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September 13 2011

How Digitally Connected Are the U.S. News Top 20 Colleges?

Mashable received exclusive early access to the U.S. News list of top ranking national universities and national liberal arts colleges, which was released on Tuesday. The rankings take several factors into account, including tuition, acceptance rate, retention rate, class size, SAT scores and graduation rate.

We decided to add another factor for review: social media connectedness. Below you’ll find top 10 lists of universities and liberal arts colleges alongside an analysis of their social media presences.

Mashable looked at Twitter feeds encompassing university life, official Facebook pages and YouTube channels, not to mention the follower count for each official university/college account. Take a flip through the galleries to discover how higher education institutions stack up to the growing trends in social media. Also, you can check out U.S. News’ newly launched social tool that allows participants to discover where their Facebook friends went to college.

Feel free to share in the comments below how your college stacks up socially.

Top National Universities

1. (tied) Harvard University

U.S. News university ranking: 1 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @harvard

Twitter followers: 66,737

Other Twitter accounts: @thecrimson,@HarvardMagazine, @Harvard_Library, @THCSports, @HUDSInfo, @ABCDSocialMedia

Main Facebook page: Harvard

Facebook fans: 698,933

YouTube channel: harvard

YouTube videos/subscribers: 390/ 27,786

1. (tied) Princeton University

U.S. News university ranking: 1 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @princeton

Twitter followers: 15,572

Other Twitter accounts: @pace_princeton, @PUArtMuseum, @princetonian, @PUTIGERS, @PrincetonDining, @princetoncareer

Main Facebook page: PrincetonU

Facebook fans: 52,125

YouTube channel: princetonuniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 164/ 2,979

3. Yale University

U.S. News university ranking: 3

Main Twitter account: @yale

Twitter followers: 22,774

Other Twitter accounts: @yaledailynews, @YaleAthletics, @yalelibrary, @Yale_Emergency, @Yale_Athletics

Main Facebook page: YaleUniversity

Facebook fans: 36,825

YouTube channel: YaleUniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 650/ 19,986

4. Columbia University

U.S. News university ranking: 4

Main Twitter account: n/a

Other Twitter accounts: @CU_Spectator, @ColumbiaGS, @columbiajourn, @ColumbiaScience, @ColumbiaCCE, @GoColumbiaLions, @ColumbiaCSA

Main Facebook page: ColumbiaNYC

Facebook fans: 12,840

YouTube channel: columbiauniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 619/ 4,121

5. (tied) California Polytechnic Institute

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Caltech

Twitter followers: 2,570

Other Twitter accounts: @caltechevents, @CaltechMITForum, @CaltechAMT, @CaltechGreen

Main Facebook page: California Institute of Technology

Facebook fans: 7,713

YouTube channel: caltech

YouTube videos/subscribers: 38/ 302

5. (tied) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: MITstudents

Twitter followers: 781

Other Twitter accounts: @mitlibraries, @MITNews, @MITscience, @MITMuseum, @MIT_Spectrum, @MIT_TechTV, @MITCampusDining, @MITEECS, @MITgetfit, @MITmedical

Main Facebook page: MITnews

Facebook fans: 55,827

YouTube channel: none. But hosts its own video site called MIT TechTV.

5. (tied) Stanford University

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Stanford

Twitter followers: 45,590

Other Twitter accounts: @StanfordDaily, @stanford_humsci, @suathletics, @stanfordrec, @stanfordbuzztap, @StanfordDining, @StanfordCareers

Main Facebook page: Stanford

Facebook fans: 226,322

YouTube channel: StanfordUniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 1,383/ 89,041

5. (tied) University of Chicago

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @UChicago

Twitter followers: 2,600

Other Twitter accounts: @uchicagonews, @UChicagoMag, @ChicagoMaroons, @UCPD, @uofcpsac

Main Facebook page: UChicago

Facebook fans: 47,555

YouTube channel: TheUofChicago

YouTube videos/subscribers: 70/ 511

5. (tied) University of Pennsylvania

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: UofPenn

Twitter followers: 9,013

Other Twitter accounts: @underthebutton, @dailypenn, @PennCurrent, @pennbookstore, @pennathletics, @PennWebTeam

Main Facebook page: UnivPennsylvania

Facebook fans: 24,057

YouTube channel: UnivPennsylvania

YouTube videos/subscribers: 233/ 1,999

10. Duke University

U.S. News university ranking: 10

Main Twitter account: @DukeNews

Twitter followers: 4,333

Other Twitter accounts: @Duke_SA, @dukestudents, @DukeOSAF, @DukeLibrarian, @dukeondemand, @DukeCampusFarm, @dukechronicle, @DUMBand, @DukeWellness, @Duke_Athletics, @DukePerformances

Main Facebook page: DukeUniv

Facebook fans: 88,191

YouTube channel: Duke

YouTube videos/subscribers: 219/1,386

Top National Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Williams College

U.S. News college ranking: 1

Main Twitter account: @williamscollege

Twitter followers: 2,675

Other Twitter accounts: @EphSports

Main Facebook page: williamscollege

Facebook fans: 6,523

YouTube channel: williamscollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 193/ 267

2. Amherst College

U.S. News college ranking: 2

Main Twitter account: @AmherstCollege

Twitter followers: 2,104

Other Twitter accounts: @wamhamherst, @AmherstBaseball, @theateranddance, @CollegianStaff, @AmherstSports

Main Facebook page: amherstcollege

Facebook fans: 4,800

YouTube channel: AmherstCollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 132/ 242

3. Swarthmore College

U.S. News college ranking: 3

Main Twitter account: @swarthmore

Twitter followers: 1,069

Other Twitter accounts: @swatgazette, @swarthmorestuco, @SwatAthletics

Main Facebook page: Swarthmore-College

Facebook fans: 3,030

YouTube channel: SwarthmoreCollegePA

YouTube videos/subscribers: 153/ 103

4. Pomona College

U.S. News college ranking: 4

Main Twitter account: @pomonacollege

Twitter followers: 1,564

Other Twitter accounts: @PomonaArtMuseum, @PomonaCDO

Main Facebook page: pomonacollege

Facebook fans: 4,136

YouTube channel: PomonaCollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 71/ 55

5. Middlebury College

U.S. News college ranking: 5

Main Twitter account: @Middlebury

Twitter followers: 2,789

Other Twitter accounts: @middblog, @middcampus, @MiddAthletics, @middartmuseum

Main Facebook page: middleburycollege

Facebook fans: 7,859

YouTube channel: middcommunications

YouTube videos/subscribers: 78/ 782

6. (tied) Bowdoin College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @bowdoincollege

Twitter followers: 1,092

Other Twitter accounts: @bowdoinnews, @bowdoinorient, @GoUBears, @BowdoinMuseum, @BowdoinCstore

Main Facebook page: Bowdoin

Facebook fans: 7,558

YouTube channel: Bowdoin1794

YouTube videos/subscribers: 57/ 52

6. (tied) Carleton College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @CarletonCollege

Twitter followers: 1,581

Other Twitter accounts: @CarletonNews, @CarletonKnights, @TheWellnessCntr, @BamcoCarleton, @CC_theCave

Main Facebook page: CarletonCollege

Facebook fans: 5,846

YouTube channel: carletoncollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 19/ 37

6. (tied) Wellesley College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @WellesleyNews

Twitter followers: 1,900

Other Twitter accounts: @Wellesleymag, @WellesleyBlue, @MyCWS

Main Facebook page: WellesleyCollege

Facebook fans: 7,528

YouTube channel: WellesleyCollegeTV

YouTube videos/subscribers: 25/ 56

9. Claremont McKenna College

U.S. News college ranking: 9

Main Twitter account: n/a

Other Twitter accounts: @cmcforum, @CMCnews

Main Facebook page: ClaremontMcKennaCollege

Facebook fans: 1,928

YouTube channel: claremontmckenna

YouTube videos/subscribers: 22/ 55

10. Haverford College

U.S. News college ranking: 10

Main Twitter account: @haverfordedu

Twitter followers: 641

Other Twitter accounts: @AskHaverford, @FordsSports, @haverfordhhc, @hcblacksquirrel

Main Facebook page: haverfordcollege

Facebook fans: 578

YouTube channel: haverfordcollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 44/25

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, atreides64

More About: education, Social Media

September 07 2011

Back to School: 10 Privacy Tips for the Connected Student

Fran Maier is the president and executive chair of TRUSTe, the leading online privacy solutions provider. She speaks widely on issues of online privacy and trust and is active in mentoring women in technology. She serves on a number of Internet and trust-related boards, including the Online Trust Alliance.

With each new school year, students have even more reason to spend academic time online. My nephews cheerily informed me that they won’t be needing paper planners this year; instead, they’ll track assignments, grades and events using their school’s new online system. My son in high school is prepping for the SATs using online tutorials, and my college-age son will begin an internship programming mobile apps.

SEE ALSO: Back to School: 42 Digital Resources for Students & Parents

We share and transmit a lot of personal information online. This is especially true for students, who not only use academic online tools that require personal information, but who are also incredibly active social network users. Whether a ninth grader, college senior or parent, these privacy tips can help you and your family stay safe this school year.

1. Password-Protect Your Computer/Smartphone/Tablet

You store a lot of personal data (like photos) on these devices, which may also save automatic logins to your email and social networking accounts. Someone could easily abuse this information if you leave your device unattended — an important consideration outside of the classroom as well. A solid password contains a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and does not contain common words. In other words, rethink your “1234” iPhone passcode.

2. Consider Theft-Recovery Applications

These applications can geo-locate your lost device and/or allow you to remotely login. Electronics theft on college and high school campuses is a real problem. Installing such an application on your computer, smartphone or tablet could mean the difference between recovering your device and losing it forever.

If you’re an iPhone user, check out Apple’s free Find My Phone app, which will track your device remotely in case of loss or theft.

3. Review Your Social Networking Privacy Settings

This tip is especially important for high school seniors who’ve submitted college applications, and for new grads applying for their first jobs. According to a 2010 Kaplan survey, 80% of college admissions officers use social media to evaluate prospective students. And my company conducted a survey that determined 68% of teens have at some time accepted “friend” requests from people they didn’t know.

4. Protect Your Online Reputation

Social networks may not be the only component of your online identity. Blogs, personal websites, discussion forums and photo accounts also reflect online activity. With little effort, people can piece together your various online accounts and activity — even accounts under fake names that you thought were anonymous. With every piece of content that you share, ask yourself: Would I want my parents, teachers and future employers to discover this? Once you post something on the Internet, it can very difficult, if not impossible, to remove it.

5. If You’re a Minor, Lock Down Your Location

Many social networks and mobile applications allow you to tag your current geographic location. For your physical safety as a minor, the visibility of your location should only be available to your closest friends — if at all. Parents should talk to their kids about online predators and ensure they’re not sharing their location with strangers.

6. Do Your Back-to-School Shopping Securely

Some of the best back-to-school shopping deals can be found online, but not all shopping websites are created equal. At minimum, you’ll disclose your name, home address, phone number and credit card information to complete a purchase, so make sure that each website is secure. Look for privacy and reputation seals on the website. The URL of checkout webpages that require your personal information should begin with “HTTPS,” indicating that the website encrypts your personal information during transmission.

7. Avoid Online Gossip

While school-age gossip and bullying seem unavoidable, remember that the effects can be magnified online, be it through email, chat or social networks. Inappropriate photos of or comments about someone else can go viral in a matter of minutes — within a few hours your entire school could potentially see what you’ve written or shared. Viral gossip is almost always permanent, and can only come back to haunt you.

8. Don’t Share Passwords With Friends

It might be tempting to share your passwords with friends, but it’s better to keep them to yourself. For instance, your password to a gaming account might be similar or identical to your password for another, more sensitive account, like email. Moreover, sharing your passwords may put other friends or family members at risk, especially if your accounts include their personal information.

9. Beware of Identity Theft

College students especially are targets for identity theft. Beware of the signs: If you receive notices about accounts you didn’t open, or if you see unexplained charges on your credit card statements, be suspicious and follow up. Federal law entitles you to three free credit reports every year through AnnualCreditReport.com, so check periodically to make sure that nothing is amiss. College students aren’t the only ones at risk: In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission found that child ID theft is a growing problem, with over 140,000 cases reported annually.

10. Get a Lock For Your Locker/Desk/Closet

This tip is as old as school itself, but it’s especially important in our digital age. Chances are your locker or desk doesn’t just hold your books, jacket and lunch – it may also store your smartphone, computer or tablet devices which are typically loaded with personal information. If you’re in a high-traffic dorm room, consider investing in a laptop padlock that secures the device to your desk.

Stay safe and study hard!

Image courtesy of Flickr, tinkerbrad, david roessli

More About: education, privacy, Social Media

For more Social Media coverage:

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June 17 2011

May 26 2011

HOW TO: Talk to Children About Online Safety

Child Computer Image

The Internet didn’t arrive for most of today’s parents until after they had passed adolescence. Online behavior was something they were able to approach with the disposition of an adult (even if some chose not to).

Their children, however, were born into a very different situation. It’s not uncommon to see an iPad next to the crib, and 7.5 million children younger than 13 have Facebook profiles.

If parents don’t teach online safety, their children might not recognize imprudent online actions or realize their consequences.

“Younger kids certainly don’t know that what they post is out there for everyone,” explains Jeff Godlis, the director of communications for Internet literacy education publisher i-Safe. “As you get older, the kids keep pushing the barriers… Parents need to be parents, and they have to be involved.”

1. Understand Internet Safety Before You Explain It

Many adults aren’t savvy Internet users themselves. A 2010 study, for instance, found that only 51% of participants recognized that ad companies frequently determine what ads to show based on the history of prior websites that they visited.

“Kids are learning about all of the facets of social media online. It’s happening much earlier,” explains Hilary DeCesare, the CEO of tween social network Everloop. “It’s parents that aren’t keeping up…The real dilemma is, how do you teach kids about something that you’re uncomfortable with?”

For instance, DeCesare says, many parents list their first and last names on social networking sites, and may not realize that their children shouldn’t do the same.

Fortunately, it’s easy to brush up on Internet safety guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission are just a few organizations that provide robust resources.

2. Teach, Don’t Rule

“We have always been on the education side,” Godlis says. “Teach someone and they’ll learn it and they’ll understand it. They are empowered to do the right thing.”

The right message, DeCesare says, is “I care.” Not, “if you do X, I’ll ban the Internet.” When it comes to keeping your children safe on the web, the goal is to ingrain positive behaviors rather than just enforcing strict rules. Threatening children with revoked Internet privileges might even create a dangerous environment.

“Kids aren’t comfortable telling adults [about problems they encounter online like cyberbullying] because they think they’re going to get in trouble, or worse, they’re worried that they will pull their privileges of being able to use the Internet,” she says.

3. Consider Age-Appropriate Social Networks

Legally speaking, children younger than 13 shouldn’t be on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prevents websites from collecting information from children without their parents’ permission. Many children bypass this law, even on sites that enforce it, by simply adjusting their birthday. But DeCesare says that parents should still be wary of social sites designed for adults.

“Facebook was never intended for kids younger than 13,” she says. “Kids click on things. Which can be a problem, not just with friending people, but also the malware they pick up online.”

In a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 75% of 7th through 12th graders surveyed said they had a profile on a social media site. Parents would have a hard time barring social media sites entirely, but they can easily introduce age-appropriate social networks to their children instead of the grown up standards.

Most of these networks restrict content and provide a parental oversight component, either by alerting parents when something seems fishy or asking them to approve certain actions, like new friends.

4. Monitor With Care

No matter your price range or parenting philosophy, there’s an appropriate software option for monitoring your children’s online safety.

But Godlis cautions parents against the notion that using such a service alone is sufficient.

“I think that filters and monitors give parents a false sense of security — as long as the filters are on, I don’t have to worry,” he says. “They certainly can over-rely on it. Kids are pretty smart and they get around everything. They know how to use proxy servers and they know how to do things that parents don’t.”

For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

Images courtesy of Flickr, Scott & Elaine van der Chijs, heycoach, Gregtreble

More About: Children, education, online safety, parenting

For more Social Media coverage:

May 13 2011

Two Thirds Of Moms Shop With Their Smartphones

Most smartphone-wielding mothers put their phones to work while they shop, according to a survey by mobile ad network Greystripe.

In a survey of 239 mothers, whom Greystripe recruited using mobile banner ads in its network, 66% acknowledged that their smartphones play a role in their shopping trips.

Around 45% said they use their phones to locate the nearest store. The next most common use of smartphones was to compare prices. Only 15% of the women surveyed said they actually made purchases using their phones.

Since Greylock has an interest in portraying mobile phones as an excellent place to target mothers while shopping (women make the majority of household purchase decisions, and this makes them a favorite target of the advertisers Greylock courts), it’s not the most reliable source of research on the topic.

Other research about mobile phone marketing and women has shown more varied results. Last year, a company conducted mobile shopping survey of 1,600 women that found 94% of them were interested in more mobile shopping and mobile marketing.

In the same month, social network SheSpeaks conducted an online survey of similar size that found only 10% of women have downloaded any shopping-related applications to their mobile devices, and 62% are not even interested in doing so.

For now, whether mobile phones are indeed the key to reaching women depends largely on which indicator — shopping app adoption, interest in mobile, reference during shopping trips — you believe proves it.

More About: MARKETING, mothers, shopping, study, survey, women

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

May 08 2011

May 04 2011

6 Mother’s Day Gifts You Can Make Yourself [VIDEOS]

Mother’s Day is all about showing your mom how much you appreciate what she does for you. What better way to display your gratitude than by taking the time to make her something?

Whether you’re looking for simple craft ideas to create with your kids or just something homemade to surprise your mom on Sunday, we’ve got some affordable, easy and definitely “doable” video tutorials to help.

Take a look through the video gallery below to find a quick craft project to suit your needs. Share your own ideas for what to make your mom in the comments below.

1. How to Make a 3D Flower Card

Don't spend money on an expensive store-bought card for your mom. Take the time to make one instead. This video tutorial will help you make a pop-up paper bouquet greeting card from just paper and a few dabs of glue.

2. How to Make an Envelope

Here's a super-quick how-to on making an envelope to match.

3. How to Make Paper Flowers

Created from just tissue paper and pipe cleaners, a bouquet of paper flowers is a colorful and long-lasting alternative to a trip to the florist. This video offers a method that's suitable for little fingers.

4. How to Make Homemade Cupcakes From Scratch

We'd imagine your mom will be delighted with any kind of cake you can rustle up for Mother's Day, but these cupcakes from Laura Vitale are pretty in pink and perfect for a special treat. The beauty of making cupcakes is not just that you can decorate them to make them look scrumptious (and hide flaws in your baking), but with multiple results you can be sure at least one will turn out well enough to actually give to your mother.

5. How to Make A Fruit Bouquet

If you know your mom won't appreciate a sweet treat, then the healthy option is an edible fruit bouquet. This tutorial shows you how to make a fun fruity flower arrangement with a minimum of tools - and cost.

6. How to Make an Origami Gift Box

Finally, if you have bought your mom a gift for Sunday but still want to add a homemade touch, this video tutorial will show you how to create a lovely origami gift box from just eight squares of paper.

Interested in more DIY resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of Flickr, slumberingheart

More About: crafts, how to, List, Lists, mothering sunday, mothers day, videos

For more Video coverage:

April 30 2011

January 21 2011

6 Valuable Social Networks for Parents

Rearing, I’ve heard, is a tough business. This is probably why Google returns more search results for websites on the topic than there are newborn babies in the United States — and why many of those results are online communities of parents that exchange advice and support.

While I’m not a parent myself, I played one on about 20 such communities this week. During my time as an impostor mom, I found some communities that were too focused on marketing a brand to be useful, and others that were functionally more like parenting ghost towns than networks. These six sites, however, impressed me as useful resources and active communities.

1. Cafemom


CafeMom is one of the most active online communities for mothers that I’ve seen. When I posted a question (I used the same question on all sites), I received six reasonably helpful responses in the first ten minutes.

The site gets several features right. First, the focus is on conversation, not necessarily just parenting advice. There are forum sections and groups for a number of interests like politics and techie topics in addition to parenting topics. Moms also have an opportunity to write journal entries and blog posts, the most popular of which are highlighted. Other entertainment options on the site like polls, videos, contests, and games make it a destination even when moms don’t have pressing parenting questions.

CafeMom’s creators have also invoked game mechanics. You get points for asking a question (as long as its not anonymous) and answering questions. When people respond to your inquiries, you can award the authors of the best responses more points — which encourages helpful responses. These points increase your “level” on the site and help earn badges.

Another boon is that it’s easy to find and keep up with mothers who have similar interests. You can search for other mothers to introduce yourself to based on your location, interests, children’s ages, or a combination of the three. When you sign up for groups, there’s an option to get an e-mail digest of daily responses.

2. MothersClick


Like most social networks that have sprouted in the last five years, MothersClick borrows a few facets from Facebook. Moms can create profiles that include wall posts, friends, private messages, photos and status settings. Groups form around subjects like “moms who rock” and “moms who blog,” and it’s possible to post questions to either your groups or to everybody.

One thing I like is that you can keep track of the conversations that you are involved in and the questions you’ve asked through a simple news feed instead of constantly checking for a response. A search bar at the top of the site is also a great feature that most often gives you the answer to your question before you’ve even asked it.

This isn’t the most active site, however, and the newest posts under some topics are more than a year old. The network does, however, helpfully take the liberty of suggesting other moms with your interests and in your area who you might add as friends.

3. Mamapedia

The most unique feature of mamapedia is that it sorts discussion topics based on a timeline of your child’s development. You can see the issues that other parents have already started conversations around based on the common age of your children.

Beyond this, the platform is intuitive and effective. A large search bar lets you forget about navigating and find the information that you need quickly. You can follow questions that you have answered or asked through separate tabs as well as questions asked by moms in your area. Highlighted blog posts are also often specific to your location.

The community is fairly active, and I received five responses to my inquiry in the first ten minutes. The local aspects are also appreciated, opening up the opportunity for more relevant, and possibly even in-person, discussions.

The site supports itself by offering “sweet deals” and “member perks” from your local sponsors. Most of these are relatively appealing, but if you don’t want to look at them they stay tucked in their own tab.

4. Minti

Dads, here it is: a social network for patents that doesn’t have “mom” in its title. Minti has a robust arsenal of archived advice written by parents. The site, which is mostly organized in a forum style, has Q&A format sections but also encourages each member to write advice blog posts.

The amount of information on Minti is truly useful and can accessed by search. Interaction, however, seems less of a focus than on some of the other sites. It’s easy to get lost in the forums and recent questions, which, while given their own tabs, aren’t highlighted. Nobody responded to my question until the next day.

Rewards for participating do exist, however. The site has its own virtual currency that can be exchanged for real currency (at a rate of about 500 to 1) that users earn by doing things like writing blog posts and inviting friends.

5. Momslikeme.com


Momslikeme.com has built communities around more than 60 locations. When you register, you’re automatically placed in a group with your zip code and directed to your local site. The zip code groups generally don’t have much activity, but it is helpful to have your homepage organized to highlight what other parents in your area are talking about.

Polls feature prominently on the page and often stray away from parenting advice topics. For instance, today’s featured NYC poll is “Should the health care reform bill be repealed?”

As with other sites, you can add friends, send private messages, and join groups. The site’s bread and butter is a coupon section that mostly offers discounts for grocery items.

6. BabyCenter Community


The community section of online parenting publication BabyCenter follows a similar format as many others by giving parents an opportunity to add friends, post journal entries, and share photos.

The most active portion of the site is probably its “birth clubs.” You enter the club that matches the month and year of your child’s birth or anticipated birth. Since all the group member’s children are going through the same stages at the same time, it’s easy to find relevant discussions. It’s also easier to build relationships because there’s no need to jump forums or groups as your child ages.

More Parenting Resources from Mashable:

- 4 Effective Tools for Monitoring Your Child’s Online Safety
- The Future of Social Media Parenting [COMIC]
- 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children
- HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog
- 5 Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Learn Math Online

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, damircudic

More About: Children, Dads, Kids, Moms, parenting, parents, social media, social networking, social networks

For more Social Media coverage:

December 28 2010

8 Educational Gadgets That Make Learning Fun

The Education Tech Series is supported by Dell The Power To Do More, where you’ll find perspectives, trends and stories that inspire Dell to create technology solutions that work harder for its customers so they can do and achieve more.

It’s not hard to grasp the concept that making learning fun can lead to better results, so we’re bringing you a selection of eight excellent gadgets that offer an educational take on play.

Our curated list of techie toys spans all the development ages right from the womb to the tweenager stage, so whatever age your little one is, there should be something here to suit.

Have a read below for eight great gadgets that make learning fun, and please share in the comments any educational gadgets, toys or games you’ve seen success with.

1. Bellybuds

Research suggests that unborn babies can hear audio from as early as 20 weeks. This means you can play your unborn baby soothing sounds, uplifting music, messages from far-off loved ones, stories and more. More importantly, the same research says that babies retain what they have heard in the womb for up to 12 months, meaning at the very least you can help teach them to recognize voices of those who are going to be important to them.

Age Range: Pre-natal
Cost: $49.99

2. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Screen Laptop

How old were you when you got your first laptop? We’re guessing it wasn’t before your first birthday, unlike lucky recipients of this colorful faux computer. Described as a “baby-appropriate laptop,” it boasts nine easy-to-press keys that animate numbers, shapes, colors, object names and initial letters on the screen and offers activities and sing-along songs. The best bit however, is that the laptop is bi-lingual, so all the learning can be done in both English and Spanish.

Age Range: 6 to 36 months
Cost: $18

3. LeapFrog Chat & Count Phone

This cute handset connects your little one with Scout (LeapFrog’s puppy pal) in order to exchange calls and voicemails as well as sing along to songs about counting and phones. In addition to the obvious early number sense, this helps develop your child’s pretend play and social skills. The fact that you can hand over the kiddie handset instead of your precious iPhone when Junior fancies a phone fix is, of course, just a bonus.

Age Range: 18 to 36 months
Cost: $14.99

4. Playskool Alphie

“Who better to explore the world with than someone who’s new to it?” asks Playskool, summing up the premise behind Alphie, a robot on a field trip from his home planet to find out all about Earth. This, of course, means that as Alphie learns about the world around him, so does your rugrat. Lessons include letter sounds, shape sorting, cause and effect, vocabulary development and more.

Age Range: 3 years and up
Cost: $39.99

5. VTech V.Reader

While grown-ups have their Kindles, Nooks and iPads, children have the VTech V.Reader. As an interactive e-book reader, the system boasts the engaging building blocks to take your child from a pre-reader to a confident and fluent reader. Stories come as downloads or cartridges offering fully narrated and animated stories, reading skill games and a dictionary.

Age Range: 3 to 7 years
Cost: $59.99

6. VTech MobiGo

This handheld gaming system will greatly appeal to kids under 8 years of age with its cool colors, touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. What they won’t know is that the content for the device is educational — as the child plays, he or she learns about colors, shapes, spelling, math, logic and more.

Age Range: 3 to 8 years
Cost: $59.99

7. Hexbug Nanos

Hexbug’s Nanos are robotic creatures that are programmed to behave like real bugs. Beyond just satisfying childrens’ desires for creepy-crawlies, the Nanos teach kids about science. Children can design and build habitats for their Nanos and register them online (where there are more learning resources). The collectability of the range and pocket-money prices of the expandable system means you might also be able to use the Nanos as a way to teach Junior about the importance of saving up for something he wants.

Age Range: 5 to 15 years
Cost: From $7.99

8. Mindflex

MindFlex offers that rare quality — true wow factor — that we’re confident in saying will make any child sit up and take notice (if not develop a life-long love of physics and maybe even neurology). The object of MindFlex is simple: move a ball through obstacles. What’s wow is that you move that ball with your mind. We can’t think of a better way to teach children how powerful their brain is than this memorable family game.

Age Range: 8 years and up
Cost: $79.99

Series Supported by Dell The Power To Do More

The Education Tech Series is supported by Dell The Power To Do More, where you’ll find perspectives, trends and stories that inspire Dell to create technology solutions that work harder for its customers so they can do and achieve more.

More Education Resources from Mashable:

- The Case For Social Media in Schools
- 10 Cool Tech Toys for Kids [PICS]
- 15 Essential Back to School Podcasts
- 5 Fun iPhone Accessories for Kids
- 5 Innovative Tech Camps for Kids and Teens

Reviews: iPhone

More About: Children, education, Education Tech Series, gadgets, Kids, List, Lists, tech, toys

For more Tech coverage:

December 18 2010

9 Ways to Connect With Santa on the Web

You don’t have to head to the North Pole to hook up with Santa this year. There’s a sackful of online options that will let your little ones connect with the Claus from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you want to write to Santa online, receive personalized video messages and calls or prove the man in red is real, we’ve found nine sites and services to help you out.

So if you’ve got kids, or you’re just a big kid yourself, get in the Christmas spirit and have a read below to find the sites that will sort your online Santa needs this festive season.

1. E-mail Santa

This is a great online service, as you get results right away, which anyone with impatient little ones will know can only be a good thing. Fill in the blanks of a standard “Dear Santa” letter, and moments later you’ll have a personalized reply from the big man himself to read on screen or print.

2. Send a Call From Santa With Google Voice

After a relatively quick Q&A session asking the name, age, choice of gift (with some amusing answer options in the drop-down menus), this Google-backed service will generate a quality-sounding “call” for the rugrat(s) in your life. In reply, they can leave a message for Santa via a toll-free number.

3. Personalized Santa Video

You do have to register for this Disney service, but it’s worth it, or will be when you see the look on children’s faces as their names and photos show up on Santa’s monitor, as he checks to see if they are on the nice list. They are, of course.

4. Smilebox’s Dear Santa Video Card

Smilebox’s “Dear Santa” download makes your youngster the star of the show. You can customize the clip with personal info and then add adorable footage of your child cutely lisping through his or her Christmas wish list. Sharing options make the video easy to send to adoring grandparents, aunts and uncles too.

5. Santa’s Good List Interactive Quiz

It’s the elves in the spotlight here as they take children through 12 questions to ascertain whether they’ve been good enough to get on the nice list. The service is password protected so you’ll need to hand over your e-mail to get a “key,” but once you do you can check in again anytime to make sure your child’s name is still on the nice list.

6. Portable North Pole Personalized Santa Video

Another personalized video message from Santa, the PNP offering takes you through some comprehensive questions for a fully featured clip tailored to toddlers or older children and, yes, even grown ups too. The Santa is magnificent with a rather splendid beard and an authentic kindly manner. Recommended.

7. Visit the North Pole

Ideal for rainy (or snowy!) day activities during school vacation time, this site is chock-full of Santa, elf, reindeer and North Pole-themed interactive stories and educational games for online fun. There are recipes, craft ideas and print-outs for offline holiday activities to amuse the kids too.

8. NORAD Santa Tracker

Thanks to NORAD and Google, you can track Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve, something guaranteed to get the children very excited indeed. This long-running tradition has been given a new lease on life in recent years with Google’s involvement, adding a little bit of map-based magic to millions of Christmas Eves around the globe.

9. I Caught Santa Photo

If you’re in need of some “proof” that Santa exists (and don’t have the Photoshop skills to create your own), then for a fee you can upload your own photo and paste on one of I Caught Santa’s Father Christmases. It’ll cost you a penny under $10 via the site or from $0.99 via the iPhone app.

More Holidays Resources from Mashable:

- 9 Web Tools to Keep Your Business Running Smoothly During the Holidays
- 5 Merry Musical Contests for the Holidays
- 10 Free Holiday Icon Sets to Give Your Site a Wintery Makeover [GALLERY]
- 5 Creative Social Good Campaigns for the Holiday Season

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilona75

More About: Christmas, Holidays, Kids, List, Lists, santa claus

For more Entertainment coverage:

November 21 2010

10 Useful Gadgets for Connected Teens

This post originally appeared on My Life Scoop, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about using social media and technology for a more connected life.

Knowing what gifts to buy teens can be a tough call — after all, what was such a hit just a few months ago can become a big miss overnight.

A teen-friendly gadget is a good bet, though, as it’s a functional item that will prove useful, and if you’re lucky, even educational.

While we wouldn’t dare to suggest anything as personal as choice of phone, portable media player or even gaming device — no doubt your teenager has clear ideas about what’s cool in those areas — we do have 10 terrific products that are perfect for tech-savvy teens.

Read on for our suggestions and let us know any other gadgets you’d recommend for the connected teen in the comments box below.

1. LaCie Skwarim Portable Hard Drive

A portable hard drive comes in very handy for teens who work across multiple computers at school and home. It offers a great way to back up important school work and is a useful way to carry around media files. The compact LaCie Skwarim adds that extra bit of spunk that other devices don’t have, and it provides 60GBs of on-the-go storage.

Cost: $99.99

2. Sony Bloggie Touch

The Bloggie Touch makes posting photos and video to YouTube, Facebook, Picasa and Flickr a breeze, while the full 1080p HD video recording resolution and the 12.8-megapixel camera should ensure the content is great quality. The flip-out USB arm for uploading and charging is a nice touch and it renders the inevitable lost cables a non-issue.

Cost: From $179.99

3. Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

As more and more books are getting digitized, the Amazon Kindle can offer a solution to carting around tons of heavy tomes. And if the eBook platform excites your teen enough to want to dip into some literature too, then that can only be a good thing, right?

Cost: $139

4. Cinemin Swivel Portable Projector

This super-fun solution will enable your teen to share slide-shows, video and other media from iPods, iPhones, PSPs, digital cameras, portable DVD players, netbooks, smartphones and more. It’s capable of projecting a 60-inch image from eight feet away, perfect for creating a movie theater feel in your own home.

Cost: Around $300

5. Creative D100 Portable Bluetooth Speakers

It’s fairly safe to say that all teens like music and with these colorful speakers from Creative, they can enjoy it without the wires. The D100 can stream music from Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as play audio from other wired devices via an aux-in port. It can run for up to 25 hours of non-stop music on four AA batteries.

Cost: $79.99

6. Logitech HD Webcam C310

Compatible with all the major video chat software, this tidy webcam offers 720p high-def video, giving your teen the ability to grab decent-sized stills, alongside some clever tech to help enhance audio and visual quality. After recording, it features one-click uploading to the likes of Facebook and YouTube, while younger teens may enjoy the bundled special effects such as neon splashes and fish-eye distortions.

Cost: $49.99

7. Parrot Minikit Slim Speakerphone

While most parents try and be reasonable about the various health scares that hit the headlines, sometimes you can’t help thinking there might be some truth in the argument that radiation from phones affects young brains. A speakerphone should help rest your mind at ease during those many hours your teen spends on a cellphone. It also gives teens a fun, flexible way to chat to their friends and can be used in a car as a hands-free solution.

Cost: $99.99

8. Sony ICD-UX200 Digital Voice Recorder

We can’t all pay attention 100% of the time. If your teen isn’t a good note-taker, or is someone who absorbs knowledge best after hearing it twice, a digital voice recorder to record classes and lectures could really help them out with school work. It also doubles as a fun recording device for any budding musicians.

Cost: $99.95

9. Panasonic RP-HTX7 Headphones

A quality pair of headphones will perform better at lower volumes, meaning your teen will not be forced to turn the music up too loud. These old school Panasonic headphones come in various cool colors, and with the size, you can be sure your teen won’t get away with listening to them in class.

Cost: $59.99

10. Chumby One

It’s hard to describe the Chumby. Think of it as an ultra-connected alarm clock. It’s a box for your teen’s bedside table that boasts 1,500 widgets to bring news, weather, podcasts, music, games and more via your Wi-Fi network. And let’s face it, one more alarm in the morning to try and get your teen out of bed really isn’t going to hurt…

Cost: $119.95

More Related Resources from Mashable

- HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children
- 5 Innovative Tech Camps for Kids and Teens
- 5 Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Learn Math Online

More About: accessories, Children, gadgets, gift guides, Gifts, Kids, List, Lists, Moms, Teenagers, teens

For more Tech coverage:

November 07 2010

10 Inspiring “Buy One Give One” Projects

Charitable giving has changed a lot in the past few years and the social web has been a big factor in that change. Where we once put coins in a collection box, there are now a plethora of ways you can help make a difference online.

One area of real growth is transaction-based giving, such as the “one for one” model, in which a consumer buys a product and someone less fortunate receives the same product for free. It’s been pioneered successfully by companies like TOMS Shoes and the OLPC organization, and has inspired many similar projects.

We’ve highlighted 10 great online “buy one give one” projects, but there are plenty more out there. Let us know about any we might have missed in the comments below and the next time you need a new pair of shoes, a flashlight or even a pair of glasses, why not consider buying one and giving one to someone less fortunate than yourself.

1. BoGoLight

The BoGoLight project distributes rugged solar lights to communities in need all over the world, giving a clean, safe, renewable light source to families that would ordinarily rely on kerosene and candles.

You can buy one of the flashlights and another will be donated on your behalf to someone in need. You can choose where your donated light goes from a variety of charities and causes, including projects promoting literacy, schools, women’s empowerment and safety, emergency relief, and more.

2. One World Futbol Project

The One World Futbol is an ultra-durable, all-terrain soccer ball that will never go flat, even if it gets punctured. If you buy one ball, the project will give a ball to a community in need in a refugee camp, war zone, or poverty-stricken community.

The idea for the ball was thought up by Tim Jahnigen, an inventor and music producer, after he saw footage of Darfur refugees playing soccer with a homemade “ball.” The development was funded by Sting.

Balls have so far been distributed in Rwanda, South Africa and Iraq while the Sager Family Foundation purchased 10,000 balls to be sent to Haiti.

3. Baby Teresa

Named after Mother Teresa, the Baby Teresa project is run by Sammie Appleyard and Kirsty Dunphey, both Tasmanian entrepreneurs who are helping to clothe babies in need all over the world.

Baby Teresa sells onesies on a buy one donate one basis, the project will ensure the second one gets to a baby in need.

Donations have so far gone out to Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Tasmania, the Philippines and Jordan. The founders’ hope to clothe a baby in every country in the world.

4. Blanket America

Blanket America sells blankets, comforters, sheets, pillows and throws. It’s no ordinary retailer though; the project wants to encourage consumers to demand more and to help their neighbors in meaningful ways whenever they shop.

For every product sold, the same or similar product is donated to individuals and organizations in need. As the name might suggest, the giving is primarily domestic, helping to bring comfort to those in poverty in the U.S. The project has also, however, carried out blanket distributions in Haiti.

5. Warby Parker

Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” philosophy aims to help some of the 500 million people in the world that don’t have access to proper vision care.

For every pair of $95 prescription glasses a consumer buys online, the company gives a pair to someone in need, giving that individual the opportunity to read, to work and live a fuller life.

Along with charity partner RestoringVision.org, Warby Parker’s “give a pair” glasses have so far been distributed across 24 countries in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the U.S.

6. Happy Blankie

The family-run Happy Blankie project, the brainchild of then-7 year-old David Holdridge, offers animal-themed baby blankets on a “one to love, one to give” basis, whereby you get a blanket and one goes to a child in need in a hospital or orphanage.

After purchase, you can choose where you’d like the other blanket to go. Destinations can be as far afield as Uganda or Thailand, or closer to home in an American city.

7. Whitten Grey

The “Little Grey Dress” project from Whitten Grey gives away a dress for every garment purchased with the aim of letting little girls experience the joy of giving.

With a Whitten Grey purchase you’ll receive a code which you can enter on the site, decide which color dress you’d like to send, which country it should go to and even write a note to the girl that gets the dress.

8. One Million Lights

The One Million Lights project distributes solar LED lights to replace kerosene lamps in areas around the world where there is no electricity. The lights help children study, help adults generate more income, and improve health and the environment.

You can simply donate a light, but there’s also a buy one donate one option where you can purchase one of the durable lights for yourself and one will be given to a child or family in need.

The project is geographically far-reaching and has distributed lights in Haiti, Peru, Nicaragua, India, Ethiopia, and Kenya, among other countries.


FIGS (“innovative ties and bow ties for the modern man”) runs on a “threads for threads” basis, under a school uniform donated to a child for every tie purchased.

In many parts of Africa, children cannot go to school if they don’t have a proper uniform, so by buying a FIGS tie, you can give a child a chance to get an education. The uniforms are distributed in Eastern Africa, across over 100 schools within Kenya and Tanzania.

10. Roma Boots

Roma’s mission is to keep feet warm and dry by providing a comfortable, durable and practical pair of Roma Boots to every poor child living in cold and wet climates.

The company’s “one for one” concept sends a pair of rubber boots to a child living in poverty for every pair bought. The goal is to reach 5,000 street children and orphans this winter and 100,000 children by 2012; initial efforts target Eastern Europe.


B1G1 (buy one give one) is an online hub for transaction-based giving that empowers companies to offer buy one give one programs. Businesses can choose what kind of cause they’d like to support from a vast range of charitable options. Every time a transaction takes place, companies and the consumer can give back and make a difference.

More Social Good Resources from Mashable

- 3 Ways Small Businesses are Investing in Social Good
- 4 Real Challenges to Crowdsourcing for Social Good
- 9 Creative Social Good Campaigns Worth Recognizing
- 5 Easy Ways to Support a Cause Through Your Social Network
- 10 Ways to Start a Fund for Social Good Online

More About: buy one give one, charity, List, Lists, shopping, social good, social media

For more Social Good coverage:

October 26 2010

5 Fun iPhone Accessories for Kids

Woogie Image

As more and more kids are toting iPhones and iPod touches, we thought we’d take a look at the child-friendly accessories that are now available for the new gadget-loving generation.

We’ve found five fun products that will suit a wide age range of kids, from the toddler borrowing Mom’s iPhone right up to older children with devices of their own.

And with news from the Duracell Toy Report that the iPhone and iPod touch are currently dominating children’s Christmas wish lists this year, it’s a market that we expect to see growing rapidly.

Do your kids have their own gadgets? Do you loan yours out to them? Should kids even be playing with iPhones and iPods? Have your say and let us know what you think in the comments below.

1. Woogie

Billed as the answer to the question — “Can I play on your iPhone?” — the oddly named Woogie is a fun way of child-proofing your precious Apple handheld. Boasting built-in speakers, a screen protector to guard against sticky fingers, and plushy limbs to cushion the inevitable fumble, it’s the wise parent’s way of turning an iPhone into a toy before handing it over to junior.

Cost: $19.99

2. Buzz Lightyear iDance

Assuming your offspring likes Toy Story (which is a pretty safe bet), this eight-inch Buzz Lightyear will be a big hit with your kids. Buzz spouts pre-programmed phrases, and there is a line-in to hook up an MP3 player to blast your music through his speakers. When the music hits the airwaves, Buzz busts a move, which will keep your kid dancing alongside him for hours.

Cost: $39.99

3. MyPhones

You can protect your child’s delicate hearing with these specially designed headphones. The MyPhones have an automatic volume minimizer that caps the audio at a sensible 85 decibels so kids don’t harm their eardrums listening to Raffi’s blistering guitar solos. MyPhones come with three colorful ear cap designs and there’s also the fun option to design your own.

Cost: $39.99

4. iHome Portable Speaker Case

This is a great option for older kids with their own gadgets, or as a way to protect yours if you’re going to be handing it over to smaller children to play with. As a case, it offers robust protection, with shoulder straps and a splash-proof design. The iPod or iPhone can be controlled via the see-through window while the battery-powered, built-in speakers are a great for boosting the sound when sharing the screen with a buddy.

Cost: $79.99

5. iHome Desk Organizer Lamp and Speaker

We think this would make a great gift for an older child. This desk organizer holds pens, pencils and other clutter neatly, offers some desktop illumination and boasts a built-in speaker that will work with iPods and iPhones. Best of all, it’s available in a range of bright colors to match the bedroom decor.

Cost: $29

BONUS: Seat Buddy

Although not the most exciting-looking present for a child to receive, we think the Seat Buddy could become an indispensable part of a traveling parent’s arsenal. The Seat Buddy will hold an iPod or iPhone securely against a car (or airplane) seat to help keep young ones entertained on long journeys.

Cost: $20, or two for $30

More Family Resources from Mashable:

- 10 Adorable Apple-Themed Baby Accessories
- 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children
- HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- The Case For Social Media in Schools

More About: accessories, apple, Children, griffin technology, hedphones, ihome, iphone, iphone accessories, ipod accessories, Kids, speakers

For more Apple coverage:

October 03 2010

HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog

Reporters from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times probably didn’t expect to be joined by TechNewsKids, a blog run by 11-year-olds. Yet all three covered Apple’s press conference this September. Benno Kass and Max Iger of TechNewsKids watched the live-stream of the announcement online so that they could “live blog” its contents as soon as possible.

Simplified blogging platforms and increased access to online information — even breaking stories like the Apple announcement — make it easier than ever for Kass, Iger and other young bloggers to independently post to the web. And as they post, they’re also learning how to research, write and use a web publishing platform.

Parents should be thrilled by this educational opportunity, says Dr. Patricia Fioriello, the author of kidslearntoblog.com. Unfortunately, they’re more often unsure of how they can help their children take advantage of it.

It doesn’t need to be daunting. To help their children get started blogging, she suggests parents follow these five simple guidelines.

1. Learn About Blogging Yourself

technewskids image

The best way to learn is by doing, and parents who want to help their children set up a blog should set up their own blogs first in order to educate themselves and model good online behavior.

“I know that might sound time consuming and silly or pointless,” Fioriello says. “But through action and modeling, your child is going to get the benefit of your learning.”

Even if you have no intention of having anyone read your blog, try setting one up on a simple site like WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger. In some cases, your child might already know a lot more about this process than you do. That’s OK, says Karl Meinhardt, who helped develop a pilot social media program in a Portland, Oregon middle school last year.

“I would argue the kids can help the parents in terms of setting up the blogs,” he says. “But where the parents come in is helping students identify… different things they’re passionate about or help them understand how to express themselves in that actual space.”

2. Choose an Appropriate Blogging Platform for Your Child

kidzworld image

“Some people do not like to hear this, but I really feel very strongly that a child’s interest in blogging and social media should be encouraged as young as they’re interested,” Fioriello says.

But that doesn’t mean that every type of blog is appropriate for every child.

There are a number of blogging sites specifically designed for children that provide some moderation and exclusivity. Teachers can use platforms like Edmodo or Kidblog.org to organize and monitor classroom blogs. At home, children can sign up for blogs on monitored sites like kidzworld or Kidswirl.

Kass and his parents, Ron and Terry, decided to use an unmonitored platform that would allow everyone on the web to read the blog. This was decided for various reasons: Kass’ parents trust his maturity and discretion at age 11, the technical aspects of putting a blog up were something Kass wanted to learn, and Kass was blogging about technology, not his life.

Fioriello, who has worked in education for more than 25 years, says there’s no magic age when a child is better suited for a particular blogging platform.

“Keep a focus,” she tells parents. “What is your goal, what is your objective, what do you want [your child to learn from the blog]? And then take into consideration the age of your child and research things that would be appropriate.”

3. Teach Your Child About Safety and Citizenship

kids learn to blog image

For many parents, the idea of their child posting information to an anonymous audience on the Internet is frightening. These concerns are justified, but there are ways to reduce the risks without banning a blog.

Kass’ parents, for instance, have some boundaries: He doesn’t post photos of himself on the blog (even when it makes sense for a story), he doesn’t use his last name, and the only way to contact him is via an e-mail address his parents monitor.

For the most part, they don’t consider the blog to be much of a risk. “I don’t think that’s any different on the online world than if you’re out meeting somebody in the not-online world,” Ron says. “I think you just have to instill in your kids kind of a radar.” Make sure they know that if something feels wrong, they should immediately try to remove themselves and talk to a parent about it.

Blogging can also be an excellent opportunity to teach children the appropriate way to interact online. Liz Delmatoff, a 7th and 8th grade teacher who started using blogs in her Portland, Oregon classroom last year, added “citizenship and safety lessons” to her curriculum.

She taught kids why her safety rules were important by showing them a YouTube video about how easy it is to find where someone lives using only the information they post on their profile. She also discussed what was appropriate for students to put in the comments on each other’s blogs, and other guidelines for posting to community spaces.

4. Enhance the Educational Experience

edmodo image

“[Blogging] became something that Benno [Kass] could do and get a little help from his parents, and it didn’t really feel like homework, but it’s still building a lot of skills and a lot of education for him at the same time,” says Ron, Kass’ father and the sole investor in TechNewsKids.

There are a number of ways parents can add to the inherent educational value of blogging.

Kass’ mother, Terry, helps Kass edit each post for grammar and punctuation. His father helped him design the site’s logo. And the family often discusses story ideas and current tech news together.

Aside from the obvious benefits of working with children on their writing, parents can add value to the experience by pushing their children to explore a particular passion, discussing content and the research process, or by exploring the global reach of Internet communities.

5. Monitor What Your Child Posts Online

kidblog image

Put some sort of supervision in place. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every post needs to be pre-approved or that parents should watch over their child’s shoulder every moment he or she is working on a blog. Some parents are more comfortable if they keep the computer in an open space, make sure any e-mail associated with the blog is delivered to an account that they have access to, and check the blog daily. The amount of monitoring that is appropriate depends on your child.

“You know best the maturity and how much interaction your child can handle,” explains Fioriello. “Supervise them or monitor them or check their browsing history. Do whatever you need to do as a parent, but still allow them to grow and learn.”

More Education Resources from Mashable:

- The Case For Social Media in Schools
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- How Social Gaming is Improving Education
- 3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology
- 10 Ways Universities Are Engaging Alumni Using Social Media

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, monkeybusinessimages

Reviews: Internet, Tumblr, WordPress, YouTube, blogger, iStockphoto

More About: benno kass, blog, blogging, Children, education, Kids, kids blog, max iger, online safety, parenting, parents, technewskids, tumblr, Wordpress

For more Social Media coverage:

September 29 2010

The Case For Social Media in Schools

Laptop School Image

A year after seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Delmatoff started a pilot social media program in her Portland, Oregon classroom, 20% of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50%, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third. For the first time in its history, the school met its adequate yearly progress goal for absenteeism.

At a time when many teachers are made wary by reports of predators and bullies online, social media in the classroom is not the most popular proposition. Teachers like Delmatoff, however, are embracing it rather than banning it. They argue that the educational benefits of social media far outweigh the risks, and they worry that schools are missing out on an opportunity to incorporate learning tools the students already know how to use.

What started as a Facebook-like forum where Delmatoff posted assignments has grown into a social media component for almost every subject. Here are the reasons why she and other proponents of educational social media think more schools should do the same.

1. Social Media is Not Going Away

In the early 1990s, the Internet was the topic of a similar debate in schools. Karl Meinhardt was working as a school computer services manager at the time.

“There was this thing called the Internet starting to show up that was getting a lot of hype, and the school administration was adamantly against allowing access,” he says. “The big fear was pornography and predators, some of the same stuff that’s there today. And yet…can you imagine a school not connected to the Internet now? “

Meinhardt helped develop the Portland social media pilot program after Delmatoff saw his weekly technology segment on the local news and called to ask for his advice. In his opinion, social media, like the Internet, will be a part of our world for a long time. It’s better to teach it than to fight it.

Almost three-fourths of 7th through 12th graders have at least one social media profile, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The survey group used social sites more than they played games or watched videos online.

When schools have tried to ban social media, now an integral part of a young person’s life, they’ve had negative results. Schools in Britain that tried to “lock down” their Internet access, for instance, found that “as well as taking up time and detracting from learning, it did not encourage the pupils to take responsibility for their actions.”

“Don’t fight a losing battle,” says Delmatoff. “We’re going to get there anyway, so it’s better to be on the cutting edge, and be moving with the kids, rather than moving against them…Should they be texting their friends during a lecture? Of course not. They shouldn’t be playing cards in a lecture, they shouldn’t be taking a nap during a lecture. But should they learn how to use media for good? Absolutely.”

2. When Kids Are Engaged, They Learn Better

edublogs image

Matt Hardy, a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in Minnesota, describes the “giddy” response he gets from students when he introduces blogs. He started using blogs in his classroom in 2007 as a way to motivate students to write.

“Students aren’t just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher and maybe a smiley face or some comments get put on it,” he says. “Blogging was a way to get students into that mode where, ‘Hey, I’m writing this not just for an assignment, not just for a teacher, but my friend will see it and maybe even other people [will] stumble across it.’ So there’s power in that.”

Delmatoff says that at first her students were worried they would get in trouble for playing because they actually enjoyed doing activities like writing a blog.

“But writing a blog, that’s not playing, that’s hard work,” she says. “Karl and I started thinking we were really on to something if kids were thinking that their hard academic work was too much fun.”

Her students started getting into school early to use the computer for the social media program, and the overall quality of their work increased. Although Delmatoff is adamant that there’s no way to pin her class’s increased academic success specifically to the pilot program, it’s hard to say that it didn’t play a part in the more than 50% grade increase.

3. Safe Social Media Tools Are Available — And They’re Free

kidsblog image

When Hardy started using blogs to teach, he developed his own platform to avoid some of the dangers associated with social media use and children. His platform allowed him to monitor and approve everything the children were posting online, and it didn’t expose his students to advertising that might be inappropriate. He later developed a similar web-based tool that all teachers could use called kidblog.org. The concept caught on so quickly that his server crashed in September when the school year started.

Many mainstream social media sites like Facebook and MySpace are blocked in schools that receive federal funding because of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which states that these schools can’t expose their students to potential harm on the Internet.

Kidblog.org is one of many free tools that allow teachers to control an online environment while still benefiting from social media. Delmatoff managed her social media class without a budget by using free tools like Edmodo and Edublogs.

4. Replace Online Procrastination with Social Education

nielsen graph image

Between 2004 and 2009, the amount of time that kids between the ages of 2 and 11 spent online increased by 63%, according to a Nielson study. And there’s no reason, Meinhardt argues, that schools shouldn’t compete with other social media sites for part of this time.

He helped Delmatoff create a forum where she would post an extra assignment students could complete after school every day. One day she had students comment on one of President Obama’s speeches; another day she had them make two-minute videos of something on their walk home that was a bad example of sustainability. These assignments had no credit attached to them. “It didn’t get you an A, it didn’t get you a cookie. It didn’t get you anything except something to do and something to talk about with other students.”

About 100 students participated. Through polls taken before and after the program, Meinhardt determined that students spent between four to five fewer hours per week on Facebook and MySpace when the extra assignments had been implemented.

“They were just as happy to do work rather than talk trash,” Delmatoff says. “All they wanted was to be with their friends.”

5. Social Media Encourages Collaboration Instead of Cliques

edmodo image

Traditional education tactics often involve teacher-given lectures, students with their eyes on their own papers, and not talking to your neighbor.

“When you get in the business world,” Meinhardt says, “All of [a] sudden it’s like, ‘OK, work with this group of people.’ It’s collaborative immediately. And we come unprepared to collaborate on projects.”

Social media as a teaching tool has a natural collaborative element. Students critique and comment on each other’s assignments, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or to start a discussion.

Taking some discussions online would also seem to be an opportunity for kids who are shy or who don’t usually interact with each other to learn more about each other. A study by the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, however, found that this wasn’t the case. The study found that using educational social media tools in one of the Institute’s courses had no measurable impact on social connections.

Delmatoff argues that with her students, however, new connections were made. “If you’re shy or you’re not popular or any of those hideous things that we worry about in middle school — if you know the answers or have good insights or ask good questions, you’re going to be really valuable online.” she says. “So I started to see some changes that way.”

6. Cell Phones Aren’t the Enemy

69% of American high schools have banned cell phones, according to figures compiled by CommonSense Media, a nonprofit group that studies children’s use of technology. Instead, Delmatoff’s school collected student’s cell phone numbers.

Delmatoff would send text messages to wake chronically absent kids up before school or send messages like, “I see you at the mini-mart” when they were running late (there’s a mini-mart visible from the school). She called the program “Texts on Time,” and it improved chronic absenteeism by about 35% without costing the school a dime.

“The cell phone is a parent-sponsored, parent-funded communication channel, and schools need to wrap their mind around it to reach and engage the kids,” Meinhardt says.


Nobody would dispute that the risks of children using social media are real and not to be taken lightly. But there are also dangers offline. The teachers and parents who embrace social media say the best way to keep kids safe, online or offline, is to teach them. We’re eager to hear what you think. Tell us in the comments below.

More Education Resources from Mashable:

- Why Online Education Needs to Get Social
- 15 Essential Back to School Podcasts
- How Social Gaming is Improving Education
- 3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology
- 5 Innovative Tech Camps for Kids and Teens

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, dem10, Alsos

More About: education, Kids, Mobile 2.0, phone, schools, social media, social media in schools, teachers, teaching, tech, teens, texting

For more Social Media coverage:

June 14 2010

5 Gadgets That Will Transform Your Home

This series is supported by Lexus.

I live in a somewhat futuristic home. I have robots to help me with chores, computers to control my environment and entertainment, and a large and growing number of glowing screens that serve me an infinite variety of content.

Most of the gadgets that make for truly transformative modern living are surprisingly affordable, and they’re changing our homes month by month and year by year into something that resembles our fantastic visions of “the future.” Here are five gadgets you can buy now (or a couple months from now) that will change the way you live, work and play.

And be sure to let us know your favorite futuristic, time-saving gadgets in the comments.

1. Environment: HAL

Home automation is hardly new, but it will change the way you use and control your home environment more than any other kind of gadget setup. It will also cost you a bit more than most gadgets, since you might have to invest in a server.

Named for the spaceship computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL is one such product on the market today. This home automation system allows you to control lights, appliances, audio, video, security and thermostat settings from a web browser, via phone or even by voice. HAL can also gather and serve content such as email, news items, stock quotes, weather reports and sports scores.

Of course, for the more technically advanced of our readers, you can always hack you own version of HAL if you feel adventurous and have the time. And if you’re into FOSS, check out LinuxMCE, a Kubuntu add-on that lets you manage media, telecommunications, security and environmental controls in your home from any device.

2. Energy: PowerMeter

Google’s PowerMeter has been around for a while, and new consumer devices specifically designed for this energy-monitoring software are starting to hit the market in greater numbers.

By using a device such as Current Cost’s ENVI, you can make greener decisions by monitoring the energy you use. The ENVI can monitor the energy used by individual appliances as well as the total energy consumption of your household. It currently only monitors electricity, but the company is also developing the ability to track gas and other forms of energy. Its LCD screen displays your home’s energy consumption over a rolling 24-hour period as a bar graph. The ENVI can also calculate to the penny how much your energy use is costing you.

3. Chores: iRobot

Remember Rosie from the Jetsons? So do the makers of iRobot. The company that created the Roomba also makes gutter cleaners, pool scrubbers, floor moppers and even automated shop vacs. Especially if you live in a larger home, having a small army of floor-bound robots can cut down immensely on your cleaning time and make tidying up a much more efficient process.

The Roomba made its debut in 2002; it has since been joined by the Verro pool cleaner, the Looj gutter cleaner, the Scooba floor washer and the Dirt Dog shop vac.

If you’re of a more technical bent, iRobot’s devices are also quite hackable and even have APIs for your programming pleasure.

4. Audio: Sonos S5

According to a company rep, this gadget is “the simplest, easiest way to get music into any and every room of your house.” Ringing in at around $400 per room, the Sonos S5 system is perfect for heavy iPod/iPhone users who want more and better access to their extensive iTunes libraries.

The S5 acts as a sort of speaker for all the music in the cloud, as well. It can pull down all the music on the Internet, including tunes from web-based services like Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, SIRIUS, Last.fm and more than 100,000 radio stations and podcasts.

You can use your smartphone as a controller for your Sonos system, and the Sonos rep also told us the company is shipping a brand new iPad Controller experience later this year.

5. Entertainment: Google TV

Google TV arrived a scant month ago. It was announced at Google I/O, where we also learned that Sony would be releasing a special television set to support the software.

You can start stocking your piggybank now, because Sony’s Google TV will launch this fall, just a few months from now.

Google TV is more robust than web TV or Apple TV, and it’s not just a browser or a guide. This device and software will let you search for and navigate both TV and online content. You’ll be able to download and run apps from your TV and control your TV from your Android smartphone.

Best of all, Google’s excellent voice-activated commands and searches work beautifully on this device.

Series supported by Lexus

This series is supported by Lexus.

[img credit: x-ray_delta_one]

For more technology coverage, follow Mashable Tech on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

Tags: consumer electronics, gadgets, Google, google tv, HAL, home, home automation, irobot, power meter, powermeter, sonos

June 02 2010

3 Key Location Trends for Moms

Working Mom Mobile ImageNoa Gafni is a social media consultant with a focus on women and Gen Y. She authors Webutantes, a blog about Internet trends impacting women.

Location-based services (LBS) on mobile phones are engaging a growing market — one that is expected to generate revenues of over $12.7 billion by 2014. With a significant percentage of moms using smartphones, location services offer a rare opportunity to interact with moms while they’re on the go.

Below are some innovative ways that companies are applying location-based technologies to target moms.

1. Discounts and Coupons

Discounts for “checkins” reward users for their brand loyalty. Women have shown a particular interest in mobile coupons, with more than two-thirds expressing their interest in getting coupons on their mobile device. In another study, 88% of female Internet users said they would like to see more targeted offers from trusted brands. Discounts are a common incentive for moms to use location-based services. “I don’t care about being “mayor” of a location unless that means I will get a special offer from the business in return,” says blogger and Nielsen Power Mom Beth Blecherman.

However, privacy is a concern raised by many moms. “Location-based services are like two sides to a coin … they humanize and personalize, and conversely … they dehumanize and quantify us as data points. It can be hard to balance,” says Ciaran Blumenfeld, founder of Momfluential.

The balance seems to be in letting moms determine who can see their checkins. “It would also be great to allow people to check in ‘privately’ … so the store knows who checked in but it does not display to the whole world. I would probably use the location based services for everyday shopping more if I could choose when I only want the business to know I am checking in or make that public,” says Blecherman.

2. Utility Applications

Utility applications provide information and tools that make life easier for moms when they’re on the go. Applications such as Yelp, Qype, and AroundMe offer information about nearby restaurants and places to shop.

Sit or Squat enables users to locate nearby public restrooms and rates each one on a five-star scale based on whether or not they are a “sit” or a “squat.” Many of the restrooms include photos and information about special features, such as changing tables and handicap accessibility.

Rocket Taxi is an iPhone app that locates a user via GPS or Wi-Fi and finds nearby taxi companies. Users can select a company based on their rating, bookmark their favorite cab companies, and get an estimate of how much their fare will cost. These applications provide information for moms when they need it, and “locations make all of these interactions more relevant,” says Kate Imbach, VP of Marketing for Skyhook Wireless.

3. On-the-Go Sharing

Whrrl Image

Checkins enable users to fold the location-based element into a larger story, generally through photos, notes, and other social features. These applications appeal to many moms because they provide a context for checkins.

One application, Whrrl, enables users to add photos and notes to their checkins, as well as tag friends, who can also add their photos. “I am a fan of Whrrl in particular because it goes beyond the checkin and allows users to tell their story and recommend experiences to other users. Furthermore the stories I create are a visual history of my life and an easy way to make and share meaningful albums with friends and family. I can even post them on my blog. All of this makes it worth my while, and worth sharing my data” says Blumenfeld.

Babymate, an application that helps parents keep track of their babies’ development, is incorporating location-based elements into their existing application. Babymate is currently adding the ability to favorite locations, and incorporate that information into events, measurements and milestones. Users can integrate that information with images and articles

According to Babymate’s developer Mariano Capezzani, “The idea behind integrating Babymate with a location-based framework is to make the experience of using the app even more relevant and useful for users. For example, a mom whose baby has just been given the BCG vaccine will be able to comment on how her baby reacted and [how] good a job the clinic did. Another mom can share with the community the date when her baby started walking and what tips she found were useful to help him in the process. The community can share with each other and follow any activity, place, class, show, product and tip they find interesting, right through the app.”

Looking Ahead

Whether they provide discounts, utility, or on-the-go storytelling, successful applications are those that use location-based information to add value. As location-based services become more mainstream, developers will create even more innovative applications that appeal to moms. Marketers should look to location-based tools as a unique opportunity to add value and engage with moms while they are on the go.

For more mobile coverage, follow Mashable Mobile on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

More parenting and family resources from Mashable:

- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- 12 Fantastic Facebook Fan Pages for Parents
- 20 Fantastic Free iPhone Apps for Parents
- HOW TO: Prevent and Report Online Stalking

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AnthonyRosenberg

Tags: apps, foursquare, geocaching, iphone, List, Lists, location, location-based, Mobile 2.0, Moms, parenting, parents

June 01 2010

10 Adorable Apple-Themed Baby Accessories

Congratulations, it’s a Mac! If you want to ensure your offspring stay on the Apple side of the technology tracks, then start ‘em young while they are still highly impressionable.

We’ve scoured the web for Apple-themed baby bits and bobs that will keep your new bundle of joy — or someone else’s, if you’re a proud uncle/aunt/godparent — Cupertino-clad.

So, go for it while they can’t answer back, and grab all the cute fan-baby snaps you can. Remember, there’s plenty of time to have that talk (the one about alternative operating systems) once they hit their teens.

1. iPhone Onesie

iPopMyBaby has taken the iPhone’s now-classic home screen icons and replaced them with designs more relevant to the infant lifestyle — poop, crawl, burp, drool and pee, are among the new “apps.”

Cost: Varies

2. Mac Genius Bib

This bib projects a future of greatness for your little one, though as junior is spitting up pureed fruit on said garment and wiping it in his hair, the “genius” part might not be quite so apparent. Do grab the camera though.

Cost: $12

3. Daddy and Me Onesie

This onesie makes a knowing nod to how much tech changes from generation to generation. What’s next we wonder? Musical brain implants?

Cost: $24

4. Vinyl Mac Desktop

So cool we’re actually considering getting a set to use as grown-up place mats, this Mac-themed vinyl will sit on baby’s high chair and get the little guy or gal used to having a chiclet keyboard. Your baby won’t be the one at the nursery who can’t find the command key, that’s for sure.

Cost: 12 Euros (approx $15)

5. Mac and Cheese Twinset

Designed for maximum cute effect when worn by twins, this crafty two-piece set would be no less welcome in any Apple family home, although we can’t help thinking “cheese” might be left in a closet a little more often than the “mac.”

Cost: $38

6. iPod Seek and Find Bean Bag

This isn’t strictly a baby toy, owing to the potential choking hazard and other such parental concerns, but it would look super-cute on a nursery shelf until baby is old enough to get hands-on.

Cost: $12.99

7. iBaby Onesie

Perhaps the most subtle onesie we’ve selected, the word “iBaby” will still resonate with Apple fans and the tech-savvy public alike, leaving no doubt about your toddler’s allegiance to “the Steves.”

Cost: $20

8. Apple Bucket Hat

Want your little one to be spreading the word of Apple while keeping the sun off her face? Of course you do! This cotton-brushed twill headwear will do the trick — available in white, pink and blue.

Cost: $14.95

9. Loud and Proud Onesie

In our experience with “humans-in-training,” the volume level does have a tendency to reach “11″ from time to time. This “Loud and Proud” outfit’s depiction of the Mac volume icon on full blast is most appropriate.

Cost: $18

10. Wooden iPhone

Give baby his own iPhone before he starts looking admiringly at any Android products. This wooden replica is just the thing for the garbled baby-equivalent of “buy, buy, sell, sell” on the way out to the park.

Cost: $9.75

For more Apple coverage, follow Mashable Apple on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

More Apple resources from Mashable:

- Mac Gift Guide: 10 Buying Ideas for Apple Fans
- 20 Fantastic Free iPhone Apps for Parents
- 10 Awesome Apple iPad Cases
- HOW TO: Get Started with the iPad
- 10 Great iPhone Apps for Growing a Garden

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ZhuravlevaMaria

Reviews: Android, Facebook, Twitter, iStockphoto

Tags: accessories, apple, baby, baby products, clothing, geek, gift guides, Gifts, iphones, ipods, Kids, List, Lists, Macs, shopping

May 08 2010

Mother’s Day 2010: 4 Social Good Gifts for Mom

To Mama ImageGeoff Livingston co-founded Zoetica to focus on cause-related work, and released an award-winning book on new media Now is Gone in 2007.

“In America alone, we spend $14.6B annually on Mother’s Day for stuff that could just never say what’s in our hearts,” said Stacey Monk, founder of To Mama with Love. “How would it impact our world if we stopped using stuff as a surrogate for love?  What if instead, we used those funds to make the world a better place for mamas and children everywhere?”

It’s always hard to top last year’s Mother’s Day gift and really let that special lady know how much you care. Here are four ways to use social media to say “I love you, Mom,” and make a difference in society, too. Social media for social good, and Mom — does it get any better than that?

1. To Mama With Love

To Mama With Love Image

Epic Change, the folks who brought you Tweetsgiving, have focused their efforts on To Mama with Love, a collaborative global art space. Loving children and husbands buy spaces, then add videos, photos, and love notes, and send an e-Card to Mom. $25 donations are allocated for a children’s home in Arusha, Tanzania. The program was envisioned by local grassroots changemaker, primary school founder, and Epic Change fellow Mama Lucy Kamptoni.

In a Twitter interview, Kamptonie said, “This project is superb! Kids need [a] proper home to study well & grow … [The] plan is [to] accommodate not less than 50 kids … After some years, so many kids’ll benefit from this gift.”

2. Love Needs Water, Too

Charity Water Image

charity: water is selling e-cards this Mother’s Day to help resolve the world’s water crisis. Women in developing nations are twice as likely to walk for water than men. In Africa alone, more than 40 billion hours are wasted each year just walking for water.

Each charity: water e-card can provide clean, safe drinking water for one person for 20 years. On average, a water project costs $5,000 — so 250 e-cards sold at $20 apiece can build a freshwater project.

“charity: water sells e-cards for every holiday, but Mother’s Day is especially relevant to the world water crisis,” said Scott Harrison, Founder and President of charity: water. “When we visit villages with charity: water projects, we hear a lot from the mothers. Once their village gets clean water, they’re not only excited to drink it themselves; they’re relieved they can provide safer lives for their families. Clean water and sanitation can cut disease rates in communities almost in half. What mom wouldn’t want to raise her kids in a world that is much safer?”

3. MomsRise for the Mom of the Decade

MomsRise Image

Last year, MomsRising had a Mother’s Day video card that went viral with over 12 million views. It informed its viewers about the realities of modern families in the U.S. According to last year’s video, over 80% of American women have children by the time they are 44 years old, and three-quarters of moms are in the labor force. Right now, according to the U.S. Census, full-time working women earn only 77 cents to a man’s dollar.

This year’s Mother’s Day video e-card takes the concept one step further, declaring the recipient “Mother of the Decade.” Luminaries ranging from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to First Lady Michelle Obama to Ugly Betty star America Ferrera appear in the “news clip” praising the 2010 Mother of the Decade.

“Modern moms are stretched to the limit, juggling an unprecedented number of roles at the same time,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising Executive Director. “The labor force is now 50% women for the first time, and three-quarters of moms are in the labor force. Times have changed, but our policies and programs haven’t caught up, and moms are getting crunched. Having an easy way — like a video e-card — to acknowledge that we’re in this together, and that we support each other on Mother’s Day, is critical in this pressure cooker situation.”

4. Thankfulfor Moms

ThankfulFor Image

Thankfulfor, a collaboration between TechCocktail Creator Frank Gruber, and former AOLer Jen Consalvo, features a Mother’s Day giveaway contest. To participate, simply post a thanks to mom on Thankfulfor through Sunday, May 9th. The Thankfulfor team will select a handful of winners to receive some fun prizes. Thankfulfor will collect all the Mother’s Day posts and select the best to be published in a beautiful e-book to be given away to all Thankfulfor members (and Moms).

“We all want to feel deep appreciation,” said Jen Consalvo. “It’s easy to send flowers, gift certificates and the like. It’s much harder to spend time thinking about why you are truly thankfulfor for a mother in your life. We want to encourage people to dig down deep and write a few words every day about the gratitude they feel. This is a no-cost way to help mothers feel like they are deeply appreciated.

“We hope to serve as a reminder about what’s really important on Mother’s Day – and any day of the year,” Jen continued. “Given the research today that shows how keeping a gratitude journal can actually improve people’s levels of happiness and well being, and can have positive effects on health and focus, we believe that helping people cultivate a daily habit of gratitude could have a lasting impact on individuals around the globe.”

For more social media coverage, follow Mashable Social Media on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

More social good resources from Mashable:

- How Does Twitter’s New Social Good Initiative Stack Up?
- 5 Ways Non-Profits Can Increase Engagement With YouTube
- 4 Ways Non-Profits Can Use Google Buzz
- Why Sex-Ed Remains a Challenge for Social Media
- 5 Ways Mega Charity Events Can Harness the Power of Social Media

Tags: Gifts, Holiday, holiday gifts, Holidays, List, Lists, Moms, mothers day, social media

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