Social networking apps and students under 13 – things for parents to consider – an update

kikKik is an instant messaging application for mobile devices which is increasingly being used by our younger students. It is similar to the iPad’s iMessage, but with fare less security. To download the app you must acknowledge that you are at least 17 years of age!

Common Sense Media have written a review of the app, which you can read herkikprivacy1e. While it has some ‘cool’ features (however many of these, such as video and sketchpad are actually other apps that work with Kik and may have fees for premium services) it is seriously lacking security and privacy. The only feature in their privacy settings is the ability to block people.

There was a report in The Australian earlier this year (March 28) of pedophiles using the app to request sexually explicit images from children.

To assist your child in becoming a responsible user of technology and good ‘digital citizen’ you may wish to consider enabling iPad restrictions by going into settings > general > restrictions and selecting what you want to restrict. For example, you can set an age restriction for downloading apps to only allow appropriate apps for the age of your child.

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Social networking apps and students under 13 – things for parents to consider


Instagram is a photo sharing and social networking app which allows members to upload, edit and share photos with other members. Members have the ability to comment on and “like” the photos of people they “follow”.

 “You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service.” (From Instagram’s Terms of Use)

Full Terms of Use can be found here.  Click here for terms of use in plain English.

The article “What parents need to know about Instagram” gives suggested rules for safe use by teens.


Snapchat is used to send photos to friends. The appeal is that the photo is only available for viewing for a limited period of time (one – ten seconds) before disappearing. This, however, could lead to sending inappropriate images in the belief they are deleted forever after viewing.

 From Snapchat’s Terms of Use: “The Snapchat service is intended for use by people who are 13 years of age or older. You represent and warrant that you are at least 13 years of age. If you are under age 13, you may not, under any circumstances or for any reason, use Snapchat. We may, in our sole discretion, refuse to offer the Snapchat application to any person or entity and change its eligibility criteria at any time.

You affirm that you are either more than 18 years of age, or an emancipated minor, or possess legal parental or guardian consent, and are fully able and competent to enter into the terms, conditions, obligations, affirmations, representations, and warranties set forth in these Terms of Use, and to abide by and comply with these Terms of Use.”

Full Terms of Use can be found here.

The article What is Snapchat? Is Snapchat okay for kids? Explains how Snapchat works and concerns with its use.

Point to ponder: Should the legal age for use of these (and possibly other) apps be lowered to account for students who are considered “digital natives” so they can learn responsible use and digital citizenship rather than having them create accounts behind their parents’ backs?

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A guide to organising school work on your iPad

Picture 2I use a select few apps to keep work organised on my iPad in the school environment: Evernote (of course), iAnnotate, iBooks, and occasionally Pages and Good Reader. Each has a different role to play. This is also how I suggest students keep their work organised.

Evernote app


My go-to app. This is the best place to keep any notes taken in class. Students create a ‘notebook’ for each subject and then create a new note for each lesson or topic. I have written about Evernote before, here and here. It is so versatile – as well as being able to take notes directly in the app, it can read multiple file types – PDF, PPT, DOC. I can add images (either from the camera roll or using the camera in the app) to a note, the text of which is then searchable! Oh, I can also record audio.

How does this assist students to be organised? If a student doesn’t copy all the notes from the board before the end of the period, they can take a photo of the notes and have a complete record of the lesson in Evernote. Quite an advantage for students who write slowly, or those with learning difficulties who can then concentrate on what is being said rather than writing it down. The same goes for an audio note, with a teacher’s permission. Students can record instructions; explanations etc. and have the recording for review at home to ensure understanding.

Evernote assigns each user a unique email address, allowing the user to email files to their account, even into to a specific notebook. Although the files are then ‘read only’, it can be extremely useful for some students who need to have all resources for a subject kept in the one place. Just think – course outlines, assignments, notes, all together, not spread across multiple apps. A boon for the organisationally challenged.

Here is a post by the School Library Association of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria detailing how Evernote can be used before, during and after excursions.

iAnnotate app


This PDF annotator seems to have so many more features than the others I have looked at. Although the tools seem a little confusing at first, they are simple to use once you spend the time to explore (or have a student show you!) This is the app to use for any workbook/worksheet type files (especially as documents created on a PC in Word don’t always translate accurately in Pages, whereas saving a Word doc as a PDF keeps the integrity of all the formatting).

For students with certain learning difficulties, the ability to highlight text to change the background colour is an advantage. Typing is a breeze & the icon is easy to identify – for someone who remembers typewriters! Using the ‘quill’ to write free-hand automatically zooms in and enlarges the section you wish to annotate. Quite recently a student showed me how easy it is to add a picture as an annotation, but the feature which really sold me on iAnnotate is the audio note function. Rather than have to write extensive comments on a student’s work, a teacher can record their comment and attach it to the section of the PDF where it applies. What a time saver when marking essays.



This is where to store e-books and PDFs that do not require annotation, such as course outlines, task sheets etc. The ability to create different ‘shelves’ means a student can have a shelf for each subject.



Pages is best used for writing essays, procedures etc. that need to be submitted to a teacher, as it has easy integration with WebDAV – the app we use to access our school network.  I also use Pages for editing simple documents – for me a meeting agenda (which I then email into my Evernote account) – but for students, perhaps a question and answer type worksheet. By simple I mean a document (created on a Windows based computer) without things such as tables and images, as the formatting does not translate well from Word to Pages. Complex documents are best converted to PDF and opened in iAnnotate (as mentioned above).

GoodReader app


I only use GoodReader to move files from apps that don’t have WebDAV integration, (such as iMovie and photos) into the school network. For me the main downfall of GoodReader as an annotator is the size of the pop up window when using the typing function. The window covers a large part of the screen, obscuring the text, quite a problem for a student needing to see the text to answer a question.  But that is only my opinion; others may not find this an issue.

I hope you have found this guide of some use. If you have other apps you prefer for organising school work, I’d love to hear about them.

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Our Lighthouse teachers

I want to extend a big thankyou to the staff who, over the last two terms worked with Shane (a consultant from Xcite Logic), exploring ways to integrate the use of ‘platform agnostic’ ICT and web 2.0 tools into their teaching and learning programmes.

These people have become lighthouse teachers, following a “each one teach one” philosophy, assisting the staff in their departments with their ICT journeys and showing us that it doesn’t matter whether you are taking ‘baby steps’ or leaping head-first into these new technologies; the important thing is to be moving forward.

This group had the added pressure of committing to presenting their work to our senior administrators at a breakfast meeting earlier in the term, then to the whole staff at our staff meeting last week. As teachers we are comfortable in front of students, but standing in front of a roomful of our peers is a different story. Especially when that has to be repeated multiple times to allow everyone to rotate through each presentation. (Although some said the extra practice meant their last presentation ran the smoothest!) So, thank you Dion, Maria, Peter, Ryan and Tina. Thanks also to Alison & Paul who were away on camp, but organised for Shane to present their work.

I have had positive comments from staff suggesting this is their preferred format for ICT professional development.
“Cally this was fantastic…it’s the type of thing I want for PD…”                                         “That was great to have a taste of everything.”

Below are links to/screen shots of some of the work being done by our fantastic staff.

View Our Amazing Earth on by clicking the link below:

Here is a PowerPoint of Web 2.0 tools used with Italian classes “My Baby Steps to Technology”


Edmodo screen shot

Wiki example

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Best Practices in Social Networking for Educators | ASCD11 Interview with Eric Sheninger

In this interview the principal from New Milford High School in New Jersey explains how he changed from being anti social media/social networking to finding a

“passionate group of educators in all different corners of the world committed to helping people like me to learn about web 2.0 technology, engaging students and making learning meaningful and relevant in the twenty-first century.”  

This interview is not directed solely at principals, as Eric details how any teacher can connect with other educators to create an online personal learning network to find support to develop their ict skills.

He suggests to just try one or two things to begin with and follow other people who are

“not only talking the talk, but walking the walk and sort of model what they’re doing … get comfortable before you actually plunge in and start to use it on a routine basis.”

Below are the websites mentioned in the interview:

Connected Principals
The Educator’s PLN
Classroom 2.0

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Google search app updated

The latest Google app update, available for both iPhone and iPad has an audio search function which could rival Siri. You just need to press the microphone icon on the search page then ask your question.

You can even ask Google to “Play the trailer for….” And it will take you directly to YouTube. (I tried “the new James Bond movie” and even “the new Twilight movie”!)

Perhaps my Australian accent is a little difficult for Google to understand at times. “Weather forecast for tomorrow” was translated as “with a full cost for tomorrow a”!

I had better luck with “weather”, with the result for Perth weather appearing almost instantly.

I found it a little frustrating, but also quite amusing seeing how Google interpreted some of my questions. “The next QANTAS flight departing Perth” became “The next QANTAS flight departing Butthead”. I am now asking myself why I didn’t choose to see the search results for this query! Still, it is worth investigating if you own an iPad or iPhone, and if you can enunciate more clearly than I seem to.

Download the free Google Search app from iTunes.

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