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.

Do you remember when email was new and exciting?  It would revolutionize the world! Want to send a letter to your cousin in Germany? Just click! No hassle, no 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 communication. 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.
 

CHAT:
There are many ways of chatting online now. For young people, the days of the anyonymous chat rooms are long gone. Instead, kids can use Instant Messaging, set up private chat rooms for their group of friends using sites like tinychat, chat through their email (Google Chat) and even within social networks like Facebook.
    compilation of chat service logos

IM (Instant Messaging):
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.

 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. Another popular backchannel is Twitter, a micro-blogging site that will be covered in Week 10's lesson.

VIDEO:
      Chatting is no longer limited to just text.  To connect with family out of town, free video chat services like Skype are wonderful.  

 

 GAMING & VIRTUAL WORLDS:

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.

SAFETY:

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

Communicating through technology has gotten more sophisticated, but if you apply the same rules and guidelines online that you would if were sending your child to the mall alone, they will have an enjoyable and safe experience. 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 10: Choose one form of chat or text to try 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! 

 

Photos by Flickr Users: afsilva, kmakice, BdWayDiva1

Comments

I am fairly comfortable with

I am fairly comfortable with IM'ing, so this is not that new. I did, however recently utilize the Google chat while reviewing a document on Google reader with a person I was getting advice from. This was very cool to be able to collaborate real time and make changes without sending attachments back and forth!