It's My Life PBS Kids Go!

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YSI Etiquette
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We've been having some issues on the You Said It boards lately, and we think it's time to mention a few things. These are some general notes and guidelines for new users and reminders for the folks who are YSI regulars.

Let's keep things positive. IML encourages free expression, but we also want users to feel safe and welcome.  It's okay to disagree, but please try not to start fights, or to bicker back and forth about opinions. You may not like a particular book, or type of music, but please remember that someone else isn't "stupid" or "wrong" if he or she DOES like them.

Don't take it personally. Just as you shouldn't write stuff that offends others, you should also try not to get offended if others don't think the same way you do. If someone disagrees with you, and says so in a respectful way, try not to get sensitive about it.

Be careful with religious stuff. It's great to be proud of your religion, but IML is for people of ALL beliefs. This isn't the place to convert people to your faith.

Ease up on the scary stuff too: If you're posting poems and stories to the My Writing YSI, keep away from material about murder, blood, guts, and all that. This content may not be a big deal for you 13-year-olds, but IML is for tweens as young as 8.

Don't get upset if not everything you submit gets posted. We try to post almost everything, but yes, there are some things that don't through for one reason or another. If one of your YSI responses doesn't make it, try to think of why. Did you say something mean or inappropriate?  Did you use harsh or overly sarcastic language? Did you single someone out, or try to start/continue a fight? Did you write something totally off-topic? Did you say something that's too mature for our youngest readers?

Remember that we are here to keep an eye on things and help you if you are feeling bullied or treated unfairly in any way. Don't hesitate to email us at itsmylife@pbs.org if you have any concerns, like you feel a post should be removed or edited, or you felt we should not have posted something. We'd rather you alert us to your thoughts rather than jump on another IML'er.

In short...let's play nice, guys! IML wants you all to keep coming back to the YSI boards, so we can work together to keep things fun, safe, and bully-free!  :-)



One day + forever
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Last night's news about Osama bin Laden brings up some interesting things for us.

The most important, of course, is that a really, really bad guy has left the planet. Future crimes and violence and senseless deaths have hopefully been prevented. Families of terrorist victims can get feel some closure. Maybe now, for a short time anyway, the world will be a bit safer.

It's also a little coincidental because just days ago, an IML'er wrote to us to say that our section on 9/11 was totally outdated, because most of the tweens on our site are too young to remember it -- or may not have even been born yet! If that's you, then all this emotion surrounding Osama bin Laden may feel kind of weird. Obviously, it's not often that someone gets killed and millions rejoice (we hope it's once in a lifetime for all of us that there's a person who deserves that). But the events that changed the U.S. back in 2001 may just be something you read about in school or hear about from family members; maybe you feel like they don't affect you.

When we first started working on our "September 11th" section years ago -- it was around the 1st anniversary -- we really wanted the information to be "evergreen," meaning it would still be useful in the future. Looking at it now, we feel like we did that. We focused on the positive side of things and some of the advice, like the pages on tolerance and facing your fears, is important even unconnected to the terrorist attacks.

So today, we invite you to check out this section and maybe it will give you some better perspective on today's buzz:

Feeling Freaked Out
Maybe you're not afraid of new attacks, but this info applies to anything...especially natural disasters.

Media Madness
It seems like every week there's something upsetting that's all over our TV's, phones, and computers. Here's how to manage the blitz.

Celebrate Diversity
Oh, how we wish this would be beside the point 10 years after the attacks, but we're not sure it ever will be.

Sam and Harry's Story
If you want to know what it felt like to have your world really rocked by these events, meet Sam and Harry.

We DID update the You Said It page associated with this section; come on by and share your thoughts on how the world has changed since 9/11/01.




Our login system is almost here!
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We've been working hard on the new login system for IML, and it's just about ready! Here's what you need to know:

As of this Wednesday, April 13, in order to post a submission to any You Said It page, you'll need to be logged in with a PBS KIDS GO! username. If you're not already logged in, you'll be asked to do that, or if you don't have a username, you'll be given a chance to create one.

Getting a username is very easy and just takes a few seconds. You WILL NOT be asked for any information about yourself (like name, age, or location) and you WILL NOT be asked to provide an email address. You will just be asked to create a username and password, and choose a secret code that will help you if you ever forget your password. These usernames will be approved by someone at PBS KIDS GO! within 24 hours to make sure they aren't offensive (until your username is approved, you will show up as "New User"). This is how PBS KIDS GO! keeps everyone safe.

We know that some of you feel you won't be allowed to use IML now, because you're not permitted to "register" on any websites. If that's the case, we hope you'll find a way to stay a part of our YSI pages, perhaps by showing a parent that the PBS KIDS GO! login is carefully designed to be ultra-safe and protect everyone's privacy.

You may just want to use your username to post on IML, and that's totally fine. However, if you want to, you can take advantage of the Secret Box system that comes with your GO! username. The Secret Box lets you keep track of all your own posts  and you will also be able to save other things you create not just on IML but on other GO! sites. You'll be able to choose a "theme" and an "icon" to represent you; scroll down towards the bottom of the choices and you'll see some familiar faces from IML games and illustrations. You'll also be able to add and keep track of friends you meet on IML, and visit their Secret Boxes.

We know some of you were hoping we'd be able to keep at least one YSI page open without needing a login, but after a lot of discussion, we decided that this would cause more problems than it would solve. So if you don't have a username or are not logged in, you will be able to read posts on all YSI pages, but not submit your own. We realize we might lose some great IML'ers because of this, and it was a very hard choice to make, but we believe it's for the best. We didn't make any of these decisions lightly and took IML'ers comments into serious consideration. IML will be even safer now that there can be no more "Impostering" -- someone using your IML name to post, pretending to be you -- and a better way to connect with other tweens through the Secret Box system.

IMPORTANT INFO:
Since we are totally changing over, ALL of the existing posts on the You Said It pages will be gone. Poof! Not ideal, we know. We tried to figure out a way to keep the old and the new, but it would just be too confusing. So if you posted something that you really would like to see on the new pages -- something from My Writing, for instance, or anything you spent a lot of time on -- we suggest you cut and paste it onto your computer now so you can re-post it again with your GO! username once the switch happens.

We know most of you have been wanting this login system for a while now, and we're so excited that it's finally here!


Get your PBS KIDS GO! Secret Box
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For a long while now -- um, maybe years? -- IML'ers have been asking, urging, BEGGING us to have some kind of login system for our You Said It pages. And we keep saying, "It's coming! It's coming!"

Now, it actually is coming. Very, very soon. Actually, it's sort of already here...in the form of the PBS KIDS GO! Secret Box. If you spend time on other GO! sites like Design Squad and SciGirls, then you probably already have one. The Secret Box is a place for you to keep all your faves, creations, and friends across PBS KIDS GO! So we are in the process of making the Secret Box system work with our You Said It pages.

Here's what this will mean for you:

  1. You will not be able to post a message on any IML You Said It page without being signed in to your Secret Box. If you don't have a Secret Box username, you will have to get one if you want to continue to post. It's very easy to get one and literally takes a few seconds. You won't be asked for any information about yourself. You will just be asked to create a username and password, and choose a secret code that will help you if you ever forget your password. You will NOT be asked for an email address, name, age, or location. These usernames will be approved by someone at PBS KIDS to make sure they are not offensive.

  2. Once you're signed in and posting to our You Said It pages, you will be able to keep track of all your own posts in your Secret Box. You will also be able to save other things you create not just on IML but on other GO! sites. You'll be able to choose a "theme" and an "icon" to represent you; scroll down towards the bottom of the choices and you'll see some familiar faces from IML games and illustrations.

  3. You'll also be able to add and keep track of friends you meet on IML, then visit their Secret Boxes. Cool, huh?

  4. When looking at a You Said It page, you will be able to click on someone's username and see the most recent posts they made to that page. That's a nice way of "getting to know" other IML'ers and deciding if maybe you want to request them as a Secret Box friend.

  5. You'll be able to "like" someone's post just like you can on other social websites.

  6. No more "Impostering" -- someone using your IML name to post, pretending to be you. Yay!

  7. Oh, and if you just want to read posts and not write your own, you don't need to be signed in.

So here's what we would like you to do in the next month: 

  1. We know some of you IML'ers are very attached to the names you've been using on IML, because they ARE pretty unique, so we suggest you head to the PBS KIDS GO! Secret Box page right away to create a box with that name or something like it. If you already have a Secret Box but want to make another with your IML name, you can do that. We will remind you guys a few times more before we switch over, but the earlier you claim your name, the better!

  2. Since we are totally changing over, ALL of the existing posts on the You Said It pages will be gone. Poof! Not ideal, we know. We tried to figure out a way to keep the old and the new, but it would just be too confusing. So if you posted something that you really would like to see on the new pages -- something from My Writing, for instance, or anything you spent a lot of time on -- we suggest you cut and paste it onto your computer now so you can re-post it again with your GO! username once the switch happens.
We know not everyone is going to be thrilled with this switch, which will happen sometime in early March. But in the end, it will make our You Said It pages safer, friendlier, and generally more fun. We're so excited and hope you are too!


Get Your "Wheel Houz" Spinning!
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You asked for it (and asked for it, and asked for it, and asked for it...) and now you got it: a brand spankin' new game from IML! Wanna be one of the first to try it out?

wheelhouz.gifWheel Houz is really cool...well at least, we think so. It's a chance to create something -- a wheel -- that represents who you are, and gives you (and others) a way to look at yourself in some interesting ways. At first it will seem a little like a quiz, asking some questions. Then you get to have fun with pictures and patterns. You'll end up with a Wheel that's sort of like everything about you, all at once, all in one place.

From there you can print your Wheel or email it to a friend. And then, here's another thing we're excited about: you can use your PBS KIDS GO! username to save your Wheel to the IML Wheel Houz Gallery and even to your own private gallery so you can keep track of all the Wheels you make. If you don't have or don't want a username, you can still make Wheels to print and send, and view the Gallery. You can also talk about your Wheel on You Said It page.

Thanks to all you IML'ers for your patience, because many of you have been waiting and curious about this new game. And thanks to PBS for the funding to make this possible (and the people who donate to PBS, of course).

Now, go make some Wheels! We're eager to see what you come up with!

  


We Heart Summer Youth Theatre!
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Hey, what have you been doing so far this summer? Hanging around? Camp? A family trip? Or just doing your best to stay (a) cool and (b) sane?

Some of you IML'ers might be lucky enough to spend extra time doing a thing you love, like a sport or hobby. We were thinking about what these might be. That's when we remembered that a lot of you are into music and drama, and are hopefully getting a chance to explore that this summer...so we took a stroll on YouTube searching for youth theatre videos. Bingo!

If you want to see what some other tweens and teens have been up to, or just need a fix of "Glee"-like fun, here are a couple of our favorite clips.

The WOW Youth Musical Theatre in Weymouth, Dorset in the UK really did wow us with "We Will Rock You" by Queen:
 



Members of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Youth Repertory Theatre rehearsing "My Junk" from "Spring Awakening":



It's early in the summer still, so we hope there will be more videos giving us a peek at the amazing productions young people are putting together...all over the world, really. Are you part of an upcoming performance that you'd love other IML'ers to see? Whether it's theatre, music, dance, or anything else you're excited about, write to us and tell us more (we'll post info on the shows so people who live nearby can check them out) and if possible, send us a link to the video online. If you want to write anonymously, you can always use our Write To Us page and leave out your email address.

 
Share your Immigration story with IML!
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Right now we're hard at work on a new section of IML that'll be all about Tween Immigrants. That means anyone who was not born in the country he or she currently lives in. Many of you have already told us some great stories on the Tween Immigrants You Said It page...thank you for that! We love hearing about your backgrounds and experiences.

We're looking for a couple of IML'ers willing to tell their tales in more detail on our Tween Immigrants pages. That means we'll arrange a phone call to interview you (with a parent's permission of course), write up your comments, and ask for some photos to include on the page. We're hoping to talk not just to tweens who came to the U.S. from another country, but also people who were born in the U.S. and are currently living abroad.

Here are some examples of personal stories we've shared in the past:

Adoption: Christopher's Story

When Your Family Moves: Katie's Story

You'll see that we don't include last names or geographical details in our stories to protect the kids' privacy.

Please feel free to email us at itsmylife@pbs.org if you're interested! We'd love for you to be a part of IML in this way!




"Adoption" on IML
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Chris&Kali.jpgYes, it's been a while since we had a whole new topic on IML. That's why we're extra-excited to announce our section on Adoption!

Even if you don't think Adoption has touched your life in any way, we hope you'll check out the many sides of this subject. You'll probably learn something you didn't know or end up thinking about it in a new way. Thanks again to Chris, Kali, and Emily for sharing their personal stories, and to all the IML'ers who have posted on the Adoption You Said It page. We couldn't have done it without you!

We wanted to share this lovely video from AdoptUsKids, a project from the Children's Bureau, whose goal is to connect foster and adoptive families with waiting children throughout the U.S. Imagine how these tweens must have felt when they finally found the kind of family so many of us take for granted!






Merry Christmas from IML!
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It's Christmas. That means different things to different people. Sometimes we're surrounded by people we love, sometimes we're not. Sometimes we're doing something we enjoy, sometimes we're not. Sometimes we're in a place we want to be, and sometimes...we wish we could just beam ourselves to anywhere but here.

However you're spending this holiday -- whether you celebrate it big, small, or not at all -- we at IML wish you all the good stuff that Christmas can mean. You know, stuff like love, generosity, kindness, and appreciating what you have in life. If you're struggling to find anything worth feeling jolly about, then we hope you'll do one nice thing for yourself before the day is over. Take a walk. Call a friend. Write in a journal. Or just take a long look in the mirror and notice how you've changed since last December 25th.

We know we feel lucky to have you all, and it makes us feel very warm and merry. :-)

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Share Your Adoption Story With IML
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When we asked for ideas on which new topics to cover on IML, we got some great suggestions. Many of you told us that you'd love to see us talk about Adoption...so that's what we're going to do! Right now we're researching lots of information for tweens on this subject. Stay tuned for its unveiling soon!

In the meantime, we're hoping to find a couple of real kids willing to share their stories with IML. Are you adopted? Or do you have an adopted sibling? We would love to talk to you about your experiences and feature them on our website. You can see some other IML'ers' stories here:

Stepfamilies: Stefanie's Story

When Your Family Moves: Katie's Story

Dealing With Death: Marissa's Story

If you'd like to be one of our next "true tales," drop us a line at itsmylife@pbs.org and tell us a little about your experiences with adoption. Please don't forget to get a parent's or guardian's permission first!