Digital Citizenship

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Are Tech Tools THE Safety Solution in the COVID-era?

Tech companies have been creating apps and devices for tracking employee wellness and promoting customer safety as restaurants and other businesses start to reopen, but experts caution that they could give employees and customers a false sense of security and possibly do more harm than good. "Some companies are embarking upon things that are not going to help and may actually set us back," said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Tools that the technology relies on, such as antibody test results and infrared thermometers, can be inaccurate, leading to a false sense of security.

Facebook Planning to Use Artificial Intelligence To Combat Hateful Memes

Facebook is combating hate speech and misinformation by developing natural language processing models and a database of meme examples for training artificial intelligence moderators. The company, together with DrivenData, will also launch the Hateful Meme Challenge, which will award $100,000 to researchers who develop AI models that can detect hate speech in memes.

Digital Cheating on the Rise

During the shift to remote instruction, many educators are using online proctoring services to monitor students for signs of cheating while they take traditional closed-book exams. Some students are speaking out against these services, objecting to everything from the design of the software to remarking that the whole process is a huge distraction to test taking. The University of California Berkeley has already banned online exam proctoring, with some students saying they may not have the high-speed Internet connection or living situation to make remote exams happen effectively and equitably. Of course, other students are finding ways around these safeguards, using tips and tricks they find online, such as hiding notes underneath the view of the camera or setting up a secret laptop. But as two can play at that game, so remote proctoring services are constantly coming up with countermeasures. On its website, one online proctoring service even has a job listing for a “professional cheater” to test its system. 

Now’s The Time to Get Internet Savvy

Your kids are probably spending more time online then ever before, so now is a better time than ever to work on digital safety. Think about things such as navigating digital information, vetting sources and fact checking, to name a few. Check out this set of 10 short videos on YouTube from Crash Course. The videos, ranging in length from 5 to 13 minutes, cover fact checking, lateral reading, vetting sources, the pros and cons of using Wikipedia as a source, evaluating photos and videos and data and infographics, and even how not to be drawn in by click bait. Brain Pop also has an excellent Media Literacy video for older kids on how to be a savvy consumer of mass media, including topics such as how to evaluate advertising, news stories, opinion pieces and other hidden persuasions. For a quick read on the subject, try 5 Essential Media Literacy Questions for Kids .


Infographic on the Power of Online Reviews and Cyberbullying Prevention

At first glance, this infographic from Social Media Today with statistics about online product reviews may not seem relevant to a discussion about cyberbullying, however one statistic stands out. The research indicates that it takes 40 positive reviews to undo damage done by just one negative review. That same kind of disproportional damage can be inflicted with bullying comments online. This kind of evidence can give your discussion with your kids of how to steer clear of cyberbullying a bit of real world perspective.

Acceptable Use Policies: Helpful or Intimidating?

When it comes to technology use at school, the “Acceptable Use Policy” is something that you probably don’t even think about except at the beginning of the school year when it is required for you and your child to sign. With luck, that is the last you ever see of it, unless your child is cited for a violation of the policy. To avoid this from happening, it is important your child clearly understands the expectations. While schools and administrators need to clearly communicate technology policies with students and parents, an article in the District Administration magazine online points out that acceptable use policies often can come across as intimidating instead of helpful. The author recommends that schools need to focus the policies on opportunity rather than just punishment, and that parents need to read these policies and work with schools to make sure everyone is on the same page in helping students safely learn how to navigate the online world.

YouTube Spending $100M on Children’s Programming in Response to Fine

YouTube has announced criteria for how it will allocate $100 million to producers of children's content, an initiative it announced in September. The programming targeted to ages 3-8 is meant to “drive outcomes associated with the following character strengths: courage, compassion, communication, gratitude, curiosity, humility, teamwork, integrity, perseverance, self-control, empathy and creativity”, and can be live-action or animated. The announcement was made following YouTube getting slapped with a record US$170-million settlement from the US Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General for allegedly collecting personal information from children without parental consent.

Colleges Use Tech to Track Student Movements on Campus

Did you go to class today? How about the library? Some colleges are finding this information about their students by adding a mobile app and short-range phone sensors to track students around campus. Using networks of Bluetooth transmitters and wireless access points, the app can track attendance and even calculate "risk scores" for academic success based on how frequently students visit the library. Critics say this kind of intrusion into students’ lives represents a new low in invading student privacy on a massive scale, but this style of surveillance has become just another fact of life for many Americans. Many apps and programs involve cameras, sensors or microphones that measure people’s activity and whereabouts with striking precision. This tracking of everyday living allows trends to be analyzed for any number of purposes.

Stop and Look at the Emoji

Art students at a Pennsylvania high school recently created 25 paintings of emoji expressions as part of a project aimed at encouraging honest conversations about emotions and technology. “The Emoji Project” challenged people to look up from their cellphones and have conversations about the paintings of emoji expressions hanging in various locations around the school. Students painted emojis that they liked, used a lot, or identified with, in their own style.

Students Bring Phones to School Despite Bans

Students worldwide are finding ways to use their phones in school despite bans, according to a global review by the Australian government. The findings come as a ban on the devices in some schools in New South Wales and around the globe has drawn criticism from some educators and parents. In the US, it was found that 65% of students in schools that banned devices still bring their phones to school.