Thursday, June 30, 2016

Homeschooling a #HERper--social media edition.

Since my daughter is out and in public on social media, I've gotten questions as to how I manage it. I decided to put that information in one place so at least I have it to refer to later.

First of all, she/you need to know why you're online and on social media. Some social media outlets are more focused on interpersonal communications and networking. Twitter and LinkedIn are both more interpersonal, with Twitter being less professional and LinkedIn more professional and networking focused. Blogs, Webpages, Tumblr, are more one way. Facebook can be either, depending on how you set up a page.

Until age 13, an adult needs to own the page and it needs to be stated on the page that this page is monitored and owned by an adult, not a kid. I spend about an hour every morning monitoring my DD's pages, and am not shy about blocking with impunity and deleting posts. I am also not shy about temporarily hiding someone if they're having a bad day on the more social side. I do not foresee stopping this job on DD's 13th birthday, but rather turning it over to her gradually. She does do most of the posting-most of my job is to sit back and moderate. DD is not allowed to have personal accounts or personal "Friends" on social media, and I limit the "friends" she is allowed to have for texting and iMessage pretty closely as well. Despite her involved public social media presence, she actually has less of a private social media/communications presence than most of the kids her age in our homeschool co-op.

In DD's case, she has kind of a two pronged approach.

Her first level is blogs-blogs are completely under our control. I own the account (on Blogspot), but she creates the content, which then spawns out to social media. Comments are all moderated before they're allowed to appear.

She has two blogs-one is her research blog, and came out of both my desire to have her write more and advice from one of her favorite science bloggers (who is one of the bloggers for Scientific American), which was, simply, to take the stuff that she found interesting in science journals, and make it accessible to her friends. That's where most of her school stuff is blogged, as well as anything from conferences, her own research, and anything else she finds interesting. It may be snakes one week, insects the next, and cool mathematical concepts after that.

Her second is her snake advocacy and outreach blog-this is under "My Little Python", and is where she posts comics and other materials she creates and locates just for kids. This is less closely linked with her, and her goal is actually to eventually be able to have this be an ongoing program, with other kids creating content for it and taking it over as she gets farther out of the key age group.

You can buy a domain name for your blog fairly inexpensively. We may do so eventually, but so far at least, most of her traffic to the blogs comes from social media pages and third party sites where people are just clicking on a link, so I'm not sure that it would benefit her all that much to be "" vs "".

Next, Social Media. All Social media is under the "My Little Python" name-DD's real name doesn't appear anywhere. However, her content from both blogs appears on social media.

First, Facebook.
 FB pages are in the middle-they can be set up more tightly or more loosely.  DD has a FB page and a FB group, both for My Little Python.

DD's goal on the main FB page is to have a page that parents who have reptile/amphibian loving young kids can follow and have a carefully selected collection of screened pictures, links, cartoons, information about activities that may be interesting, and so on.  She follows pages that have good content and shares as appropriate.  Nothing appears on this page directly that wasn't posted by her and screened by me. Comments are moderated closely and anyone who steps even slightly out of line is blocked with impunity.

DD's goal on the sub page is for kids who want to do outreach, both those in our local community who participate in the monthly events she puts together, and those in other areas who want to do so there, can discuss. Because of the age of those kids, it really means their parents can discuss. I'm still a moderator (and also have a few other parents who are moderators as well) but for the most part, discussions flow as they will.

Next, Twitter-

Twitter is most useful for communications. While DD's content is posted there, for the most part, Twitter is where she networks with people doing work in biology in the field, and shares what she finds interesting. She's also been able to network with other webcomic artists, participate in meetings and "tweet-ups" and, basically, be seen as a professional.  She has more followers on twitter than on any other platform. I moderate twitter pretty closely, but have found it to actually be quite congenial. Having said that, I will hide accounts that are obviously personal ones, rather than professional ones, and will outright block anyone who posts anything that is more than PG-13 level.

Pinterest is useful as a place to collect links and neat stuff, less so for communication. We use it more internally for future reference than externally, but I do moderate there as well.


I have to be honest-I don't like instagram. I hate the interface, I find a lot of the stuff posted banal and annoying, and I just plain don't like to use it. But there are really nice snake pictures on it, so we do have a MLP account (and I have a personal one) and follow it, and DD posts photos occasionally. However, honestly, her MLP instagram account gets used most for things like taking photos of Giant MIcrobes placed in various spots on the  UNR biology building and tagging the company in them (like a photo of the stuffed Blue Green Algae in a water quality study lab).

The ones I absolutely do not allow are Tumblr and Reddit. Tumblr has a lot of adult content and unlike Blogspot, does not flag such content (for blogspot, if a page has been identified as "adult", either by the original author, or reported as such, a confirmation page pops up before you can access it. For Tumblr, it just pops up.) Reddit just plain seems to get mean. I also do not allow SnapChat and similar "deletes in X amount of time" because, again, it gets mean fast.

She doesn't have a LinkedIn account yet because neither of us see the point, but if she were going for paying jobs, that might quickly become a useful tool.

DD has attended multiple social media management and science communication workshops, which have stressed the need to keep such pages and accounts polite, cordial, and professional. She has some awesome mentors and people she's in contact with in the field who have been great in that regard. Some of these have been at conferences, some have been online.

You can set up feeds between FB, Twitter, and blogs so information posted on on by you autoposts to the others. Be sparing to avoid redundancy and annoying your followers.

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