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Well, to make this history short, I was thinking about setting up word press, and just let them have fun with it...
But I also know this website weebly that allow you to create websites on the fly. Like if you were creating in a wysiwig editor.
Also, I think wordpress would be too rigid to really "have fun" with.
What do you think ? :)
I'm sure there must be kids this age somewhere doing their first steps on the web already.
Just open up Microsoft Word and let them play, I've done that on like two occasions, no need to them addicted to the 'net just yet ;-)
I think kids should learn in environments that are fun for them and if making websites is fun for your kids, definitely find a way for them to do it. They'll learn great reading, writing and communication skills, hopefully they'll have fun, and it will make them feel so "grown up".
And of course, there's the AdSense. I was trying really hard to get my 14 year-old niece to make a website because she is obsessed with cell phones and is a walking encyclopedia of cell-phone facts (about every model and so on). And one of her hobbies/interests? Marketing! Unfortunately, according to her, she's "too lazy" for such a thing as it would interfere with her social life.
Anyway, there are a couple of other things you might consider if Moveable Type doesn't do it for you:
- kid oriented CMS
- hosted solution
There seem to be a couple of these out there, none of which I've tried. I bet if you searched for "kid-friendly [CMSname] theme" you might find a lot more. I know there are some kid-friendly Worpdress themes. That won't, of course, make admin any easier, but it will give them a nice stuff-animal look that they might (or might not) like.
* Joomla Kids is a Joomla version with a lot of things like categories and so on removed to make it simple for kids. One thing that might appeal to me about this is that one could upgrade to full joomla and I presume the data migration would be fairly easy. So it would grow with your kids. Another cool thing - it was designed and built by a thirteen year-old!
That's probably the first one I would test.
I've seen a couple of other kid-oriented CMSs that charge a modest fee for the full version.
A hosted solution like Blogspot, Typepade or Wordpress.com might reduce your overall hassle. All of them have the option to host on your own domain AFAIK. That spares you having to perpetually do security updates for a hobby that may well fade quickly for the kids.
Also, it may save you from having to explain some of the crude spam comments likely to appear on pretty much any platform you choose yourself. Or from getting hacked and having your kids log in to see some #*$! spam all over their site one day.
You also may want to set up the computer with a password manager to help automate login, though I guess if they are writing web pages they can manage the login.
@Swanny - hey, when I was six I couldn't spell my name. I had to copy from the kid who sat across from me. Was in the 97th percentile on my language score on my GREs though.
computer litterate is a far more valuable skill in this day and age imo.
All kids that age will end up computer literate by default, especially if fishermx is their dad. It's not something that need encouragement as it might have a generation ago. And most computer skills are relatively easy to learn by someone who has a good foundational education. Personally, I think piano lessons are more valuable at a young age than computer skills and will be much harder to come by than computer skills in the future.
For an interesting take, google on Ken Robinson TED talk.
Well, to make this history short, I was thinking about setting up word press, and just let them have fun with it...
Wow, I can't even figure everything out on WP yet.....lol.
I think it's good to get kids exposed to the web, and get them familiar with this technology. But I agree with Swanny...what do you want them to do with a website?!
However, since they're so young you should be careful. Encourage them to spellcheck, and lay down some ground rules about what they can't publish. Just as you would lay down rules for forums and chatrooms, ensure they know that their home address, telephone number, age, and other personal details are off-limits. Trying to explain copyright and libel to them will be hard, but necessary if you want to avoid tears and trouble. Try to put it in simple terms. Finally, read what they want to publish. Whatever CMS you choose, I think you'll need to be quite hands-on to begin with so just go for something simple that you like.
What are these kids going to write about? The typical blogger shares something they saw on the web. If your kids have access to the web, that raises the issue of content filtering. I use Glubble (a whitelist-based Firefox addin layer) for my kids but there's no serendipity in that.
Another thought. Who's going to read what they do? Either it's behind authentication for friends/family, or fully crawlable. In the case of the latter, you ought to watch what they write and reveal. Also bear in mind that their friends are going to go from walled gardens like Webkinz/ClubPenguin at age 8 to SMSing at age ~12 and Facebook shortly thereafter. Without a stop in the wide open world of blogs etc.
As for the technology, a lot of CMS's have guardrails for less-able users. E.g. ability to post to draft status for later review and live status by an editor, spellcheck, WYSIWYG editor, admin controls that are hidden from them via permissioning, etc. What's the least they can do with? Login form, text entry box, and "Post" button. Picture upload function is a nicetohave, if pix are local. Sounds a lot like email to me, which is an equally effective way for them to learn their typing and online etiquette.
In sum I think the answer to the OP question is driven more by parenting choices & goals than by technology choices.
p.s. For context: my kids are ages 10/9/7; I do a blog for them (mostly containing Lego Star Wars flickr slideshows and goofy youtube); I was a Movable Type guy but now have Drupal fever; I do a lot with middle-school-aged kids.
I can see something like this being more the way to go for kids. The program did have the ability to type in text, but it was mostly for labels or a few words in the drawing.
It could be done in SVG pretty easily.. there are probably scripts around like this already.
Several of the bigger hosting sites have integrated packages you can manage through the one site.
How they get the content is up to them, but they would also learn about copyright fairly quickly if they were running the site.
If they enjoy running the site and keep it up for a few years, then they could move on to developing it further when they are older. A website is for life, not just for Christmas.
[edited by: tedster at 7:20 am (utc) on Oct. 22, 2008]
Then Mom should use that domain herself.
A 12 year old is on the verge of those critically important teen years, when a young lady would share a site of her own with friends, and is highly sensitive to the opinions and reactions - and acceptance and respect - of her peers.
As part of nurturing along the process of developing her critical thinking process and decision making ability, she should be allowed to have a domain name of her own choosing that reflects her own taste and preferences.
As a matter of fact, it might not be a bad idea for her to have the responsibility of looking at and comparing interfaces, and choosing the platform for herself - and the theme, and customization if she wants to.
Now that I think of it, I was babysitting for the children of neighbors and family friends at the age of 12, bottles and diapers, teething, waking up crying and all. It felt good to be trusted, but also grew the sense of responsibility, capability and sense of self-worth.
Nowadays kids have a golden opportunity to grow and express themselves, with all the opportunity and technology that's available.
[edited by: Marcia at 5:42 am (utc) on Oct. 22, 2008]
In fact, my nephew, at 23 (and finishing a computer engineering degree, so pretty techy), reports that he feels there's already a generational gap between him and his sister and younger cousins (all 19 and younger). He feels that's the breakpoint between those who communicate primarly 1-to-1 (chat, email) and those who communcate via Facebook and social networking portals.
Don't know whether that's true, but it does raise the question of what a teenager wants with a personal site. As you suggest, though, your own website would allow you a much greater range of creativity than Facebook.
Both of my sisters have refused to sign up for Facebook because they want to give their daughters independence, but their daughters actually encourage them to sign up and have in fact "friended" a number of my sisters' friends. Maybe that's rare or maybe it's true that this generation really does have a different feeling about privacy than we did.
And even if I could prevent that, there is always the risk of them becoming "addicted" to the internet and essentially end up withdrawn and maybe even anti-social. My cousin who is 13 uses the computer daily. He is virtually (no pun intended) addicted to those game sites. He sits there glued to the screen, chatting with his friends as he plays this computer game instead of being outside with them and actually interacting. If my aunt didn't put limits, he'd be there day and night by choice and that to me is sad.
It seems all gravy now but I think we will start to see a lot of consequences for this as this young generation gets older.
I don't have any kids but I truly believe I would not allow my children to have their own site under the age of 14-15 (minimum). At this point, I don't even think I would allow them to surf the internet on their own.
For example, a report came out this year that myopia is often a result of lack of exposure to outdoor environments before the age of 6. So this means an adult can sit in a dark room all day and be fine, but for small children, it causes their eyes to form incorrectly. This is just one example of many of how the child's development can get derailed.
Obviously kids need a lot of unstructured outdoor play (not adult-organized team sports), but if building a website replaces television time, that can't be bad. If it replaces story-telling time or play time, that's a shame.
I think that it is a lot safer for them to do this at home on their parents computer where logs can be kept and reviewed for inappropriate use (i.e allowing child to think they have free access, but keeping an eye on them to be sure they are safe) the only having them use the computers at schools, or worse, going to university at 18, never having had un-restricted access and making big mistakes (a bit like the knds who have never had social freedom and go off the rails when they leave home)
Its not that kids shouldn't be allowed to use it, but just like so many other things in life, it should be at a time that is appropriate to their age...IMO of course.
Sometimes kids have a strong interest in something, whether it's skating, dance, music, literature, sports or whatever, and they can create a personal content site that's a creative learning experience.
predators online that concern me
I've also personally known kids who got into drugs & promiscuity and ended up drop-outs, through contacts they made online.
If I had a young kid, I'd definitely encourage a personal domain for growth and creativity of self expression, but I would NOT allow participation in the public networking sites.