Digital Smarts Blog

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23
Aug

Toddlers Learn Best in No Screen Settings

Little ones can easily be mesmerized by digital screens. A cartoon character on TV  asking questions and pausing for a response can bring them to a complete halt. But science shows that children under the age of 30 months rarely learn from such encounters. A study of 176 toddlers aged 24 and 30 months gauged four different conditions under which children would best learn the name of a new object: directly from a person with the child, a responsive video chat, an unresponsive video, or an unresponsive live person. None of the toddlers learned under the video conditions, which Vanderbilt University researcher Georgene Troseth says is “because to toddlers, a flat image of a person on a screen isn't ‘real’, so their brains tell them what they are seeing isn't personally relevant and not something they can learn from.” This study is further proof that toddlers need face-to-face interactions with living breathing humans in order to learn new information.

22
Aug

Teacher Finds Students Focus Without Phones

Frustrated that smartphones were competing for students' attention in the classroom, Nevada Spanish teacher Debbie Simon started asking students to lock their phones in a magnetically sealed pouch before class began. Despite some initial backlash, Simon says in an interview in the The Epoch Times, after just a few days the students said that they felt more focused and engaged in lessons. This solution has been implemented by many schools and even concert venues. What will your school’s policy on cellphones be this coming school year?

21
Aug

LEGO Conducts Survey of Children About Space

An interesting statistic was revealed after a survey conducted by LEGO found that children in the United States and the United Kingdom are 3x more likely to want to be a YouTube Influencer than an astronaut when they grow up.  Respondents in China, however, said that astronaut was the most desirable job, with 56% of kids responding that’s what they wanted to be later in life, while “YouTuber” was the least popular choice in China at just 16%. The children were asked to choose from a list of 5 professions including Astronaut, Teacher, Musician, Athlete and YouTuber/Vlogger. The study came in light of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and polled 3,000 children in the US, UK and China about their attitudes towards and knowledge of space.

20
Aug

Pew Study Looks at YouTube’s Most Popular Content

A recent Pew Research Center report looked at the most watched videos on YouTube and found that videos featuring kids and those targeted to kids are highly popular, clocking in at nearly three times as many views on average as other types of videos. Also revealed is that videos with the keywords "Fortnite," "prank" or "worst" in their title garnered more than five times as many views as those without these search terms.  Content about video games also remains hugely popular on YouTube, with about 18% of English-language videos posted by popular channels during the study period related to video games or gaming. 

19
Aug

A Perspective on the Social Media Use of Generation Z

A recent article from CNBC takes a look at Generation Z (8 to 22 year-olds) and their feelings on social media. The article revealed that in an interview with a group of 17-year-olds, almost all said that they rarely watch regular TV and hardly ever use Facebook. It was also found that members of Gen Z are typically more conscious of privacy concerns when using social media apps than older generations, however they can have difficulty distinguishing between what is paid content from advertisers.

The teenagers spoke to CNBC after a week at London ad agency Isobel, which runs a summer school program for students. Two teams were tasked with creating an ad campaign to warn younger teens of the dangers of social media, before presenting them to a judging panel. One team cautioned children not to share their location on social media with the tagline “Your World is Theirs,” while the second group encouraged youngsters to “Pull the Plug on Online Hate.”

16
Aug

Useful Chrome Extensions for School

Does your child use Chrome as their browser for school? In a recent article from Edutopia, special education teacher Kathryn Nieves shares a list of 10 free extensions for Google Chrome browsers that her students use most often at school. The list includes extensions such as Noisli, which provides customizable mixes of ambient sounds to aid concentration, and AlphaText, which lets users customize their browsers for accessibility. Others on the list are VoiceIn Voice Typing, which provides speech-to-text functions for dictating notes, and Dualless which gives the capability to split the screen so you can work in two tabs simultaneously. Nieves suggests trying these extensions out in the summer before the school year starts and schedules get hectic.

15
Aug

Colleges Jump on the Influencer Train

Forbes has reported that several colleges and universities have adopted social media influencer programs with student ambassadors to promote the schools on channels such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Student ambassadors from the University of Delaware and other schools with similar programs such as Kent State University, Babson College, University of Central Florida or New York University post about anything from game day apparel to what they had for breakfast in the dining hall. These posts that showcase everyday experiences can help prospective students see the university could be a home for them too. Some of the student influencers say that the programs have helped them acquire marketing experience and access networking opportunities.

14
Aug

How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform What It Means To Be Human

Are you curious about artificial intelligence (AI)? It is likely to become a big part of our children’s lives. Once artificial intelligence becomes virtually universal, human interactions, work and even morality will look different, says Alex Bates in an article from CIO. He even goes so far as to say “..we might not even have to speak anymore, instead exchanging thoughts and precepts with other humans or AI agents directly, using via neurotechnology like brain-computer interfaces.”

 

13
Aug

Instagram Test Hides Likes, Considers Mental Health

The Associated Press reports that Instagram is expanding a pilot program that started in Canada, masking "likes" to users. The test is a response to mental health concerns regarding the way people feel when viewing the engagement on other people’s profiles. People can still see how many people liked their own photos, but won’t see counts for other people’s posts. Critics say that such counts hurt mental health and make people feel bad when comparing themselves to others. One group that may be affected is Instagram “influencers,” the major, minor or micro celebrities who use social media to market products and otherwise influence their hordes of followers. The program is expanding to users in Ireland, Italy, Japan, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand.

12
Aug

eSports Continue to Roll

Do you know a kid who excels at video games but not traditional sports? Or maybe they excel at both? It could be time your school looked into eSports. Defined as competitive video game play, eSports has moved beyond negative stereotypes into a smart, developmental, multidisciplinary activity that can actually earn student-players scholarships at top-named universities.

If you are looking for resources to help your child or school get started,  Kevin Brown, an educator in California, shares tips to help implement such programs. His blog post includes strategies for organization and how to design eSports electives that support state learning standards and students' career explorations.

9
Aug

Digital Tools for Annotations

Many people feel that one of the advantages of using physical books over digital is the ability to make notes in margins, whether it be study notes in a textbook, recipe modifications in a cook book, or highlighting favorite lines in a novel. Now there are tools to make relevant comments or ask questions digitally in textbooks and non-fiction and fiction books for students, and even include web annotations of relevant resources, writes educator Matthew Farber on the Edutopia site. In his blog post, he shares several such resources that he believes help foster reading comprehension. Look for examples of specific resources and how they are used in the post and pass the information on to your school.

8
Aug

Flaw in “Messenger Kids” Fixed By Facebook

Facebook has notified parents and corrected a technical error that permitted thousands of children using the Messenger Kids app to join group chats not approved by their parents. The app lets children between 6 and 12 years old message and video chat with family and friends who their parents approve. It's unclear how long the flaw existed. The app has been controversial since its launch in December 2017, and child advocacy groups have repeatedly urged Facebook to shut down the app, arguing it violates a federal law aimed at protecting a child's online privacy.

7
Aug

Hacker Attacks on Schools Are On The Rise

The Associated Press reports that schools using education technologies are becoming targets of cyberattacks that disrupt digital lesson plans and could potentially compromise data. Schools "may be considered easy targets because they're a little bit more open than your traditional corporate culture," said Sean Wiese, chief information security officer for North Dakota, where a malware attack last year affected a large number of public schools.

6
Aug

Reading, Writing and Cybersecurity

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the IT workforce has prompted some K-12 schools to add classes in cybersecurity strategies and practices to their curriculum. Some high schools even offer professional certification and college credit, or allow students to serve apprenticeships to their district with cybersecurity needs. Not only do these classes help educate students on becoming smart digital citizens, it could also spark interest in pursuing a career in that field.

5
Aug

Adding Students with Disabilities to the Conversation about Social Media and Cyberbullying

Students with disabilities appear to experience higher highs and lower lows when using social media, according to a new report from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Students with disabilities are 1.8 times more likely to be victims—and 1.7 times more likely to be perpetrators—of social media-related cyberbullying, the group found in an analysis of survey information covering 24,000 Boston-area high school students. The connection between experiencing cyberbullying and suffering from depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies is also particularly strong for these students.

2
Aug

Your School Collects Lots of Data On Your Kids. The Problem Is Deleting It

America's schools are awash in data, and while concerns about the privacy and security of students' information are regularly discussed, the Center for Democracy & Technology says there is one issue that has been mostly overlooked: properly getting rid of student data when it's no longer needed. "Deleting data is much more complicated than one might think, with a number of important policy, legal, and technical considerations," reads the group's new report, titled "Balancing the Scale of Student Data Deletion and Retention and Education."

Do you know what your school or district does with your child’s data after they graduate or leave the school?

1
Aug

Updating COPPA?

The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), is considering updating privacy laws that protect children online. If you are unfamiliar with COPPA, it requires operators of commercial websites, online services, and mobile apps to get permission from parents before gathering information about any child under the age of 13. The act was put in place to give parents say in what type of information is collected and/or shared about their children online. The commission typically reviews rules every ten years to determine if changes in technology necessitate an update to the rules that go along with it. The FTC is holding a public workshop on October 7, 2019 to examine the COPPA Rule and seek comments from consumers. More details about the workshop can be found on the event page.

31
Jul

Instagram is Trying to Stop Cyberbullying. What Can Parents Do to Help?

Instagram has recently announced new features and changes to help stamp out cyberbullying on the platform, including using artificial intelligence to detect when something offensive is about to be posted. A prompt will appear asking the user if they are sure they want to post, giving them the opportunity to reconsider. Another feature will be introduced soon that allows users to "restrict" someone, meaning they can delete comments from or block the other person from posts without that person knowing. The company said it arrived at the concept after hearing feedback that users are reluctant to outwardly block a bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they also interact with the bully "in real life." These features may help, but social work professor Jonathan Singer says parents cannot rely on those safeguards alone. Singer encourages parents to discuss online safety with their children and keep communication open about social media use.

30
Jul

Bedtime Stories on Facebook

Need someone else to read a bedtime story for your kids this Tuesday? Archie Moss, an elementary-school principal in Tennessee, reads weekly bedtime stories to students over Facebook Live. In an interview, Moss says the idea for the "Bedtime Stories with Principal Moss" program came from the school's librarian, Monique Howard, who shared it as part of an effort to find innovative ways to reach students and build a culture of reading at the school. He has read stories every Tuesday night since February when it was started as a celebration of Black History Month.

29
Jul

Cyberbullying on the Rise

The Washington Post just highlighted a report from the National Center for Education Statistics showing that 20% of teen students in the US said they were bullied in the 2016-17 school year, and of those, 15% were bullied online or via text, a 3.5 percentage point increase over the previous year. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar of Purdue University says the spike may be due to increased awareness of what bullying looks like and reporting of cyberbullying incidents. Seigfried-Spellar states that students have become less inhibited about bullying others with digital separation because they don’t have to witness the emotional toll exacted or have to deal with the immediate consequences. “It’s easier to do because you don’t have to worry about a physical repercussion,” she said. “It removes that personal experience.”

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