Social networking is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. Facebook is the grand daddy of social networking, but certainly not the only game in town.  Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Four Square, LinkedIn, Instagram ……. you get the idea.   If you think these social networking sites offer more than enough ways to share everything you think, say and do, then you have not discovered Pinterest.  Pinterest is the newest fastest growing social networking service.  In fact, it is red hot, with over 10 million visitors per month.

Pinterest is a pinboard for online photos.  As you surf the web and come across interesting photos, you click a “Pin It” button on your bookmarks bar and the photo is placed on your pinboard.  The pinned image includes a link back to the original, and you can add a caption.  You can have multiple boards for different topics or interests.  When you return to Pinterest after surfing and pinning photos, you will find them neatly organized onto the pinboards.  Each board becomes its own collection of photos with weblinks.  You can search for other pinboards by topic and follow other pinboards or pinners.  Boards can be set up for collaboration by granting pinning privileges to more than one person.

I love Pinterest because it is so visual!  A picture IS worth a thousand words and the photos are much more meaningful than a list of bookmarks (at least that’s the way my brain works).  I also appreciate the less structured structure.  Decreasing the language and increasing the visualization has got me thinking outside the box.  I have a feeling that my use of Pinterest will become more creative over time.

But what about now?  Well, Ruth Villanueve has a VT Possibilities! pinboard.  That seems like a logical place to start so I started my own Vision Therapy pinboard.  Then I searched for other vision therapy pinners, I didn’t find very many, but I followed some of Ruth’s links and I found a whole treasure trove of photos and links to activities that can be used in VT programs.  I expanded my search to “homeschooling,”  “sensory bins,” and “kids activities” and my Vision Therapy board kept growing.  Then I found Robin Benoit’s pinboard of Vision Therapy Resources.  We are all connected and we continue to grow and expand.

The most obvious use of Pinterest is as a mechanism to share new, interesting and creative therapy activities.  Doctors, therapists, students and parents can collaborate and develop collections of activities for both office and home based activities.  But here is another spin on Pinterest….. Because it is so visual, Pinterest can be used as a framework for vision therapy activities.  Here are a few examples (and I’ve only been thinking about this for about 10 minutes):

  • Set up 3 Boards with various topics, such as animals, vegetables and minerals.  Your patient has to find photos on the web and pin them onto the appropriate Board, an online scavenger hunt.  Then you can play 20 questions.
  • Have a Board for a favorite poem.  Read the poem, then find photos that illustrate the ideas or thoughts in that poem.  You can do the same thing for stories or songs.
  • Put a bunch of photos on a Board.  Ask the patient to find the common theme and name the Board appropriately.
  • Put a series of unrelated photos on a Board.  Ask the patient to tell you a story that incorporates all the photos.
  • Name a board for a simple object such as an apple.  Pin a photo of an apple and different images of the letters that spell A-P-P-L-E.

So let’s get started!  If you have or start a Pinterest Board for Vision Therapy activities, leave a comment!

If you start thinking of different activities using Pinterest as the framework, leave a comment!

If you think more discussion of social networking is a waste of time, leave a comment……. but promise you will come back and read all the other comments!