Saturday, June 28, 2008

Adventures with Filtering & Blocking -- and Team Parenting

Difficult to be a working parent with different perspectives than your spouse.

I tried to set the Internet Explorer settings to need a password to get to new locations on the web. The point was for my young son and daughter (12 and 10, respectively) to need to talk with us before trying new websites. This was working fairly well when I was working from home a lot recently. But on my way home from working at a client's office, my husband called me on my cell to doublecheck the password. He just wanted to keep waiving my son through sites so he could work on his Boy Scout merit badge on Environmental Sciences.

When I got home, I sat down with my son to talk further when he asked me to waive Wikipedia through. He was looking for a place to research oceanographic careers. When I asked "Why Wikipedia?", he just knew that it was a good starting point. So we spent 15 minutes with a continuing discussion about how you search on the web, all the good web search tools for kids that are out there, that Wikipedia is a good starting place but not the be-all, end-all, etc. I really do like Wikipedia for the outside links toward the bottom -- it is a good place to find a basic definition and then expand from there into the outside resources to see the variety of quality research that is available. But it isn't what a 12 year old should be using as his primary information on oceanographic careers. We took the time to scan through links to about 6 universities' career pages in their oceanographic research departments. We were able to get to these from Wikipedia indirectly and then went to other search engines to see what we could see from there. (This is why I created, so kids could have other search starting points for finding great things online.)

But it does take (a) the time, (b) understanding what is out there (which many parents dont' know), (c) uniform behaviors from both parents (which we ourselves don't have), and (d) equal or sufficient knowledge from one or more parents (which my educated the web savvy husband really doesn't have abundantly).

We really are on different "pages." Do other families have this issue?

My husband says that he "trusts" the kids and does not feel responsible for making sure they are learning how to find their way in the world. He's happy that our kids can find Google and get to websites. He doesn't care much about what websites they go to as long as they are "safe," whatever that means.

As my husband says, "If it doesn't matter to his teachers where he gets his information, why does it matter to us?"



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do I Let My 14 Year Old On MySpace, Part 2

I've noted before, if you respond to your teen's request to be on MySpace with "no," chances are he/she will head one of two directions: tiptoing around you to do it anyway or go somewhere else. And as I wrote recently, they could end up at someplace worse, like Stickam.

Take a look at the Parent Care tools at MySpace under Privacy Features. You can easily find its overview video and download at It is a nice feature to provide a background monitoring and authentication of your child's age, etc.

Also, for insights on other places to take your kids, take a look at Connected Parent at Yahoo! Kids. They have a recent post as to the results of the recent Symantec poll that we don't really know what our kids are doing:
Site overall:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stickam -- Different Things to Worry About than MySpace

Another note from the Nielsen Online report yesterday...and another thing to worry about: Stickam.

About six months ago, one parent of a 14 year old approached me with her "answer" to MySpace. "I just won't let my daughter go on it," she said proudly. I told her "that's fine -- where did she go instead?" "What?" "Your daughter," I continued, "is doing one of two things. She is going onto Myspace anyway with some other means, like a friend's house or some other web access. That's the better answer, but means you need to figure out how to communicate with her better."

"More likely, she is going somewhere else that is probably even less attractive."

The mother saw me a couple of days later and said she had found out her daughter went to Stickam instead. I blanched. And according to the recent Nielsen Online report, for 12 to 17 year olds, Stickam is now the #1 online video source.

Table 3: Top 10 Online Video Destinations: Age 12-17 (U.S., Home)
Unique Viewer 12-17 Unique
Brand/Channel Composition % Viewers (000)
Stickam 44.3 106 42.9 310
Atlantic Records 42.7 273
Epic Records 41.5 180
bebo 40.2 114 40.1 123
NABBR 37.4 1,336
GamesRadar 34.6 180
Paramount Films 33.8 198
Photobucket 30.7 767
Source: Nielsen Online, VideoCensus
100,000 Unique Viewer Minimum

Not surprised at most of the above, but parents probably don't know what a bunch of these are. is a rapidly growing social network around music. bebo is a social network, largely focused around music. NABBR is a social widget company that aggregates music and teen media sites and helps promote them.

But Stickam? Live unmoderated webstreaming. I haven't looked in a few months...and looked again to find it worse. Live radio shows, young teen girls talking to their webcams, chat rooms that look more like places to hook up.

It is owned by Advanced Video Communications and runs out of downtown Los Angeles, but according to a July 2007 NYT Article, it is owned by Wataru Takahashi, "a Japanese businessman who also owns and operates DTI Services, a vast network of Web sites offering live sex shows over Web cameras." According to the article he owns over 40 pornography sites.

As a parent, this gives me the jitters. MySpace, with all its challenges, as tools to protect kids from their own behaviors as they are learning to be real people online.

This site instead brings out the voyeur in everyone and encourages behavior that I'm not sure these parents are aware of...


Do any parents have good experiences with this? Or suggestions on where they should encourage their 12-17 year olds to go instead?

Related Article: July 2007 NYT link regarding porn and the parent company

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kid Vid Online

Today's Nielsen Online just showed what I'm already seeing -- kids are event more entranced with online video than us adults. Obvious, you say? I'm saying kids, not just teens.

The numbers that just came out from Nielsen is of their estimate of Unique Viewers, kids 2-11 who are watching online videos are watching 51 streams/viewer and 118 minutes a month. Kids 12-17 are watching 74 streams/month at 132 minutes/viewer, with more time per month than adults according to Nielsen Online:

Table 1: Monthly Online Video Consumption among Kids, Teens and Adults
(U.S., Home Only, April 2008)
Unique Viewers Unique Viewer Streams per Min per
Age (000) Comp % Viewer Viewer
2-11 7,966 8.4 51.0 117.9
12-17 11,632 12.3 74.2 132.4
18+ 75,122 79.3 44.3 99.4
Source: Nielsen Online, VideoCensus

And what are these kids watching for their 51 streams/month (almost 2/day)? According to Nielsen Online:

Table 2: Top 10 Online Video Destinations: Age 2-11 (U.S., Home)
Unique Viewer 2-11 Unique
Brand/Channel Composition % Viewers (000)
Disney Records 49.6 179* 48.0 161
MyePets** 47.6 161
JETIX 46.9 159
Playhouse Disney 43.9 340
PBS Kids 43.1 281
LEGO 40.9 137
NickJr 39.6 718
Barbie 39.6 105
Nick 39.3 1,009
Source: Nielsen Online, VideoCensus
100,000 Unique Viewer Minimum

* is aggregated site for Barbie, Polly Pockets, My Scene, Furryvile and Doggie Daycare
** MyePets is owned by MGA, the folks who run Bratz, and according to is running at about 225,000 uniques/month now
....there are about 4 million people in each "age" in the U.S. Some more, some less. In fact, we're in a bit of a boom right now...

So if I am understanding these correctly, about half of the 12-17's (6 years of kids, so 12MM/24MM) are watching online videos in April and about 20% of kids 2-11 (10 years, so 8MM/40MM). Adults 18+ in the U.S. are 229MM out of the 303MM 1/08 according to US Census, so that pencils to 32% usage among adults. So kids are nearly at the adult adoption rate, and half of teens are using online video. Very interesting.....

And we're still at about 1-1/2 hours per month for adults and around 2 hours/month for 2-17...but that's an average. The skew under those averages for teens must be quite interesting, as I meet more and more teens who watch "video" mostly online.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lessons from the Clinton Campaign -- Not to Forget

One forgets sometime, despite being a mom in my 40's, that life has not always been with its current abundance of opportunities for women. I had not been thinking of the election as a learning experience for my children until yesterday's speech by Hillary Clinton --
You also can listen at NPR at

I'm asking my children, especially my daughters, to listen again, specifically to the following perspective:

  • To all those women in their 80s and their 90s born before women could vote who cast their votes for our campaign. I’ve told you before about Florence Steen of South Dakota, who was 88 years old, and insisted that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. Her daughter and a friend put an American flag behind her bed and helped her fill out the ballot. She passed away soon after, and under state law, her ballot didn’t count. But her daughter later told a reporter, “My dad’s an ornery old cowboy, and he didn’t like it when he heard mom’s vote wouldn’t be counted. I don’t think he had voted in 20 years. But he voted in place of my mom.”
My husband and I spend a lot of time talking with our kids about life from the past -- that life has not always had the opportunities it has now. On the fun side, we have been using Netflix for expanding our children's perspectives about how life has changed. We have had a tremendous about of both fun and indepth conversation following anything from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to Some Like it Hot on the lighter side while my younger kids are still in elementary and middle school to show them that women haven't always had the broad lives and expectations that they have now. We take them with us, especially when they are younger, to vote to see how this is important in their lives, and talk about the challenges of getting the vote. But I had forgotten about yesterday as a teachable moment...and a moment in history itself.

My daughters will probably be explaining this year to their own children when they walk them to school or watch old movies...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer School Online?

My oldest daughter is looking for online high school courses to add to her summer online. We found the Harvard Distance learning program, which evidently closes out some time ahead. We have found the expected forces from Kaplan and the like, as well as the Christian-focused resources. What else is out there? More to follow soon on this topic...especially if she finds a great Japanese course.

And what else can we steer our tweens and teens to experience online? So far in the things my 14-year-old is looking at, she loves In fact, her quote is "Ted Rocks." I do agree.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Company stuff a bubblin'

I'm trying to figure out what's up with all these efforts:

HP's fall product launch for teens -- -- Ameer Karim, director of HP's future and innovations group for consumer PCs, announced launching a new line of products designed by teens at SD Forum's second annual Tech for Teens event, Teens Plugged In.

Sun's spinout of Fresh Brain -- -- a cool learn-to-do-digital toolbox for online teens, sprouted with Sun tech and Sun people.

And during June 2-4, 2008, Parsons The New School for Design's in New York is the platform at its 5th annual Games for Change -- -- for two companies' annoucement:
Fascinating that these are projects facing the tech communities, and not facing educators, parent groups, and the like. Or are they? Anyone know of any plans to actively market these endeavors to parents and families directly through their own media?