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Facebook Enlists Community Reviewers As Fact Checkers

Facebook is trying a new approach to fact checking by using “community reviewers”, a diverse group of contractors hired through partners like YouGov, to check potentially false reports. Facebook will use its machine learning process to identify misinformation in posts, as it does already. When content is tagged as potentially false, Facebook's system will then send the post on to the new team of community reviewers. The community reviewers will be prompted to check the post by conducting their own additional research, and if they find the post to be incorrect, they'll be able to send their findings and resources to Facebook's fact-checkers for their official assessment.

By enabling more people to provide input into the fact-checking process, Facebook's aim is to improve both the relative accuracy of its findings, and to lessen accusations that it is favoring one side of politics over another. Critics, however, say this new ‘diverse’ review system is just cover for their policy on not fact-checking political ads and should be brought up when discussing misinformation with your children.

Math Anxiety: Now There is an App for That

Cambridge University in the UK has done a study that shows that more than three-quarters (77%) of children with reported high math anxiety are between normal to high achievers on curriculum math tests. Math anxiety, which typically appears after the age of 6, is a factor in these students having little interest in careers in STEM fields, when in fact they would be perfectly able to perform well in STEM jobs. Two British moms have founded a start up called Funexpected to tackle this world-wide phenomenon. The app itself is a collection of 11 games located across the landscapes of Japan, Egypt and Greenland. Children tap, cut, slide, grab and move animated on-screen objects to propel the story forward, such as by feeding a monkey with the correct amount of juicy berries gathered from various branches or learning logic by catching the right type of fish with a net and filling a fish pond. Parents can use it with their kids as well. The app runs a subscription-based model of $5.25 a month or $42.00 a year. 

Twitter Offers More Ways to Get Control of Responses to Your Tweets

Annoyed by a response to one of your tweets? Twitter is rolling out a feature that enables users to hide replies. Twitter's Suzanne Xie says that during testing, users usually hid replies because they found them "irrelevant, off-topic or annoying" and also explained that the platform is exploring further ways to give users more control over conversations.

YouTube Trends

Trends on YouTube reflect shifting cultural outlooks and consumer behaviors, according to recent data analysis. Google's Gina Shalavi writes that the globalization of content continues with 60% of videos made by US creators now viewed by people in other countries. Entertainment and shopping have become increasingly linked with the popularity of videos showing virtual hauls or shopping sprees, and there has been a marked rise in the viewing of content focused on sustainability and environmental protection, such as videos featuring "clean beauty" in their title.

Parents: Don’t Count Out Snapchat

Social media apps come and go with teens, but it looks like Snapchat is making a comeback. Snapchat is projected to rebound in 2020 with a 14.2% increase in global consumer usage and is expected to generate $1.53 billion in net ad revenues, eMarketer predicts. The research firm also predicts users in the 12 to 17 and 35 to 64 age range will increase by double digits percentages, and attributes overall growth to a redesigned Android interface and filters and other new features.

App Tackles Smartphone Distractions in the Classroom

A new app called Goya-Move can dramatically reduce the amount of smartphone distractions in the classroom, but parents have to play an active role, its founders say. Goya, an acronym that stands for "Get Off Your Apps," lets parents disable apps on their child's device during specific hours of the day. Most parents support tucking phones away in class, but the vast majority want to keep an open line of communication in case of emergencies, making them somewhat resistant to an outright smartphone ban at school. Goya-Move may be a good compromise as it helps parents sync their devices with their child’s and set the hours of the day that kids are at school. A VPN, or virtual private network, then blocks the apps during that time, locking out chief distractors like Snapchat, Instagram and even web browsers. Kids can resume using apps as they wish after the set hour has passed.

Apps Used in Schools Cause Some Debate

School use of technology and applications that track student data, such as electronic hall passes and education software, has been raising privacy concerns from parents and other education experts . While privacy has been improving in some of these programs and applications, anonymous information may still be sold. Heather Kelly, counsel and director of privacy review at Common Sense Media in The Washington Post says that it is important parents are aware of the policies that deal with their childrens’ data.

“Grandkids on Demand”

A number of tech startup companies are using social media to foster face-to-face connections and combat loneliness and social isolation among seniors. One example is Papa, a Miami-based health care firm that connects aging seniors with college students through a mobile app and other digital tools. Papa has partnered with health insurers such as Aetna, Alignment Healthcare and Priority Health to offer its "grandkids on demand" service to some Medicare Advantage members. “Papa Pals,” as the 3,500 college, nursing and pre-med students who have become part of the program are called, pair up with older adults who need assistance with transportation, house chores, technology lessons, and other services. Papa Pals have to submit to a stringent background check, a personality test, a virtual interview, a motor vehicle inspection and even a test of the tonality of their voice to ensure they have the kind of personality the service is looking for with a Papa Pal. With the strict guidelines, only 15% of applicants actually make it into the program.

FTC Sets Sights Set On Updating Children’s Online Privacy

Following its $170 million settlement with YouTube for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations, the Federal Trade Commission has its sights set on updating the law meant to safeguard children’s online privacy. A recently hosted public workshop explored necessary revisions, and Isaac Mamaysky of the Potomac Law Group writes that educational technology companies and parents will need to pay close attention to changes. Parents should also read the public service announcement issued by the FBI regarding the risks of kids’ personal data being improperly or insecurely stored by companies that develop and host apps for children.

TikTok Safety Tips

TikTok, the app for short form videos that tweens are flocking to, has had some issues parents should be aware of, including leaky privacy settings and inappropriate comments. If your tween is active on the app you may want to take at look at these TikTok safety tips that appear on the Common Sense Media site. One thing to especially be aware of - unlike other apps, TikTok requires a special code to delete the app so don’t think it is gone until you check.

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