Are your kids digital kids? Or dying to be more digital? Here are a few ideas for digital projects your tweens and teens can do, with some guidance from you, throughout the summer. Start these projects as soon as school gets out and check in often, then see what your kids have accomplished just before school starts in the fall.
Start a Summer Vacation Blog (or Tumblr)
Get your kids writing this summer by helping them set up a blog or Tumblr site where they can record all of their activities, post pictures and share with family and friends. Set up guidelines for them on what’s appropriate to post (you may not want them to post photos with people’s faces, for example, or of anyone outside the family who has not given them permission to post), and then read their blog/Tumblr regularly, giving them feedback on content and post frequency.
Use a free Wordpress.com or Tumblr blog; setup is easy and you can create the login and password then share it with your tween/teen. Suggest that your kids post at least weekly; they’ll be excited to look back at earlier activity as the weeks go on.
Create a Pinterest Board About A Family Activity
Give your tween/teen responsibility for finding and pinning all of the elements of a family summer activity: places to visit on a vacation, local activities to do throughout the summer, or ideas for redoing their own bedroom before they head to a new grade in the fall.
Help them to create a Pinterest account (if you request an invite you’ll usually get one within a day or two); they will need a Twitter or Facebook account to do this so if they’re not already on Facebook, you might consider setting up a Twitter account for them (that then goes unused – maybe don’t even mention it if you don’t want them on Twitter yet). Once they’re on Pinterest it’s pretty self-explanatory; they go around the web looking for images for the places and activities that interest them, then “add a pin” with the URL of the site with the image.
Start a Podcast About Their Hobby
Give your budding journalist or media star their own show by helping them to create a Podcast about their hobby or favorite topic. This project is a bit more involved, as it includes recording, editing, and publishing, but it’s perfect for a more tech-minded tween or teen (or a parent who knows or wants to learn this stuff).
Podbean is a free hosted podcast site; it’s easy to setup an account and record a podcast from here. Also consider BlogTalkRadio – that’s more of a live recording format, but it’s perfect if your kid wants to create a regular show. If you’d rather host your own podcast on your own blog, these step-by-step instructions are great.
Capture Family Video Memories
Every summer involves memory-making, so get your kids to become keepers of the memories by helping them to shoot, edit and share video of your activities. You might start with animated slideshows – bringing together photos, video text and music – with an online editor like Animoto (free for videos up to 30 seconds, or $30 per year). Here’s a great Animoto tutorial.
The next level is to shoot and edit live video – we recommend iMovie on Mac (free with your Mac) or Pixorial if you’re PC or both; Pixorial allows for video storage, editing and sharing online. The free account is limited but either the $19.99/year or $49.99/year packages should meet your needs.
Stephanie Schwab is the co-founder of Digital Family Summit, a conference for tween & teen digital content creators and their families. She is also the Principal of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital marketing agency focused on social media for startups and consumer businesses. She lives in Yonkers, NY with her husband and son. Reach her on Twitter @socialologist or @digifam.