One of my favorite albums when I was in college was Frampton Comes Alive. Over the years I went on to purchase at least another 40 vinyl albums from various artists until we began our family and couldn’t afford anything you couldn’t eat. Funny how your priorities quickly change when you start a family. But I recall shopping for those 12” vinyl disks with their incredible artistic covers with great fondness.
However, there was a time perhaps in the early 1990’s where music lovers abandoned their vinyl albums and embraced the smaller and more durable CDs. In fact, I am guessing if you’re a parent of a child in school today you likely never owned a vinyl record. Compact Discs gave way to online peer-to-peer illegal services such as Napster; which beget Steve Jobs’ and his iPod powered by iTunes and an avalanche of other services such as Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify and others.
However, not long ago the vinyl record began to make a come-back. According to the Nielsen Soundscan’s mid-year report, released in the summer of 2014, vinyl record sales in the US had grown by more than 40% in the first six months of 2014, with 4 million units sold. This trend isn’t new; it’s been going on for several years:
Well we didn’t have to wait long for this “retro” trend to appear in the world of social media. While I doubt we’ll see a return to AOL floppy disks being delivered in the mail; or anyone trading their broadband for a dial-up modem – Facebook is betting for a return to the anonymous chat-room.
Yep. Just when you thought you had buttoned down the hatch on Yik-Yak; hammered the last nail in Kik and finally understood the difference between a “snap” and a “vine” – Facebook releases a chat room app called ROOMS. What’s a mother to do?
First, simply understand that the app exists. It’s not the end of the world – but you at least need to know what it is and what is is not.
ROOMS is not a total return to the 1990’s chat room. Although users can choose to be anonymous, unlike during the dial-up era, Facebook promises to monitor the conversations for hate speech and graphic images.
Additionally, ROOMS does NOT need to be downloaded as was the case of Facebook’s Messenger service. To that end, you won’t see your children being forced to download ROOMS and consequently being encouraged to use the app. However, understand that kids will be kids. Most know the issues surrounding Ask.Fm and the possibility of it being shuttered over the next year. Give the possible fate of Ask, I would look to some children trying the app simply out of curiosity and to find the next “cool place” to hang out.
It’s also not the easiest app to use. To access ROOMS, one must take a screenshot of the appropriate QR code of the room. The app (which currently is only available for iOS user) scans recent photos for the QR code and signs the user into the room. Once a user enters a room, they may select any name they choose. The app is not directly linked to Facebook – and does not require a user to have a Facebook account.
So what should you do now? As we point out in our Responsible Technology speaking series and videos, understand that you must be the only person that may download apps on your child’s phone. You make the decision as to whether the app is appropriate for your child. This is particularly important for tweens and younger teens. If you allow your child to download apps without your knowledge – you may never know the apps they are using. There are many apps that hide the apps that are actually on your child’s phone.
In the meantime, you owe it to yourself and your child to familiarize yourself with this app and all the apps that we discuss on this blog and in our presentations and videos.
So get out your parent’s vintage turntable. Put on your dad’s 12 inch vinyl of FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE and find the ROOM that right for you. You might not appreciate Facebook’s ROOMS – but I guarantee you’ll love FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE.
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