Important UUCA Online Information for Parents, Guardians and Families

What to Consider Before Giving Permission for Your Kids to be on This Site


Dear Families of Our Beloved Community:

We value the voices and contributions that our children and youth bring to the church. We want to encourage and nurture their participation here.

We're going to go slowly, however, in bringing them in as registered users. The process will require parental consent for children under the age of 13 before they are allowed to sign in. And we're considering requiring all parents of kids under age 18 and the kids, themselves, to go through an introductory how-to session that will clearly explain the ins and outs of what is public and what is private on this site. When we are ready to do these sessions and to accept parental consent we will notify you on this site, through email and through our religious education department.

It's also important for you to have a little time to experience the site for yourselves to understand the experience.

We've adopted aspects of social networking for our new home because we believe it will energize our efforts to create a relational church culture. Many of the kids, of course, know what social networking is because of Facebook, My Space, YouTube and other sites. Even the young ones have some sense of social networking because they're aware of sites such as Club Penguin, which is only for them.

Many of you are experienced social network users. And yet, many of you are not. For some, this site may even be your introduction to it.

Our online church home is not Facebook or My Space. When we're on this site we are in the church. We have a specific purpose for gathering here: to strengthen our spirituality and religious values. We've adapted social technology to these needs. The best etiquette here is: If you wouldn't say it or do it in church, don't here as well.

The kids are likely to assume that what they see on this site functions the same way as it does Facebook. In some ways it does, in very important other ways it doesn't.

Please learn how to use the site's privacy controls to protect your kids from their assumptions. In particular, make sure you know what appears in the Latest Activity box on the Main page. It is like a news feed. The information in it reports what individuals are doing on the site. It notifies everyone when new comments have been added to a blog, when new photos and videos are posted and other activities are also reported in there. The names of the individuals who posted the items appear with the items. And if those individuals are using a photograph to visually identify themselves on the site, the photo icon of them will appear with these postings in the Latest Activity box. The privacy controls in your childrens' accounts can be set so that their activities do not show up in this box, meaning their names and pictures won't be shown. If a choice is made to not use a photograph to represent your children, you simply do not upload one, leave the input cell for uploading a photo blank. We automatically supply a chalice icon to represent individuals who don't want a photo icon to represent them anywhere on the site. There is one other chalice icon used now on the site and it represents the Site Administrator. Click it to see the Administrator's page, which has more helpful information. You can send questions to the Administrator from that page as well.

There's more you need to know in order to make informed decisions:

  • Who can sign into this site? Only individuals who are members, friends and inquiring friends can sign into this network and fully participate in discussions, blogs, and comment areas. Only signed-in, or registered users, can add multimedia to the site. And once you are registered, you can create mini-online homes for church groups you belong to in the Groups area of the site. The online Groups have very useful communication tools for their members.
  • Why sign in? In our new site, registered users get their own blog and their own web page called "My Page." When you're signed in, you also can participate fully -- read and also write comments on blogs and other types of content provided by fellow congregants.
  • How do signed-in users appear to each other on the site? Every registered user is given a default black and gold chalice icon to visually represent them on comments and content they make. The icon and your real name accompany all forms of participation beyond simple viewing of the pages. You can replace the icon with a legible photo of yourself. We ask that only a photo of you or the chalice icon be used. Please do not use any other type of image. In the spirit of our relational culture, we want to recognize each other online and offline. Many kids use other types of images to represent themselves anonymously elsewhere online. No one is anonymous on our site. We are, though, all UUs; hence the default chalice icon to represent our relationship to one another. For teens using the site, we recommend using the chalice icon instead of a photograph. See the explanation below, titled:"The most conservative option," for more about this recommendation.
  • What are the privacy settings choices? You can choose to have content viewable to "Anyone," which means the public, to "Just My Friends," which means a list of other registered users of the site that you have defined as "friends;" and "Just Me."
  • Where do I set Privacy and Access Controls? In the "Settings" area. Click "My Settings," which appears in the box that tops the right column of every page when you are signed in. In "My Settings," you set default privacy settings for blogs, photos, videos, the Latest Activity box and comments you make or add to the site. In this case "default," means that the settings you choose will apply if you forget to set privacy controls on each blog, photo and video you add. When you set controls on individual items, they will trump the default setting in "My Settings," "My Settings" has several categories for controls that let you customize your privacy and experience. Please go through each of those categories of settings (Profile, Privacy, Email, My Page) to familiarize yourself with them.
  • What is Public? All the information that was available on our old site continues to be publicly viewable. You do not need to sign in to get it. In addition, our new video and photo collections are, by default public. "Default" means that the entire network is set to allow the public to see content that is set for public viewing. If you set privacy controls for individual blogs, photos, videos, groups and the My Page feature, those controls trump the uber default Network settings and therefore determine who sees that specific piece of content. The one exception: All discussions that are started in the "Discussions" forum of the site are always viewable by the public. The only way to have discussions that are private are those that are started within a Group that is set up to be private.
  • What is Private? The only area of the site that is pre-set to be private for registered users of this site is the Joys & Sorrows Group. If you post a joy or sorrow, only the congregation will see it. You will know whether something (blogs, multimedia) can be set for controlled viewing and participation, if the controls are offered as choices when you create or add the content. One exception: "My Page." If you were pre-registered for this site and given sign on keys, or credentials, then the My Page feature was set to be viewable only to other members of this site. You and other members can change that setting to have their profiles viewable to the public. If the setting is changed, then search engines, like Google, can crawl "My Pages" and return them if anyone Googles the name of the person who "owns" the page. Meanwhile, there are a number of places on the site where you can add photographs to the network. If you add them from the "My Page" feature, they are not automatically viewable only on My Page. If you leave them marked as viewable to everyone, then anyone, including the public, can see the photos, their captions and the name of the person who added them.

I want my child to participate but also to keep his or her identity out of the public eye: To accomplish this do the following:

1. Let the default black and gold chalice icon represent them on the site. Don't upload a picture of them for it. The default chalice icon will automatically appear with their names.

2. Use one name and one initial to identify them to other registered users. E.g. June H. or J. Herold

3. On the My Settings>>>Privacy page, make sure that none of the boxes are checked in the section on the Latest Activity box at the bottom of the page. Review all of the other settings on this "My Settings" page, and make choices accordingly.


The most conservative option: Have your children use the same sign in keys, or credentials, that you do and keep the default black and gold chalice icon. If you all share the same account, you will also know what activities your children engaged in because they will be available for your viewing in the "My Page feature." If you use one account, rename it with your last name and the word "Family." Eg: Herold Family.


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