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My Kids Are Now on Instagram: Here’s The One Thing I Want Them to Know

My kids’ first foray into social media has been via Instagram. Instagram is an easy way for me to keep an eye on Tessa and Reed, now teens, and watch their tendencies, stepping in only as necessary  — which it hasn’t been, *knock-wood*.

(I’m like Jane Goodall. She observed chimps in the wild habitat of Gombe; I observe imps in somewhat less civilized habitat of middle school.)

I watched these past few months as Tessa and Reed stepped into their virtual personae. Their virtual personae ended up consisting of….

…a crap ton of selfies. That’s all they knew to do.

Selfies, I explained, show the world how you want to be seen. What *I* find interesting when I check out someone on Instagram — I said in my a teachy tone I surely got from my dad –is how you see the world.

Why not mix up those two things and show both?” I suggested.

I showed them my Instagram account as an example, which required quite a bit of scrolling before a selfie appeared (YMMV). “See here? More teachy-tone. “You’re seeing the world THROUGH my eyes and not so much SEEing my eyes.”

teens on instagram

The imps have pretty much ignored me. On the positive side, I am getting used to that.

What are your thoughts on Selfies vs Worldies?

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This post originally appeared on LavenderLuz.com.

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Lori Holden's book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open AdoptionLori Holden, mom of a tween son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.

Too Much of a Good Thing Does Exist When It Comes To Parenting via the Internet

When it comes to being a mom I love technology! I love having answers to questions and information right at my fingertips.

The baby had colic, I could look up remedies to bring comfort and relief to my little peanut.

I was struggling with breastfeeding, internet to the rescue! Resources galore, communities of moms just like me, and endless support.

How do you break your baby from the paci? How do you start potty training? Is this normal? Is that supposed to happen? All my burning questions had corresponding answers.

Thanks to the internet I was introduced to so many inspiring moms, I can reconnect with friends, and stay connected with family.

It really is a glorious and wonderful thing… until, it isn’t.  

Everloop: Training Tweens to Become Digital Citizens

A few weeks ago, I caught wind of an intriguing site called Everloop.com. After checking it out and doing my research, I was incredibly impressed. Everloop is an incredibly fun, secure social media site designed for kids. The site provides tweens a safe, censored environment to learn about the unwritten rules of online social interaction. The experience heavily involves parents and gives moms and dads the power to decide what their kids can and can’t post. Inappropriate interactions are stopped before they happen and kids (and parents) can avoid incredibly embarrassing situations.

Hilary DeCesare, Co-Founder and CEO of Everloop.com (not to mention a digital child and parenting expert), took a few moments to share Everloop’s mission and how the site is literally changing young lives. If you’re a fan of ABC’s hit show “Secret Millionaire,” you may already be familiar with Hilary’s story as well as the idea behind Everloop.com.

MHM: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background as a mamapreneur?

Hilary: I’m not sure a man could really do what we do [laughs]. I went to school in Colorado and then I ended up staring at Xerox. I did Xerox for a little bit then went to Oracle and did ten years at Oracle. During that time was fortunate enough to end up getting pregnant immediately with twins. It was kind of crazy because I wasn’t expecting to be a mom quite so soon and I was kind of doing the whole “climbing up the ladder” thing.

When I left Oracle I decided that what I really was passionate about was helping other CEOs to get their businesses off the ground. I wanted to help them put strategic framework around their businesses. I spent five years with another mamapreneur and we had great success and at that same time my kids started to grow into that tween phase.

MHM: Can you tell us what inspired you to create Everloop?

Hilary: I’ve always been passionate about technology – I love it. I think parents have this fear of, “Oh my gosh! I’m not really that familiar with it – how do I get my kids to be digital citizens when I don’t know it.” There’s the fear of the unknown.

So, with two other mamapreneurs, we created Everloop a year and a half ago. It was designed to be that first step into the internet. It has the best features of Facebook, the best features of Twitter, the best features of YouTube. We kind of pulled it all together. So far I have to say that I’m incredibly pleased because the timing was so relevant. Kids are getting themselves in trouble.

MHM: What does Everloop offer for the young audience to which it caters?

Hilary: What we’ve really said to parents is that you want your kids on their own social network. It’s not that fun to be on a social network with your grandma and your mom and all her friends and your friends. [laughs] When your grandma says, “Honey, what a great soccer match!” All the sudden [their tween] friends will start to heckle them. Give them their own place.

MHM: Why is Everloop safer than other social media sites?

Hilary: So, what we did on the ground level is we actually engaged some of the top experts in the field around the laws that are out there. There’s a law called COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and these people are experts in making sure that sites are safe. We made sure to engage these people while we were building the product. There are multiple levels of security set up. It starts with registration and then we also block profanity, cyber bullying, personal information from kids when they are posting it.

So not only is it a safe site, it’s also moderated and we’re teaching them about behaviors that take time to learn. By the time they finally get into the “Wild Wild West” of the open internet they actually then remember, “I shouldn’t have done that. Oh, I can’t do that.”

Kids are making horrific mistakes on Facebook, they’re posting things on Twitter. They are doing things they shouldn’t do. We have had numerous experiences where kids have made mistakes on Everloop. But, guess what? It was blocked before it was posted. If these things had been posted on a site like Facebook, it could have led to a firestorm. I could tell you stories – unbelievably awful. These kids could have been chastised, they could have been bashed and bullied and it never goes away. So, what we do is, we block those and have to contact parents. We have gotten numerous thank you cards.

MHM: Parents aren’t aware that their children are often sneaking onto Twitter, Facebook, etc. Could you tell about the parental controls and involvement Everloop offers.

Hilary: First off, we make sure parents are completely separate. As a parent of three, I still want to be the parent that decides if my child can post pictures. Which picture? I want to make sure that I’m the one who decides what loops – loops are groups – what loops they join. I want to be kept in the loop. There’s no parent out there who wants to be out of the loop.

What we have done with our parent panel, first off, it has kind of morphed into a place where parents can go where they can feel like they have have a say in their digital kids’ lives. What we want to do is make sure that their is no parent out there that is out of the loop and that there is a kid that says, “My mom gets this. She understands what is going on.” Where [the mom] may have no clue, we’ve made her into this empowered body [laughs] just by her being able to go into the dashboard and look and decide with the click of a button what their kids can do on Everloop.

MHM: If you could name the top 2 or 3 reasons parents should consider getting their kids an Everloop account, what would those be?

Hilary: What we’ve really said to parents is you want your kids on their own social network. In their own world – their own home base. Give them their own place. It’s the cool place for kids.

MHM: Is there any memorable feedback you’ve received from parents that has really made you thankful this venture a gratifying one for you as a parent?

Hilary: When you start a company, there’s always a mission. You want to make sure you keep going back to your mission because it’s easy to get distracted. One of the things we wanted to make sure we were doing was that we were educating kids in a non-invasive way. If you hammer kids over the head, they are going to be like, “This isn’t a cool site!”

We have received numerous thank you notes [from parents]. We took one child off because there was a racial slur. After  within a couple weeks the parent reviewed it, after the daughter apologized we let her back on and that child is now one of our top digital citizens. She is owning the site.

That’s where you start to get the goose bumps because you’re delivering a fun place for kids to be and at the same time they are getting themselves ready for that much bigger experience in the world.

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If your tween uses a smartphone, an Everloop app is in the works! It should be hitting the app store sometime this fall.
Hannah Camacho is an educator, mom to three wonderful children ages 3 and younger and proud wife of an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. She has been a BlogHer featured tech blogger and is very involved in the world of mobile app marketing and PR when she’s not chasing her three busy little ones.

Win a $25 Gift Card From Einstein Bros. Bagels for Your Next Girl’s Night!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congrats to winner Shuka Hall. Please go here to enter to win another $25 gift card.

Confession: I’m a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Not only have I read all the books but I also throw a viewing party whenever a new DVD is released. New Moon was our latest guilty pleasure and I had only one prerequisite for my friends:

“Come hungry.”

I scored major points at our latest gathering because I brought in some goodies from Einstein Bros. Bagels. This locally-based company is running a fun Coffee and a Bagel social media campaign for moms. As a part of the promotion, Einstein Bros. Bagels sent Mile High Mamas some complimentary gift cards to use for giveaways and at various events (stay tuned for details on how to sample their many spoils.)

Speaking of spoils, lo did we indulge. I bought a couple of their Variety Buckets, which have a fantastic mix of products for an affordable price. It includes 6 bagels, 12 mini-bagels, & 24 cream cheese bagel poppers (the fan favorite) for $9.99. I grabbed a couple of cream cheese smears for an additional $2.99. Oh, and I also got some cinnamon twists but they didn’t exactly make it to the party.

In my defense, they were well worth not waiting. 🙂

Mile High Mamas is giving away a $25 gift card to Einstein Bros. Bagels. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is April 15, 2010.

Be sure to check out Coffee and a Bagel at Divine Caroline where they are offering weekly $25 gift card sweeps plus a grand prize. Become a fan of Einstein Bros. Bagels on Facebook and receive exclusive offers and discounts.

Got 5 Minutes? How to Get Organized Using Facebook, by LivingSocial CEO

Thanks to  Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and Co-founder of LivingSocial for sharing some helpful organizing tips using Facebook to help save you time!

You’ve probably heard the buzz surrounding Facebook and other social media tools, but might not be convinced that they’re right for you.  Perhaps setting up an account and maintaining it seems daunting. Or, maybe you signed up and don’t know what to do next.  Utilizing Facebook in a practical way for just a few minutes a day can actually save you time.  Here are 5 easy ways to leverage social media:

  1. Online clubs and fan groups: Social networks allow you to connect with current friends and new friends based on your mutual interests.  Using applications like LivingSocial to find people with similar taste, you can create an online book or movie club to unite with fellow bookworms or movie buffs.
  2. Quick event planning: Facebook lets you plan parties easily and efficiently – just create an event, enter the details and invite friends.  Sending virtual invites saves you the time of hunting down addresses and taking RSVPs over the phone.  You can even plan reunion events for people you’ve lost touch with and found again through social media.  And, you can figure out what to drink and listen to using LivingSocial’s music and beer pages.
  3. Social media at work: Being social media-savvy can help you stay relevant in your job, by keeping up with the eager social media enthusiasts entering the workforce. You can keep your profile professional by using Facebook’s custom privacy settings to regulate who sees what information.
  4. Help other parents: The best product and book reviews come from other parents, especially friends. Love a stroller, but hate a certain crib? Let other parents online know with a quick post to a social media site.  Or, post a question to find out what your friends recommend.
  5. Share photos: Emailing photos to your family and friends after big events can be time-consuming, especially sorting out who wants which photo.  Facebook makes this easy – just post your photos and everyone (including non-Facebook users) can check them out, if you want.  Animoto.com’s Facebook application is a great way to share animated videos made from your own photos.

It’s really easy to spend hours on Facebook, but most people don’t have the time to do so. For more information on some of the quick tips I provided, visit http://livingsocial.com or if you’re a Facebook user:  http://apps.facebook.com/livingsocial/.

More info about Living Social taken from the Living Social Website……..LivingSocial.com is a social discovery and cataloging network that allows people to review and share their favorite movies, books, games, music, restaurants and beer. As the most comprehensive interest-based online community, LivingSocial is now helping more than 6.4 million users catalogue their interests, seamlessly integrating with Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, hi5, and Orkut.

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Wise Stamps: Create an Email Signature with your Social Media Contacts and More!

I wanted to share a neat FireFox extension called WiseStamp.

This fun extension allows you to create an email signature on any webmail service.

On WiseStamp.com you can customize your email signature to include your IM, Social Media profiles, website links and more. You have a choice of creating a personal signature or a business signature.

It is lots of fun! Get creative and create a WiseStamp email signature!

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Say it to my face…book?

I consider myself to be rather in-touch with what’s going on around me. I have over 400 “friends” on my personal Facebook Account. I have a bunch of people that I email, instant message/chat, text, or call on a regular basis. I try to stay on top of what’s going on with my friends, and I try to keep them appraised of the situation here.

I call, text, or email important things to top-priority people, and most everything gets shared on my blog at one point or another. On the flip-side, I’m easy to contact. I recently got a new BlackBerry, and she rarely leaves my side. I check email, Facebook, and Twitter from my phone. MY. PHONE. My, how times have changed!

I have pretty much all the communication bases fully covered.

So, imagine my surprise one day when I discover, purely by a random course of events, that one of our closest friends is engaged.

Engaged!?

Did he tell me in the myriads of text messages we’d had going back and forth the day before? No. Did he tell me in an email? No. Did he tell me in one of the phone conversations we’d had that week? No.

A friend of a friend saw it on our friend’s Facebook relationship status.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of Facebook, you can set a status that will broadcast to everyone, and you can also plug in information that is static on the site. It just sits there for everyone to see if they go to your page (Name, Hometown, Relationship Status, etc.). THIS is where he announced his engagement.

I couldn’t believe it, and because we are such close friends, I’ve given him unending grief about it, too. (His mom is on Facebook, and he claims to have told her before she saw it on there. I can only hope that’s true.)

“I had to learn this information on Facebook!?” I said to him when he finally called me. “I guess I see where I rank…”

I tried really hard to let this slide, to ignore the tenderness of my feelings, but this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

This situation conjured up feelings from the not-so-distant past. A bunch of things like this have started happening in my circle of friends, and I’m wondering if this trend is here to stay. For example, I found out via Facebook about the birth of a close friend’s baby. Even though we’d been calling and emailing back and forth before her due-date, she opted not to send out a mass email or give us a call. She chose Facebook as her means of communication, and because I have so many friends to sort through on there, I’d missed the announcement until days had gone by. (In all fairness, it’s not her fault I have so many status updates to sort through.) I wished I would have been told directly so that I could have helped them celebrate sooner. Still, I tried to set my feelings aside and be happy to see pictures of her new little one so quickly.

We all have different “types” of friends, so I can understand finding out some of these things if the personal connection isn’t as strong. For example, I’m “friends” on Facebook with people I haven’t seen in 17 years (or longer!). I wouldn’t expect a phone call or a personal email about something that is happening to them, and vice versa. I enjoy reading Facebook statuses about what’s going on in their world.

Of course there are exceptions to these little rules I have in my head. When my dad was in a car accident last year, I put it out onto Facebook, and the overwhelming response I got from people warmed my heart. Things were happening so quickly, and I was glad to have a quick way to keep people updated.

Just the other day, in fact, one of my friends used her Twitter account to alert us about an accident in her family, and I wasn’t the least bit offended. It was a call of action, so to speak, and we rallied around her.

To me, that’s different. As devastating as an accident is, it’s in a different category than a “monumental event” like a birth, engagement, or death. When I find out something monumental about a close friend at the same time as their mother’s best friend’s daughter? I feel less important.

There. I said it.

All this being said, I think I’ve figured it out. I am just as important as I was before to my friends. People are just excited to announce the news to the whole world in the most efficient way possible. Social Media has become the Great Equalizer amongst the recipients of information. I either need to let go of my old way of seeing things or risk having my feelings hurt again and again.

Have Social Media tools like Facebook changed the face of communication, and/or do any of the old-school rules still apply? Do I need to unlearn all the “rules of communication” that are so ingrained in my psyche? And, more importantly, is there an app. for that? 😉

So, what do you think? How do you prefer to send and receive important information?

Featured Blogger: JoAnn from The Casual Perfectionist

Time to share another amazing blogger! In the post, we feature JoAnn from The Casual Perfectionist

What is the name of your blog? How did you choose this name?

The name of my blog is The Casual Perfectionist. I wanted to pick something that would describe me, and this does! I am a perfectionist, but I’m trying really hard to be casual about it. Some days are better than others. Ha!

How did you get started blogging?

The short answer: I wanted an easy way to chronicle my daughter’s life and our adventures in parenthood. I wanted a place to share our stories about our forays in home-improvement and our travel adventures. I was already updating a mailing list with emails, and blogging proved to be a more efficient way to do that. (Plus, Claire is 3 years old now, and it’s so much fun looking back over the things we have recorded. I’m amazed at how many things I would have forgotten had I not written them down!)

The long answer: Check out this post: Getting Started is the Hardest Part

What platform do you use? (I.e. Blogger, WordPress, etc.)

I use WordPress to edit my blog, and I love it! I have my own URL, and the WordPress editor has made updating a breeze!

What do you wish you had known when you started?

I didn’t really realize that such a huge community has grown around bloggers in real life. I started out completely anonymous on my blog, and for my own good reasons. I’ve slowly let the veil drop, and the number of people I’ve met in this awesome community is amazing to me. It shouldn’t be so shocking, but it was something that was totally unexpected.

What blogs do you most admire?

I LOVE reading blogs. I finally had to take down my blogroll because it was getting out of control, and I hate leaving people out! Instead, I collect blogs on my GoogleReader. (I have 200+ on there right now!)

That being said, I love Dooce. (Heather Armstrong at dooce.com). I have been a huge fan of hers for many years now. I accidentally stumbled upon her blog when I typed a plea into Google about getting my morning sickness to stop, and one of her blog posts came up. She is sometimes polarizing, and her style isn’t for everyone, but reading her posts makes me laugh out loud. She is one of the reasons I started blogging. Meeting her in real life at her book-signing in Denver was a treat!

What is your best tip for moms who are new to social media?

I have built the best online relationships by visiting blogs and then leaving a comment. If I read something I enjoy, I tell the blogger that. (On the flip side, I LOVE reading comments on my blog! It gives me a sense of community, and I realize that I’m not just shouting out into a void. Someone is there. Someone is listening and dealing with the same things I am. That is so powerful.) I’ve also read the comments on other blogs and then visited those commenters’ blogs. Everyone who comments back and forth leads to even more people with which to connect. It creates this intricate web, and you’d be amazed at who you “meet” this way!

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