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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Video & Photo Sharing

Remember those precious, rare moments when you pulled out your shoebox full of photos and showed them off to friends and family? Nowadays, chances are the people you care about are scattered across the planet. And, with your new digital camera, you've got more images to show them than ever before. You might even have digital video you’d like to show them. Hey, you might even want to share your digital media with strangers (your 15 minutes of global fame awaits!) The Internet's photo and video sharing sites were created just for you.

Photo sharing sites

Most Web photo sites allow you to upload your digital images, then organize them, decide who (if anyone - or perhaps everyone) you'd like to share them with. Once you've done all that, they'd love it if you bought prints. And you can get those prints in all manner of formats: from old-fashioned 3x5s to spiffy giftbooks, calendars, and coffee mugs. Most sites offer limited storage for free; they'll give you more storage (along with extra features) for an annual subscription fee.

Beyond these essentials, the sites vary significantly. Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) and PhotoBucket encourage photographers to share their work with the world. In a sense, these are really "community" sites: for instance, they give you tools for finding other photographers with interests and subjects similar to your own. Other sites, like Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, and Snapfish, are oriented more towards personal photo sharing - and buying prints. (In fact, some of these sites require one purchase per year in order to maintain a free subscription.)

Other alternatives include Google's Picasa photo management software and the ad-free (but $39.95/year) SmugMug.

And, yes, privacy's an issue! As with social networking profiles, blogging entries, and whatever else you put on the Web, if you don’t carefully control who you're allowing to see your images... well, someone might see them who you wish hadn't. Since privacy settings are not always foolproof, we recommend not uploading any photograph where that might be a concern.

Video sharing sites

Whether you have family vacation movies or you've produced the next iMovie video sensation, you can now "broadcast" your video to the entire world. Just upload it to one of today's video sharing sites. The best known and most widely used? YouTube. But it’s not the only alternative: AOL and MSN both have big, free video upload sites, too.

To use one of these sites, you must first register. Next, upload your video: you'll have to "tag" it with information (such as subject matter) so others can find it.

Most sites have limitations on video file size and length: make sure you don't exceed the limits before you start uploading. Speaking of big files, since even short video files tend to be sizable, you'll probably want a high-speed Internet connection.

By default, your video will be available to everyone on the site. On YouTube, you can set a video as "private," making it available only to specific lists of friends or family you provide. As with photo sharing, however, there have been examples of private video settings being defeated by wily hackers. We'll say it again: if you don’t want strangers to see it, don't upload it!

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