it’s a lunch with some fabulous celebrities, a cocktail party with sneak peeks at new products or even a hugely coveted three-day conference to a magical place and you’re wondering why others were asked while you were passed over.  It’s not an easy question to answer because in the end PR reps will not divulge how they make their lists.  But that doesn’t mean you should sit around and wait to be asked to the ball.  No matter what stage of blogging you’re in you can be proactive about managing and building your online presence.

The first step in getting taken seriously by brands is to treat yourself like a brand. Your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter stream, your YouTube channel – all of these social media outlets are your ever evolving online resume. Unlike real life where you are judged by your clothes, your home, even your accent, your online persona can be crafted in a way to always present yourself in the best light, maybe even a brighter light than you can even imagine. First, take a look at how you appear online to others.

These Tools Can Get You Started

  1. Social Mention: socialmention.com You can use Social Mention to monitor your blog and your own name.  It’s like a Google Alert on steroids.  Get a snapshot of where your blog is being mentioned, linked from, stumbled and commented upon.  See the keywords that define you and how strong your influence and passion are.
  2. Klout: klout.com The ultimate cheat sheet for brands — though many industry pros know that it’s not the perfect tool — it doesn’t measure quality, loyalty or other important traits that could help identify bloggers that make a good brand match. But, brands love it.  Make sure you register with them and link your Facebook account too to maximize your score.
  3. Addictomaticaddictomatic.com In one beautiful page view you can see your blog mentions or your name in various outlets: Google Blog Search, You Tube, Twitter, Tweetmeme and more.  It gives you an instant sense of your reach and where you need to improve.

(NOTE: Forget Compete.  It’s so off and lags so far behind that the stats are always way off.  Unfortunately some brands and PR people will still use it because it’s fast and free so you should at least know what they’re seeing if they do.  But, check out this post: Why and How to Keep Track of Your Blog Traffic by Kris Cain for some other traffic stat sources.)

  • Compete: compete.com I know, we’re all in this together and you should focus on yourself right?  In a perfect world of course, but in the real world go ahead and type in your blog with some of your peers and see how you stack up.  Then check out the blogs that are doing better than you and see how you can improve.

So, now you’ve got all of these stats and a clear picture of how you and your blog perform across platforms.  Where can you improve?  Tweet more meaningful links?  Spend more time commenting on other blogs?  Create better links in your own posts?  Most importantly, be true to yourself and your voice.  Be aware of trends, but don’t jump on every meme that comes your way.  Be consistent, be unique and be engaged. Chances are you will find yourself with an inbox full of invites and an even bigger problem – what to wear?