January 12, 2018

The Economist says cutting adolescents’ use of social media will not solve their problems

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“Only about 1% of the variability in young people’s mental wellbeing can be explained by social-media or smartphone use. One British study suggests that eating breakfast regularly is more than three times as important.” Put bread in the toaster, and then read more in The Economist. ☕️🍞

January 12, 2018

The Washington Post on what teens wish their parents knew about social media

This article in The Washington Posts starts with three secrets teens and tweens are keeping from their parents (like how taking away one device doesn’t make a difference if they can access others), and ends with four requests (like how they’d like to talk to their parents about sexting). 

January 2, 2018

Time covers the secret language of girls on Instagram

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The popular photo-sharing app Instagram is far more than a photo-sharing app for most girls. It’s how they learn who like them and what their peers really think of them. It’s where they “can obsess over their friendships, monitoring social ups and downs in extreme detail. They can strategically post at high traffic hours when they know peers are killing time between homework assignments.” This November 2017 Times article is a gold mine.

January 2, 2018

TechCrunch explains the difference between good and bad Facebooking

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👎 Bad Facebooking = “…giving in to cravings for another digital content snack.”

👍 Good Facebooking = “….deepen bonds with your immediate circle, cement you into a larger community, keep old relationships from dying out, foster connections with those aligned by interest or circumstance and trigger real-world meetups.” This TechCrunch article is packed with insight.

December 15, 2017

What parents need to know about Taylor Swift’s new ‘The Swift Life’ app

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Hear of Taylor Swift’s new app, Swift Life? It’s already a hit with tween and teen girls across the country. Essentially a social network “game” for her fans, Swift Life lets users unlock exclusive Taylor content by earning “Taymojis” and by liking and sharing other people’s content. Here’s what parents should know, according to our founder, Laura Tierney. Also: #swiftlife

December 13, 2017

Ask Laura: What do I do when my teen has strict technology limits, but his best friend doesn’t?

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This is the second article in a monthly series on WRAL’s Go Ask Mom in which Laura Tierney, founder of The Social Institute, answers readers’ questions about social media and kids. The answer to this question requires two conversations: one with the other set of parents, and one with the child. Read more

December 13, 2017

Are you following the same digital rules you set for your kids?

Here are a few digital double standards kids have shared with us:

  • I’m not allowed to sleep with my phone in the bedroom, but I know my parents’ phones are charging on their nightstands.
  • Dad says not to post embarrassing photos of my friends and teachers on Snapchat, but he’s always sharing embarrassing photos of me on Facebook. 
  • My parents tell me to look up from my phone, but when I need to talk about something before going to school, they’re already checking emails.

Sound familiar? In this Washington Post article, Laura Tierney suggests setting up family standards so that everyone is striving to use social media and tech in the same, healthy ways. Together.

December 12, 2017

Wired covers the A-B-C’s of keeping kids safe online

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This Wired article offers a few technical tips for parents, but much of the advice mirrors our own: Adjust as needed, be an example, and communicate constantly

December 11, 2017

Should you give your kids a smartphone for the holidays?

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Ask yourself four questions before committing to the new responsibilities that your child’s smartphone will bring with it. “How old is your child?” is not one of the questions. In fact, half of them are about YOU, not your kid. Ready? Dig into NBC Education Nation’s Parent Toolkit article by our founder, Laura Tierney.  

December 6, 2017

Wired on how to keep your kids safe online

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Though there are some technical pieces of advice in this wonderful article in Wired, the focus is on regular conversations between parents and kids. Dave Lewis, a global security advocate at Akamai Technologies, is quoted extensively. Our favorite: “Parents should act as positive guardians.”

December 4, 2017

Facebook announces new Messenger Kids for under 13s; but should your kids use it?

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Our founder, Laura Tierney, weighs in on whether kids are likely to use anything Facebook-y and how parents can better prepare kids for social media use: 

  • Huddle with your child, don’t helicopter
  • Make clear the consequences of a screenshot
  • Take them from rookie to pro

Read it here.

December 4, 2017

The New York Times covers Facebook’s new app for kids under 13

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Available only on Apple devices to start, Facebook’s new Messenger Kids lives on kids’ phones or tablets but is connected to a parent’s Facebook account. Only parents can add friends or delete messages, and the “under 13s” won’t be shown ads or prompted to make in-app purchases. Sounds pretty great, right? Read more in The New York Times.

November 29, 2017

Forbes on UNICEF’s goal to empower children in a digital world

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UNICEF met with partners for a one-day event discussing the intersection between digital media and privacy, ways to foster positive online participation, and how the Internet supports civic engagement and the right to be heard. All good stuff covered by Forbes, because 1 in 3 of the next billion users online will be under the age of 18. #whoa 

November 27, 2017

NPR on when to give a kid a smartphone

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We agree with this NPR article that rather than considering the age of a child, parents should focus on the child’s maturity level. Some kids are ready to be smartphone rookies at age 10, while others should wait to get their first phones until age 14 or later (like Bill Gates’ kids).

November 17, 2017

NPR on new study linking time online to teen depression and suicide

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“A study published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science finds that increased time spent with popular electronic devices — whether a computer, cell phone or tablet — might have contributed to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts over the last several years among teens, especially among girls.” Read more at NPR.org, and know that THIS is why we do what we do at The Social Institute.