Digital Smarts Blog

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24
Jul

This is What Cybersecurity Pros Are Saying

Forty-four percent of cybersecurity pros say they are reducing the amount of time they spend on Facebook after the company's recent security controversies, a Black Hat survey has found. Seven percent of respondents say they are going to delete their accounts because of the incidents. Something else interesting to note: only one quarter think that “in the future it will be possible for individuals to protect their online identity and privacy,” while more than 50% explicitly disagree with that supposition.

23
Jul

Public Domain Movie Clips for Student Projects

Bookmark this link for the next time your kids need to do a school project that involves a presentation or creation of a video and could be enhanced by clips from an old movie or even some rather quirky industrial and public service films from the “good old days”. The article entitled Find Free (Old) Feature Films Online shares how to find thousands of films that have either lost their copyright or have been released into the public domain.

20
Jul

How to Clean Your Laptop

Have you ever thought about how dirty your laptop can be? A most practical article in The New York Times Tech Section entitled How to Clean Your Filthy, Disgusting Laptop starts out with helping you figure what supplies you need all the way to getting rid of stinky smells that sometimes attach themselves to a keyboard.

19
Jul

YouTube Monthly User Base Hits 1.9 Billion

YouTube's monthly user base has increased to 1.9 billion, up from 1.5 billion at the same time in 2017, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan announced in USA Today. "We have creators with viewership that's higher than many cable channels," he said, adding that the platform has been working on brand safety issues especially since some renegade producers have been posting videos that many find in bad taste or even illegal.

18
Jul

App Developed in Attempt to Help Curb Cyberbullying

Researchers at the University of Colorado have developed an app that can alert school leaders and parents to the possibility that students are being bullied online. The BullyAlert app currently only monitors Instagram accounts, but developers say they are working to add other platforms and hope it will help schools curb cyberbullying. The developers are asking parents, guardians or other “well-wishers” to sign up for this abuse monitoring system and give feedback on its performance. The app is part of the CyberSafety Research Center’s cyberbullying research initiative. Examples of apps of the same genre include Auditor, which monitors Gmail for indicators of bullying or the potential intention of self-harm; Net Nanny, which lets parents monitor and filter kids’ online behavior; and STOP!t, which is used within schools and empowers students to report bullying.

17
Jul

Looking for a Guide to Parental Controls?

Screen time is becoming more and more of a family issue and many tech companies are attempting to help parents by providing tools such as Apple’s Screen Time, Disney’s Circle and Amazon’s Freetime. How do you make sense of all the different options out there and figure out which one will fit your needs? National Public Radio recently released a great starting point called A Guide To Parental Controls For Kids' Tech Use that asks you questions that help you zero in on the help you may be needing.

16
Jul

Maker Spaces May Have a Gender Bias

Makerspaces, also called hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs, are collaborative spaces where young people gather to get creative with DIY projects, invent new ones, and share ideas. They are popping up school campuses, at local museums and libraries and in other non-traditional education spaces in support of STEM. Many offer community resources like 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies, and more.

Despite the exciting potential these spaces bring, a lack of focus around culture and gender inclusiveness is stunting the movement’s true promise, a new report out of Drexel University reports. Researchers found a widespread gender bias, reporting there may be a tendency in makerspaces to view male students as more tech-savvy and that male students were more than twice as likely to have leadership roles and direct projects. This possible bias is definitely something to be aware of if your child- male or female – is participating in one of these projects.

13
Jul

New Study: Children May Benefit From Social Media

Social media use, such as scrolling through Instagram and texting, had positive findings for 9- and 10-year-olds participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, a project of the National Institutes of Health. The study, launched in 2015, gathered information about how young people's brains develop and how they navigate adolescence. The study's results showed that when comparing different types of screen time, social media use led to more physical activity, less family conflict and better sleep compared to time spent watching TV or playing video games. As the author of the study put it, “The most important thing is that not all screen media is bad, if you want to put it in a nutshell. There's a lot of pre-existing biases that if we expose kids to media, something terrible is going to happen. What we show is that's not the case."

12
Jul

New Google College Search Feature

Students who search for a college on Google will now receive extra data about the institution, including cost, majors, outcomes and admissions information. According to an article on TechCrunch, the new search feature uses data from the US Department of Education's College and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It is available now for only four-year institutions, but it is a good way to take a first look at multiple colleges very quickly.

11
Jul

The Fallout From Outdated Screen Time Recommendations

In a new commentary on the EdSurge site, Nikki Schafer, a technology integration specialist in a Nebraska school district, points out that outdated screen time recommendations from various medical organizations and in the media has increased parental angst to the point that parents can’t differentiate between screen time for entertainment and screen time for learning. This lack of clarification for over a decade has left many parents with anxiety about device use in general and caused a backlash to the use of technology in the schools. In turn, this has put pressure on schools and districts to carefully explain and prove why adoption of digital tools is not only beneficial, but necessary. In Schafer’s district, she explains, they work to help parents understand that not all screen time is created equal. Sometimes screens entertain, sometimes they distract and in many cases they can support a lot of the skills and characteristics teachers and parents have always known to be critical to growth and development.

10
Jul

How Often Should You Clean Your Phone?

Experts say that if you use your phone all the time, especially during meals, you should really disinfect it daily.  Apple and other manufacturers recommend turning off your phone before cleaning, and avoid getting liquid into the device’s charging port or other openings. Also, don’t spray disinfectant directly onto the device. Instead, spray onto a clean cloth or paper towel, or use a pre-treated disinfecting wipe. 

 

9
Jul

Study Shows Decline in Boy’s Interest in STEM Careers

An annual survey of teenagers by Junior Achievement and Ernst and Young show that fewer boys want to pursue a science, technology, engineering or math career. According to the results, Boys' interest in STEM fields declined from 36% last year to 24% this year, but girls' interest in STEM fields remained unchanged at 11% of all surveyed girls.

6
Jul

People Spend Nearly 8 Hours a Day with Media

The average global consumer will invest almost eight hours a day, or precisely 479 minutes, with media in 2018 - an increase of 12% since 2011, Zenith reports in MediaPost Communications. 24% of that time will be spent consuming media on mobile. The report also notes that while print and linear TV consumption have declined over the past several years, most also have digital content online, so they may not be the dying media outlets as they are often portrayed to be.

5
Jul

App to Keep Students Safe Abroad

Marquette University has adopted a mobile app called AlertTraveler, to help keep students safe while they are traveling outside of the US. About 50 other colleges, including the University of Kansas and the University of Georgia, are already using the app, which was first released in the fall of 2017. AlertTraveler centralizes the communication and risk-awareness efforts that study-abroad offices previously conducted by phone or email. For example, study aboard administrators can use the app to automatically notify students of life-threatening or high-risk situations in their geographic location — such as an active shooter, a natural disaster or seriously political instability — through push notifications, email or text messages, all of which the app supports. The app is also available for use by general travelers as well.

4
Jul

The Evolution of Social Media

Almost 79% of consumers are somewhat or very worried about information privacy on social media, and over 82% censor themselves, finds a survey by The Atlantic online. Facebook was the least-trusted social platform, despite also being the most widely used. Older people were more likely than younger people to report self-censoring because of privacy concerns, though the likelihood was 75 percent or above for all age groups. “Self-censorship” for this survey was defined as stopping yourself from posting something you might otherwise want to share, because of concerns about privacy.

3
Jul

Teen Insomnia and Depression Linked to Screen Time

Adolescents who spent more time doing screen-based activities such as gaming, social messaging, TV watching, or web surfing were more likely to develop symptoms of insomnia and sleep deprivation, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Researchers are speculating the connection of these symptoms to depression as well. “Higher rates of depressive symptoms among teens may be partially explained through the ubiquitous use of screen-based activities, which can interfere with high quality restorative sleep,” said postdoctoral researcher Xian Stella Li, Ph.D.

2
Jul

Privacy NOW! A Clickable Guide

Looked at your privacy setting for Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple lately? Have you read in detail those updated privacy polices from each of these sites that seems to appear daily in your inbox? No? Well, you are not alone - 95 percent of people are too busy, or too confused, to change a darn thing. But what if you had a clickable list of where to go and instructions of what to look for on each of these sites that might give you at least a fighting chance to preserve your privacy as much as possible? An article in the Washington Post by Geoffrey Fowler entitled Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now tells you how to look at your settings, find out what the defaults are, and change them to fit your needs. With this list you can move from site to site quickly and efficiently and make a substantial difference in your privacy exposure in just half an hour.

29
Jun

Twitter Cracking Down on Underage Accounts

If your kids use Twitter, you might have heard about how the platform has been suspending the accounts of users it believes were underage when they signed up for the popular social media service. This move has caused widespread confusion and raised questions for other companies struggling to comply with new data-privacy laws. While it is not certain what has prompted this action, media reports highlight examples of account suspensions that occurred in late May when the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, came into effect. That new provision holds that tech companies processing the personal data of children must obtain explicit consent from a parent or guardian.

28
Jun

Teens Most Likely to Use YouTube

YouTube is the most popular social media platform among teenagers, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. Data show that 85% of teens use YouTube, compared with 72% who use Instagram and 69% who use Snapchat. Only roughly half of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Facebook.

27
Jun

New Apps Help Kids Unplug From Phones

New mobile applications from Apple and Google allow consumers and parents to limit how long their children use apps, including Netflix and social media. The Apple’s Screen Time app, for example, can restrict access to some apps and websites. From Google, an app called Family Link allows parents to see how often kids use certain apps, approve or block app downloads, set screen time limits, and even lock devices remotely.

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