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Closing the STEM Gender Gap

Educators and parents can help to close the gender gap in STEM by examining possible gender biases that are integrated into their language. Meagan Pollock, executive director of the nonprofit Design Connect Create, also asserts that girls typically tend to go into helping careers, so showing how STEM makes a positive difference in people's lives could be beneficial in exposing them to other options, she writes.


“Grandkids on Demand”

A number of tech startup companies are using social media to foster face-to-face connections and combat loneliness and social isolation among seniors. One example is Papa, a Miami-based health care firm that connects aging seniors with college students through a mobile app and other digital tools. Papa has partnered with health insurers such as Aetna, Alignment Healthcare and Priority Health to offer its "grandkids on demand" service to some Medicare Advantage members. “Papa Pals,” as the 3,500 college, nursing and pre-med students who have become part of the program are called, pair up with older adults who need assistance with transportation, house chores, technology lessons, and other services. Papa Pals have to submit to a stringent background check, a personality test, a virtual interview, a motor vehicle inspection and even a test of the tonality of their voice to ensure they have the kind of personality the service is looking for with a Papa Pal. With the strict guidelines, only 15% of applicants actually make it into the program.


What Country Has the Most Tech Addicted Teens?

About half of teenagers and parents in Mexico say they believe they are addicted to their cellphones -- the highest of any nation surveyed by Common Sense Media. In the US, 39% of teenagers report feeling addicted to their mobile devices, which happens to be fewer than both the United Kingdom and Japan.


Consumers Lack Digital Media Literacy

A recent Pew Research Center study of US adults revealed that consumers generally lack social media literacy regarding issues such who owns what apps, how social platforms make money, familiarity with private browsing, and how cookies work. The survey did find that younger tech users were savvier about terms and issues, but even that was not universal. What was clear is that consumers need to be better informed about the more technical aspects of their digital presence – it will only become more important over time.  


There’s A New Tablet for Kids

Amazon now has a version of its Kindle e-reader designed specifically for kids. The device includes educational tools such as a built-in dictionary for defining complex words, achievement badges for meeting reading goals, enhanced search features, and a vocabulary builder with flash cards.


What Does It Mean To Be a Digital Citizen?

What does it mean to be a good online citizen? Marialice Curran, founder of the Digital Citizenship Institute, proposes that it is less about a list of do’s and don’ts, and more about treating one another with humanity, compassion and respect. She believes the term “digital citizenship” is not the best way to get people’s attention. For her, digital citizenship is human connections. It is bringing back the humanity into interactions online and not using the online world to harass, bully and intimidate others.



FTC Sets Sights Set On Updating Children’s Online Privacy

Following its $170 million settlement with YouTube for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations, the Federal Trade Commission has its sights set on updating the law meant to safeguard children’s online privacy. A recently hosted public workshop explored necessary revisions, and Isaac Mamaysky of the Potomac Law Group writes that educational technology companies and parents will need to pay close attention to changes. Parents should also read the public service announcement issued by the FBI regarding the risks of kids’ personal data being improperly or insecurely stored by companies that develop and host apps for children.


Helping Your Kids Manage Digital Distractions

Digital tools that kids use for learning also can provide some of their biggest distractions. In a recent article on the EdSurge site, author Ana Homayoun shares how to help kids manage these digital distractions by supporting their intrinsic motivation to make better decisions, both online and in the real world. A key takeaway from the article: “When working with kids, I start from a place of compassion, empathy and understanding, rather than fear, anger and frustration. I recognize and admit how challenging it is for all of us to navigate this relatively new world of technology and its related distractions. Kids are receptive to this approach. They become excited to try new ways to manage and block distractions as I encourage them to realize they have a choice in how they spend their time and that they are competent to make choices that promote their social and emotional well-being.”


Hat Not Hate

If you’ve got a crafty side and want to speak out against bullying, there is a way to contribute to the cause and show your “anti-cyberbullying” outlook. Lion Brand Yarns has partnered with BeStrong, a global antibullying organization, to rally consumers to knit or crochet blue hats and share them on social media with #HatNotHate to build awareness and support the efforts to stop bullying. Why blue hats? Blue represents awareness and solidarity, and is the color to wear in support of bullying prevention.


TikTok Safety Tips

TikTok, the app for short form videos that tweens are flocking to, has had some issues parents should be aware of, including leaky privacy settings and inappropriate comments. If your tween is active on the app you may want to take at look at these TikTok safety tips that appear on the Common Sense Media site. One thing to especially be aware of - unlike other apps, TikTok requires a special code to delete the app so don’t think it is gone until you check.


Addressing Cyberbullying – What Works and What Doesn’t

According to Today, one-off programs such as guest speakers and school assemblies are ineffective at addressing the complexities of bullying. Schools may think they have checked off their responsibility to combat bullying by holding these kinds of programs, but they rarely have much effect.  Some schools are making progress through research-backed programs that adopt anti-bullying classes and establish a framework for what to do when bullying situations arise. This includes setting goals and procedures that are properly communicated to the staff, students, parents and the community. Experts agree that any anti-bullying program is only as strong as a school's commitment to it, and to get results, students, teachers and administrators have to put in the time.


What is Sadfishing?

School leaders in the United Kingdom are warning about a new social media trend -- sadfishing -- in which students are seeking to garner sympathy online by often exaggerating and “oversharing” details of their emotional health. Instead of getting sympathy, the behavior can have negative effects on students, they say, including cyberbullying.



Recent studies have shown that teens are reading less these days, with many parents and educators alike placing the blame on smartphones. Since smartphones likely aren’t going anywhere, here is a list of ways to encourage teen reading in a digital landscape without demonizing devices. Biggest advice? Be a good role model and a digital ally who takes a genuine interest in your teen’s digital pursuits.


Digital Divide Continues to Plague Lower Income Students

A recent report released by Common Sense may give pause to the concept that digital products are the means to increase achievement for students in schools serving lower-income areas. The report surveyed 1,200 teachers from across the country and found that 12% said the majority of their students have no computer or Internet access at home. Homework is still an issue when a digital connection is not available.


Information Sharing on Cyberbullying Prevention and School Safety

Legislation introduced by US lawmakers proposes to establish a national database that state and local officials could use to discover best practices for school safety and cyberbullying prevention. Called the School Safety Clearinghouse Act, the bill includes federal funding and would provide educators access to recommendations from architects, engineers, first responders, mental health advocates, parents and building security experts. The clearinghouse intends to help educators make informed decisions about the safety of their students.


Paper Textbooks Could Be a Thing of the Past, Even in Elementary School

The decision by textbook publisher Pearson to adopt a digital-first strategy for its textbooks business could affect K-12 schools because of the fact that many of these schools are not only not completely fully digital, but many still have yet to step into that space. Jay Diskey, a consultant and former executive director of the Association of American Publishers' PreK-12 Learning Group, says the move is likely to have an greater effect in secondary schools, where some educators already are using a blend of traditional and digital texts, but is certain to spill over into elementary schools as well.


“Talk Pedometers” To Aid Early Literacy

Five US cities, including Detroit, are equipping toddlers with wearable devices nicknamed “Talk Pedometers” that count the number of words the children say and hear in a day, with the goal of increasing that number. The Providence Talks program, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, created the device that aims to help boost early literacy. The program tries to instill in parents "the habit of reading, the habit of talking, turning off electronics, playing with their children, getting that dedicated time and being a little bit deliberate about the back and forth with children, including asking them more certain kinds of questions”.


Do You Know How to Spot a Teenage Cyber-Hacker?

A recent study led by Thomas Holt, cybercrime expert at Michigan State University, looks at teen cybercriminals and has found that low self-control is a key predictive factor in whether teens engage in cybercrimes such as hacking. Holt says that many stereotypes of hackers may not be accurate when it comes to teens committing cybercrimes. Holt also says that there's "value in teaching kids that cybercrime will get you in trouble and here's what you can do to protect yourself."

Experts who study the future of work and technology trends expect that teenage cyber hacking could become a problem in the future. Research suggests that there will be a growing need for more "juvenile crime rehabilitation counselors," who can help student cyber-hackers to put their tech talent to more productive use in the not-too-distant future.


A Cyberbullying Workbook for Teens

The Bullying Workbook for Teens (for kids 13 and up) is a recent title from the Instant Help Solutions series. The booklet includes exercises to help teens learn to understand and manage the difficult emotions created when you’re the victim of bullying or cyberbullying. Using cognitive behavioral techniques, the material helps teens identify and manage their emotions, from anxiety to anger to depression, and provides guidance to getting help when a bullying situation is getting out of control.


Rude vs. Bullying – What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between rude behavior and bullying? Signe Whitson, a therapist and author of several booklets on bullying, says it is important to draw a distinction. If we improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying — whether simply in conversation or to bring attention to short-term discomfort — we all run the risk of becoming desensitized to the word and this actual life-and-death issue among young people will lose its urgency. In her definition, being mean involves  “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Bullying, on the other hand, is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.... Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse — even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.”