Digital Smarts Blog

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30
Jan

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.

29
Jan

Sandy Hook Parents Promote App For Reporting School Threats

National Public Radio reports about 600 school districts are expected to start using the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise's mobile app that allows for anonymous reporting of school threats and bullying. The app, currently in use in 150 districts, is available to schools for free. Students say they're more likely to report their concerns on an app, than to go in person to tell a teacher or administrator.

28
Jan

Could Home Videos Help Diagnose Autism?

A study discussed in the Disability Scoop suggests that an autism diagnosis could be made with almost 90% accuracy by watching one- to five-minute home movies of children. All of the videos showed the child’s face and hands when using toys or other objects and during social engagement. Viewers who were not experts in autism watched the segments and scored students on the use of eye contact and other behaviors.

Currently, many children face long waits to be evaluated for autism. Though the developmental disorder can be diagnosed at age 2, most children are not identified until after age 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those behind the study say they hope their model can one day be used to help speed the process of getting an autism diagnosis, allowing children receive services sooner when it’s considered most effective.

25
Jan

Educational Technology and Privacy Concerns Spark Opinion Piece

As big-name players such as Google and Facebook back more technology for schools, a discussion about student data privacy needs to take place, write Dipayan Ghosh and Jim Steyer, two digital privacy advocates, in a recent opinion piece in The New York Times . "Should the tremendous amounts of data underlying the operation of these kinds of services get into the wrong hands, our children's futures could be at stake," they warn. “We don’t want children to fear that anything they say or do online could be used against them someday.”

24
Jan

Social Media Now More Important as a News Source Than Newspapers

A new Pew Research study has found that after years of steady gains, social media has edged out newspapers as a news source for adults in the US in 2018. The survey reveals that 20% of adults access social media for news, topping the 16% for newspapers, although TV remains the leading source.

23
Jan

Amazon Expands Future Engineer Program to Younger Grades

Amazon has expanded its "Future Engineer" initiative from high school into K-8. The program has begun offering free online lessons and funding summer camps to help elementary students discover the fun of computer science. Earlier this year, the company revealed the "Amazon Future Engineer Pathway" program that supported 100,000 high school students in taking  Advanced Placement courses in computer science and awarded four-year scholarships and internships to a sizable group of students from under-served populations.

Amazon’s newly announced program serving younger students will fund Computer Science camp scholarships through partnerships with Code.org and Coding with Kids. The mission is to provide underprivileged students with the means to learn coding in an interactive, hands-on way. Currently, the company is accepting scholarship applications for 2019 classes. Schools and districts may also apply on behalf of families.

22
Jan

Blocking Robocalls on iPhone and Android

Does it seem like you are getting more and more robocalls these days? It is a hot topic of discussion everywhere. Unwanted calls are usually pretty harmless, but some pose a threat to your privacy and identity. All are an unwanted distraction and a waste of time and one report says that nearly half of all cell phone calls will be scams in 2019. Need some advice on how to block them? Try the step-by-step directions, tips on apps and ideas for shutting them down in the article Here's how to block robocalls on iPhone and Android.

21
Jan

If They Want It, Ask for a PowerPoint Presentation

The next time your kids ask you for something, try asking them to create a PowerPoint (or Google Slides or Apple’s Keynote) presentation on why they need it, whether it be a new toy, gaming system or even joining an activity. It is a great way for them to practice not only their digital literacy, but also to learn to make a pitch for something they want to achieve. Want some examples of what kids have done? See PowerPoint Is the Most Efficient Way for Kids to Manage Their Parents from The New York Times.

18
Jan

What Have You Resolved to do About a Browser?

Most New Year’s resolutions focus on building better habits for fitness, career success, and even love. But what about better Internet practices? One thing you might try is the Keepsafe Browser. It allows you to browse the Internet without keeping record of your activity—a privacy feature that is attractive to many. Keepsafe’s private browser uses military-grade encryption to protect your web searches. To start, set a PIN or Face ID; the app cannot be accessed without that code. Browse in private mode, or switch into incognito mode’s secret browsers, which erase all of your browsing history after use. Not sold yet? Turn on Keepsafe’s tracker blockers to stop advertisers and social networks from collecting your data or browsing activity.

17
Jan

Prepare for Artificial Intelligence Surveillance at Work and School

The use of artificial intelligence to monitor employees, and even students, is on its way, Larry Alton argues in InformationWeek. As companies streamline and automate surveillance services to prevent losses and increase productivity and schools increasingly worry more about security and bullying, added surveillance is sure to follow. Alton examines the consequences and discusses what you and your children should do to prepare.

16
Jan

The Risks of Technology Need More Consideration

Marty Ringle of Reed College in Oregon, who has worked in educational technology for more than 40 years, says there should be more consideration by the public, especially parents, of the risks of technology. In this interview with EdSurge, he suggests that an ethics course focused on technology be required in schools and colleges and the materials available for parents to use. Ringle writes, “There are people today who are well respected, well known, who are expressing anxiety and concerns about this. I personally think those are very well placed concerns. Not just in terms of the immediate obvious concerns about privacy and tracking and profiling people to within an inch of their lives and all those sorts of things, but decision-making, understanding the strengths and weaknesses, the limits of technology, not just today, but tomorrow, I think is vital.”

15
Jan

Virtual Field Trips Connect Girls to STEM Careers

The Signal (Santa Clarita Valley, Calif.) has reported that a local Boys and Girls Club is introducing girls to careers in marine conservation by partnering with EarthEcho International. Interactive virtual field trips connected the participating girls to 30 women in the profession. During Skype sessions, each professional gives a tour of what she does in her job and answers questions about her career and how she got there. Other interactive virtual field trips, which are now accessible to anyone online, are available at stemexplore.org.

14
Jan

Greeting Cards Aren’t Going the Way of Newspapers

Greeting cards are thriving in a digital world—and Millennials are their biggest fans. According to the Greeting Card Association, the majority of American families buy an average of 30 greeting cards a year, and Millennials are “the largest age group of greeting card buyers.” Nostalgia and the desire for something more lasting and tactile, unlike a Facebook greeting, are likely reasons for their popularity—but it doesn’t hurt that they look good in Instagram pics either.

11
Jan

Microsoft Calls for a Facial Recognition Code of Conduct

In an effort to improve facial recognition technology -- and prevent wrongful identification based on built-in biases -- Microsoft is establishing a code of conduct for this technology and is asking other companies to join in. Microsoft President Brad Smith says in TechCrunch that having cohesive rules in place is the most responsible way to implement facial recognition technology. This Code of Conduct is in response to a test of facial recognition software systems run by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics who found that, for example, the software incorrectly matched the photos of 28 US lawmakers with mug shots of convicted criminals.

10
Jan

Law Enforcement Strategy Employed to Curb Bullying

A New Jersey middle school has adopted an alternative to suspensions called Schoolhouse Adjustment, principal Michael Gaskell writes in a commentary in eSchool News.  Basically, instead of suspending a student for bullying, the incident instead is referred to the School Security Officer for a constructive intervention consisting of lessons, chats, and monitoring for recurring incidents.

9
Jan

Study Looks at the Effects of Screen Time On Kid’s Brains

A recent segment of 6o Minutes covered the effects of screen time on kids and reported that children ages 9 and 10 who spent at least seven hours on screens per day actually had thinning of the part of the brain that controls sensory processing. The segment references an ongoing study from the National Institutes of Health, that also finds that those who had more than two hours of daily screen time had lower language and thinking test scores. The study is following over 11,000 children for 10 years to see how prolonged screen time affects the brain. The scientists and doctors working on the study said that no conclusions could be drawn at this point, but noted there are definite changes in brain structure and activity.

8
Jan

Lengthen Your Phone Password

Your phone is incredibly valuable to criminals and spies. Treat it accordingly. Don’t bother with a four-digit passcode, which is easy to guess. Six-digit passcodes are harder to guess. Eight-digit-passcodes are better. Need to change you password? Try How to Bypass and Reset the Password on Every Operating System for advice on how to change your password on most any device.

7
Jan

Security Question Alone Won’t Protect Your Data

Sites will often use common security questions to recover a user’s account if the password is forgotten. These questions are problematic because the Internet has made public record searches simple and the answers are usually easy to guess. In a study, security researchers at Google found that with a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7 percent chance of duplicating an English-speaking user’s answer to the question “What is your favorite food?” (Pizza) If you're required to answer security questions, some security experts suggest making up a lie and jotting down your fake answers on paper or in the Notes section of your phone. (Q. "Where were you born?" A. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Q. "What was your first pet’s name?" A. Peach.)

4
Jan

Watch What Your Do With Your Email Address

You might think that entering and storing personal data for easier access to online sites is convenient, but generally speaking, it's not a great idea. Breach after breach proves as much. Many sites require entering an email address to register or gain access to full features, but it can also be fodder for spam. If you are visiting a site that doesn’t seem credible or trustworthy but requires entering your email, consider creating a disposable email address.

3
Jan

End of the Year Tasks - Back Up Your Data

Whether you make it an end of the year or a New Year’s resolution, backing up your data is always a good idea. Ransomware -- malicious software that hackers have used to scramble your data until you pay a ransom -- is a common scourge these days. Stay one step ahead of cybercriminals by regularly backing up your data. Wirecutter has a great guide on cloud back ups and hardware backups here.

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