Digital Smarts Blog

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5
Aug

Who is Responsible For Taking on Cyberbullying?

While the article Who's responsible for tackling cyber bullying? appears on the web site of an Australian newspaper, the Brisbane Times, the message is a universal one. Cyber bullying is an ongoing problem and it is up to all of us – government, school and home – to work together to find solutions. The article points out that promoting  positive digital citizenship to prevent bullying will always be more effective than trying to control it once it has begun. Technology will always find a way around control mechanisms put in place. As an example, the article discusses Snapchat, a popular photo messaging application, and how even the “safeguards,” such as being notified that a screen shot of the message was taken, can be circumvented. Wikipedia even informs users that running the Snapchat application in an ‘‘emulator’’ will bypass all restrictions. While it is important for safeguards and controls to be in place, teaching children to be digitally responsible is equally as important. Everyone has a role in keeping children safe online.

4
Aug

iPad Apps to Help Students with Dyslexia

More than 20% of the US population has some form of dyslexia and there are now apps emerging that are aimed at helping dyslexic students maintain the same level of learning as their peers. Mashable recently posted an interesting list of apps that can help dyslexic people of all ages, including a PDF voice reader, and an app called openWeb that makes web browsing more accessible by converting text into a more readable format. ModMath is an app that allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which can prove difficult for people with dyslexia or dysgraphia (not being able to write coherently). The app provides virtual graph paper and a calculator, and the user can print out his or her work or email it directly to a teacher. The app is also great for students who struggle to keep math problems lined up and legible. If you are struggling with teachers (or family members) who don’t really understand what dyslexia is and want to give them more information, try sending them the link for What is Dyslexia?

4
Aug

iPad Apps to Help Students with Dyslexia

More than 20% of the US population has some form of dyslexia and there are now apps emerging that are aimed at helping dyslexic students maintain the same level of learning as their peers. Mashable recently posted an interesting list of apps that can help dyslexic people of all ages, including a PDF voice reader, and an app called openWeb that makes web browsing more accessible by converting text into a more readable format. ModMath is an app that allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which can prove difficult for people with dyslexia or dysgraphia (not being able to write coherently). The app provides virtual graph paper and a calculator, and the user can print out his or her work or email it directly to a teacher. The app is also great for students who struggle to keep math problems lined up and legible. If you are struggling with teachers (or family members) who don’t really understand what dyslexia is and want to give them more information, try sending them the link for What is Dyslexia?

1
Aug

A Platform for Good

Wish you had someone other than your child to turn to when you have a question about the technology they use? The Parents Page of the A Platform for Good site can help. Videos on apps, social media, parental controls, privacy settings, reporting cyberbullying, digital reputation and more are available on the site and can help parents get a leg up on understanding what kids seem to find so simple.

1
Aug

A Platform for Good

Wish you had someone other than your child to turn to when you have a question about the technology they use? The Parents Page of the A Platform for Good site can help. Videos on apps, social media, parental controls, privacy settings, reporting cyberbullying, digital reputation and more are available on the site and can help parents get a leg up on understanding what kids seem to find so simple.

31
Jul

Facebook is So Yesterday….

An excellent article on the Common Sense Media site reviews 15 social media sites and apps that many kids are now using. The article includes a brief description of each app, an insight into why it is popular, and a bulleted list of what parents really need to know about it. It is a great read for all parents to look over as the school year begins to approach.

31
Jul

Facebook is So Yesterday….

An excellent article on the Common Sense Media site reviews 15 social media sites and apps that many kids are now using. The article includes a brief description of each app, an insight into why it is popular, and a bulleted list of what parents really need to know about it. It is a great read for all parents to look over as the school year begins to approach.

30
Jul

Your Digital Record

Have you ever wondered what information the federal government has file for you? An editor at Ars Technica found out what was on file about him from his international travel through his Passenger Name Records (PNR) and data created by airlines, hotels, and cruise ships whenever travel was booked. He filed a Freedom of Information Request, and after initially being turned down, he appealed and received 76 pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013. The data included his old IP addresses, full credit card number and notes on his phone calls to airlines, information that is all very revealing.

30
Jul

Your Digital Record

Have you ever wondered what information the federal government has file for you? An editor at Ars Technica found out what was on file about him from his international travel through his Passenger Name Records (PNR) and data created by airlines, hotels, and cruise ships whenever travel was booked. He filed a Freedom of Information Request, and after initially being turned down, he appealed and received 76 pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013. The data included his old IP addresses, full credit card number and notes on his phone calls to airlines, information that is all very revealing.

29
Jul

Privacy, Student Data and Your School District

Privacy is certainly the watchword of the day, but how much is your school district is working to protect the privacy of your children and your family? Before talking to your school or district about the issue you may want to educate yourself by reading 10 Steps That Protect the Privacy of Student Data. Parents should be involved in the development of privacy policies and standards, and districts should take the time to make sure parents understand the efforts educators are taking to protect the privacy of students.

29
Jul

Privacy, Student Data and Your School District

Privacy is certainly the watchword of the day, but how much is your school district is working to protect the privacy of your children and your family? Before talking to your school or district about the issue you may want to educate yourself by reading 10 Steps That Protect the Privacy of Student Data. Parents should be involved in the development of privacy policies and standards, and districts should take the time to make sure parents understand the efforts educators are taking to protect the privacy of students.

28
Jul

Social Media Netiquette for New College Students

Do you have a recent high school grad on their way to college? As college student Leah Polakoff points out, the way college students use social media is quite different than the way they may have used it in High School. Polakoff provides some unique advice for new college students, such as not friending everyone in your graduating class Facebook group, or waiting until after a course is over before connecting with your teaching assistant.

28
Jul

Social Media Netiquette for New College Students

Do you have a recent high school grad on their way to college? As college student Leah Polakoff points out, the way college students use social media is quite different than the way they may have used it in High School. Polakoff provides some unique advice for new college students, such as not friending everyone in your graduating class Facebook group, or waiting until after a course is over before connecting with your teaching assistant.

25
Jul

Taking Digital Notes

School is still a way off but it is never too early to figure out what technologies can help kids succeed. Some recent developments in tablet technology are now making it easier to take notes digitally, either directly on the tablet or by using a smartpen like the Livescribe 3 and special paper that allows what you write to show up directly on your tablet or phone. These new technologies can even turn hand written notes into text and allow them to be indexed and searched.

25
Jul

Taking Digital Notes

School is still a way off but it is never too early to figure out what technologies can help kids succeed. Some recent developments in tablet technology are now making it easier to take notes digitally, either directly on the tablet or by using a smartpen like the Livescribe 3 and special paper that allows what you write to show up directly on your tablet or phone. These new technologies can even turn hand written notes into text and allow them to be indexed and searched.

24
Jul

DinnerTime

Can’t get the family to put their gadgets down long enough to have a quiet meal together? Try DinnerTime (free on iOS and Android). The app is designed to be installed on both parents' and kids' smartphones. When Mom or Dad have the evening meal ready, all they have to do is activate the DinnerTime app and the youngsters' gadgets will not only tell them dinner is ready, but will activate a lockdown timer so smartphone distractions are eliminated during mealtime. As an added bonus, the app has bedtime and "take a break" features that keep phones quiet during sleep hours and whenever you feel like your kids are experiencing screen time overload.

24
Jul

DinnerTime

Can’t get the family to put their gadgets down long enough to have a quiet meal together? Try DinnerTime (free on iOS and Android). The app is designed to be installed on both parents' and kids' smartphones. When Mom or Dad have the evening meal ready, all they have to do is activate the DinnerTime app and the youngsters' gadgets will not only tell them dinner is ready, but will activate a lockdown timer so smartphone distractions are eliminated during mealtime. As an added bonus, the app has bedtime and "take a break" features that keep phones quiet during sleep hours and whenever you feel like your kids are experiencing screen time overload.

23
Jul

Divorce in the Digital Age

If you are involved in any kind of legal action, it is not uncommon for lawyers and private investigators to look at your social media posts and social networking pages for insights on your behavior and your actions. Many people who become involved in a break up or divorce go online to rant about an ex-partner or spouse but don’t think about the consequences of those actions. The post never goes away and can be shared with anyone. With our digital lives so entwined these days, there are even more considerations to be concerned with when going through a breakup, including changing your passwords, getting rid of shared services like Amazon or iTunes accounts and thinking about what to do with shared online bank accounts (ask your lawyer on that one). You should also consider wiping shared tablets or computers of any kind of personal data including passwords, credit card info, tax returns, browsing history and other things you may want to keep private. On social media, you will need to decide whether to stay friends online with your ex, remembering if you stay friends they will be able to see everything you post. Also keep in mind that if your kids have access to your social networking postings, your ex could and check your account through their devices.

23
Jul

Divorce in the Digital Age

If you are involved in any kind of legal action, it is not uncommon for lawyers and private investigators to look at your social media posts and social networking pages for insights on your behavior and your actions. Many people who become involved in a break up or divorce go online to rant about an ex-partner or spouse but don’t think about the consequences of those actions. The post never goes away and can be shared with anyone. With our digital lives so entwined these days, there are even more considerations to be concerned with when going through a breakup, including changing your passwords, getting rid of shared services like Amazon or iTunes accounts and thinking about what to do with shared online bank accounts (ask your lawyer on that one). You should also consider wiping shared tablets or computers of any kind of personal data including passwords, credit card info, tax returns, browsing history and other things you may want to keep private. On social media, you will need to decide whether to stay friends online with your ex, remembering if you stay friends they will be able to see everything you post. Also keep in mind that if your kids have access to your social networking postings, your ex could and check your account through their devices.

22
Jul

Parenting, Guilt and Smartphones

Parenting in the era of the smartphone poses a wide spread series of debates. Arguing that having a smartphone can actually help you spend more time with your children, an article in The New York Times Bits blog entitled You Don’t Have to Feel Very Guilty About Using Your Smartphone While Parenting looks at a week in which a parent was able to balance working and being there for a preschooler off from a week of school. The comments on the blog post reflect a large range of opinions about smart phones and parenting – from those who feel devices should be completely turned off when kids are around, to those who feel they still have the ability to be there for their children while not focusing exclusively on them. What is clear is that every parent, child and individual situation is different. Like so much of parenting, making a conscious effort to model the right behavior is key, but especially so as we go deeper into the age of constant communication and connection. Bottom line: some kind of consistent restraint when it comes to technology in the part of all family members seems to be the best solution.

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