This post is also available in: Spanish
Twitteando, when I first heard the word I thought what is the world coming to, it is tweeting. So you say what is tweeting, twitter, and what does that mean to me? In 2014, the White House was having a town hall meeting. Ready to see a webcast, I read the last line that said the town hall was being held through TWITTER!!! How could you have an intelligent conversation in 140 characters or less? What would actually be accomplished? I consulted my friend and twitter savant, Emily Noble to provide me with guidance.
Me: I know I am going to sound so uncool, but Emily, what on earth is twitter?
Emily: Twitter is an online social/information network that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages (including photos, videos, and links). These messages are called Tweets. A really neat way to mark a word or topic you want others to search for is to put a # sign – also known as a hashtag – in front of the word. This symbol turns the word into a link, and clicking on the linked word shows you all other Tweets that are marked with that word.
Me: Why do I want to talk to someone in 140 characters?
Emily: Well, if you are a business, you can use Twitter to tell other users about your company (who you are, what you do, how you can help them), and see what others are saying about your organization or program. As an individual, you can use Twitter to learn about people, places and things you are interested in. For example, the Billboard Music Awards was recently on TV. The hashtag used was #BBMA. If you did a search on Twitter, you could read what others were saying about the event, and even see some behind-the-scene photos that were posted by users who were there.
Me. Ummm what is 140 characters? School me I am lost.
Emily: There actually is a science behind the 140 character limit. Here’s a simpler reason for this limitation: 140 characters is the perfect length for sending a status update by text message. The standard text message length is usually 160 characters per message. Twenty characters are reserved for items such as a user’s name. The remaining 140 characters are then used for the message.
Me: What should parents be looking out for?
Emily: Unlike Facebook, where you must mutually agree to be “friends” in order to see each other’s posts, all Tweets are available to anyone with a Twitter account, unless the user specifically makes their Tweet private. And just like Facebook, Twitter can be a platform through which personal information can fall into the wrong hands if children share too much information. Some children and teenagers do not have the maturity to understand that what is posted online stays online, even after a Tweet is deleted. Here are some recommendations if a child is interested in using Twitter:
- Set up the account with your child – you can keep track of what your child is posting and who they are following;
- Have a discussion about who the child will follow and who can follow them back;
- It is important for the parent to stress that anything online stays there forever, and any negative information associated with their account could affect them in the future;
- Pick a username that is not offensive and does not reveal too much personal information;
- Your child should not Tweet anything they wouldn’t say in person, and gossip and bad language is to be avoided;
- Any photos your child wants to share or upload should be approved by the parent first;
- Remind the child that they should never Tweet their name, address or telephone number, and never to share their Twitter password with anyone but you;
Me: Where else can I go to learn more about tweeting?
Emily: Probably the best place to go is to Twitter itself. There is a user’s guide that can be found at https://support.twitter.com/ . You can also find helpful videos on YouTube.
Me: Are there any cool tweet parties or town halls coming up?
Emily: The best way to find out about upcoming events is to follow those organizations you are interested in for Twitter announcements. Also, you can follow live what others are saying about your favorite show. So if you like watching Dancing With the Stars, you can follow the hashtag #DWTS on Monday nights to see what other fans are saying, and sometimes the Stars will live Tweet during the show. A good site to start your search is https://www.hashtags.org/
Latino voices to follow
To create a twitter account visit www.twitter.com and click on Sign up.