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Schools, Privacy of Information Laws and Parents

According to EdTechOnline, Michael Hawes, director of the Student Privacy Policy and Assistance Division at the U.S. Department of Education, says that for schools, when it comes to student information and adhering to federal privacy law, the key is transparency with parents. Parents often complain because they see the risks of their child’s information being used, but not the benefits. If you don’t know how your children’s personally identifiable information is being stored and used, make sure to ask when school starts again in the fall.


What’s the Average Age For Opening a Social Media Account?

What is the average age for kids to open a social media account? The last study done on the subject was back in 2016 and the average age was twelve and a half. Summer is a big time for kids to ask to open their own accounts to keep in touch with friends while school is out, so parents of kids around this age should be prepared. Psychologists say that around 12 years old is when kids have the capability to follow your rules and to understand that those rules are set in place for their safety. Sit down and talk about how to keep personal information – age, where they go to school, address, phone numbers, credit card numbers and more – private, and explore together the platform your child is interested in, including the privacy settings that can be used.


What to Do If You Get Locked Out of Your iPhone

If you have a toddler who likes to get hold of your iPhone you know how easy it could be to get locked out and have your phone disabled. So what can you do? Turns out that even if you can’t remember the passcode, these are ways to get around it using iTunes and the back up data you have stored on your computer. If you haven’t backed up your phone, this is even more of a reason to do so!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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. 



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.