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.

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.

Week 6: Communication

boy sending first email on laptopWeb 2.0 tools can make communicating across time and space a breeze! This week we are going to look at some of the newer communication tools and ask you to think about how your kids and family could use, or already are using them.

Way back when...people used to marvel at the speed of email communication. It would revolutionize the world! Want to send a letter to your cousin in Germany? Just click send! No hassle, not hidden fees. In time, you could even attatch photos and insert links. Email was once 'cutting-edge' and has now taken a back seat to other means of communicating in your child's life. The tools we will briefly explore this week are:

  • Chat (online conversation between two or more parties)
  • IM (Instant Messaging, text-based conversation)
  • Video Chat (chatting online through use of video)
  • SMS (Text Messaging on mobile devices)
  • Gaming & Virtual Worlds

These are all quick and easy ways to connect with your kids on the go, but make sure you have the right plans to avoid surprise charges! Since these are the preferred methods of communicating for most teens, it is important to make sure you are familiar with them as well.

There are many ways of chatting online now. For young people, the days of the anyonymous chat rooms are long gone and the ability to chat with friends online now comes in many forms. Kids can use Instant Messaging, set up private chat rooms using sites like tinychat, chat through their email (Google Chat) and even within social networks like Facebook.
    compilation of chat service logos

There are many different providers of IM services. The most popular are:
*AOL Instant Messenger (download free application & web-based, account is free)
*Google Talk (web-based application built into GMail, account is free)
*Yahoo! Messenger (download free application, account is free)

These applications are fantastic for allowing you to live-chat with others who have accounts with the same providers, but that does not mean you need to keep track of lots of different accounts in all those different places! Programs like, Meebo and Pidgin act like an aggregator (remember that phrase from the RSS lesson?), which allows you to add multiple accounts into one application to chat with anyone in your Buddy Lists! For Mac users out there, accounts can also be added into iChat for free chatting. Here is a great overview of how Instant Messaging works.

Some university professors are using these chat services to create a 'backchannel' and chat allows students to discuss lectures in real-time without actually saying a word in the classroom. I've used Chatzy at conferences before with great success and has served as a record of sorts. Another popular backchannel is Twitter, a micro-blogging site that will be covered in Week 10's lesson.

    Many of these chat clients allow you to type with another person, but screenshot of family using video chatadditionally, now allow you to use video to communicate with others! This has been fabulous for me since all of my family live in different states. I am able to chat with my sister and nieces in AZ as well as my dad in MN and friends in TX - all for free! Many video chatting services are free, but not all. Some companies like Skype have free downloads for the applications, but may have rates applied when using it in substitution for phone service. Oovo is a competitor to Skype.
    Video chatting is relatively new, but catching on quickly. A new site called, Chatroulette is garnering attention for both good news (created by a 17 year old!) and bad (Dangerous Website Parents Must Know About). Video conferencing has been used by businesses, but the market is expanding to the everyday computer user now. Admittedly, it was awkward seeing myself on camera at first, but I got over it. Having a strong relationship with my 4 year-old niece despite only seeing her once a year - is worth it! Do you have family spread around the country or globe? Why not give free video chat a try?

SMS (Text Messaging):
    SMS, stands for Short Messaging Service andblack & white photo of girl texting on iPhone is a service that allows people to send short messages of up to 160 characters via cell phone. There are costs involved and many different plans available from your service provider to both send and receive texts. With around 500 *billion* text messages being sent per year, it is a powerful means of communicating and kids love it! Given the schedules teenagers keep, is it any wonder that they appreciate the convenience, speed and privacy of texting? You don't have to be text-illiterate though. Read up on how teens use mobile phones, texting while driving, and the dreaded phrase, "sexting."


Virtual worlds and online games are abundant, growing, and slowly merging into each other as sites incorporate the social elements of online communication with the activity of playing games. Choose carefully what is approriate for your child's age and your pocketbook!

For younger kids Club Penguin, ToonTown and Webkinz still rule the market for moderated, safe online communities for kids while sites like Teen Second Life, Habbo Hotel and Runescape have the Teen virtual market cornered. XBox and other gamling platforms have taken playing games from one-on-one to global communities! The TeenAngels are an extreme and organized example of how teens are good at self-moderating. If you show them right from wrong, they will often choose right.


With all online communications, please make sure to talk with your child, no matter how old, about online behavior. Review safety precautions with your children, including:
   1. Never give out personal information, such as your real name, age, location, phone number, or school.
   2. Never share your password with anyone except your parents and legal guardians. Someone else might use your password and pretend to be you, or give out your personal information or do something that may get you into trouble.
   3. Tell your parents and legal guardians if someone says or does something on the Internet that makes you uncomfortable, or if someone asks you for personal information.
   4. Choose a username that does not reflect your real identity. Avoid names that are in any way suggestive, even if they seem innocent to you. (Parents, sound like familiar advice?)

Remember parents, you are in charge and can set rules and guidelines with your children's internet use. Read more about Internet Safety:
Chat Room Safety
GetNetWise, Chat
Microsoft Online Safety, Protect Your Family

Communicating through technology has gotten a whole lot more sophisticated, but if you apply the same rules and guildlines online that you would if were sending your child to the mall alone, they will have an enjoyable and safe experience. The advantages for you as a parent are numerous! You can also have real-time communication with your kids! Other than the clicking of the keyboards, chatting and texting are quiet activities that allow your child to feel connected to other people and are is not disruptive to other people. But with those advantages comes the responsibility to show and teach your kids how to navigate this world that is free, open and uncensored. Remember that there is no 100% fool-proof way to shield anyone from offensive or questionable content online, but you can establish an open conversation with your child about what your behavioral expectations are.

Now, finally, we come to...

THING #9 - Use one form of chat or text and write a blog post about it.

Tell us what you think of Instant Messaging; Do you like it? What concerns do you have using a tool like Instant Messaging? Does your child use it? What about the faculty at his/her school? Have you ever used it while performing a transaction shopping online? Try chatting with your child in another room then talk about how it was different. How did you feel about the speed?

If you're nervous and not sure where or who to start with, you can IM the Darien Librarians! You can contact the Knowledge and Learning Services Librarians through the Contact Us page OR you can IM us in the Children's Library on AIM! Our handle is "DeweyDarienKids" and we're happy to talk books, programs or answer any questions you may have! 

Remember that for the duration of your program, you will be recording your experience through your own personal blog. If you haven't sent your link to the Children's Librarians yet, please do so - childrenslibrarians@darienlibrary.org - and we will assign you a mentor! See Week 2 for more information.

Photos by Flickr Users: afsilva, kmakice, BdWayDiva1

Social Bookmarking 2010

Raise your hand if you've ever been frustrated because you can't remember the name of that interesting/useful website and it's only bookmarked on your home computer and you're at work (or vice versa)? 

Well, social bookmarking is here to save the day.  Social bookmarking sites allow you to save webpages you like to one bookmarking website, so you can access them from more than one computer or place.  Convenient! 

What is social bookmarking?  And what can you do with it?

With social bookmarking, you can search your bookmarks from any computer or mobile device just by logging onto your social bookmarking account (different sites are outlined below). 

The "social" aspect refers to the interaction between users of bookmarking sites.  You can label, or "tag", your bookmarks to organize them the way you want, like "Investment Info" or "Cool Games for Kids".  You'll be able to see sites that other people have tagged with the same label, and they can see sites you've bookmarked or tagged*.  This helps you save time by introducing new sites on topics in which you are interested.  

 Diigo:  Bookmarking, highlighting, and notation made easy

Diigo is a website that allows you to collect other websites and information and store them for access from anywhere.  It's compatible with iPhones, iPads, and Droid phones, so you can find (and re-find) what you've saved.  You're can highlight information on a certain page and view your highlights, or notes, even when you visit the page from other computers or web devices!  Pretty cool.

This video shows you how to use Diigo and its tools.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.


Which leads us to...

Thing 8:  Create a Diigo account and bookmark 3 websites you like or use frequently

After creating an account, at the upper right corner of the Diigo website, click on Tools to download the Diigo toolbar or Diigolet: 

The Diigo toolbar will display all of the Diigo tools whenever you're signed in to your account.  If you don't want a permanent toolbar, the Diigolet doesn't need to be downloaded, just drag the Diigolet button to the top of the browser window as shown on their page and click it--a temporary toolbar will appear.

If you're feeling ambitious, try highlighting or adding a sticky note to a page.  Play around with the tools Diigo offers, there are no mistakes!

*No one will be able to see your tags unless you'd like to share.  You can adjust your options in "Account Settings" in the drop-down menu under your sign-in name at the top of the page, once you're signed in.  You can also choose not to see other people's notes on pages you visit.


Some other bookmarking sites:


One of the most popular bookmarking sites is Delicious, which is very similar to Diigo.  If you have a Gmail account, Google has Google Bookmarks.  There are also some social bookmarking sites that are "amped up."  On these sites, you can vote for your favorite articles that have been bookmarked by other people that day. Examples of these are Digg, and Reddit.  These are fun to look through if you like to see what people online are talking about right now.  Some of the articles are quirky or about topics you might not necessarily gravitate towards, but that's what makes it so interesting!

On a side note...check out this post for some guidance about starting your own blog from Week 2.

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