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Apple’s Tim Cook : Tech Regulation Inevitable

According to The Hill, Apple CEO Tim Cook says he believes regulations in the tech industry are inevitable, after previously stating his support for stricter laws in October. "I'm a big believer in the free market, but we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here," Cook said. In October Apple began allowing customers to download copies of all the data it holds on them.  Want to find out what data Apple is keeping on you and how to delete it or manage it? Try this article on the Cnet site as a guide.


Wait Until 8th! A New Movement Advocates Waiting On Cellphones

Today recently featured a blog written by K-8 teacher Ben Conlon that advocates for a movement called Wait Until 8th –  encouraging parents to wait until students are in the eighth grade to give them cellphones in an attempt to diminish the negative effects of social media on younger users. As Conlon points out, social media has complicated the lives of today's students, who often spend the majority of their free time in front of screens. He writes, “This is their norm. They don't realize how much of their childhood is being stolen by screens. They simply have no escape. It follows them home. It follows them everywhere. The phone is always on their minds. Texts are constant, often misinterpreted, hurtful, with no visual cues. They take the place of learning how to have genuine conversations."


What Happens When Eighth Graders Give Up Technology for Two Weeks?

As reported in the San Mateo Daily Journal, eighth-graders at a California school say they have experienced positive results after accepting a 12-day challenge to give up time on social media and digitial devices. The tech-free challenge came after a school survey found 63% of students said they spent too much time on social media and cellphones. Two big revelations students had were how much more time they had for everything and how much more connected they felt to other people. Some also said that their parents had more trouble with the challenge than they did because parents forgot they could not call them.


Collaborative Projects – 10 “Rules”

Collaborative projects with classmates for school can be either really fun or a real drag. Technology can help making everyone’s contributions “appear the same” in the final presentation, but there is so much more to the experience. That’s where the “10 Rules for Students and Teachers” comes in.  The “10 Rules” were originally written by Sister Corita Kent, an influential artist and educator, and popularized by composer John Cage. Themes in the “10 Rules” revolve around making the most of your learning experiences. Self-discipline is important, as is the need to follow a leader when necessary. These rules are good to talk about with your kids before they do a collaborative project or even to pass along to their teachers.


Cyberexclusion: What Is It and How Does it Affect Kids

What is the difference between cyberbullying and cyberexclusion? Take a look at a video in which adolescent psychiatrist Jodi Gold, M.D. explains the difference and why seemingly innocent social media posts – “fun” posts from parties, playdates, and other events where other kids are “excluded”- can hurt kids’ feelings. Find out what you can do as a parent to combat cyberexclusion and help your child learn to be kind online.


Majority of US Parents Let Children View YouTube Content

A recent study reports that 81% of  parents with children age 11 or younger say they have let their child watch videos on YouTube. Of the parents surveyed, 34% say they allow their children to watch YouTube regularly, and 47% reported they allow it on occasion. Also interesting is that of these parents, 61% reported that their children have come across unsuitable content on the platform. The study comes in light of a Federal Trade Commission complaint by advocacy groups that YouTube illegally collects data from kids to target ads.


Federal Trade Commission Called on to Look Into Children’s Apps

MediaPost Communications reports that Senate Democrats are urging the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize "manipulative marketing practices" in preschool children's apps. Advocacy groups have also made the same request following a report by University of Michigan Medical School that discovered that 95% of free Android apps designed for children under 6 featured ads. Some of the ads were camouflaged in items that appeared in the games, the study found. One game mentioned in the study, and referenced by the lawmakers, offers young players who watch a video ad the opportunity to buy “more effective medicines” to treat sick animals through the app.


Schools Working to Make Tech Accessible to All

Schools are increasingly focused on ensuring that educational technologies are available to all students, including those with disabilities. To help with this mission, schools and other organizations are inviting software engineers to visit their classrooms to see first hand how the programs are used and how they can be improved to ensure accessibility. For example, they may discover that programs full of unlabeled pictures are totally useless to blind users who have no idea they’re there. It may sound like common sense, but often that is the missing link in the creation of affordable and effective educational software that is useful to all students.


Contract to End Internet Abuse

World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee is initiating a campaign called #ForTheWeb, aimed at advocating principles that protect users from threats such as false news, discrimination and hate speech, among others. The campaign, based on a "Contract for the Web", has received support from Facebook and more than 60 other organizations.


Boomerang Study: Kids, Cartoons and Schedules

A recent study by Boomerang aimed to examine the importance of downtime and humor for children. The study comes on the heels of recent research from The LEGO Group finding that 88% of families who play together for five hours or more a week claim to be happy, despite playtime getting squeezed due to hectic schedules. Boomerang found that nearly half of the parents surveyed reported that their children spend 4-7 hours each week at extracurricular activities. A quarter of respondents say their kids often have more commitments and busier social lives than they do, and don’t get enough downtime or relaxation. The parents taking the survey had children between the ages of 4 and 7 and were from France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.  


Lego Urges Teens and Adults to Find “Brick Zen”

Lego has unveiled an Instagram campaign that encourages teens and millennial adults to find inner peace and an escape from technology through creativity with its bricks. One spot shows a young woman becoming frustrated with yoga and turning to Lego instead and the brand says, "It's zen, in the shape of a brick."


Photo Project Helps Capture the “Real” Life of Generation Z

Generation Z is often accused of having their noses in their phones 24/7, so it was an eye opener when more than 2,000 teenagers answered a call by The New York Times to show photos of their lives to help capture the "complete" lifestyle of Generation Z. The images -- including a teen mother cradling her infant and a student-athlete waiting for word about college -- aim to help counter stereotypes of Generation Z.


Amazon Offers Help to Future Engineers

The Associated Press recently reported the launch of the Amazon Future Engineer Program, started by Amazon to expand access to science, technology, engineering and math lessons for students from low-income and underrepresented communities. The program will invest in summer camps, online courses, AP computer science classes and college scholarships, with the larger goal of teaching coding to about 10 million students per year. Schools, teachers and parents will be able to apply through


Facebook Developing VideoStory For Users with Disabilities

Facebook has created a dataset called VideoStory designed to train systems to learn how to automatically describe what happens in videos that have been posted to the social networking website, according to an article from VentureBeat . Researchers say this development can aid in allowing people with disabilities or poor internet connections to engage with videos on the platform. While not a perfect system, this development is especially important as videos and other visual media become more and more dominant on the Internet.


Screen Time and Sleep – Minimal Impact?

An Oxford study in the Journal of Pediatrics associated every hour of digital screen time to 3 - 8 minutes of shorter nightly sleep among children and teens, with screen time accounting for less than 1.9% of observed sleep outcome variability. The findings, based on 2016 National Survey of Children's Health data involving 50,212 youths ages 6 months to 17 years, "suggest that the relationship between sleep and screen use in children is extremely modest," said researcher Andrew Przybylski. A previous study showed that between 50 percent and 90 percent of school-age children might not be getting enough quality sleep, but researchers say their new findings suggest screen time is not the only culprit affecting sleep time.


Pinterest Finding Many Uses

Nearly 25% of Americans will use Pinterest this year, and while the majority of users are female, the platform is looking to expand to appeal to more men, eMarketer reports. The platform's focus on developing distinctive tools for discovery is succeeding in making Pinterest a go-to source for that purpose across a wide range of demographics, and many parents and teachers are using the platform to collect ideas for school research projects. How does your family use Pinterest?


Mobile Educational Apps Falling Short Study Says

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have found that some mobile apps claiming to help young children learn may not be designed to teach them in the ways they need, according to a study that reviewed 171 math and literacy apps. Josh Golin, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says many apps are marketed as educational even though their claims lack evidence. This is a reminder to research apps before downloading or purchasing for your young kids.


Millennials Favor More Human Teachers

Most millennials say the best way to fix problems in the US educational system is to pay teachers more, give additional funding to public education, and invest in local schools and technology, according to an ongoing GenForward survey. Younger Americans also support charter schools and vouchers for low-income students, University of Chicago researcher Cathy Cohen, says in a Q&A on the Marketplace site.


Screen Time Caution Urged by Silicon Valley

Some tech-savvy parents in Silicon Valley are fighting back against the widespread use of screens, saying children have the potential to become addicted to their phones, tablets, televisions and other technology. Athena Chavarria, a former executive assistant at Facebook who works at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said, "I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children." Others feel the jury is still out on what children’s exposure to technology will bring, but almost everyone stresses some limits. Where does your family stand on potential tech addiction?


Kids Apps Laced with Manipulative Advertising

A new study done by the University of Michigan and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor analyzed 135 popular children’s apps and found that many “routinely lure young children to make purchases and watch ads”. The researchers found that these apps are riddled with problematic advertising methods, including manipulation and shaming when children did not make “in game” purchases offered to “enhance” gameplay. Others have raised this alarm in the past, but the University of Michigan study is the first to look at exactly how many ads make their way into kids’ games, and what their advertising strategies are.