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Smartwatches : The Next Classroom Distraction?

Some students are using smartwatches to cheat, text and arrange hangouts with friends during class time, educators say. New Jersey reading specialist and education-technology coach Jeanne McVerry, who asks students to keep smartwatches in their backpacks, says sometimes parents also will text their children during class. McVerry also points out that school policies aren’t keeping up with new devices and their capabilities. If your child owns a smart watch, or if you are considering purchasing one for them, check out this article written by a Smartwatch review site: 5 Reasons All Schools Should Ban Smartwatches .


Never Be Late to a Zoom Call/Class Again!

Middle school student Seth Raphael found that he and his friends were repeatedly late to their Zoom classes last year because of the difficulty finding and keeping track of the different links. So he created an app to help. That app is now known as LinkJoin, which stores and automatically opens Zoom links so you join at the right time.



Helping Kids Use Social Media in a Positive Way

Depending on how it’s used, social media can have a positive or negative effect on kids' well-being, says Michael Gaskell, principal at Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, N.J. In a recent blog post, Gaskell shares three common issues with social media and what parents and educators can do to counter them. He outlines some of the dangers to kids’ well-being, such as comparing their body type to what they see online, and discusses the danger of posting words and images students may later come to regret years after posting them. He also cites a study that found how using social media without a conscious awareness of its impact lowers brainpower.


Young Investors Use Social Media for Advice

A survey by Fidelity Investments shows 41% of investors from Generation Z (the ‘Zoomers’ – born late 1990’s to early 2010s) make financial decisions influenced by social media, considerably more than the survey's respondents from the millennial and Generation X categories. A Fidelity spokesperson notes "This is a generation seeking out financial content and there are more than 23 billion views on TikTok videos with the #money hashtag."


TikTok Challenge Promotes School Vandalism

Schools nationwide are reporting that students are vandalizing and stealing items from schools as part of a new TikTok challenge. Videos have been popping up all over the platform showing kids stealing doors, signs, and even sinks from school property. In return, districts and principals are threatening to lock bathrooms and suspend or expel students caught "hitting devious licks" – as the trend is called. The problem has become so prevalent that TikTok released a statement saying it will ban these videos and stop users from accessing the tags associated with them. “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior," a TikTok spokesperson said.


YouTube Series Focuses on Suicide and Social Media

Over the past two decades, the rate of suicide has risen by 60% among those aged 10 to 24, according to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This statistic inspired a new YouTube video series called My Life is Worth Living , which seeks to connect with teenagers and address the feelings of loneliness that can lead young people to take their own lives. The 20 episode series is grounded in research and illustrates the healing power of feeling connected. Wonder Media CEO Terry Thoren, whose team wrote and animated the series, says an essential first step in that conversation is connecting with teenagers. “Animation is a universal language,” said Thoren. “There are no preconceived ideas of race, religion, gender, or stereotypes. And we know that teenagers are spending 85 minutes per day on YouTube, according to a 2020 study by Qustodio, so this series will reach them where they’re most likely to look when they need help.”


Study Finds Social Media Rife with Misinformation on Cancer

A third of the most popular articles about cancer treatment on social media contain inaccurate information, most of which could lead to patient harm, according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "I encounter a lot of patients through my oncology practice who believe misinformation they read online and through social media, and it has led to delays in their diagnosis and treatment ... refusal of proven cancer treatments and, ultimately, their early deaths," said study leader Dr. Skyler Johnson, a radiation oncologist.



Men Not Going to College: Are Video Games to Blame?

It seems as though video games are blamed for lot of things in our society. Violence, sexism, lack of motivation, social isolation… the list goes on, according to multitudes of research over the years, although none of it has ever been proven as totally conclusive. Here is a new hypothesis. As college enrollment drops, the majority of students enrolling and completing degrees are women, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. New research on the reason for the imbalance cites men who say they don't consider a degree a good return on their investment, yet some researchers are making claims that video games and a lack of father figures are other factors as well.


Mental Health and Social Media

As the pandemic lingers, some experts are saying the effects of spending so much time online for young people is coming home to roost. Teenagers who have spent a significant amount of time on social media during the pandemic, comparing themselves with others' idealized lives and experiencing cyberbullying and other harmful behaviors, are suffering from mental health issues. Licensed clinical social worker Katherine Glaser says that people on social media will make hurtful comments because "they get to hide behind a screen," yet these experiences can feel inescapable for those on the other end. While none of this is new news, it is noteworthy that efforts to stop cyberbullying and other harmful practices have mostly been stifled during the past year plus. In fact, new issues, such as mask wearing, are proving to be the newest fodder for bullying.


“TikTok Famous” Outshines YouTube

Looks like TikTok is the now social media app to beat, according to a new study by app monitoring firm App Annie that gathers social media data. The latest data research of Andriod phones has found that the average time per user spent on apps is highest for TikTok and this rise to the top is  "upending the streaming and social landscape." While TikTok is viewed on average more than YouTube, YouTube is still the leader in overall time spent (not per user) and has more users overall. Note, the report only accounts for Android devices.


Tech Has Teachers and Students Struggling to Disconnect

While this article is intended for teachers it makes a good read for parents who need to understand the kind of tech induced stress that teachers and students are under. The abundance of technology can make both teachers and students feel as though they are "always on" and cannot disconnect from school, according to a study by Caroline Murphy, a researcher at the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick. Murphy says the constant presence of devices, especially cell phones, compels teachers to spend more time outside of school hours planning lessons and responding to nighttime emails and text messages – making them feel as though they are on all call hours of the day. Murphy encourages school leaders to establish and adopt policies to support healthy technology use, including encouraging time to disconnect.


Instagram Adds Safety Features for Tweens and Teens

Instagram will start requiring users to provide their birth date to use the app and is developing artificial intelligence techniques to detect when young users may lie about their age, according to the Facebook-owned company. This follows an announcement that users under 16 years old will have their accounts default to private status.


Helping Your Kids Find Balance in the Digital World

Technology is redefining adolescence for members of iGen -- or Generation Z -- according to Debbie Silver, a former Louisiana Teacher of the Year. In a recent article written for Middle Web, she offers insight into today's middle-grade students and shares tips for parents to help kids find balance in the digital world, emphasizing that a dialogue is better than demands when it comes to digital devices and time spent online. She also reminds parents of a remark from author Dr. John Duffy: “When we say things like, “Well, I remember what it was like when I was a teenager,” here is Dr. Duffy’s response: “The truth is, you were never this teenager.”


The Pros and Cons of Schools Scrutinizing Student’s Social Media

Internet surveillance technology using artificial intelligence is in use across at least 200 Texas school districts, often without students knowing and without their consent. Authorities and tech companies say the services spot students considering harm to themselves or others, but privacy advocates point out that the algorithms can flag nonthreatening posts, that activity from Black people and women is disproportionately subject to misinterpretation, and that schools may use surveillance against protesters.


A Glossary of Speech Recognition and AI Terms

As new educational technologies are implemented in schools, it is important for parents and guardians to keep up with the latest in ed tech jargon, and even moreso for parents of kids who have learning differences as more and more inclusive educational technology, including text to speech and speech to text applications, begin to proliferate in the classroom. A recent article from Edsurge defines many of the new terms you may hear, as well as why each of them matter, and can be a useful reference.


Setting Up a Comfortable and Safe Digital Workspace for Your Child

While this article on Maximizing Digital Stamina is intended for schools who need to think about setting an ergonomically safe space for students to work with digital devices, there are a lot of helpful hints for parents and teens to do the same  as well. Advice on how to create a comfortable digital space that includes proper headsets, keyboards, tablet stands, webcams and more for children and teens use is discussed.


Voice Tech Being More Kid Accessible

Children's voices are not always recognized or understood by voice technology, says Patricia Scanlon, the founder and executive chair of a SoapBox Labs, which is working to address this challenge. The Dublin tech startup's voice recognition technology is targeted to children 12 and younger, aiming to improve learning and gaming software for this age group.


Tips for Using Digital Books to Advantage

Since the pandemic, digital books have become firmly part of the classroom and home learning landscape. Colleen Hoban, technology specialist for the Colonial School District in Delaware, offers a blog post with five tips for parents and educators as they expand their own digital collections, including maximizing features available when using digital books.


Should Kids Be Learning About Technology Ethics?

As emerging technologies develop and continue to collect data at breakneck speeds, we should be mindful that our children are the technologists and ethicists of tomorrow, say Karen Ingram and Megan Stariha in article entitled The Moral Imperative of Teaching Every Student Tech Ethics. They advocate for today’s schools and parents to start laying the ethical groundwork now. Facilitating conversations around ethics in technology with young people will help ensure that future technologies are developed equitably and that young people are conscious of their implications.


Online Engagement Tool Shows Promise

During the pandemic, teacher and student communications often suffered with the abrupt move from in person to online learning. A free new digital reflection tool, Along, can help teachers create personal relationships with students while allowing each student to feel seen and understood. The service lets teachers send thought-provoking questions to students, who can answer in a range of formats, including audio and video. Perhaps something to pass along as school kicks off, especially since some schools are pivoting to online learning once again given rising Covid case numbers.