Digital Citizenship

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Texting May Offer Intellectual Value

Parents and teachers often lament the proclivity of students to text rather than email or call, even attributing it as the downfall of writing, but according to new research from Missy Watson and Madhuri Karak of the City College of New York, texting offers intellectual value and actually helps students improve their communication skills. In a recent commentary that outlines their study, they discuss findings that students tend to think more deeply about how they communicate while texting. This includes using texting as a form of journaling, negotiating via text, and receiving the benefit of slower communication to actually think about what they want to say and how they want to say it versus the back and forth conversation of a phone call.

Useful Digital Tricks For Everyday Life

Did you know the volume button on your phone can be used to take pictures? How about using the “Guest Mode” feature on your Android phone so that when someone asks to borrow they cannot access the personal information stored on your phone? Did you know that you could do a reverse image search to help yourself when using an online dating service to find out if you are being scammed by someone using a fake picture? All these tricks and more are contained in an article by Kim Komodo on the USA Today site entitled “How did I not know this?”

Online Predators – Get the Facts

Media stories about online predators make for sensationalized press, playing on parental fears, but how worried should you be? Overall statistics show that unwanted sexual solicitation is down but the most important thing is to arm yourself with facts about the issue and solutions if you suspect your child is, or could become, a victim. Common Sense Media recently took up the topic in an article entitled The Facts about Online Predators Every Parent Should Know. The article outlines the facts and strategies for handling your concerns about online predators.

Google Partners with Tech Group to Create Digital Citizenship Game

Two of the biggest champions of educational technology — Google and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) — have teamed up to create a new way to teach digital citizenship. Be Internet Awesome, a program developed in concert with the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe the Coalition and ConnectSafely, educates kids about digital citizenship in interactive ways, including an online game. Designed for schools, many of the materials on the site are also helpful to kids and their parents.

Google Partners with Tech Group to Create Digital Citizenship Game

Two of the biggest champions of educational technology — Google and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) — have teamed up to create a new way to teach digital citizenship. Be Internet Awesome, a program developed in concert with the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe the Coalition and ConnectSafely, educates kids about digital citizenship in interactive ways, including an online game. Designed for schools, many of the materials on the site are also helpful to kids and their parents.

How to Get Someone to Stop Sexting You

In a recent Pew Research study on online harassment, about half of female respondents ages 18-29 reported that someone had sent them explicit images they did not ask for. Parents of teens should consider having a discussion about what to do if this kind of situation arises, because chances are it is happening with younger teens as well. One place to start with getting the information you need is the Wikihow entry on How to Get Someone to Stop Sexting YouIt is broken up into four sections with step-by-step directions for each section. The four sections are: Getting Help if You’re a Minor, Blocking Their Message, Confronting the Person and Contacting an Authority Figure. These sections are followed by a very helpful Community Q&A touching on many of the issues faced by both parents and teens.

Get Up to Speed on Snapchat Ghost Mode

As you may have observed with your own teens, Facebook and Twitter are fading and Snapchat is the app of choice these days. Even if you are familiar with Snapchat, you may need to get up to speed on a new feature called Snap Map. The feature lets users see where Snaps (messages or pictures) are being composed from. If users want to keep that information private (versus letting the whole world know where they are), users must choose Ghost Mode. Need more information on how to set up Ghost Mode and Snap Map? See Talk to your teen about Snapchat Ghost Mode on the USA Today site.

Suicide Rates Rise Among Middle Schoolers

Researchers suggest that increased academic pressure, economic distress and social media may be contributing to the doubling of the suicide rate among middle-schoolers that statistics from 2007 to 2014 have shown. Some experts are concerned that there is so much pressure on young people that they can become overwhelmed because they have not yet developed the coping skills that adults rely on. This is a good reminder that an incident an adult can easily dismiss can be hard for a middle schooler to shrug off. Schools are being urged to target the issue by teaching students to handle conflict, creating a welcoming climate and training teachers about suicide prevention.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You – Get To Know Girl Nation

The nonprofit Girl Nation is helping young women between the ages of 8 and 15 understand and cope with the potential downside of social media and technology. Among other things, the organization seeks to help girls with confronting body image issues, "mean girls", and developing healthy social media habits. While the organization holds programs and workshops in the Las Vegas area, there are lots of materials on their website for young women and parents nationwide.

Online Harassment on the Rise

Harassment and abuse are becoming the new “normal” online: 41% of American adults have been personally subjected to online harassment — an increase from two years ago — and 66% have witnessed it, a new study released recently by the Pew Research Center found. Women were twice as likely as men to say they were harassed because of their gender. The study found that 21% of women ages 18 to 29 said they were sexually harassed online — more than twice the number of men in that same age group. About half of female respondents ages 18-29 also told Pew that someone has sent them explicit images they did not ask for, an issue parents certainly need to address with their children when discussing how to handle if these kinds of situations arise.

Overall, while there is widespread concern over online harassment (62% of respondents said they viewed it as a major problem), there is disagreement in how platforms should balance being able to speak freely and preventing abuse. While 53% said it was more important for people to feel safe, 45% said free speech should take precedence. Regardless, most respondents (79%), said tech companies have a duty to step in and prevent abuse on their platforms.

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