21 Things: Using the Library (Week 6)

Darien Library in the summer
Darien Library in the summer

Thing: In the Library's catalog, there is a specific tag given to a famous Beverly Cleary character. Find the items that have been tagged with this young girl's name. 

Hint: It's not Beezus, but ...

What is the very first book on the top of the list?  E-mail childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org to let us know your answer!

Thing:  Write a review in Darien Library's online catalogue.  Look up a book, movie, or other item that you liked, or didn't like, and click on "Write a Review" under "Community Reviews" to add your thoughts.  E-mail childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org to let us know you've written a review.

Thing:  Join us for a Tweet Up on Friday, March 2 at 11 a.m.  Using the hashtag #CLTweetUp, we'll be discussing Darien Library's interactive website and catalog.  Share your thoughts with us and other Twitter users!


21 Things: Blogs (Week 5)

Image via Flickr user futureshape
Image via Flickr user futureshape

This week's topic was Blogs. 

Thing:  Discuss these questions in the Comments section below.  Do you read any blogs?  Are there a few that you particularly enjoy?  Feel free to share suggestions with your fellow participants.

Thing:  Attend our Tech Moms panel discussion on February 15 at 9:30 a.m. and hear from local moms who successfully use blogs and Twitter personally and professionally.  RSVP online.

Thing:  Check out our Tech Moms' blogs!

Lisa Boncheck Adams, Jacquie Miller, Jennifer St. Jean, Nicole Lyons


21 Things: eBooks and eReaders (Week 4)

Image via Flickr user edwc
Image via Flickr user edwc

This week's topic was eBooks and eReaders.

Thing: Read this New York Times article about the “war” between libraries and publishers over eBooks. What do you think: Are some publishers being overly protective and missing a marketing opportunity? Or do you think libraries are a threat to the future of publishing? Add your thoughts in the Comments below.

Thing: Tweet-Up! Join the Children’s Librarians on Twitter next Friday, February 10 at 11am. Sign on from home, on the go, or at the Library to tweet about eBooks and eReaders. Use the hashtag #CLTweetUp to join the conversation.

Further Reading: The flexibility and ease of creation make eBooks a medium that changes the rules of publishing, editing, and content delivery. Read Nicolas Carr’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal on the eBook revolution and the future of publishing.

21 Things: Facebook and Google+ (Week 2)

The "Like" button Image via Flickr user Sean MacEntee

This week's topic was social media websites, specifically Facebook and Google+

Thing:  Discuss the following questions in the Comments below.  What is your opinion on children under 13 having Facebook profiles?  How should, or can, parents control the content their teens post online?  Or feel free to discuss these questions or any others you have about Facebook, Google+, or social media in general.

Thing:  Sign up for our Facebook/Google+ Workshop on Wednesday, January 25 at 9:30 a.m. 

Everyone who comments or attends the workshop will be entered into our weekly raffle.

21 Things: Gadgets (Week 1)

Smart phones - Image via Flickr users Dru Bloomfield
Smart phones - Image via Flickr users Dru Bloomfield

Our topic this week was Gadgets. 

Thing: What gadgets does your family own?  Which one(s) could you not live without?  Use the Comments section below to discuss these questions or any others you have about gadgets.

Thing:  Check out our Gadget Sandbox on Saturday, January 21 at 2 p.m. in the Children's Library for a chance to play with different tablets and e-readers, including Leapfrog's and Innotab's tablets for kids.

*Don't forget, everyone who completes a Thing is entered into the weekly raffle.  Participants who complete all 21 Things will be entered into a Finale Raffle for a Kindle Fire! 

Week 2: Browsing and Searching

We all browse and search the web because that is what the web is for!  This week we are going to focus on different searching features.

Often times, we use the browser that comes with our computer; Internet Explorer for PCs and Safari for Macs.  But there is another browser which has some great features.  I use it a lot.  And that is Mozilla Firefox.  Which brings us to...

Thing 2: downloading Mozilla Firefox onto your computer and playing around with its tabs. 

What is Mozilla?  Mozilla is free, and is open source technology. Click here to download.  One of the best parts about Mozilla is the tabs feature.  You can switch back and forth between multiple websites on the tabs; directions to NYC, a list of museums, a restaurant reservation site.  Planning your day is easy peasy.  Watch this video about how to use tabs

There are also some cool add-ons.  Think of them as apps for your computer!  Some are for personal organization such as Read It Later, for you to save the website for when you have more time. Another add-on you might like to try is KidZui, a search for kids!

Thing 3:  download an add-on feature in Mozilla.  Write a comment below on what you thought about the add-on you chose.  Did it live up to what you thought it would be?


Now...start your search engines! 

Thing 4. Do the same search (of any topic you'd like) in Google and Bing

How was the process?  Write your thoughts in the comments below:  did you get similar results, or different results?  Also for thing 3, click on Bing's visual search.  How was the same search in visual?  Or, do you think that visual search only coalesces with certain topics?


This week we looked at a browser, which is the application that gets you onto the web (like Firefox or Internet Explorer) and search engines that search the web itself (like Google and Bing.)  As a parent, you can change search engines' settings on the computer that your children use most frequently. Google has SafeSearch Filtering for easy filtering at the browser level.

Try a few searches on kid friendly engines:

  • Yahoo Kids (no results for "breast" but good results for "breast cancer")
  • FactMonster (good relevant results for same search)
  • AskKids (a little inconsistent, good results when misspelled "breas," no relevant results with correct spelling "breast")
  • KidsClick (a site created by librarians, but very tough filter)

What kind of results would you want if your child was doing legitimate research for a school assignment? Protecting younger children from stumbling across questionable content is one issue, allowing your older children to access reliable information for learning about life and health is another.

There are many ways of controlling the access your children have to the Internet and this is an issue that will weave through many of the lessons in this program. See this great article over at CNET for an overview of security options for parents. Kids deserve Intellectual Freedom (pdf), but it is up to us to help them learn to how to find good information and evaluate those resources.The focus of this program is not to teach any one area of technology in depth, but to strengthen your own use and understanding of Web 2.0 so that you may more confidently exercise control at your own comfort level. For more resources on Internet Safety, please see this link for additional resources.

Week 1: What is Web 2.0?

Thing 1: Read & watch the following perspectives on Web 2.0, technology and digital citizenship. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Welcome parents, we're so glad you're here!

The term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with applicaitons and sites that allow for information sharing and collaboration on the World Wide Web. The history of the modern Internet can be traced all the way back to the early generations of computers in the 1950's and 1960's. The original networks were actually created and run by scientific, military, and a few commercial enterprises. You can watch a fantastic animated explanation here. But that was then, and this is now. Web 1.0 only allowed us to passively view information that was provided on a website. Web 2.0 allows us to interact and even personalize content on a website. Web 2.0 is not static, it is interactive.

Watch this video by Cultural Anthropologist, Professor Michael Wesch (dubbed, "The Explainer" by Wired Magazine) to get a glimpse into how digital text is different from traditional text. 

The focus of this program is not formal education, but an informal learning experience focused on these tools. At the kick-off party, , we watched this video, also by Professor Wesch called, A Vision of Students Today. Take a few minutes to watch it and bear in mind that video was made in 2007. By the time your children are in their first year of college, how different will the world be?

Our kids are often referred to as Digital Natives. They will never know a life without computers and interactive technology - Meet 1 year old, Joey.


It's not what we do for our children that will make them successful, it is what we can teach them to do for themselves that will make them successful.

We want to be there for them when our children face challenges. So, just like with reading, we should be there and help them learn to use technology and computers. We are moving away from just "literacy" and moving toward Transliteracy; the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

There are many issues that we as parents and guardians of children need to be aware of and be thinking about like Digital Citizenship, Privacy and Safety, but please don't be afraid - consider what is Fact vs. Fear.  Using these tools can be FUN! They can help bring you closer to extended family that may live elsewhere and even, perhaps, closer to those living under the same roof. We can extend the parenting lessons we learn in the physical world into the virtual world.

Kids love to play, but the way they play is changing. From an early age, Play is important to a child's development and learning. It is not just physical, but also cognitive, emotional, creative and imaginitive. Young children learn through their senses. Now that technology is changing into a more multi-touch, physically interactive experience, it allows for even greater opporuntities for children to Play.

So, what are the benefits? Why should you care about learning how to use these 2.0 tools? Simple. Your kids are using them. There is no going back and before Web 3.0 is upon us, your kids need you to be actively involved in this part of their life.

This video is not aimed directly at parents, but drives home the message. The power of social media - it is not a fad, it is a revolution.


Last year, PBS aired a documentary called, Digital Nation. The piece explores how technology is reshaping our culture and the realities of our human experience within this 21st Century world. If you don't have time to watch the entire hour and 30 minute broadcast, please take a few minutes to watch this chapter, Old School, New School. In it, they interview teachers and kids about issues like cheating, time pressures, reading and learning.

Through this program over the next 12 weeks, we will introduce you to websites and ask you to engage and experiment with them. Every Monday morning from now until May 1st, we will post a new lesson on this website. Participants will post comments on the lesson. In a few weeks, you will create a blog that will enable you to chronicle your experience. Blogging will be explained in more detail in Week 4.

For this first "Thing," we'd just like you to comment below on what you've read and watched about the philosophy and framework of Web 2.0 and how it is reshaping our society. Most importantly, how are your kids are growing up digital and how can the adults in their lives be involved in their experience?

Why did you sign up for this program?

Where are you in your knowledge and use of Web 2.0 tools?

Can you easily identify a Web 2.0 tool? 

How has the Internet and the vast resources it can offer affected your use of time at work and/or at home?

There Is Still Time To Register for 21 Things!

Join in the fun – come play and learn with us!  Register online or contact the Children's Library at childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org or 203-669-5235.

You are raising kids in a digital world. Facebook, Twitter, and a growing number of websites and social tools are becoming increasingly important in most aspects of our 21st century world. Information literacy is crucial to your children’s success in school and technology is now completely integrated into your child’s life. Today’s students want Web 2.0 tools to be a part of their learning lives because these are the tools that enable them to connect, collaborate, create, and engage in learning that is relevant, contextual and experiential.  

Why should they have all the fun?

Join us in 12 weeks of learning through engagement in online technology, in 21 simple activities that you can do on your own time, at your own pace. This program is designed to help you learn about, and how to use, Web 2.0 technologies so that you may better support, guide, and parent your digital native kids safely and confidently through both the perils and the possibilities that this brave new digital world offers. 

This program is inspired by the Learning 2.0: 23 Things program developed by Helene Blowersat the Public Library of Charlotte &Mecklenberg County and adopted by many other libraries and organizations since then. Content and style for 21 Things for 21st Century Parents has been borrowed and duplicated under a Creative Commons license. We thank them for sharing the program so that we may spread the ideas and make learning fun for parents too!

Week 10: Social Networks

Hey parents, I hope you've got your thinking caps on - this is going to be a big lesson!

This week we're talking about social networks. You've heard the terms before, "friending," "adding," and "posting on your wall." We are going to start with the basics and the first thing we want to do, is understand exactly what social networks are. Watch this short video to get an idea of what they are and how they work:


Kids and teens have always (and will always) explore their identity. It is part of growing up. Technology now allows kids to explore their identity in a whole new way - increasingly through online social networks. They play with their visual identity through photos and avatars, they negotiate friendships in both physical and virtual worlds, and their online social networks are important to their social status. Some of your kids may already be on these social networks and many will be in the near future. Generally, MySpace and Facebook are the two most popular social networks out there, but we'll focus on Facebook for the first part of this lesson followed by more online communities centered around specific area of interest & styles. 

facebook logoFacebook has more than 400 million active users.  The average user has 130 friends, sends 8 friend requests per month, and spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook. That is a LOT of people and a LOT of time. Facebook can now be accessed though mobile devices and statistics show that people who use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users. Who is on their phone all the time? Chances are, your teenager is. Is your teen on facebook? It is clearly a powerful tool, but there are lots of horror stories out there. How can you feel safe about your child engaging in this online network? That's easy - learn about it and engage in it yourself!

Facebook claims that it provides users with tools to control the information they share and with whom they choose to share it. They also say members have the ability to share and restrict information based on specific friends or friend lists.  However, under Facebook Policies they disclaimed that all the content posted by any Facebook user is legally own by Facebook.  Here is a video that explains some of these settings, limitations and how to help you and your family be safe while social networking! If you don’t have Facebook and would like to register, this is a short video showing you how.

On the surface, this general social network is connecting *millions* of people every day, but it can also be a great tool for students to use. It presents students with choices about using technology in new and creative ways. For a biography research assignment, perhaps your child could create a facebook page for their historical figure. Even as a purely social activitiy, it is an opportunity for students to be learning about digital citizenship, which is becoming increasingly important.

Facebook Resources for Parents:

7 Things You Should Know About Facebook (pdf)

Facebookforparents.org (sign up for their free newsletter published 3 times each year)

Facebook for Parents on Common Sense Media

How to: Keep Your Facebook Updates Private

Protecting Reputations Online

Social Networks and Kids; how young is too young?


Now, here is where it gets fun! 2 tween girls working on computer

MySpace and Facebook aren't the only social network by any means! There are social networks centered around subjects of interests and appear inmany different ways. What is the important part of idenitfying a social networking site is if it provides you the ability to 'friend' others and share! 

For Kids - Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel, Webkinz, Whyville

Job/Career - LinkedIn is the most popular site for professional networking (sharing your resume, finding other professionals in your field, etc.). Here is some info about LinkedIn, how people use it and why it works.

Music - Pandora, blip.fm, last.fm

Photos - Flickr (you all studied this in Week 8)

Twitter is enomously popular with adults, but studies are showing that teens and kids are not being drawn to this wildly successful social site in the same way that adults are. Twitter is easy to use and more and more people and businesses are using it. Did you know Darien Library is on twitter along with other local groups like AllAboutDarien, FairfieldCountyChild, Darien News, Darien Toy Box and even some local moms!

Videos - YouTube was discussed in Week 9

Thing 15: Join at least one online social network and add a few friends to your network.

It doesn't have to be Facebook, but click here for step-by-step instructions on setting up a new account. Watch this video on privacy settings or read this article about personalizing your settings.

Thing 16: Write a blog post about your experience.

  • What Online Community did you choose? What do you like most about it?
  • How have you used this Community? How do you see yourself using it in the future?
  • Are your kids using social networks? Have you talked with them about online identities?
Thanks to Flickr user kjarrett for the photo available to use with a Creative Commons license!

Week 8: Photosharing

As parents I'm sure you have an abundance of photos from countless sports games, birthday parties, vacations, and other joyous times spent with your children. If you have yet to become a Facebook member and haven't spent time searching through online albums of your "friends," then you are in for a virtual treat with this week's topic!

Photo sharing websites have made creating digital photo albums and sharing pictures with family, friends, and members of other online communities a breeze. Whether for personal or professional use, such websites allow their members and the public to enjoy the beauty of photography.

Flickr, the most well known of all photo sharing websites, is considered an online photo management and sharing application. A basic Flickr account is free, which makes it a practical alternative to other websites such as Snapfish or Kodak Gallery.

If you have never visited Flickr, try browsing through the Darien Library's very  own photostream.                                                                                               (photo courtesy of Flickr user George E. Norkus)

Take a tour of Flickr and learn about some of its functions and offerings.

Some of the unique qualities that have distinguished Flickr among other photo sharing options are as follows:


Tags - Names and keywords that you create to describe photos

Assigning tags makes photos easier to locate on Flickr. For instance, if you've visited New York with your kids recently you may want to assign tags like "empire state building" or "statue of liberty" to some of your shots. **It is important to remember that phrases or multiple words are placed "in quotes" to keep terms together.

Flickr keeps a list of the All Time Most Popular Tags. Click on the baby tag and view the results.

To read more about using tags on Flickr, click here.


Groups - social networking on Flickr

Groups allow users to connect with other members through common interests and passions. It's simple for users to create their own groups if not already available through Flickr, and groups can either be public or private.

Here is a search for Parent Groups on Flickr. View all the groups that appeared using the search term parent.


Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons and how is it beneficial to you as a parent?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that makes it easy for the public to use creative works without violating the laws of copyright. This allows creators to change their copyright terms from "all rights reserved" to "some rights reserved." This makes work free and easy to use and share, as long as one complies with the specified conditions within the Creative Commons licenses.

 This short video clip, starring Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes, explains the origin and the benefits of using Creative Commons.

Flickr provides a section of users who have decided to offer their photos under a Creative Commons license. This makes certain works available for your use, as long as you adhere to the designated licenses. Read about the various licenses available through Flickr: Creative Commons, and search the photos that have listed such licenses.

Thing 12 - Explore Flickr and Creative Commons. Can you think of how these licenses may be useful to you as a parent? Blog about how they may aid or protect your children.

It is also important to be aware of the photos you post online, especially with regards to your children. Flickr makes it easy to control who you share photos with by setting privacy and safety levels. Much like educating kids about using "words they are proud of," parents should also discuss the relevance of this phrase for online photos.

The success of Flickr has prompted the establishment of other photo-sharing websites such as Picasa Web Albums created by Google and Photobucket. You can browse some of these websites without the hassle of setting up an account.

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