Maggie MacKay is a busy young girl who loves to do school work, play with her friends, attend Girl Guides meetings, ride her bike, surf the web, dance, and play with her pet cat Sarie – a full itinerary for a girl of just 13.
Within the myriad of activities in her life, Maggie’s Tyze network has become a reliable center of meaning, communication, and contribution for her family and friends. For Maggie and her parents, her network is like a second home – a place that allows for simple and convenient sharing and support, and a place that allows Maggie to express herself. Her network also makes it easy for her relatives in Prince George, Penticton and Toronto, and her sister Elizabeth in California, to stay in touch even though they live far away.
Two years ago Maggie’s Dad, Bruce MacKay, created a Tyze network for his daughter and it has been going strong ever since. Using Tyze, Maggie is able to share the things she loves with the people she loves. Even Elizabeth – who is always on the move – is able to check in on her little sister through the Tyze network, and share some of her own exciting experiences – with Maggie hanging off of every word her big sister types. Bruce says, “posting meaningful stories at your convenience is a nice thing.”
Tyze also connects Maggie’s tech savvy school friends, who love using Tyze and have no problem jumping in and participating. “Maggie’s friends are very active on her network,” says Bruce. “Having this peer group knit into her network is very important to Maggie, and it allows her friends to be more aware about activities. With Tyze you don’t have to phone every one of her friends or track them down at school to invite them out for an event, it’s as easy as a mouse click.”
One of the most dynamic ways Tyze has contributed to Maggie’s life, according to Bruce, is the role Tyze has played in Maggie’s communication. Maggie does not always share what she has to say in an open or assertive way. With Tyze, Bruce is able to give form to Maggie’s voice, typing her thoughts as she mentions them to him.
Bruce finds that the Stories and Photos feature is definitely the hub of their network and a feature that has been invaluable in increasing Maggie’s initiative. “Sometimes I ask her to come sit with me and post some stuff, but other times she logs in on her own and will be reading over our archive of stories,” says Bruce. “Not only does this provide a record of past activities for Maggie, allowing her to revisit memories, but it also helps her to track her progress and develop her language skills.”
Bruce is also a Facebook user. Though he finds the public realm of Facebook useful for very specific, external purposes, he doesn’t feel that it’s suitable as a private, family-networking tool. When Bruce considers the question of letting Maggie have a Facebook profile, he realizes he would have to wade through extensive privacy settings and learn how to secure its naturally public elements. Comparing Facebook to Tyze would be like comparing a crowded urban café to a familiar room at home.
“I think I’d be more likely to encourage Maggie to use Tyze for online networking because I know it is secure and limited to the invited circle of contacts. There are no special settings I’d have to adjust to make sure Maggie wasn’t visited by anyone who wasn’t invited or that information about her was more widely distributed than we wished.” Bruce knows that Tyze is a safe place for Maggie because only the core group of family and friends resides in the network.
Bruce ardently states his vision of the possibilities for Maggie’s Tyze network in the future. “The potential for Maggie to use Tyze later on in life is one of the reasons that we got on board when Maggie was still really young,” says Bruce. “As she gets older Tyze will continue to grow with her and there will be more opportunities to use it in other ways.”
When Maggie is old enough to move out on her own, Tyze will be a familiar way for her to keep in touch with her mom and dad, friends and family, bringing it all back to the home that is her Tyze network.
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