Is Twitter safe?

TwitterI blogged earlier about checking Facebook settings and my instinct was right. Since the compulsory live feed about who is liking what and who is commenting on what, the likes and comments have dropped off significantly and it’s interesting what people have since decided to comment on and react to. A reminder to check bottom right on the cog and you can turn off the right sidebar as I have. You still get birthday notifications! Twitter is a different kettle of fish entirely and it is harder to manage as such for you keep a stable, balanced feed. Every so often there is a spawning of grossness and undesirable which puts good people off and makes it hard then to enjoy the benefits of Twitter. Again, as social media users , we perhaps need to make some requests of the social media companies because we are contributing to their success and the research that goes on around them. Twitter is by far the most efficient means of communicating and getting out information in an emergency. Our farmers use it to get stock and feed to each other during bushfires and floods and to organise the help they need to save their farms. It has been a huge bonus in those times that Twitter is there, the hashtag can be created and people can get the help and/or reassurance they need in times of trouble. Companies can engage with customers in a real way and I won’t forget the day I solved my problem on Twitter while I was waiting on the phone to be put through to resolve a phone company issue. I hadn’t planned it that way. I just was trying to fill in the wait time. I have also used Twitter to help others who are stuck or want immediate help with something. Twitter can be great and providing you follow the hashtags you want it is more than a helpful venue. There are some interesting statistics on brandwatch:

Twitter user statistics

There are 310M monthly active users

A total of 1.3 billion accounts have been created

Of those, 44% made an account and left before ever sending a Tweet

Only 550 million people have ever sent a Tweet

500 million people visit the site each month without logging in

29.2% of US social media users are Twitter users

80% of active users access the site via mobile

208 is the average number of followers

391 million accounts have no followers at all

Katy Perry has the most followers, with over 87m

Journalists make up 24.6% of verified accounts

83% of the world’s leaders are on Twitter

79% of accounts are held outside of the U.S.

Twitter estimates 23m of its active users are actually bots

 

It’s the bots and fake accounts which tend to create the problems. A bot can spam Twitter feeds with anything. Fake accounts can spread whatever they like and are not held accountable. Real people are surprisingly good at finding out who owns these fake accounts. From that point of view Twitter becomes self regulating but there are times when you know that things just should not be there. We have laws and they don’t seem to be able to be applied or they are being ignored. I would think most users do not want to be in a swamp or cesspool and that intermittent aspect of Twitter is doing it harm. The fakeness aspect has to go. There is no kudos in having 40, 000 fake followers and building your name on fake just doesn’t work.

Theoretically children younger than 13 should not be on Twitter without parental consent. Given the nature of some of the material at times then 13 is still too young according to our laws and media ratings. Social media ratings matter and Huffington Post explains why. Trying to pin down the age restrictions is hard and it is explained here in the post and comments on Lisa Nielsan’s blog. Age screening is explained on the Twitter support site. There are other Twitter-like sites which might be more suitable for children. Learning how to use social media effectively is a desirable part of current educational needs in the digital age. education.com has some solid advice about children and Twitter.

Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is everywhere at the moment. There is a temptation to ignore it or consider it as a passing phase or craze but there are equally enough alarm buttons around  for it to be considered as one for the experts. If you go skydiving, driving, sailing, scuba diving, horse riding you are at risk. Normally you learn high risk activities from an expert and experienced trainers through a series of programmed stages.. Society then also has a level of awareness about these activities and has safety thinking and measures in place. You don’t stop people from riding in a helicopter because things could go wrong. Training and development have always been part of our socialization as we engage with high risk activities. We learn how to protect ourselves, defend ourselves, prepare ourselves and what the expected behaviours are. Pokémon Go has crossed a gaming boundary where people go out into the wild to find Pokémon. They can be found anywhere because it is a game which uses sat nav and augmented reality. It is making really good use of the technology we have to create a different level of game interaction and develop a different set of gaming skills. I don’t know how the young people in the video could create a Pokémon which would then entice others so they could be robbed. There are a number of sites which are looking at  the side of Pokémon Go which is putting people at risk and I have left the links at the bottom of this post so you can follow it up. We need gaming experts, psychology experts, police and safety experts to get into the conversation and look at how we can keep people safe. As teachers we cannot ignore it. Nor can we ignore it as family members. There would be a lot of people in their mid 20s playing the game because they grew up with it. There are also younger people who are now new players to the game. It then is like any other highly skilled social activity. New players need to be taught properly as they would be with sailing. They need to be trained properly as they would be with football. Some digital games now need the same layers of training and development as other activities which can create problems for those who do not know how to play properly. If we just look upon it as a phase or something we don’t need to engage with , there are going to be problems as there would be if we ignored people who knew nothing going into the mountains to try and ski.

pokemon go Image: ifunny.co

Four things parents should know about Pokémon Go
Child safety warnings
Pokémon Go Tips for Parents
A Parent’s Guide To Playing Pokémon GO With Your Kids

Research Project Tips and Tools

research tools

Great tips and tools for research

Aaron Crouch over at makeuseof has written a great post about research projects and the sorts of tools you can use to make the research easier, more interesting and , congratulations, Aaron, how to keep yourself safe as you research online. This post is a wonderful resource for teachers who are teaching research projects and a good set of tips for students because he also reminds us to make more than one copy of our files. It is certainly a solid and well thought out piece to help create a more professional and methodical approach to research by using technology. While you are on the makeuseof site I recommend suscribing to the newsletter because you get really good quality tech information which is both enlightening and useful.

Cybersmart

picture of cybersmart quiz Cybersmart is a very comprehensive and practical site relating to cybersafety. It offers resources, training , things to think about and a way of dealing with the issue without becoming overwhelmed by it. It caters to parents, teachers and students. It offers lesson plans and quizzes so that adults are able to better guide children but children are also able to navigate the site freely and get some sensible and practical help. Sites like this should be constantly and widely publicised so the information is circulated as a matter of routine.

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