Digital Smarts Blog

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16
Nov

Teachers Want Technology But Gaps Remain

While 64% of teachers say schools should emphasize teaching technology, only 32% say students are actively using technology to create things or perform data analysis, according to a survey of 2000 K-12 teachers from PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum, eSchool News reports. Student access to technology is one key bottleneck, and about half of teachers note that their students lack either a device or internet access at home.

15
Nov

What and How Will Kids Be Learning in 2030

2030 is only 12 years away, but in this age of rapid change what are technology advocates saying that kids should be learning now to prepare for their futures? According to an article in The Irish Times , preparing children for a future workforce where menial tasks will be done by technology means that higher-level cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are going to be even more prized. Students will need to be able to create, analyze and interpret complex data patterns. As one expert from Microsoft puts it, “I do think that everyone should get the opportunity to code in primary school. Everyone should be exposed to computational thinking to a reasonable degree, and then some will say ‘this is for me’ and some won’t. The bigger point is the notion of how we will tackle big complex problems in the future; everyone will need these skills because I think that’s the way the world of work is going to go.”

14
Nov

The Gender Gap in Cybersecurity Needs to Close

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be up to 3.5 million job openings in cybersecurity by 2021, but experts say there is a serious shortage of those trained to fill those spots. Furthermore, only 20% of cybersecurity workers currently are women, which can limit perspective when it comes to solving cyberthreats. "The wider variety of people and experience we have defending our networks, the better our chances of success," says Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future according to Forbes. Got a daughter interested in this field? Take a look at the tips for women entering cybersecurity in the article.

13
Nov

Technology and Empathy – One Can Inform the Other

There is more to technology than playing games and entertaining, and sometimes parents and teachers need to be reminded of the power it gives kids to look at the world in different ways. A recent opinion piece on PBS News Hour discussed how technology can promote empathy and focus on social impact, even helping students to come up with solutions to real world problems.  Interested in more? PBS ‘s lessons on inventions that will change the world teaches students how to turn an idea into reality through the steps of the invention process and how to pitch their invention to key stakeholders, even giving instructions on how to apply for a U.S. patent or enter contests such as the Congressional App Challenge.

12
Nov

Instagram and Snapchat Go Head to Head in Popularity with Teens

A recent report by Mashable found that about 85% of teenagers use Instagram at least once a month, in comparison to 84% who use Snapchat the same amount.  The research survey polled about 8,600 teenagers across the U.S. with an average age of 16. While the usage is neck in neck, 46% say Snapchat is their preferred social platform compared to 32% who favor Instagram.

Other findings from the survey show that Amazon was the most preferred teen’s shopping website (47%), with Nike coming in at a not-so-close second (5%), and that Netflix is the number one streaming service. Teens spend 38 percent of their time each day watching Netflix, "well ahead" of YouTube at 33 percent, Piper Jaffray said. Apple grew its share of the wristwatch market among teens to 17 percent, with the Apple Watch ranking as teenagers' second most popular watch.

9
Nov

Google Partnership To Teach About Online Behavior

Google is helping to educate children about good online behavior as part of a new partnership with the National Parent Teacher Association and the nonprofit DonorsChoose.org. Schools that adopt the program, "Be Internet Awesome," will receive resources and training about digital safety, among other things.

8
Nov

iCivics Games Teaches Kids About Government

Looking for some alternatives to the usual commercial video games? Try the  iCivics, a site created to link youth passion for online gaming and apps with civic participation. Founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics has developed a variety of games that seek to inspire civic engagement and understanding of how local government works. The site has 19 games, which allow players to try their hand at solving international crises, arguing a case before the Supreme Court, running a public interest campaign, sitting on a jury, and more.  

7
Nov

Digital Citizenship Resources for Parents and Teachers

Digital Citizenship Week just passed and eSchool News shared several resources available to help teach such citizenship lessons to kids. The focus of these materials is helping children, educators, and parents understand what digital citizenship means and how to apply it when confronted with issues or situations online.

6
Nov

FOMO – Victims and Rescuers

The proliferation of Social Media in society today has led many of us, including our children, to feel some form of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when scrolling through the daily posts of our online friends. Experts looking into the psychology behind FOMO say that the fear of missing out comes in several forms, including “Victim FOMO” and “Rescuer FOMO”. Those who identify as FOMO Victims believe that they are only worthy when they are included. When they aren’t included or don’t know what’s going on, they assume it’s because nobody likes them or somebody is mad at them. Rescuers, on the other hand, need to feel smart and competent to boost their ego. They look for victims to save by giving advice and swooping in with solutions (although often walking the line of coming across as condescending). Take a look at the article What Does Your FOMO look like? to learn more.

5
Nov

Americans Distrust Social Media Bots

Social media bots that operate without human involvement to post content and interact with human users are a growing concern related to the spread of political misinformation online. A Pew Research Center survey shows that 8 in 10 Americans are aware of the bots and believe they are used for malicious purposes. While the public’s overall impression of social media bots is negative, many people have more nuanced views about specific uses of bots such as the government using them to post emergency updates. Make sure you discuss the use of bots with your kids – perhaps another form of “stranger danger?”

2
Nov

Quiz Platforms – Pros and Cons

More teachers are using Kahoot, an online formative assessment platform, to determine in real time what students have learned. However, some teachers have reported that students are hacking the platform not only to get the answer key, but to play pranks on the teacher and other users. While many would argue it is a relatively harmless way for students to show off their coding skills, a Kahoot vice president says the issue is being addressed by the company.

1
Nov

Vetting Sources – A Bit of a Case Study

According to the online magazine site Quartz, only 17% of the current biographical entries on Wikipedia are about women, and the site is particularly thin on women in science. This stat was shared in light of some controversy about an entry on physicist Donna Strickland that was rejected by the online encyclopedia for not containing enough information about her. Days after the article was removed, Strickland won a Nobel Prize in physics, making her the only woman alive to receive the award, and a new biographical entry was posted on Wikipedia. Something to remember if your kids use Wikipedia as a preliminary source for projects – they may not be getting the full story and some additional research is always a good idea.

31
Oct

One District Declares No Tech Days

One New Jersey school district is mandating that teachers and students abstain from using any technology, including school-issued Chromebooks, for four days during the school year. Teachers say on tech-free days they'll use card and board games as well as outdoor activities to keep students engaged. Is this an idea for your district? What about a home version of a “No Tech” day?

30
Oct

Instagram Hate Pages – More Tools for Cyberbullying

For most teens, Instagram is the “go to” app for communicating (72 percent  of teens use it according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center), so it is no surprise that many are finding a whole lot of drama, bullying and gossip on the platform. Unfortunately, due to its widespread nature and size of the app’s distribution mechanism, rude comments or harassing images can go viral within hours. Like Twitter, Instagram also makes it easy to set up new anonymous profiles, which can be used specifically for trolling. Most importantly, interactions on the app are often hidden from the watchful eyes of parents and teachers, many of who don’t understand the platform’s intricacies.  

The company has recently announced a set of new features aimed at combatting bullying, including comment filters on live videos, machine-learning technology to detect bullying in photos, and a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity”, but their effectiveness is yet to be seen. Instagram is many teens’ entire social infrastructure and some may argue that it is inevitable for bullying to happen in any social environment.

29
Oct

What Your Kids Are Watching – Quantity of Likes Over Quality

Did you know that what you little ones are watching on YouTube is likely to be determined by the number of likes for a particular video or channel rather than the quality of the content?  These days the biggest kids’ content creators are YouTube upstarts, not traditional media companies like Sesame Street or even Disney. Channels like ChuChu TV (created in India) and Billion Surprise Toys are garnering views in the billions for content that catches kids’ eyes with “bright lights, extraneous elements, and faster pacing,” as one expert comments in an article from The Atlantic. Viral videos like “Johny Johny Yes Papa” could train kids’ brains’ to expect the same elements of all content, undermining less flashy educational endeavors. In other words, if kids watch a lot of fast-paced videos, they may come to expect that to be the way videos work, which could make other educational videos less compelling and effective. 

26
Oct

Parents Sign A Pledge to Restrict Social Media Access of Kids Under 13

A Monmouth county New Jersey school district has asked parents to sign a pledge barring students' access to social media until they are 13 years old because they are not "emotionally mature enough to handle it," says Superintendent John Marciante. The district's request comes after an incident occurred between students in a chat room using the app House Party that led to a threat of a school shooting. Some feel that such a ban could never be enforceable, but it still brings up the question about the age appropriateness of social media platforms.

25
Oct

Cyberbullying and the Law- Where Do Things Stand?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but do you know the current status of laws concerning cyberbullying stand on both the state and federal level? After initial attempts to get more laws on the books and policies in place, little more has appeared in the news lately.  Tina Hegner, manager of research and development at PublicSchoolWORKS, offers insights on bullying and cyberbulling laws in an article on the eSchool News site, describing how schools and districts can address bullying and enforce anti-bullying laws.

24
Oct

Violent Video Games May Boost Physical Aggression

Researchers found that children and teens who played violent video games had increased odds of having self-, parent-, or teacher-reported aggressive behaviors over time, compared with those who didn't play such video games. The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and were based on a review of 24 studies from the US, Canada, Germany and Japan involving more than 17,000 young people. The controversial findings are the latest entry into a long-standing debate over the real-world impact of video game violence. Over the years, some studies have found a connection between the games and kids' aggression, while others have not.

23
Oct

The Pros and Cons of Using Technology at School – A Parent Perspective

According to an article in the Utah’s The Daily Herald, some parents in the state are pushing back against efforts to integrate more technology into classrooms, citing concerns over technology addiction and worries about students' data privacy. One parent’s conflict with the local district began when they received an email that their child in middle school was allowed to bring a digital device to school because a teacher wanted students to use it for a quiz game. The school had devices available for those who needed, but the parent commented that her son felt singled out because he was the only one without a cellphone. Other parents complain that money being put into technology is money that isn’t going to find and train good teachers. What is the balance? What is your experience at your school?

22
Oct

Less Screen Time Equals Better Cognition

A child’s cognitive abilities can be improved by getting 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night, having at least an hour of daily physical activity and limiting screen time to less than two hours per day, a major study has found. The study assessed the behavior of 4,500 children, ages 8 to 11, and looked at their sleep schedules, how much time they spend on digital devices, and the amount they exercised. Researchers analyzed how those factors affected the children’s mental abilities, and found that only 5% of children living in the United States met all three recommendations. 63% of children spent more than two hours a day on digital devices, failing to meet the screen-time limit.

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