Digital Smarts Blog

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30
May

Districts Need Privacy Safeguards If Using Biometrics

Many schools across the country are exploring the use of biometric technology in capacities beyond just security, such as tracking attendance or managing library loans. Whether a school has already implemented the technology or is just considering it, they should also explore ways to safeguard student privacy, says Tovah LaDier, executive director of the International Biometrics + Identity Association in an article from EdTech online. Parents should also not only be informed about what the technology is and how it is being implemented, but also about how data collected is used and stored, LaDier adds. Is your school or district considering this kind of identification technology?

29
May

Teen Slang Dictionary Online

Ever feel like your Gen Z child or student is speaking another language when you try to talk to them? A high school sociology teacher from Massachusetts created a dictionary of teen slang that will help you to decipher what the kids these days are actually talking about.

28
May

Bully a Robot and See What Happens to a Teen Brain Being Bullied

Grey New York and national nonprofit Stomp Out Bullying have partnered with clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere to create an artificial intelligence robot called "Emma" that shows how teenage brains are detrimentally affected by online bullying. A short video embedded in the article shows what happens to "Emma" as she's subjected to a plethora of hateful comments. The robot is designed for teachers, parents and teenagers to use to witness what happens to a teen brain when it is constantly bullied and taunted. Says Dr. Gardere, “… if we can help teens understand what happens when bullying occurs, we can empower them to do better."

27
May

Viral Fight Videos Worry Bullying Foes

Viral videos of school fights that show up on social media can incite widespread violence and abuse, with harm coming to perpetrators as well as victims, experts say. Citing a middle school incident that proliferated over social media, licensed clinical social worker Erin Rapp reminds students, "You have to protect each other and look out for each other."

24
May

Giving Facts A Chance

Alan Miller of the nonprofit News Literacy Project writes in The Washington Post that determining what information to trust is really important when getting your news from the web. He cites the example of the current measles outbreak, which officials have said was caused largely in part by anti-vaccination messages on social media. Miller writes that his organization teaches students to apply critical thinking to information they encounter online and to consider it carefully before sharing it. Learning how to know what to believe in the digital age is empowering and should be a regular topic of conversation with your children as you help them navigate the world as digital citizens.

23
May

Chimpstagram?

A video of a chimpanzee scrolling through an Instagram feed on a smartphone has attracted more than 1.6 million views, but has also drawn criticism from animal welfare experts. Primatologist Jane Goodall said she was "very disappointed to see the inappropriate portrayal of a juvenile chimpanzee," and commented that such viral videos encourage illegal chimpanzee trading.

22
May

Using Digital Tools to Help Kids with ADHD Stay Organized

For kids with ADHD and concurrent learning and developmental disabilities like dyslexia, spectrum disorders, fine motor delays, or sensory integration issues, online tools such as learning management systems can help them stay organized and on top of their papers and assignments. Educational therapist Ezra Werb says in Edutopia online that new online tools can help students track assignments and deadlines and even follow teacher feedback on their work. For example, students with learning differences often struggle to read teachers’ handwritten comments crammed into the margins of essays on lined paper, but with a learning management system, students can submit a typed document and receive direct feedback from their teachers in comments typed on the side of the page. These comments are tied to specific phrases in the students’ text, so it’s easy to see exactly what the teacher is referring to. Students can easily access them, and better yet, they can then respond to the teacher’s comment, creating a dialogue or conversation that the student can refer back to later. Is your school using a learning management system to promote organization and communication for students with learning differences?

 

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21
May

Post First, Think Second

Keri Stephens, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says that today’s students post first, think second. This is in contrast to older generations that are more careful about what they post. Stephens says this creates a disconnect between the generations: younger people often pop off in texts or other social media whatever they are thinking at the moment, but older generations tend to take what they read to heart since they put more thought into what they post. This can sometimes lead to issues in communication when young people are just letting off steam and older generations take it as a threat.

20
May

How to Return a Lost Phone

Losing your smartphone can feel like losing an appendage, so when you find an unattended phone on the ground, it is natural you would want to do the right thing and return it. But in the age of personal identification numbers, facial recognition and fingerprint locks, it’s hard to just call the owner and give it back. Before you turn it over to the police and hope for the best, there are a few tricks you can use to return that phone. You can check the phone physically for contact information – sometimes people put it inside the case or even on the battery cover. You can also try to talk to the phone’s voice assistant like Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, or Samsung’s Bixby even when the phone is locked. If all else fails, you should take it to the carrier or the police.

17
May

Deleting Apps

Summer is coming and there is a good chance you will be adding more apps to your phone for travel, entertainment or maybe to keep your kids busy. Before you do so, think about how you can clear up your phone by organizing and deleting apps that you and perhaps your children no longer use. Need some help getting started? Try “How to Declutter Your Phone” for tips on deleting apps, freeing up storage and disabling unnecessary notifications.

16
May

GPS Can Make Your Car an Easy Target for Hackers

According to Motherboard, hackers can use GPS trackers to gain access to a car with location tracking GPS services, and turn off its engine while it is in motion. An anonymous hacker, who operates in Asia and Africa, told that he was able to break into thousands of iTrack and ProTrack accounts using the initial default password given to customers. This is a reminder to change the password from the default one that comes with your car!  

15
May

Censorship of Free Speech a Political Landmine for Tech Platforms

According to The New York Times, Facebook and other social media platforms are struggling to balance freedom of speech and hate speech, as well as the abundance of fake news that circulate their platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now asking outside parties, including the US government, to help moderate content and filter out what is inaccurate and harmful. Zuckerberg’s comments have opened up a minefield of commentary by those worrying this movement means limiting free speech.

14
May

How to Create a Video that Goes Viral

Ever wondered about the secrets of creating a viral video? Viral videos have a foundation in quality content, Laura McLeod writes on the Business 2 Community site. To increase a video's chances of going viral, target a specific audience, use an emotional hook, offer value to the viewer, stand out from the crowd and have a solid marketing plan, she writes.

13
May

Snapchat Encouraging Kindness

As reported in The Drum,  Snapchat is continuing its partnership with the Ad Council (public service announcement creator), to roll out a new "Because of You" anti-bullying campaign. The campaign, aimed at teens, encourages Snapchat users to use the Lens Carousel feature (part of the app) to share a moment on how another individual made a positive impact in their life.  ‘”Because of You” is a movement that encourages teens to reflect on the power of their words and actions, and consider how they are affecting others – for better or worse. The campaign encourages a more empathetic, inclusive culture by asking users to consider the impact of their actions.

Snapchat and the Ad Council will also co-host a ‘Creators for Good’ summit as part of Snap’s ongoing Creator’s Lab workshop series, inviting creators to the Santa Monica Creator’s Lounge to learn how to use their creative talents to promote social good initiatives.

 

10
May

Accessible Digital Books Campaign Expands

There are currently more than 711,000 books in Bookshare, a digital reading platform for people with reading barriers including dyslexia, blindness or cerebral palsy, and that number is growing every day. Working with more than 850 publishers across the world, the library adds as many as 100,000 titles every year, according to Brad Turner, vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech, the nonprofit that runs Bookshare. But with more than 1 million books published each year, it would be impossible for Benetech to keep up with conversions, so Benetech is now working directly with publishers such as Macmillan Learning to embed accessibility features into all e-books at the time of publication. These resources can useful to all readers, not just those with reading impairments or disabilities, and Benetech argues that having the publishers add them to the books as they are published makes good business sense.

9
May

Influencers Get Real on Instagram

An article in The Atlantic online notes that Instagram influencers have spent the past several years perfecting masterful shots of everything from perfectly staged avocado toast and lattes to beautiful, photo-worthy restaurant bathrooms, but that look of perfection is going out of fashion. Today's younger influencers are opting for a more authentic vibe with unfiltered and even low-production photos, longer captions and the sharing of money-making ideas, all of which appear to be resonating with viewers. It will be interesting to see if this style of posting spills over into Facebook, Snapchat and other apps popular with teens. Experts have consitently made note of the tendency for adults and teens to only post about the perfect aspects of their life, which can often make others feel dissatisfied or feeling that their lives don’t measure up. This trend could potentially counteract those negative feelings.

8
May

Libraries Find Social Media Useful to Reach New Audiences

Libraries from New York City to England and Singapore are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to overcome the stereotype of being stuffy, dusty places, and boost engagement among patrons and entertain book lovers. In one example, the New York Public Library gained 100,000 Instagram followers after launching "Insta Novels," Marguerite Reardon writes for CNET. Insta Novels are digitized versions of classics designed for teens to be read on a smartphone. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was the first classic to get the treatment.

 

7
May

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.

6
May

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?

3
May

Mueller Report: Russians Relied On US Social Media For "Trolling"

Special counsel Robert Mueller's recently released, 400-page report includes details regarding Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) and its coordinated use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to reach millions of Americans leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election. IRA-controlled online accounts were used to coordinate rallies, push deceptive memes and posts, and interact with influential conservatives in an effort to impact political conversations and fuel social divisions worldwide. These finding are perhaps the best case made yet for digital literacy classes to include misinformation in their curriculum.

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