I’ve been an avid tweeter on Twitter for the past 4 years now. Over time I’ve built up a good following of almost 1800 people, most of whom have chosen to follow me and not done so through a “find me followers quick” scheme.
A lot of these people, completely new acquaintances to me, have gone on to become very good friends, the sort you feel you’ve known all your life. So to me Twitter has been an enriching experience.
It is also something that has enabled me to achieve some remarkable things.
The following are just a few examples of the difference Twitter has made in my life:
My first success was to provide all the speakers for a national one day conference on using social media in charities via Twitter. The event at the National Railway Museum, York proved to be a real hit with those who attended and it was run at a price most people could afford, unlike some of the one’s held in London!
My second significant achievement was to develop my Freelance Fundraiser website with the help of a good Twitter friend @johnhaydon who is based in Cambridge, MA. He did this using Skype over a couple of evening to talk me through the techie bits of the process.
Last year, I tweeted one morning about a new Government website that allows people to suggest laws to repeal or change. I tweeted how I’d gone on to ask to have the Gift Aid law changed, so that people opt in, rather than opt out. Charities would make more money and have less admin if it was this way round. At lunchtime that day I had a phone call from BBC2’s Newsnight, the UK’s premier evening news programme. By 4pm I was in theLeeds BBC Studio recording and at 22:30 I was on national TV. All because of one little tweet!
I’m currently organising the first ever social media surgery at the Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival in Cheltenham over the 2011 August Bank Holiday. All of the volunteer “surgeons” have been sourced via Twitter.
Then about two hours ago I got a tweet about a tweet I sent a few weeks ago. It was a competition about how satellite WiFi could help people in rural areas. I tweeted about helping to make young people less isolated in rural communities via social media. The tweet I received said I had one the competition and would be the proud owner of a new Apple iPad2 and get a year’s free satellite WiFi from Tooway.
Now would someone like to tell me that Twitter is a waste of time, or will you start to take it a bit more seriously as another medium for developing communications and relationships at all levels, as well as being a great business and productivity tool?
My Mother always said she’d rather have half a dozen teenage boys than one teenage girl. I think she might have been exaggerating a little! However, I do begin to see her point. My son is 18 and about to go off to Uni, whereas my daughter has just turned 13 and, in the past 6 months, she’s suddnely discovered Facebook and Twitter in a big way, as well as a whole host of other social media sites.
Now being a parent who is very socmed savvy and can see what a wonderful thing it is to be able to enage and develop quality relationships online with people all round the globe, there’s a part of me that wants to say, “Yes! Go for it and discover all you can.” On the other hand, I’m aware of the dangers online for young people and of the addictive nature of socmed. (I probably spend too much time myself online and getting distracted by it, but then I have the excuse of, “It’s part of what I do.”)
So how do you handle a 13 yr old girl, who is very PC literate, spends hours talking to her friends online and is incredibly obstinate and difficult when it comes to doing her homework?
I know, I can hear you saying, “Just put your foot down.” I wish it were that simple, but I believe in the carrot rather than the stick approach, so I’d rather negotiate a halfway: “You do your homework and in return you get x hours online each day.”
Today was Day 1. She was a bit shell shocked in the car when I told her I had loaded Norton’s Parental Control software on her PC and that she had limited time periods when she could access the Internet. For some reason I don’t understand, it didn’t boot her out at the appointed time. It may have been because she was late in from dancing after school, so I overrode the controls, to let her have an extra hour and it may have affected the later stop time.
If it works, it’s a really good programme that even allows me to control her PC remotely from mine and shut it down if she’s broken the rules!
I can see a carrot scenario developing too. If she’s good and does what is required of her, then she can have extra time online. If she doesn’t, I can remove 30 min chunks. We shall see how it develops!
It’s harder when it comes to deciding which sites she can access or not. Just Facebook alone can be very addictive for some, or Twitter for that matter. She has access specifically to these, because I understand them and can also monitor them from within. However, there are sites I don’t know well at all, including one, “Blog TV” where you “broadcast live” to the world from your webcam and anyone can log in and watch and chat to you. I find that slightly more worrying, as I have no control when she’s online with that, like who’s watching her, responding to her, etc. So do I block it?
As someone working in the informal education field, I’m all for young people learning responsibilty through experience and practise. But just where do you draw the line and is that being too draconian? And where does all this leave trust and the building of trust? I want the best for my daughter and I want to protect her at the same time, it’s just getting the right balance that’s hard.
I’d be interested to hear what other parents have to say about how they handle things when it comes to children going online.