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A Twitter 101 guide for parents

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Twitter is here to stay
Whether or not your believe Twitter should join the ranks of Facebook, MySpace, and blogging in general as another thing put on this planet to rot the brain, one thing appears certain—Twitter-type sites are here to stay. The proof is in the pudding. Here’s what’s in the pudding:
 
·         A UK educational proposal advocates its students leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication.
 
·         This Spring the Internet was littered with rumors that search engine giant Google was in talks to buy Twitter.
 
·         Time Magazine wrote that “Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app.”
 
While Twitter has not caught on with teenagers and younger in the way that texting, MySpace and Facebook did (Blogger Paul Bradshaw speculates teens prefer more private forms of communication that these methods offer), it is perhaps just a matter of time. In the meanwhile, just because your kids aren’t tweeting to each other, this doesn’t mean they aren’t searching for people to follow. In fact, blogger Murray Newlands recent entry talks about how famous people are joining Twitter at an exponential rate.
 
To get ahead of the eight ball, for your own understanding, and for your children’s safety, it is important to have a basic understanding of what Twitter is all about so you can monitor your kid’s use of it and set limits.
 
Twitter in a nutshell
Twitter provides a way to stay hyper-connected with friends, people of interest, and even famous people. All you need is an account, and you can easily post as often as you like what you are up to, and read about what others are doing. People who report updates on Twitter are engaging in the act of “tweeting.”  
 
Tweeting appeals to many because updates must be kept brief -- just 140 characters in length, and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the web. Likewise, you can receive tweets from the people you have signed up to follow via text, IM or on the web.
 
Twitter has quite an impressive following amongst celebrities and even politicians who use this forum to keep followers updated – sort of a public IM or texting for grownups.
 
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