Thursday, 26 February 2009

Twittering on

Twitter is another one of those applications, like Facebook, that I am not in the least bit interested in using myself but which I find interesting in terms of others' use. So the release of another Pew Internet report, this time focusing on who engages with Twitter and how they engage with it, makes interesting reading. For those of us also interested in citizen journalism, the fact that Twitter is often the first source for breaking news is no surprise, given the number of people now constantly online wherever they go. So when the amazing story of the plane that landed in the Hudson river broke, one of the first to report the story was a Twitter user. And don't think this relates only to adults - even unborn babies are using Twitter...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Gaming for Good ™

KZero regularly produce useful charts that detail the growth of virtual worlds. They now have a chart that outlines the range of virtual worlds aimed at five- to ten-year-olds, available here. Not sure why a perennial favourite, Club Penguin, isn't listed. The chart indicates that Barbie Girls now has 17 million registered accounts, but that is eclipsed by Pearson Education's Poptropica at 40 million accounts (the games are good, apparently). With so many worlds flooding the market, it isn't easy for new ones to make a splash, but Elf Island has. This virtual world links the gaming to 'real-world' non-profit projects and attempts to inculcate the values of good citizenship. As the producers state on the site:

Through Mirrored Gaming, kids learn about non-profit projects and, by completing a GoodQuest, they help real people, animals and the earth.
- Planting a tree in our virtual world causes trees to be planted in the real world.
- Building a home in our virtual world causes real homes to be built in the real world.
- Helping sharks in our virtual world helps sharks in the real world.

I like the concept of Mirrored Gaming™ , as it explained on the Elf Island Blog (practising good online and reflecting that good offline) - but wonder why the producers of the game felt the need to trademark the phrase - as they have also done with the phrase 'Gaming for Good ™? Let's hope they had good intentions for doing so.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Media life histories

I have been reminiscing with students I have been teaching on an online 'Media, childhood and youth' module about my own media life history, as a means of starting the group off thinking about the role that media and new technologies played in their own childhood and youth. I was a little shocked when looking back on my own life how ancient some of the technologies I used were, such as my precious second-hand Grundig reel-to-reel recorder. I just hadn't thought about some of the technologies I used for years and I guess had lost sight of how ancient I am in relation to new technologies! So, good job that for oldies like me, old playthings keep getting reinvented for the digital age. The favourite 'Etch-a-Sketch' for example, can now be played on a TV screen. Fab! Now all I need is the reel-to-reel to be reincarnated in some form, maybe linked to the ipod, so that I can re-live my youth in the 21st century!

Friday, 6 February 2009

iphone kids

I have posted before about the way in which iphones are very accessible to young children (for example, see the YouTube iphone baby posts here, growing by the week.) Now we hear of a nine-year-old Malaysian boy, Lim Ding Wen, who has written a drawing application for the phone that has been downloaded more than 4,000 times from Apple itunes in less than two weeks. To me, this reinforces the arguments of those who suggest that we should teach children programming skills in schools. Lim Ding Wen is obviously very talented, but all children could learn some basic programming that would help them to engage in creative game production. Shouldn't this be seen as a key 21st digital literacy skill?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Good Childhoods?

This week has seen the launch of the 'The Good Childhood Inquiry' Report - yet another publication on childhood which mixes helpful and constructive messages with some plain scaremongering, not least about single-parent families. Research linked to single-parent families is not reviewed in relation to the other factors which might be at play in many single-parent families, such as poverty, and this leads to judgements about causation rather than correlation. Thank goodness for the NSPCC, whose Director of Services for Children and Young People, Wes Cuell, has sensible things to say about this "child-panic". If only all public bodies that have children's interests in mind were this sensible...