Digital Safety

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The Changing Face of Free Speech in the Digital Age?

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether a teenager's tweets are considered free speech. The case stems from tweets sent between two students, in different states that did not know each other, that included threats of violence in the aftermath of the shooting that happened at Arapahoe High School in 2013. One of the students was arrested for harassment, but his conviction was overturned. Traditionally, for something to qualify as a true threat, there is usually a face-to-face confrontation where the harm would potentially be imminent. Experts now say they believe the courts might eventually need to decide whether a person's fear of harm is enough to constitute a true threat.

Should Schools Limit Virtual Reality (VR) Time?

Most schools don’t have the budget for elementary students to visit the penguins in Antarctica, but they can do it using virtual reality headsets. Teachers say by exposing students to distant people, cultures and animals, it helps boost vocabulary and content writing, but researchers are cautioning that there in not much known about the effects of this technology on young children. As more schools integrate virtual reality in the classroom, experts advise limiting VR time use to minutes at a time, not hours. Despite these concerns, proponents for the technology argue that immersive media is not just a passive experience for children and allows students to engage with content in new ways.

Is Social Media Tied to the Happiness of Teens?

In the United Kingdom, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that time spent on social media has only a minor impact on life satisfaction (happiness) among adolescents. The authors of the study caution that although the data shows that time spent on social media may not be harming the emotional well-being of teens in the ways that experts often predict, the study only looked at the amount of time the children had spent online – not what they were doing during that time.  That is an interesting take away for parents (and experts)who seem to focus so much of their concern limiting screen time, rather than considering where their kids are spending that time.

Fraudsters Target Mobile Apps

A recent article in Adweek reports that from 2017 to 2018, the number of fraudulent apps increased more than 150%, according to a DoubleVerify report. Since 2017, invalid ad impressions on mobile devices has doubled year-over-year. Security experts are calling on developers and app stores to help fight fraud in the mobile space.

Two Internets?

Should there be a separate Internet for children?  Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic reminds parents that the Internet is “a place where the violence is more graphic than any R-rated movie, the sex is more salacious than any strip club, and the bullies get 24-hour access to kids’ bedrooms.” He proposes instead a “youth net” for kids younger than 15, with content similar to a PG movie and where decisions about content moderation are made with children in mind, freedom of speech is not paramount, and everything is delivered on special youth friendly devices. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube would all be banned and would be seen as the equivalent of getting a drivers license. What are your thoughts?

Screen Time for 5 Year Olds Tied to Attention Deficit Issues

Five-year-olds that spend more than two hours a day in front of screens have 5.9 times and 7.7 times higher likelihoods of developing significant attention problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, respectively, compared with those who spent 30 minutes or less with digital devices, Canadian researchers recently reported. The findings were based on data involving 2,427 youths in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study. Parents of young children should keep this in mind as they monitor screen time.

Your iPhone Keeps a List of Your Every Location

There is a feature on your iPhone that keeps track of not only everywhere you have traveled and how you got there, but how many times you have been there. The phone even interprets that data to know, for example, that your dog goes to doggy day care every Wednesday morning.  If you no longer want this feature (although you may want to keep on your kid’s phones for other reasons), you can read the full story on how to get rid of it – with step-by-step instructions - on the Business Insider site.

Facebook CEO Calls for More Internet Regulation

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls for more Internet content regulation in a recently published op-ed in The Washington Post. He urges new governance pertaining to "harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability." He also says that “By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what's best about it -- the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things -- while also protecting society from broader harms." Check out these rules for keeping safe on Facebook on the WikiHow site.

District Uses Scanners to Track Students on Buses

WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin  reports that one Wisconsin school district is installing scanners on school buses to track students as they ride to and from school. The technology will use identification cards to track students and allow parents to use an app to see where their buses are, and even receive notifications about when their children enter or leave the bus, district officials say.

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.

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