Digital Smarts Blog

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26
Jan

Seeking Approval Online – Subverting the Selfie

Common Sense Media recently posted an article about how posting pictures of themselves online is both building up and breaking down our kids’ self-image. It is well known that kids feel they can’t compete with the highly edited images of celebrities online and in the media, but as this post points out, the effects of social media are just beginning to be understood. The article also includes a list of popular apps and the specifics on how kids are sometimes using them in destructive ways. In addition, a new survey called Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image reconfirms that many teens, both male and female, fret about how they're perceived. The survey also includes an infographic with tips for parents on combating body image issues.

23
Jan

Does Facebook Know You Better Than Your Friends?

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University have found that Facebook (with enough “Like” data on the site from participants) is better at predicting a person’s personality than most of their close friends. 86,220 people on Facebook were asked to complete a 100-question personality survey that determined where they stand on the so-called Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The data was then analyzed and compared to an analysis of the Facebook Likes of each survey participant. On average, people on Facebook had 227 Likes, and this was enough information for the computer to be a better predictor of personality than an average human judge (in other words, a friend), and almost as good as a spouse. The more Likes, the better the computer was at predicting personality.

While not perfect, researchers are hoping this kind of computer modeling could be used to help with career planning, linking people and their personality traits to the right industries and the jobs and helping companies with recruitment.

23
Jan

Does Facebook Know You Better Than Your Friends?

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University have found that Facebook (with enough “Like” data on the site from participants) is better at predicting a person’s personality than most of their close friends. 86,220 people on Facebook were asked to complete a 100-question personality survey that determined where they stand on the so-called Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The data was then analyzed and compared to an analysis of the Facebook Likes of each survey participant. On average, people on Facebook had 227 Likes, and this was enough information for the computer to be a better predictor of personality than an average human judge (in other words, a friend), and almost as good as a spouse. The more Likes, the better the computer was at predicting personality.

While not perfect, researchers are hoping this kind of computer modeling could be used to help with career planning, linking people and their personality traits to the right industries and the jobs and helping companies with recruitment.

22
Jan

Is Stress in Contagious on Social Media?

According to a new Pew Research Center study, using online media (reading email on your phone, browsing Facebook, etc.) isn’t adding additional stress to your life. In fact, for women, using the internet and social media might actually lower stress. While frequent use of digital technology may not be the cause of stress, there are situations where it may increase the awareness of stressful events in the lives of others, and in turn, make you stressed. The study calls this “the cost of caring,” lending to the theory that stress is contagious.

While that may sound contradictory, researchers separate out the real world components. The physical act of using social media doesn’t appear to add to stress in a significant way, but the “social use” of digital technology, or its ability to connect you to other people’s problems, can result in stress. An exception to this finding occurs when negative events happen to mere acquaintances instead of friends and family. According to the study, when people are exposed to a negative life event in acquaintances’ lives, they seem to feel lower levels of stress. This isn’t to be confused with “schadenfreude,” or the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. Instead, observing negativity far enough away in the digital sphere is actually a reminder that things could be much worse.

22
Jan

Is Stress in Contagious on Social Media?

According to a new Pew Research Center study, using online media (reading email on your phone, browsing Facebook, etc.) isn’t adding additional stress to your life. In fact, for women, using the internet and social media might actually lower stress. While frequent use of digital technology may not be the cause of stress, there are situations where it may increase the awareness of stressful events in the lives of others, and in turn, make you stressed. The study calls this “the cost of caring,” lending to the theory that stress is contagious.

While that may sound contradictory, researchers separate out the real world components. The physical act of using social media doesn’t appear to add to stress in a significant way, but the “social use” of digital technology, or its ability to connect you to other people’s problems, can result in stress. An exception to this finding occurs when negative events happen to mere acquaintances instead of friends and family. According to the study, when people are exposed to a negative life event in acquaintances’ lives, they seem to feel lower levels of stress. This isn’t to be confused with “schadenfreude,” or the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. Instead, observing negativity far enough away in the digital sphere is actually a reminder that things could be much worse.

21
Jan

iPhone Separation Causes Anxiety

A recent study has found some interesting data to bolster kids’ claims for needing their cell phones in school. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that iPhone users did better is solving a set of puzzles when they had their iPhones with them. When deprived of their iPhones, the study’s participants experienced significant physical changes — elevated heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety — alongside poorer cognitive performance. There is very little research so far on the effects of cell phone separation, but it does make an interesting case for giving in to the addiction rather than fighting it.

21
Jan

iPhone Separation Causes Anxiety

A recent study has found some interesting data to bolster kids’ claims for needing their cell phones in school. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that iPhone users did better is solving a set of puzzles when they had their iPhones with them. When deprived of their iPhones, the study’s participants experienced significant physical changes — elevated heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety — alongside poorer cognitive performance. There is very little research so far on the effects of cell phone separation, but it does make an interesting case for giving in to the addiction rather than fighting it.

20
Jan

President Announces Proposals to Improve Data Privacy for Consumers and Students

The President recently announced a fleet of proposals aimed at improving the data privacy of U.S. consumers and students. Several proposals are outlined, aiming at tackling identity theft, safeguarding student data, protecting customer information and improving consumer confidence online. Under the proposed Personal Data Notification & Protection Act, companies would be obligated to notify customers within 30 days of discovering a breach that exposed their personal information. While creating a national standard could certainly help some areas, privacy advocates have expressed concern that it might include language to overrule stronger state level regulations like those in California.

For students, the President has offered The Student Digital Privacy Act, modeled on a similar California statue that would prevent companies from selling student data to third party vendors for purposes unrelated to education, while still allowing research to help improve student learning outcomes. The Department of Education is also being tasked with creating teacher training assistance that will help ensure educational data is used appropriately and will target students who need added learning assistance. Many parents, however, are still concerned about what information is being collected about their children and how those details will be used to categorize or rank students. They want districts and companies to describe the different treatment students might receive based on those rankings or categorizations.

20
Jan

President Announces Proposals to Improve Data Privacy for Consumers and Students

The President recently announced a fleet of proposals aimed at improving the data privacy of U.S. consumers and students. Several proposals are outlined, aiming at tackling identity theft, safeguarding student data, protecting customer information and improving consumer confidence online. Under the proposed Personal Data Notification & Protection Act, companies would be obligated to notify customers within 30 days of discovering a breach that exposed their personal information. While creating a national standard could certainly help some areas, privacy advocates have expressed concern that it might include language to overrule stronger state level regulations like those in California.

For students, the President has offered The Student Digital Privacy Act, modeled on a similar California statue that would prevent companies from selling student data to third party vendors for purposes unrelated to education, while still allowing research to help improve student learning outcomes. The Department of Education is also being tasked with creating teacher training assistance that will help ensure educational data is used appropriately and will target students who need added learning assistance. Many parents, however, are still concerned about what information is being collected about their children and how those details will be used to categorize or rank students. They want districts and companies to describe the different treatment students might receive based on those rankings or categorizations.

19
Jan

Facebook Isn’t Dying, But Getting ”Grayer”

A recent article in Adweek reviews social media usage across different age demographics, finding that more than half the U.S. population use social networks on a regular basis, with Facebook leading the pack. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr follow closely behind, and are continuing to grow in popularity. Also interesting to note is that Facebook appears to be the social network of choice for seniors (adults 65+).

19
Jan

Facebook Isn’t Dying, But Getting ”Grayer”

A recent article in Adweek reviews social media usage across different age demographics, finding that more than half the U.S. population use social networks on a regular basis, with Facebook leading the pack. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr follow closely behind, and are continuing to grow in popularity. Also interesting to note is that Facebook appears to be the social network of choice for seniors (adults 65+).

16
Jan

Parents, Kids and Tech Related New Year’s Resolutions

It is likely that every family is going to face some media and technology related issues in 2015. As the digital landscape continues to shift and change on a nearly daily basis, it is hard as a parent to keep up with it all. The Common Sense Media blog has listed seven resolutions that  may help you manage and adjust to any technology issues that might arise. They are great reminders of good digital behaviors, and include links to help get the ball rolling.

16
Jan

Parents, Kids and Tech Related New Year’s Resolutions

It is likely that every family is going to face some media and technology related issues in 2015. As the digital landscape continues to shift and change on a nearly daily basis, it is hard as a parent to keep up with it all. The Common Sense Media blog has listed seven resolutions that  may help you manage and adjust to any technology issues that might arise. They are great reminders of good digital behaviors, and include links to help get the ball rolling.

15
Jan

The ”Internet of Things”

There are predictions that everything you use on a daily basis, from your toothbrush to your car, will one day be connected to the internet, or the “Internet of Things” as the trend is being called. Although companies may be rushing to create apps and embed chips in everything from your blankets to your shoes, it’s unclear whether consumers are as hot on the “smart everything” trend.  One of the biggest issues is simplicity and ease of use.

Research firm Accenture found in a global survey released recently that 83 percent of people who’ve used smart devices such as fitness monitors, home security systems and even smart thermostats have had frustrating problems getting those devices to work. Just over one-fifth of those surveyed deemed smart devices “too complicated to use.” Nearly as many also said that they had problems just setting up the devices, and once they did get them working, 19 percent said that they felt the products didn’t work as advertised. Those problems may be dampening enthusiasm for the revolution that Web-oriented companies are trying to foment, but don’t be surprised if you start to hear more and more about the “Internet of Things.”

15
Jan

The ”Internet of Things”

There are predictions that everything you use on a daily basis, from your toothbrush to your car, will one day be connected to the internet, or the “Internet of Things” as the trend is being called. Although companies may be rushing to create apps and embed chips in everything from your blankets to your shoes, it’s unclear whether consumers are as hot on the “smart everything” trend.  One of the biggest issues is simplicity and ease of use.

Research firm Accenture found in a global survey released recently that 83 percent of people who’ve used smart devices such as fitness monitors, home security systems and even smart thermostats have had frustrating problems getting those devices to work. Just over one-fifth of those surveyed deemed smart devices “too complicated to use.” Nearly as many also said that they had problems just setting up the devices, and once they did get them working, 19 percent said that they felt the products didn’t work as advertised. Those problems may be dampening enthusiasm for the revolution that Web-oriented companies are trying to foment, but don’t be surprised if you start to hear more and more about the “Internet of Things.”

14
Jan

Using Technology to Keep Parents in the Loop

Is your school looking for ways to expand and deepen communications with parents? eSchool News  recently featured an article on how two districts are trying to use technology to foster two way communication in new and different ways. The article discusses the interactive programs and apps that the districts are using, including parent portals and Student Information Systems (SIS). Alerts are sent to keep parents in the loop on what is going on in school, such as when grades fall below a certain number. The key to successfully implementing such a system is to make sure it is simple, reliable and easy to use.

14
Jan

Using Technology to Keep Parents in the Loop

Is your school looking for ways to expand and deepen communications with parents? eSchool News  recently featured an article on how two districts are trying to use technology to foster two way communication in new and different ways. The article discusses the interactive programs and apps that the districts are using, including parent portals and Student Information Systems (SIS). Alerts are sent to keep parents in the loop on what is going on in school, such as when grades fall below a certain number. The key to successfully implementing such a system is to make sure it is simple, reliable and easy to use.

13
Jan

Losing That iOS Passcode Can Spell Disaster

Apple’s recent announcement to change the way it handles personal information has many customers grateful for the increase in security, however it has come with some complications. Since the company does not keep a record of the passcode on your device, they also have no way of helping you if you forget the code, or need to get into someone else’s device should they become incapacitated. The only options are to either reset the device and then restore its contents from an iCloud or iTunes backup, or reset it and lose any data that hasn't been synced up to third-party sites. Since there are no other options, there is the possibility that you can lose your data, and it can happen with Androids as well.  Rob Pegoraro of USA Today has some tips to prevent this from happening to you.

13
Jan

Losing That iOS Passcode Can Spell Disaster

Apple’s recent announcement to change the way it handles personal information has many customers grateful for the increase in security, however it has come with some complications. Since the company does not keep a record of the passcode on your device, they also have no way of helping you if you forget the code, or need to get into someone else’s device should they become incapacitated. The only options are to either reset the device and then restore its contents from an iCloud or iTunes backup, or reset it and lose any data that hasn't been synced up to third-party sites. Since there are no other options, there is the possibility that you can lose your data, and it can happen with Androids as well.  Rob Pegoraro of USA Today has some tips to prevent this from happening to you.

12
Jan

Protecting That Gadget

Whether you have a brand new phone or one that is several years old, the cost to repair or replace a broken device is one that most people want to avoid. When it comes to protecting your phone, the number of options available can be overwhelming. USA Today recently ran an article called How to protect your new gadget, covering the basics on choosing a protective case, insurance and even waterproofing your device.

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