Digital Literacy

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Should You Digitally Track Your Teen?

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that while most parents don’t track the locations of their 13- to 17-year-olds, a full 16 percent do. Where do you stand on the issue? Before you make up your mind, you might want to read an article from The New York Times Family section entitled Should You Track Your Teen’s Location? that poses an interesting question: how do you learn to take care of yourself if you know someone else is always watching?

Digital “Time Well Spent” Movement Spawns New App Features

YouTube is the latest of many digital platforms giving momentum to the industry-wide time well-spent movement, an initiative that aims to help people reduce the amount of time they spend looking at their phones and scrolling through their social media feeds. YouTube is rolling out more features designed to help users “take charge” of their digital well-being. The ‘Watch History’ screen within a YouTube profile’s account will show how much time the user has spent on the app that day, the previous day and over the past seven days. This latest feature comes after YouTube released the option for users to set a timer that would remind them to take a break from the app, a feature that was first introduced in the YouTube Kids app.

Similarly, Apple and Google both recently announced a range of functions designed to help users monitor the amount of time they spend on their iOS and Android devices, and Instagram just released a “You’re all caught up” message to notify users when they have seen every post in their feed from the last 48 hours. In August, Facebook announced it would be rolling out activity dashboards for both Facebook and Instagram where users could track the amount of time they spend on the apps.

Another Approach – Issuing Tickets To Kids for Cellphone Use At

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Wisconsin school district is seeking a village ordinance to issue citations to students who violate its cellphone policy a third time. Across the country, school districts have a mix of policies that include outright bans on campus to allowing phones in the classroom for schoolwork on a classroom by classroom basis. What policy does you school district follow? Do you and your kids think a policy like being given a ticket and facing a fine would be successful in curbing cellphones at school?

Turning Off Those Targeted Ads

You look at a pair of shoes online and the next thing you know, ads for that pair of shoes show up in a side bar on nearly every website you visit next. Some call them stalker ads and most people agree they can be annoying and maybe even a little bit creepy. How can you get rid of them? Brian Chen covers all sorts of ways to counteract having your online shopping missions stalked in the Tech Fix blog on the New York Times site. He suggests everything from periodically clearing your cookies, to purging your Goggle ad history, to resetting your advertising ID, which is the unique identifier that Android and Apple phones use to help marketers track you. You can reset it whenever you want. On Android devices, you can find the reset button in the ads menu inside the Google settings app, and on iPhones, you can find the reset button inside the settings app in the privacy menu, under advertising.

How to Turn Off Google Tracking

You may have heard recently that an Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on both Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

To their credit, Google is typically up front about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. But what if you want to turn it all off? To prohibit tracking activity on your apps and other Goggle services, including location history, check out these step-by-step directions.

Have You Talked to Your Kids About Digital Multitasking?

As school gets back in session, something that has come up over and over again in research studies is that students who multitask with devices during class (eg: taking lecture notes while scrolling social media) seem to be able to process information in the moment but struggle to retain that information long term. Yet another study, published in the journal Educational Psychology, also reports lower exam performance and the risk of distracting other students.

Preventing AutoPlay Videos

Find yourself tripping into autoplay videos on Twitter, Facebook, Goggle Chrome and Safari? Not only does it grab your attention, but the attention of everyone around you as well! While publishers have already figured out that most people mute them, they are working on other ways to grab your attention. In the meantime, learn how to disable autoplay here.


Curious About How Conspiracy Theories Get Spread Online?

The latest online attacks against the teen survivors of the Parkland shooting is a good case study on how this happens and how quickly it occurs. An article in The Washington Post entitled We studied thousands of anonymous posts about the Parkland attack – and found a conspiracy in the making outlines the part that anonymous social media forums play in the process. It’s a primer on how misinformation is created on purpose, endures endlessly, and the havoc that it plays in lives of those who are targeted.

When Are Kids Instagram Ready?

Want to be the one to introduce the ins and outs of social media to your kids? Follow the adventures of one parent in doing so in a Well Family post on the New York Times site. And think about the advice the author offers about how to how to have a “social media talk” (akin to the “birds and the bees talk”) with your kids, as well as, ideas for when to create a usage “contract,” monitor use, and remain open to learning from kids about global connectivity.

Media Literacy and Great Video Essays

Kids are often given the option of creating a video in lieu of some kind of written assignment like an essay. However, even with a rubric to guide them on what should (or shouldn’t) be in the video, it can be hard to know what a really good video essay should include as well as look and sound like.  Fortunately, there are some great examples on YouTube. Here is a list of channels and videos. Check out how these video essays use narration, juxtaposing video footage, images, audio, and text to make the same kind of arguments that a writer would do in a traditional essay.