A convergence of events has resulted in an exciting experiment!
First, my son posted his VoiceThread. Second, people from my Twitter network whom I had met face-to-face at recent ed tech conferences were kind enough to comment on it. Third, the Twitter chatter before or at that time revealed that several of us had offspring that are currently eight years old.
One Twitter friend wanted her son to comment on the VoiceThread, a more authentic and age-appropriate critique than the ed tech folks that kindly responded to my request. My son’s response? “Does he have e-mail? Can I meet him? Can he come over and play?”
Tweets were exchanged. Moms checked out options. (We didn’t like Youth Twitter, for those of you who wonder, because the Tweets are ALL public. Unlike our Twitter, there’s no @ function or DM.) But we really wanted to harness the power of this interest in connection among our own kids.
So we set them up with their own Twitter accounts – protected and followed closely by us. We struggled through the details, like if we follow them, they see all of our exchanges with our friends. (No, no, no. That’s not what I had in mind!) We closely monitor their Twitter time, and we happily deny requests for followers that we don’t know personally.
Funny thing is, within ONE DAY, the number of Twitterers in this small group had doubled. Now we have FOUR kids of ed tech geeks – none of whom have met each other – vying for computer time with their parents, just to see what their Twitter network has to say.
So far the messages have been somewhat tentative. There have been few repeated exchanges. As parents we agreed to let them “spell creatively” for the time being. (They are, after all, in about second grade.) Then again, one really geeky parent pointed out that his child already knows how to “ff” for spellcheck. (I didn’t know about that option… thanks!)
Also, one parent noticed that her child really wasn’t into messaging these kids that were strangers, thus far. Just wanted to send Tweets to Mom. (Awww, how cute!)
On my end, I found it fascinating that my son wanted to dictate his Tweets to me, rather than type them himself. (He types letters and e-mails to people all the time!) I went along with this request for the first day, so that he could see how the process worked. But then I told him it was his Twitter, and the other kids need HIM to write his own Tweets – spelling and capitalization errors and all.
Last observation… it is hard for my child, a talkative boy with a great vocabulary, to fit his thoughts into 140 characters. Does anyone else experience this? (And I’m talking to the adults here…) We may have to use two or three Tweets in a row for a while. That’s OK. No one minds. These four are rarely online at the same time anyway!
So… What topics dominate this beta-group of Twitterers? Surprisingly childlike topics… the “Ironman” movie… the PC game “Age of Mythology”… kite flying… ice skating.
And it’s nice to know that kids – even kids of ed tech geeks like us – will still stay kids. (At least for a little while.)