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There is a myth, perpetuated for little more reason than it’s sellable-fallacy, that kids are gravitating to Twitter and Facebook. From this point, numerous arguments have been made in the sub-culture Alan Lavine brilliantly described as “Edlandia” – a sharp and humurous hat-tip to Portlandia the TV show (relates to MOOCS).

There is pervasive notion that the issues today are the same as those even three years ago. They might continue to sell this obsolete rhetoric to Edlandians, but kids are using very different networks – and here’s why.

Kids are being given hand-held devices. iPod touch, low end Androids and so on. They are no using desktops, laptops or TABLETs. If Edlandians paid attention to advertising data and sales data as much as they do their Twitter feed-bowls they’d know this.

Kids are heading to Instagram and Kik because they are essentially the two messaging services that appeal.

Instagram being the ‘selfie’ universe that screams “I am am here” and Kik the natural successor to MSN Messenger, saying “I belong”.

On signing up for Kik, it will go off and find your friends from other places. No age verification process – choose a name and you’re in. It doesn’t bother to mention it’s geo-locational by default either. Kid’s like it, because Kik automatically builds your close network (the one that matters most) for zero effort. If you missed the Blackberry Messenger phenomenon (we didn’t get that in Australia) – then Kik is the same idea, just on a way bigger scale.

Kids are interested in friend based networks. They don’t waste time talking about PLNs ore trying to self-justify why they send hours a day gazing into a piece of glass like the Edlandians. Kids are mildly interested in the famous and idioms constantly pushed to them by the media if they are bored. Kik ensures every person is a media outlet and a brand at a younger age. It’s massive with tweens, and probably all new to you right?

Intragram says “I am here” and Kik’s multi-participant ‘group’ conversations say “I belong” – or more worryingly, I’m an outcast. The potential for cyber-bullying is mind-melting.

Why is Kik not like Twitter?

Firstly, Kik won’t appeal to those who’ve build a business using Twitter to sell themselves as a brand. Like video-games, you probably won’t hear about it at ISTE this year at all. It holds no value, apart from being represented as an example of ‘bad internet’. It’s ‘bad’ because it won’t work as a direct selling layer. It would be great for messaging colleagues. Kik provides ‘small networking’ where they are selling ‘massive networking’. If you didn’t know better, you’d believe MASSIVE is mandatory in all things right now.

Twitter is, (as forums are) – a shopping mall of entertainment and opinion, where no one really knows who you are – nor do they actually care. Twitter for Edlandians is free feeding bowl of chaotic ideas, resources and events. In between these tweets are the irrelevant ‘self-advertising’ of consultants still feeding off false idioms, first aired in 2007.

Is Kik like Google Plus?

I’ll set Google Plus aside here, as it seems to be a growing source of productive groups. G+ doesn’t work for the Twitter salesman, not those who want a free feed. G+ appears to me to foster more productive communities of practice (which are nothing new) – See – The Well. Google Plus however is populated by the grown-ups.

Is Kik like Facebook?

Facebook is of course the archetypal villan in media-representation of cyber-bullying and the ‘slippery slope’ of failing young people. Like MSN Messenger, My Space and Bedo, Facebook has a connected identity with a generation that will fade in it’s appeal to the next.

Kik will be the network your tweens will want – and probably already have. They know you know about Facebook and Twitter – Kik is like texting (or so it appears to a-typical adults). But it’s not. It’s a very private, geo-located fishbowl that is growing fast.

Kik lets them see if their friends have seen their message. There’s no age verification, seemingly no teen safeguards on the connected app OinkText. If you are a parent, I doubt you’ll like Oink Text. This add on nag-app, pushes ‘randoms’ looking to chat. They call it a friend finder. Hello Yahoo Chatrooms, circa 1998 – A/S/L. Who remembers them? Not the Edulandians thats for sure. Savvy tweens will avoid Oink Text (and others) but the lonely, the disaffected and the vulnerable I could well imagine meeting some very dubious characters through it.

Is Kik like Linked In

Ah Linked In. This is where people make profiles when they have no reputation, relevance or ability to use social media. Its laughable how people use it give themselves grandious titles to fool the world into thinking they are something they are not. Here’s a wake up, if you are only on Linked In, you don’t blog, you don’t tweet and you don’t do something outside that phoney profile, it’s a 200 foot billboard saying “I am a n00b, who’s faking it”. So no, Kik is not like linked it, it’s not a desperate business card or forum.

If I’m a teacher should I be worried?

Yes. Kik is one of a number of tools like this, all of which give kids the friend-networks they crave – and lock you out of. Talking about using Twitter to the Kik-Gen will make you appear a dinosaur. Kik has no educational or pedagogical value whatsoever.

If I’m a parent should I be worried?

Yes, most schools have no clue what Kik (and others) are, how they function or where. They are focused on the fallacies being fed to them by the media and Edlandian consultants. You need to know what Kik is, because you’re kids probably do already. It’s not like Facebook, it’s more like hyper-SMS messaging. What I’m saying is, even the Edlandians who think they are on the cutting edge of educational technology are sadly illiterate.

What else is there to worry about?

How about Snap Chat? Essentially, photo-sharing app, Snapchat lets you determine how long the recipient can view your picture or video, from 1 to 10 seconds. After that, it self-destructs. Young people love it for sending goofy selfies to one another for a laugh. You can imagine what they can do with this when it comes to bullying.

Why do kids use Kik, Instagram and Snap Chat?

Kids don’t use Instagram, Kik or Snap Chat just to communicate. They use it for three more important things, which parents need to wrap their heads around.

  1. Identity (who am I, maybe I’m this, what happens if I say that, is this version of me good?) It’s a messy business in real life, now amplified in the digital.
  2. My Community (do I fit it, am I normal, who is like me, who can help me, can I help them) The digital world is full of illusions that we identify with – it share a lot with how we find comfort and shared experience in music and video games too.
  3. Finding solace and comfort (It’s good to know someone cares, that there is someone to reach out to, someone to listen when seemingly no one else does. Its dangerous thing to seek online, but in lieu of finding it in RL, it’s just a tap away).

Why do they like video-games like Minecraft? Because it feeds them the 3 things they “think” they want most from technology (and life).

The point of this post is in to highlight my growing frustration with the commercialisation which has corrupted Edlandia. While I’ve been advocting for games in the classroom (not very successfully), it seems I might as well point some other things the rhetoric ignores.

The current generation of 7 year olds don’t need teaching about Twitter, Blogs or Wikis. They simply need you to be aware of, and understand what they do use – which will have an impact on how they see themselves, others, the world – and YOU.

This of course plays havoc with the current commercial market of Edlandia which would have you believe something entirely different is happening. I’m Type217 on Kik, see ya on the Tween-side soon.

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