Digital Devices

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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.

2020 Campaigns Have Few Responses for Misinformation

Less than a year before the 2020 election, and false political information is moving furiously online. Avaaz, a global human rights organization, has reported that the top 100 false political stories were shared by Facebook users over 2.3 million times in the United States in the first 10 months of 2019. Still, few politicians (or their staff) are prepared to quickly notice and combat incorrect stories about them, according to dozens of campaign staff members and researchers who study online misinformation. Several of the researchers said they were surprised by how little outreach they had received from politicians. Campaigns and political parties say their hands are tied, because social sites such as Facebook and YouTube have few restrictions on what users can say or share, as long as they do not lie about who they are.

As a voter and a parent, what can you do? Review the basics on how to detect misinformation and share with your children. Misinformation hurts everyone by normalizing prejudices, and even justifying and encouraging violence.


Protecting Your Young Gamers

According to a recent New York Times investigation, sexual predators have found an easy access point into the lives of young people: They are meeting them online through multiplayer video games and chat apps, making virtual connections right in their victims’ homes. Many of the interactions lead to crimes of “sextortion,” in which children are coerced into sending explicit imagery of themselves.

What can parents do to prevent those kinds of contacts and exchanges? Experts say that first and foremost, parents need to spend time with kids on new apps and games so that they learn the features and can set realistic rules for when and how children can interact with others online. Showing an interest in what games your kids play also builds trust that they will be able to have honest conversations about issues they may run into down the line. As kids’ online lives begin to expand, parents should also educate their children on how to block other users who make them uncomfortable. Lastly, experts warn that parents must remember that they are ultimately responsible for being their child’s online protector.

Screen Time Studies Remain Inconclusive

Research remains inconclusive on whether all screen time - and in all quantities - is harmful to children. Nick Allen, director of the Center for Digital Mental Health at the University of Oregon, points out that digital technology actually has "significant benefits, " such as connecting people of like interests and outlooks.

For parents struggling with how much screen time is OK for their children, try asking your kids: ‘What are you doing on there? What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad?’ ” says Michaeline Jensen, of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She was an author of a study in August that showed on days when teenagers use more technology, they were no more likely to report problems like depressive symptoms or inattention than on days when they used less. The study concludes, “Findings from this EMA study do not support the narrative that young adolescents’ digital technology usage is associated with elevated mental-health symptoms.”

How Do Successful People Use Technology?

Forbes recently highlighted data put together by ResumeLab, a company known for their job application-building software, on how 1,000 self-identified “highly successful” professionals use technology. The results show some interesting factoids about the tech habits of those that consider themselves successful: preferring laptops over desktops, using health apps, and only spending a small amount of time on social media per day, with Facebook being the most-used social media platform.

Watch Out for Virtual Drive-Bys

The FBI is warning that unsecured smart digital devices, such as refrigerators and baby monitors, can be used by hackers "to do a virtual drive-by of your digital life." Homeowners should consider running separate networks for smart TVs and smart home appliances ,while keeping devices that store sensitive personal information, such as a laptop, on another network.

“Smart” Thermometers Help Some Schools Fight Student Illnesses

Some Missouri school districts are using "smart thermometers" (provided by the school) and the Kinsa phone app to allow parents to track students’ illnesses and receive real-time guidance from school nurses to help cut down on the spread of flu and colds in classrooms. Using Bluetooth technology to sync the thermometer with their phones, parents are able to see reported symptoms of classmates to understand what illnesses are making the rounds. More than 45 districts in the state have adopted the technology.

Study: Screen Time Jumps After First Birthday

Research indicates that once children celebrate their first birthday the time they spend in front of a digital screen increases exponentially. Average screen time increased from 52 minutes at age 12 months to over 150 minutes at age 3 years, with the greatest screen times at elementary-school age found among those in home-based child care and those born to first-time mothers, researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics. Another study in the same journal showed that more than 79% and about 95% of Canadian youths ages 2 and 3, respectively, exceeded the one hour daily exposure to high-quality programming recommended by the World Health Organization.

Watch Out For “Juice Jacking”

Travelers who need to charge their smartphones while on the go might want to avoid public USB charging stations, due to the security risk known as "juice jacking." California law enforcement is warning that USB charging outlets in airports and coffee shops could be loaded with malware. The malware could lock your smartphone or forward personal information such as passwords to hackers.

Excess Screen Time May Adversely Affect Small Children’s Brain Development

New research has found that preschoolers who spend more time in front of a screen have lower structural integrity of white matter in areas of the brain that relates to language, literacy, imagination, and executive function such as self-regulation. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, also found a strong connection between higher screen time and poorer emerging literacy, expressive language and rapid object-naming skills.