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Good Vibrations?

Facebook is working on a technique that allows people to feel smartphone notifications through their skin when they are unable to access their device.  According to a paper published by the social media giant’s research team, in-house scientists are working on a sleeve-like prototype that translates words into vibrations delivered by pads onto the arm. The wearable device could be useful in situations when a person is unable to check their smartphone, such as during a meeting or while in class. Undoubtedly that will make for some interesting changes to a school’s smartphone user policies!

Text Messages Encourage Teens to Go to College

A platform called Siembra -- Spanish for sowing seeds – provides communication tools for school admissions professionals and high school guidance counselors. The tools utilize student data analytics to target under-served and under-represented students for efforts encouraging them to go to college, including the ability to send text messages to low-income, first-generation, and racial and ethnic minority high-schoolers. Less than 20% of US students whose parents do not have college degrees go on to earn a degree themselves, according to data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation.

Twitter Working to Offer Verification to All

Verification – those blue check marks that appear on certain profiles mainly belonging to celebrities - may soon be an option for any Twitter user, CEO Jack Dorsey announced recently. The company's goal is to widen verification "in a way that's scalable, where ... people can verify more facts about themselves and we don't have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part," Dorsey says.

Twitter – Some Positive Uses By Schools

Twitter sometimes gets a bad rap. Early on, education critics bemoaned the idea of kids communicating in 140 characters and warned they would never learn to write properly. But Twitter, like all sorts of social media apps, has now made peace with many educators who have learned to harness its appeal to help them teach, as well as discuss with students the power and the possibilities of social media in an effort to drive digital literacy. A recent article entitled Teach Students To Use Social Media (The Right Way) And The Possibilities Are Endless on the National Public Radio education site (nprED) outlines many of the positive ways educators are using Twitter. This is a good read for parents who may be skeptical or just want to know more about how teachers are incorporating social media into the classroom.

Critics Target Facebook’s Messenger Kids App

In an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, a coalition of children's health and education organizations individuals have called on Facebook to shut down Messenger Kids on behalf of the well being of children. Messenger Kids is the parent-monitored chat, photo, and video messaging service Facebook launched in December 2017 for children as young as six years old. The minimum age for regular Facebook users is 13.


This letter was published by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and signed by a host of other organizations. It argues that introducing children to social media at an earlier age will increase their dependence on digital devices, negatively affect their mental health, and impact their ability to form relationships. "Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts," the group wrote. "A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it very likely this new app will undermine children’s healthy development."

Tips, Tricks and Texts Enhance Learning

Researchers at Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis Labs are sending to parents and caregivers text messages containing educational games and tips on how to engage young children. These "nudge" techniques are designed to prepare children for school and to support their literacy, numeracy and social and emotional skills. The texts seem to be appreciated by parents who find, that since they arrive on their phones, they can scroll back to them and try the ideas on another day if they are too busy when the text first arrives or the resources to do the activity are not at hand. Texts are short and to the point usually suggesting things that can easily be done by parents, but truly enhance a preschooler’s literacy and numeracy.


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.

Adding Some Zip to That iMessage

Have you received iMessages on your iPhone or iPad from your kids or other young people in your life and wonder how they add those special effects like confetti or balloons? Plenty of third-party apps are available for the major mobile platforms that allow you to add animations and other special effects to your text messages, but Apple includes some built-in tools in its iMessage app for iOS 10. While most of the special effects do not fully translate to Android or Windows-based phones, iMessages sent between iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users using the same software should be able to take full advantage of the animations, sound effects, stickers and other features included in the iOS 10 version. Need some step-by- step instructions? Try these.


Ever wish you could unsend a text? unSend.it may be the solution! The app allows you to unsend, edit, and delete messages that have been sent, even if they were already opened by the recipient. The messages are completely encrypted, the recipients don’t need the app to receive your text, and you can download it for free.

Why Can’t People Give Up Texting While Driving?

Experts say smartphones have an addictive nature that compels our brains to respond to notifications and alerts with a sense of immediacy, even when behind the wheel. Despite knowing better (a 2013 survey found that 98% of people say texting and driving is wrong), people still do it. Do you want to make a conscious effort to stop texting and driving? Check out Groove, a new program that sends a signal to your mobile phone provider, alerting it to hold all texts and social media updates while you are driving. It also prevents you from texting or posting on social media until your car is no longer moving.

Texting and Driving: A Deadly Combo

Texting is here to stay so how do you cope with teens, texting and driving?

How to Stop a Text From Sending on Your iPhone

One of the first rules of sending a text or email when you are angry is to write it, stop, breathe for 5 minutes, and then seriously consider how the person on the other end is going to “receive” i

Sexist Emojis?

An interesting opinion piece in The New York Times points out that when it comes to emojis, female presence is lacking.

Productive Email Habits

Do you ever feel like you spend most of your day checking e-mail and Facebook?

Textual Chemistry

“Textual chemistry” is now part of the dating scene throughout the world and comes from not only what you tex

Texting and American Girls

It probably comes as no surprise to any parent these days that social media is disrupting the lives of teenagers, but Nancy Jo Sales has a new book coming out called American Girls: Social Medi

Remember to Talk

Texting is great for conveying quick messages and thoughts, but

Positive Texting

As you start the New Year, think about the tenor of your texts.  In other words, are you sending out positive vibes to family and friends?

Disturbing Trends: Technology and School

As the school year rolls around, technology is yet again under the microscope.

Young People Changing To More Private Social Interactions

The Pew Research Center has released the results from a new study on Mobile Messaging and Soc