Are Kids Search Engine Savvy? – 2009 Edition

This morning I read an article in the New York Times titled: Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet written by Stefanie Olsen. The article discusses that online searches are still challenging for kids even though there are many choices available such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and many others. Some of the challenges identified were the children finding the right keywords to use for the search.

User content sites like Wikipedia are also helpful but parents should get involved to make sure results are valid. Yahoo also has a website for kids called Yahoo Kids. allows the user to input a question such as “What are the names of the US Presidents” then an answer is returned. Common Sense Media has a section with website reviews by age.

This made me think back to my post from 2008 titled “Are Kids Search Engine Savvy?” where I included links to some kid friendly sites. In that post I had found a site called “Kid Safe Search sites” that had a site made by Librarians called “Kids Click“.

To solve this challenge, maybe the search engine sites should hire Librarians, parents and kids to show their needs and have that reflected in the programming for the search engines. True to the points made in the New York Times article about children searching on the Internet, my 5th grader starts with image and video searchs and even has “voice” activation working on his MACbook – so the future needs of search should include a multi-platform approach. Bing’s Visual search, Google’s multiple search options and Yahoo’s advance video searches are good examples.

I will start to look at other new kid friendly sites as well to update my 2008 post. More to come..


Day in the Cloud Challenge – With Virgin America and Google

I made the sacrifice this morning to get up at 3:30am (after blogging until 12:30am) to attend a 6am Virgin America/Google event called " Day in the Cloud" challenge. There are very few things that will get me out of bed at 3:30am. Before this it was only for night breastfeedings when my boys were infants. This time I had to chance to be on a Virgin America flight from SFO to LAX with other media – that were playing an online challenge game against the Virgin America flight from LAX to SFO. The Virgin America flights have GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi so we could all go online after the flight was above 10,000 feet. 

The challenge is an online game that is a combination of brain teasers and questions. The term "cloud" relates to cloud computing: "Cloud computing is a new way of using your computer that lets you
store, access and share your information through the web, instead of on
your hard drive."

Gaming on the airplane – my 10 year old son would be so proud.

**All of today those on other Virgin America flights and even those on ground can play the challenge (on June 24 until midnight) by logging onto the Day in the Cloud website**

Luckily, I answered questions on cloud computing and Google Apps right – but could not handle the brain teasers on 2 hours of sleep.. I tried… One of the questions was about Google Talk emoticons. I was sitting with a group of fellow gamers and we just "Googled" Google Talk emoticons to find the answer. One brain teaser was "What is second largest cave chamber in the United states", which we also found in Wikipedia using Google search.  Part of the challenge is demonstrating the ability to find the answers online. One of the gamers is an official "puzzle" expert, so I decided to site next to him to learn some puzzle strategy. He was helping me with strategies to find answers, and I was excited to at least help him on one question (it required language translation so I said he should just enter the phrase into Google Translate).

As always, meeting the other participants is part of the fun. I sat next to my GadgetSpin buddy Eliane from Ubergizmo. Behind us on the plane was one of the Virgin America social media guys that we had met originally on the Orange County Virgin America launch party (Bowen).  Two bloggers from sites that I read every day on my RSS feeds were sitting in front of me ( Ben Parr from Mashable and Anthony Ha from Venture Beat). There were also Google and Virgin America representatives to talk with.

The most fun Google representative for me to talk with was Google Digital Mom Jenn Mazzon. We not only shared thoughts about our busy lives as moms of multiples, but also strategies for working mom family management. Jenn shared her use of Google Calender and Google Apps as family management tools in a video interview that I will load this weekend.

I will have another chance on my flight back to SFO to play the challenge. I need to have more caffeine before I can attempt playing again. Or just sit next to the Puzzle expert…

Later tonight I will load some pictures.

Disclosure: I was NOT paid to attend this event, but the Virgin America flights for media covering the event were complimentary.


Moms – Create Your Own Social Start Page

One of the things that transformed the way I get my information was when I set up RSS feeds on my home pages. RSS feeds is a way to subscribe to different websites and blog so you get can that information sent to your email or displayed on a central page.

I have two emails that I use each day, Yahoo for my personal business and Google for my business emails. When I log onto MyYahoo and iGoogle home pages, I have my relevant RSS feeds (i.e. personal or business) displayed so I can keep up to date.

I just read in Mashable today a post that described this process in the perfect words: "Social Start Page". In a perfect world, you would log onto one screen that summarizes not only your RSS feeds, but also has links to all your online social networks. Here is a link to the post with recommendations to other sites that help streamline your day by streamlining your information.

Mashable: 7 Ways to Create Your Own Social Start Page


Digital Moms Panel at Google

After SXSW, it was thrilling to hear that the Digital Moms discussion is continuing. Today I was part of a panel at Google that discussed how we (as moms) perform information research and communicate in the digital world. A team from Kellogg was in town to join in on the discussion.  Here is the panel:

IMG_0043 From left to right: Jill Asher  (Silicon Valley Moms Group) Grace Davis (State of Grace), Beth Blecherman (also of SV Moms Group event & TechMamas),  Megan Calhoun (Twittermoms) and Mindy Roberts (The Mommy Blog).

We sat down before the panel to say hi, and although some of us had never met live – we felt like we knew each other already from online social networking.

I will blog in the next few days with some of the notes I took of the discussion, but for now – off to bed.

But before I go to bed, I want to support my fellow mom blogger Grace Davis (we call her the Queen and now Mother to Rock Stars) and plug her stepkiddo and Fiance's bands: Twilight Sleep and Silversun Pickups (after still feeling the SXSW Music vibe…).


Google Latitude- New Tool For Tracking Family/Friends? Or Privacy Issue?

Google announced today their new application called Google Latitude that allows tracking of locations via cellphone using GPS.  Techmeme today was abuzz about this. VentureBeat added that Google is getting ahead in the social networking game (and I agree). All Things Digital posted with a test run where the blogger (Katherine Boehret ) "stalked her sister, boyfriend and boss".

@momsatwork brought up a good discussion point on Twitter  "New Google tracking software is every teen's nightmare.".

I responded @techmama "Google Latitude not teen's nightmare. I say parents new tool ( At library? – no you're at mall).."

At that point, I decided it was time to post.

First of all it is important to understand how Google Latitude works (excerpt from Official Google Blog post):

"Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on your mobile device. It's
also an iGoogle gadget on your computer. Once you've opted in to
Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and
loved ones who have decided to share their location with you."

Continuing on in the post, it mentions the privacy issue:

"Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've
built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application.
Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who
gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they

The good news is that the service is completely "opt-in" and can be disabled at any time. Here is the video about Google Latitude privacy (IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS especially to share with teens to ensure they UNDERSTAND the privacy settings):

So looking back on the Twitter conversation, yes – it may be teenager's who lie to their parents worse nightmare. For example, if a parent set up Latitude PRIVACY settings to only allow parents to track their teen's cellphone – then if their teenager said they are at the library studying when really they are at the mall shopping – they would be caught. 

On the cool side, isn't some of being a teenager sneaking off with friends? On the non-cool side – maybe it is easier to be honest with parents to show responsibility (which teens need to have a phone in the first place). On the other hand, it may not be appropriate for parents to be online all day tracking where their teens are. Also, teenagers could always work around or disable the settings.

Well then, what is the middle ground?

My suggestion for any parent whose teen has a cell phone is to SPEND THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND GOOGLE LATITUDE'S PRIVACY SETTINGS.

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