Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Texting explosion

According to this article from the New York Times, text messaging passed up phone calls made from cell phones at the end of 2007, and from the looks of things, it will be double soon!

Letting Our Fingers Do the Talking
Published: September 28, 2008

Teenagers ages 13 to 17 are by far the most prolific texters, sending or receiving 1,742 messages a month, according to Nielsen Mobile. By contrast, 18-to-24-year-olds average 790 messages. A separate study of teenagers with cellphones by Harris Interactive found that 42 percent of them claim that they can write text messages while blindfolded.

How can we respond to this? I think it is time we started offering updates to teens by text message. Is we set this up as an option on our website, what choices do you think we should offer? Program reminders? New posts on their blog? If you were a teen, what would you want?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Squeeky clean fairy tales

There is a good article in The Boston Globe today about the sanitizing of fairy tales:

Fear of fairy tales
The glossy, sanitized new versions of fairy tales leave out what matters: the scary parts
By Joanna Weiss
September 21, 2008

Admittedly, this is nothing new and fairy tales are always evolving. I remember reading a collection of traditional fairy tales in third grade, and being shocked that the stepsisters in Cinderella were mutilating their feet to try and fool the prince. Certainly changed my view of things! Any more, when young girls come in asking for Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast, etc...I always ask if they are looking for the Disney version right away. Too many years I tried to trick them into trying other versions, and 90% of the time they really only wanted the packaged princess.

Where do you see the shift, between kids who only want the squeaky clean Disney version of things, and teens who want the raw, disturbing fairy tales and their contemporary retellings? Are we softening things too much for children, leading to greater rebellion and distrust as teens? Or is society just adapting to trying to preserve innocence in a media saturated society?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I wonder what the other 3% are doing?

Survey: 97% of American youth play video games

The survey found that while young Americans don't necessarily play the same thing, nearly all of them -- girls included -- play video games of one kind or another.

And they don't just play by themselves. Nearly two-thirds play
video games to socialize face-to-face with friends and family, while just over a quarter said they play with Internet friends.

"It shows that gamers are social people," says Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at Pew who led the report on the survey. "They communicate just as much. They spend time face-to-face, just as much as other kids. They e-mail and text."

Despite what some people might hope for, there's no going back. Gaming is a way of life for American youth. But as we know, it isn't all bad!

Monday, September 8, 2008

gaming and scientific thinking

Another encouraging article about great skills teens are building playing video games:

How Videogames Blind Us With Science

At one point, Steinkuehler met up with one of the kids who'd built the Excel model to crack the boss. "Do you realize that what you're doing is the essence of science?" she asked.

He smiled at her. "Dude, I'm not doing science," he replied. "I'm just cheating the game!"

Of course if they realized that their "cheating" was actually the scientific method, it might not seem half as fun ;)