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Now You Retract that Message

Wish you hadn’t sent that? Facebook has finally made good on its promise to let users unsend chats after TechCrunch discovered Mark Zuckerberg had secretly retracted some of his Facebook Messages from recipients. Recently Facebook Messenger globally rolled out “Remove for everyone” to help you pull back typos, poor choices, embarrassing thoughts or any other message. For up to 10 minutes after sending a Facebook Message, the sender can tap on it and they’ll find the delete button has been replaced by “Remove for you,” but there’s now also a “Remove for everyone” option that pulls the message from recipients’ inboxes. They’ll see an alert that you removed a message in its place, and can still flag the message to Facebook, which will retain the content briefly to see if it’s reported. The feature could make people more comfortable having honest conversations or using Messenger for flirting since they can second-guess what they send, but it won’t let people change ancient history.


‘SAFR,’ Not ‘SAFE’

Should schools install facial recognition tech? As schools plan to spend billions on security equipment and services, EdSurge’s Emily Tate says that improvements like facial recognition systems such as SAFR (Secure, Accurate Facial Recognition) tend to make school staff feel safer, but she questions the effectiveness. In her article, she reports that experts say having a high tech system often leads to people letting their guard down and putting their faith in a system that needs constant updating, and input is not going to prevent the worst case scenarios that all too common.


Pilot Project Uses Nintendo Projects to Foster Tech Skills

A recent EdSurge article reports that teachers in 100 schools are using Nintendo Switch and Labo kit products in lessons as part of a pilot program launched by the nonprofit Institute of Play. The program is intended to help cultivate collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The kits include cardboard materials for five different “toy-construction” creations—a RC( Radio Control) car, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike and a piano—so each student in the class can get a chance to build one using both digital and real world construction techniques. Many of these kits are also available for separate purchase for home projects as well


An App For School Projects

Looking for something to add a fun digital component to your children’s school projects and have them learn some new tech skills? Book Creator is an iPad app (there’s also a version for Chrome) that allows users to create ebooks that can be easily shared. Kids are able to use text, images, audio and video in their ebooks, making this a tool that can be used in many contexts or homework projects.


Will Social Networks Become A Thing Of The Past?

Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and even Twitter have one thing in common. They are all looking for users. Snapchat, once the darling of teens everywhere, lost 3 million daily active users in the second quarter of 2018. That’s the first time that the company has reported a decline since it went public. And what accounts for these losses? Security issues, charges of misinformation, foreign hacking and misuse of user data, all issues that teens sometimes seem to be more aware of then adults. And what does that mean for parents? Still unknown, but it may mean that teens will be changing “favorite” apps more quickly, so stay on your toes and keep your ears and eyes open for what’s next.


Video Game Treatment May Be Beneficial For ASD, ADHD

Children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and concurrent ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms who were treated with a new video game tool called Project: EVO saw improvements to their attention spans, according to a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Children using the treatment scored better on the TOVA API test, and parents reported that the game helped mitigate ADHD symptoms and helped to improve attention spans according to researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Exergaming Tied To Increased Physical Activity Among Preschoolers

A study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science showed that preschoolers who engaged in exergaming, or played video games with a physical activity component, had increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at school after eight weeks compared with those who played outside during recess. The findings also showed increased but not significantly different motor skills and confidence among those in the exergaming group, and exergaming activity was higher among boys than girls. Definitely not a substitute for getting out and playing, but might be a way to keep kids busy in the cold weather.


Is It Time to Get Rid of the Term “Bullying?”

“Let’s retire the word “bullying,” says educator Jim Dillon, because the word, especially in schools is getting in the way of productive discussions on how to help students. There are so many shades to the acts of bullying and hence the overuse of the term. This means, Dillion points out, that “our well-intentioned efforts to prevent and reduce bullying has inadvertently created confusion and misdirection for educators; too much time and energy has been devoted to defining students' words and actions after they have done something wrong and less on actually helping students navigate their social world.”

Dillon goes on to support his case with a variety of well reasoned arguments including that using a one standard fits all approach to bullying adds an element of fear to the school environment that tends to make people more self-centered. Students who get accused of bullying are more likely to deny it to avoid punishment or being labeled. Parents will be more likely to defend their child for the same reasons and teachers can be more reluctant to intervene in possible bullying incidents because they are viewed as high stakes discipline problems. Dillon proposes that conversations about bullying should start with the question “How should we treat each other at school?”


Social Media Seeks Content Advice from Conservative Groups

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are seeking input from conservative-leaning groups to determine the types of posts that should be identified as unacceptable and eliminated from their platforms, write Kirsten Grind and John McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal. The move is partly a response to allegations that the social platforms have a liberal bias and indicates an effort on the part of the social media giants to counter that criticism.


Report Grades States on Student Data Protection

Not one state earned a perfect score for their student-data privacy protections on a new report card released by The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Network for Public Education. The highest grade awarded, a B, went to Colorado, while three states—New Hampshire, New York, and Tennessee—received the second-highest average grade of "B-." Eleven states received an "F." These states include Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin. Each state was graded on seven categories, which include transparency, parental and student rights, limits on commercial use of data, and enforcement. Do you know how your children’s educational data is stored and shared?


The New Apps Your Teens Know About That You Should Know

While old apps like Snapchat and Instagram are still among teen favorites, there are new apps for social media, video-sharing and homework help that becoming hot with teens and tweens. Check out these new titles listed in an article entitled Apps you've never heard of that your teen is already using , complete with a description of the app and what parents need to know about it.


Want More Engineers? Start Early

More schools are introducing engineering lessons in early grades to help nurture interest in science, technology, engineering and math, Lillian Mongeau writes in The Hechinger Report. Camille Jones, an elementary-school teacher, says shortly after introducing the Engineering is Elementary curriculum, she discovered that a student who struggled in other subjects excelled in STEM and worked to enroll him in advanced classes in these areas. Looking for materials to help your school get started? The Museum of Science in Boston provides an engineering curricula for elementary school students. The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, offers Amplify Science, which incorporates engineering principles of problem solving. Various other like, PBS Kids and NASA organizations offer engineering resources for K-12 classrooms.


Facebook Users Unaware of Trait Tracking

A Pew Research Center survey has found that while 74% of US adult Facebook users didn't know that Facebook kept track of their interests and traits for ads, just over half were uncomfortable with the practice. Facebook knows your age, gender and location, along with what you post, the pages you like and the businesses you check into on the social network. All that information helps the company determine what ads to show its 2.3 billion users. "Americans, being Americans, say that it matters, but they behave in a way that doesn't indicate that it matters," said Pew's Lee Rainie.

What can you do about it if you are concerned? Facebook users can view their "ad preferences" page to see what the social network thinks their interests are and why they're seeing a given ad. This list can include users' political leanings, hobbies and even the type of smartphone they use. Facebook users can also remove an interest from that list to change the type of ads they see on the social network.


Students Use Design-Thinking For Solutions to Social Media Ills

An article from EdSurge  describes how high-school students in Connecticut have used design-thinking (a form of brainstorming) to help develop solutions to problems they encounter on social media. Jacquelyn Whiting, a high-school library media specialist, describes how students used the approach to consider remedies to hate speech, digital permanence and inauthenticity, among others. Here, from the article, are some things they ask you and your family to consider:

  • Do all of your social media posts show only your best, brightest, happiest moments? Considering joining the #badday and #authenticself campaigns, and celebrate authenticity by posting about frustrations or setbacks you experience.
  • Have you ever totaled the amount you spend shopping in response to ads targeted at you on social media? Would you consider paying a fraction of that amount to join a social media platform that protects your private information and is ad-free?
  • Have you stopped to think about the language you use on social media? Stay on the lookout for machine learning that will prompt people to reconsider the vocabulary in their posts if they use offensive language, and warn you if you are about to friend someone who does

Is All the Uproar Over Screen Time for Naught?

The effects of digital screen time on children's well being and development is a source of huge debate at the moment. While concerns over the effects of these new devices on childhood development are not unwarranted, scientists have not been able to reach a clear consensus on the topic. Now a new study by the University of Oxford, examining data from over 350,000 subjects in the UK and US, finds digital technology use accounts for less than half a percent of a young person's negative mental health. The research suggests everything from wearing glasses to not getting enough sleep have bigger negative effects on adolescent well being than digital screen use. Binge-drinking and marijuana use also were noted as having significantly larger negative effects, and bullying was found to have four times larger the negative effect on well being than digital screen use. On the positive end of the spectrum, things like eating a good breakfast and getting enough sleep were much more statistically relevant in affecting well being than the effects of technology use.


Do Phone Bans Work for Schools?

Most parents probably won’t be surprised by this news, but students worldwide are finding ways to use their phones in school despite bans, according to a global review by the Australian government. The findings come as a ban on the devices in some schools in New South Wales in Australia, despite this evidence, has drawn criticism from some educators and parents.


Online Forums vs. Social Media – Who Do Americans Trust?

A poll of more than 1,000 Americans, done by community platform Tapatalk , showed that 4 out of 5 people trust online forums for information more than they do social media sites such as Facebook. Only 27% would ask a question on a Facebook group, as opposed to 47% who'd consult Quora or similar sites. The results indicate that consumers are growing frustrated with the inability to find trusted information on mainstream social media, but also raise large questions about where people should be going for vetted information and the spread of misinformation.


Standing Up to Screens – What’s a Parent To Do

Richard Bromfield , a professor at the Harvard Medical School, begins his book called Standing Up to Screens: A Doable Plan for Parents United, with a telling quote from James Baldwin: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Bromfield notes parents use their own screens nine hours or more a day, more than most children or teens. Half talk on their phones while driving with their young children. A third text, and about 16 percent check their social media. "Yet despite these facts, 78 percent of parents judge themselves to be ‘good media role models’ for their children’s use of screens," he writes in a chapter titled "Fess Up." Bromfield is not prescribing a ban on devices, but his book describes a simple and novel strategy for parents to help their children learn to manage their screens.


Social Media and Depression Connection Found

Teen girls and boys who used social media more than five hours daily had higher depressive symptoms compared with peers who had one to three hours of daily social media use. The finding indicates a stronger link between social media use and depression in girls over boys (50% and 35% respectively), United Kingdom researchers reported in the journal EClinicalMedicine.

So what can parents do? Experts say one tip is to set up a charging station somewhere in the house instead of charging phones in the bedroom which can lead to distractions and sleep interruptions. Don’t fall for the line that teens need to use their phone as an alarm - get them an actual standalone alarm clock instead. This will help to limit nighttime usage. As one expert put it, "It's a balance, because there are benefits to engagement with media. There are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there's also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are living with in person. So it's finding that sweet spot."


Survey Looks at Gen Z Views on Tech Careers

A survey by Dell computers of Generation Z high-school and college students in 17 countries shows 80% want to work with cutting-edge technology as part of their careers, and 57% say their education has prepared them for a job. The data also show 98% have used technology during their education and 52% are confident in their tech skills.