Digital Smarts Blog

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7
Jul

Tweens Not the Digital Natives They Would Seem

A survey of 1,200 children examines how upper elementary students use digital spaces for communicating, reading and writing. The study, published in the International Literacy Association’s “Reading Research Quarterly”, reveals that tweens have more difficulty using the internet for research than for reading books.  Data also shows that students are online more at school than at home, and use the internet for different tasks at home than in the classroom. The research also suggests that there is a big difference in knowing how to use a digital device and using it to locate, understand, and effectively communicate information to others.

The study advises parents that even though they may not consider themselves tech savvy, they are still likely more skilled than their tweens at reading, problem-solving, and making sense of information online, so their support is still very valuable. “With print-based reading we provide children with plenty of opportunities to read appropriate texts independently, but we also help them read increasingly difficult books so that they can continue to develop their skills,” one of the researchers wrote. The process is the same for online reading and writing, and parents should help kids learn to use all the multiple modes of information (such as color, image, video, hyperlinks, and text) that are encountered in digital spaces.

6
Jul

Those With Influence

According to recent research about a third of Americans, ages 16 to 34 (about 25.5 million people), can be classified as social media “influencers,” who can be categorized into three tiers - 18% in the top category of "socialite," 61% as "rising stars," and 17% as "newbies". These categories are determined by the number of followers they have and whether they are tied into a brand online – something all the “socialites” have done. Yahoo noted that influencer marketing – where the brands let their biggest fans speak for them – is about to explode. This topic is a good reminder to talk to your kids about how there are many people online – possibly even their peers – who are being paid to say a product is good.

6
Jul

Those With Influence

According to recent research about a third of Americans, ages 16 to 34 (about 25.5 million people), can be classified as social media “influencers,” who can be categorized into three tiers - 18% in the top category of "socialite," 61% as "rising stars," and 17% as "newbies". These categories are determined by the number of followers they have and whether they are tied into a brand online – something all the “socialites” have done. Yahoo noted that influencer marketing – where the brands let their biggest fans speak for them – is about to explode. This topic is a good reminder to talk to your kids about how there are many people online – possibly even their peers – who are being paid to say a product is good.

5
Jul

Using Voice Typing in Google Docs

Do your kids have great ideas for projects but have trouble translating their ideas onto paper? It might be fun for them to try speech to text dictation on the computer for free with Google Docs. The summer is a great time to try this out before the pressure of schoolwork makes it hard to try something new. All you need is an inexpensive microphone, a computer with the Chrome browser installed, and Google Docs (free). Here is a step-by-step set of instructions on how to get started.

5
Jul

Using Voice Typing in Google Docs

Do your kids have great ideas for projects but have trouble translating their ideas onto paper? It might be fun for them to try speech to text dictation on the computer for free with Google Docs. The summer is a great time to try this out before the pressure of schoolwork makes it hard to try something new. All you need is an inexpensive microphone, a computer with the Chrome browser installed, and Google Docs (free). Here is a step-by-step set of instructions on how to get started.

4
Jul

Improve the Way You Use Email

Although it was written for teachers, Frank Buck’s article on using email more efficiently rings true for parents as well. Ever thought of composing your email ‘backwards”? Buck suggests adding attachments first (because they are so easy to forget), “front loading” your email with the most important information, and composing a subject line that summarizes the email’s content. Other common sense suggestions in the article can help you tame email blunders and communicate more succinctly.

4
Jul

Improve the Way You Use Email

Although it was written for teachers, Frank Buck’s article on using email more efficiently rings true for parents as well. Ever thought of composing your email ‘backwards”? Buck suggests adding attachments first (because they are so easy to forget), “front loading” your email with the most important information, and composing a subject line that summarizes the email’s content. Other common sense suggestions in the article can help you tame email blunders and communicate more succinctly.

1
Jul

Facebook – Your New No Opt-Out Shopping Buddy

Facebook is now tracking which stores you visit so the giant social network can show marketers that its online ads result in offline purchases. With data tracking ads, businesses that advertise on Facebook can include an interactive map detailing the locations of their stores. The Facebook users' phones are then used to track (by GPS, beacons, WiFi, radio signals, and cell towers) how many of those who saw the ad wound up visiting the store. Facebook is also working on tying in-store purchases to their ads through tracking.

 

How can you protect your privacy? While Facebook will not report specific information such as the ad you saw on your friend’s Facebook page was the thing that brought you into the store where you purchased a yellow polka dot bikini, there is no way to opt out. Facebook does not identify individual information, and the information they collect is all anonymous and aggregated – or so they say officially. All you can do is hide particular ads you see in your feed, or turn off location services for Facebook entirely, though doing so may degrade other Facebook functions.

1
Jul

Facebook – Your New No Opt-Out Shopping Buddy

Facebook is now tracking which stores you visit so the giant social network can show marketers that its online ads result in offline purchases. With data tracking ads, businesses that advertise on Facebook can include an interactive map detailing the locations of their stores. The Facebook users' phones are then used to track (by GPS, beacons, WiFi, radio signals, and cell towers) how many of those who saw the ad wound up visiting the store. Facebook is also working on tying in-store purchases to their ads through tracking.

 

How can you protect your privacy? While Facebook will not report specific information such as the ad you saw on your friend’s Facebook page was the thing that brought you into the store where you purchased a yellow polka dot bikini, there is no way to opt out. Facebook does not identify individual information, and the information they collect is all anonymous and aggregated – or so they say officially. All you can do is hide particular ads you see in your feed, or turn off location services for Facebook entirely, though doing so may degrade other Facebook functions.

30
Jun

Those “Other” Digital Devices – Electronic Cigarettes (aka Vaping)

Has an unfamiliar handheld gadget shown up at your house? Are there odd batteries being charged or a pen like object hooked up to a USB cable? These may be warning signs that your child is secretly vaping – using electronic cigarettes. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs or vaporizers don’t have all the smells and telltale ashes and butts lying around, but habit-forming nicotine is still involved and a new study indicates that teens in the United States who use electronic cigarettes are six times more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes. In addition, there are no long term studies about the impact e-cigarettes have on adults, much less teens, or the impact on younger family members who inhale secondary exhaled vapors. Want to know more vaping and the signs your children might be doing it? Take a look at the Vaping and Parenting Guide – Does Your Kid Use E-Cigs?

30
Jun

Those “Other” Digital Devices – Electronic Cigarettes (aka Vaping)

Has an unfamiliar handheld gadget shown up at your house? Are there odd batteries being charged or a pen like object hooked up to a USB cable? These may be warning signs that your child is secretly vaping – using electronic cigarettes. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs or vaporizers don’t have all the smells and telltale ashes and butts lying around, but habit-forming nicotine is still involved and a new study indicates that teens in the United States who use electronic cigarettes are six times more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes. In addition, there are no long term studies about the impact e-cigarettes have on adults, much less teens, or the impact on younger family members who inhale secondary exhaled vapors. Want to know more vaping and the signs your children might be doing it? Take a look at the Vaping and Parenting Guide – Does Your Kid Use E-Cigs?

29
Jun

Video Games Involved in the Classical Retelling of Tales

Several literary classics, including Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, are being retold through a new art form that involves using video games. The EK Theater Company , based out of Connecticut and made up of students, uses video games to convey timeless tales through performances to live audiences. Students narrate dialogue from classic works to scenes of video games as avatars move through the action. The director decides which game scene will be projected while students (the digital puppeteers, voice actors and technicians) speak lines, move characters and manage the sounds and transitions. This new source of storytelling helps students study literature through a medium that is engaging and fun.

29
Jun

Video Games Involved in the Classical Retelling of Tales

Several literary classics, including Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, are being retold through a new art form that involves using video games. The EK Theater Company , based out of Connecticut and made up of students, uses video games to convey timeless tales through performances to live audiences. Students narrate dialogue from classic works to scenes of video games as avatars move through the action. The director decides which game scene will be projected while students (the digital puppeteers, voice actors and technicians) speak lines, move characters and manage the sounds and transitions. This new source of storytelling helps students study literature through a medium that is engaging and fun.

28
Jun

Anonymous Messaging Apps Make Cyberbullies and Harassers Hard to Track

Prosecutors say that cyber-harassment crimes are proving to be difficult to verify, since many new social media apps make it hard to preserve messages. Many incidents go unreported and suspects are finding it easier to mask their identity with anonymous messaging apps such as Kik, Whisper, Snapchat and Surespot, all which allow users to talk with friends or strangers without revealing their identities. Some cases involve spoofing technology with sites like FakeMyText.com that trick people into picking up the phone when their caller ID shows someone from their contacts list. In addition, many local police departments don’t have the resources to digitally investigate cyberbullying and domestic abuse cases.

28
Jun

Anonymous Messaging Apps Make Cyberbullies and Harassers Hard to Track

Prosecutors say that cyber-harassment crimes are proving to be difficult to verify, since many new social media apps make it hard to preserve messages. Many incidents go unreported and suspects are finding it easier to mask their identity with anonymous messaging apps such as Kik, Whisper, Snapchat and Surespot, all which allow users to talk with friends or strangers without revealing their identities. Some cases involve spoofing technology with sites like FakeMyText.com that trick people into picking up the phone when their caller ID shows someone from their contacts list. In addition, many local police departments don’t have the resources to digitally investigate cyberbullying and domestic abuse cases.

27
Jun

Teens, Hearing Loss and Smartphones

A Canadian study has found that nearly 30% of teens have a condition called tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in their ears. The condition could be a sign that their auditory nerves have been damaged, and could lead to hearing loss later in life. The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of portable digital music players and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues, such as electronic dance music festivals, where sound levels can top 120 decibels for hours. Other experts blame smartphones and warn that a major health crisis may be looming as these teens become adults. Experts say the best way to protect young ears is to apply the "60/60" rule: Keep the volume on the MP3 player under 60 percent and only listen for a maximum of 60 minutes a day.

27
Jun

Teens, Hearing Loss and Smartphones

A Canadian study has found that nearly 30% of teens have a condition called tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in their ears. The condition could be a sign that their auditory nerves have been damaged, and could lead to hearing loss later in life. The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of portable digital music players and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues, such as electronic dance music festivals, where sound levels can top 120 decibels for hours. Other experts blame smartphones and warn that a major health crisis may be looming as these teens become adults. Experts say the best way to protect young ears is to apply the "60/60" rule: Keep the volume on the MP3 player under 60 percent and only listen for a maximum of 60 minutes a day.

24
Jun

Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Blamed on Social Media

Some critics and parents are attributing the rise in cases of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students to the increased use of social media and the lack of implementation of rules for student–teacher contact online after school hours. An article, Friending Your Teacher: How Should Students & Teachers Interact on Social Media?, appearing on the site of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, examines a variety of positions on the issue including the extreme view that teachers and students should be legally prohibited from communicating with each other on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites.

24
Jun

Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Blamed on Social Media

Some critics and parents are attributing the rise in cases of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students to the increased use of social media and the lack of implementation of rules for student–teacher contact online after school hours. An article, Friending Your Teacher: How Should Students & Teachers Interact on Social Media?, appearing on the site of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, examines a variety of positions on the issue including the extreme view that teachers and students should be legally prohibited from communicating with each other on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites.

23
Jun

The Homework Gap – The Expanded Version

The divide between families who have computers with Internet access at home and those who do not is known as the ‘homework gap’. Numerous articles have been written on the subject, but the lack of technology is not the only reason children fall into the divide. There is also a chasm separating students with parents who control their own work schedules and those whose parents don’t. A 2014 report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth noted that nonstandard work schedules have an effect on children’s cognitive development and success. Homework Inequality: The Value of Having a Parent Around After School, an article on The Atlantic site, examines the issue of parents not being there to help their children use technology for schoolwork tasks and supervise their proper use of digital media.

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