Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to Professor Snape!

Actor Alan Rickman portrayed the immortal (well, at least in our hearts) Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. Mr. Rickman is 65 years old today.  We're thinking of ideas to mark the day with our tweens - any ideas? From around the web we found:

P.S. Severus Snape's actual birthday is supposedly January 9, 1960, but we've not yet confirmed that tidbit with Ms. Rowling.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Girl Scouts Heart STEM

This week there was a super cool event celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Girl Scouts and the New York Academy of Sciences hosted a panel discussion called "Girls Heart STEM" to review results "from a new study conducted by the Girl Scouts on girls' attitudes and awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, 74 percent of girls — and even higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic girls — say they’re interested in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, math, and engineering. The trick is to break professions into their component parts. Girls who are interested in STEM want to know how things work. They like solving puzzles and problems. They want to understand the natural world."
 
From the Girl Scouts blog, here are the keys to successfully fostering and supporting girls' interests in STEM:
  • Engagement: Having an orientation to the sciences and/or quantitative disciplines that includes such qualities as awareness, interest and motivation.
  • Capacity: Possessing the acquired knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.
  • Continuity: Institutional and programmatic opportunities, material resources and guidance that support advancement to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.
Girls also live blogged and live-Tweeted from the event - very cool!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

What We're "Pinning" This Valentine's Day

 We found some REALLY cute Valentine's Day craft and recipe ideas for your tween to make, and we "pinned" them to our board on Pinterest. Our favorites include the tinted milk hearts, the roasted potato hearts, and cinnamon heart rolls. Today we made meringue hearts and pink marshmallows for teacher gifts.



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Friday, February 10, 2012

Tweens Date By Text

We were fascinated by an article in this week's Wall Street Journal about the dating habits of tweens. Apparently entire relationships start, live and end via text message - and it's not an isolated occurrence: half of the older tweens surveyed (ages 11 to 14) say they've had a dating relationship. The few dozen tweens we spoke to this week confirmed the study findings: that this trend is a norm in their schools. One girl said, "Girls in my school do this to say they're in a relationship, but they never actually go anywhere."

While exploring dating is a cultural norm in middle school, MsTwixt does wish that the 1950's notion that having a boyfriend somehow validates a girl's worth would get with the times already.

Do you know if your tween "dates"? And if so, does s/he have a virtual or in-person relationship? Given that texting often figures in tween relationships of any kind, do you monitor your tween's texts? One tip: have all family members dock their phones at bedtime in a central location in your house - it will cut down tremendously on the late-night text sessions and mean more shut-eye for your kid. For other tips on developing a family technology policy, view our Women in Media interview here.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Facebook's New Timeline Feature: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Tween Safe

Facebook will automatically be updating all profiles to their new Timeline view next week (February 16, 2012 according to their website). What this means is that your "Wall" will be displayed as a "Timeline".

The biggest change from a privacy standpoint is that while any post on Facebook stayed on Facebook forever, someone had to really search hard to find older photos and posts (and while college is a while off for tweens, most college admissions offices DO search applicants' Facebook profiles - and photos of indiscretions or questionable behavior have staying power). The Timeline feature now includes a "sort" feature by year (on the right side of the page), and this makes finding those old photos and conversations MUCH easier.

 For an example of a Timeline you can see Mark Zuckerberg's Timeline below:

There are two important things you need to do to keep your tween safe (And while we all know that Facebook does not permit anyone under the age of 13 to join, many tweens have. Or, if you have a family Facebook page as we do, you'll want to look at these directions too.):
  • Check your Privacy Settings (after you've logged in, click the arrow next to "Home" and select "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu)
  • Scroll down to "How Tags Work" and click on "Edit Settings"

  • Select "Maximum Timeline Visibility" and choose your privacy setting; you can see that we opted for "Friends" - meaning that only our Friends can view the posts we're tagged in. You could also choose "Custom" and then "Only Me" for maximum privacy

  • Click "Done"; you'll revert to the Privacy Settings Screen
  • Select "Limit the Audience for Past Posts" and click on "Manage Past Post Visibility"
  • You can opt to "Limit the Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline", and this will mean that old photos and posts can only be seen by your Facebook Friends and not by the public at large.
For more tips on the new Timeline, check out this article in PC World - it has some of the best, most clearly written tips I've seen on the topic.

For more tips on keeping your tween safe online, check out our interview on Digital Literacy in the Women in Media Journal.
    Full disclosure: MsTwixt does maintain a Facebook page.

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