Digital Smarts Blog

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8
Aug

Flaw in “Messenger Kids” Fixed By Facebook

Facebook has notified parents and corrected a technical error that permitted thousands of children using the Messenger Kids app to join group chats not approved by their parents. The app lets children between 6 and 12 years old message and video chat with family and friends who their parents approve. It's unclear how long the flaw existed. The app has been controversial since its launch in December 2017, and child advocacy groups have repeatedly urged Facebook to shut down the app, arguing it violates a federal law aimed at protecting a child's online privacy.

7
Aug

Hacker Attacks on Schools Are On The Rise

The Associated Press reports that schools using education technologies are becoming targets of cyberattacks that disrupt digital lesson plans and could potentially compromise data. Schools "may be considered easy targets because they're a little bit more open than your traditional corporate culture," said Sean Wiese, chief information security officer for North Dakota, where a malware attack last year affected a large number of public schools.

6
Aug

Reading, Writing and Cybersecurity

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the IT workforce has prompted some K-12 schools to add classes in cybersecurity strategies and practices to their curriculum. Some high schools even offer professional certification and college credit, or allow students to serve apprenticeships to their district with cybersecurity needs. Not only do these classes help educate students on becoming smart digital citizens, it could also spark interest in pursuing a career in that field.

5
Aug

Adding Students with Disabilities to the Conversation about Social Media and Cyberbullying

Students with disabilities appear to experience higher highs and lower lows when using social media, according to a new report from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Students with disabilities are 1.8 times more likely to be victims—and 1.7 times more likely to be perpetrators—of social media-related cyberbullying, the group found in an analysis of survey information covering 24,000 Boston-area high school students. The connection between experiencing cyberbullying and suffering from depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies is also particularly strong for these students.

2
Aug

Your School Collects Lots of Data On Your Kids. The Problem Is Deleting It

America's schools are awash in data, and while concerns about the privacy and security of students' information are regularly discussed, the Center for Democracy & Technology says there is one issue that has been mostly overlooked: properly getting rid of student data when it's no longer needed. "Deleting data is much more complicated than one might think, with a number of important policy, legal, and technical considerations," reads the group's new report, titled "Balancing the Scale of Student Data Deletion and Retention and Education."

Do you know what your school or district does with your child’s data after they graduate or leave the school?

1
Aug

Updating COPPA?

The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), is considering updating privacy laws that protect children online. If you are unfamiliar with COPPA, it requires operators of commercial websites, online services, and mobile apps to get permission from parents before gathering information about any child under the age of 13. The act was put in place to give parents say in what type of information is collected and/or shared about their children online. The commission typically reviews rules every ten years to determine if changes in technology necessitate an update to the rules that go along with it. The FTC is holding a public workshop on October 7, 2019 to examine the COPPA Rule and seek comments from consumers. More details about the workshop can be found on the event page.

31
Jul

Instagram is Trying to Stop Cyberbullying. What Can Parents Do to Help?

Instagram has recently announced new features and changes to help stamp out cyberbullying on the platform, including using artificial intelligence to detect when something offensive is about to be posted. A prompt will appear asking the user if they are sure they want to post, giving them the opportunity to reconsider. Another feature will be introduced soon that allows users to "restrict" someone, meaning they can delete comments from or block the other person from posts without that person knowing. The company said it arrived at the concept after hearing feedback that users are reluctant to outwardly block a bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they also interact with the bully "in real life." These features may help, but social work professor Jonathan Singer says parents cannot rely on those safeguards alone. Singer encourages parents to discuss online safety with their children and keep communication open about social media use.

30
Jul

Bedtime Stories on Facebook

Need someone else to read a bedtime story for your kids this Tuesday? Archie Moss, an elementary-school principal in Tennessee, reads weekly bedtime stories to students over Facebook Live. In an interview, Moss says the idea for the "Bedtime Stories with Principal Moss" program came from the school's librarian, Monique Howard, who shared it as part of an effort to find innovative ways to reach students and build a culture of reading at the school. He has read stories every Tuesday night since February when it was started as a celebration of Black History Month.

29
Jul

Cyberbullying on the Rise

The Washington Post just highlighted a report from the National Center for Education Statistics showing that 20% of teen students in the US said they were bullied in the 2016-17 school year, and of those, 15% were bullied online or via text, a 3.5 percentage point increase over the previous year. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar of Purdue University says the spike may be due to increased awareness of what bullying looks like and reporting of cyberbullying incidents. Seigfried-Spellar states that students have become less inhibited about bullying others with digital separation because they don’t have to witness the emotional toll exacted or have to deal with the immediate consequences. “It’s easier to do because you don’t have to worry about a physical repercussion,” she said. “It removes that personal experience.”

26
Jul

Infographic: Facebook’s Guide to Best Practices for Video

Do you or your kids create videos to share on Facebook? Maybe to help a nonprofit or school page, or even for your own business? If so, you may want to take a look at some new tips Facebook posted, including an infographic providing ideas for getting your videos noticed. Some of their recommendations include considering shorter lengths for teasers, ads or polls and long-form content for developing narratives or livestreaming. They also suggest tips such as hooking mobile audiences with vertical formats and close-up shots and provide ways to ensure content shows up in search engines, all useful advice if you are trying to increase views!

25
Jul

Research Says Too Much Social Media a Teen Depression Risk

Canadian researchers reported recently in JAMA Pediatrics that teens with higher-than-normal social media and TV use have increased odds of developing depression symptoms, with increased social media and TV screen time tied to greater symptom severity. According to the study co-author Elroy Boers, "Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with perfect bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle." However, the findings, based on data involving nearly 4,000 Canadian youths followed from ages 12 to 16, showed that higher video-game and computer-use levels didn't affect depression symptoms.

24
Jul

Want to Discuss Misinformation With Your Kids? Here are Some Examples

Have you been meaning to talk to your kids about misinformation, but don’t know exactly where to start? In an article on MiddleWeb (intended for middle school teachers), educational consultant Frank Baker shares several examples of so-called fake news, strategies to identify and understand it, and media literacy tips for dissecting advertisements. These are a great place to start to help your kids think more critically about media messages and the entities that create them.

 

 

23
Jul

Pros and Cons of Online Preschool

Some communities have adopted an online kindergarten-readiness program called Waterford Upstart, operated by nonprofit organization Waterford.org. Advocates say that the program is a high-quality, cost-effective preschool program that rivals some brick-and-mortar options, but critics say that these programs raise questions about education quality and what exactly preschool is meant to teach. As the economic chasm in the United States grows, experts remark that having access to human interaction is becoming a stark dividing line through every stage of life.

22
Jul

Teens and Young Adults Giving Up on Facebook

A recent survey from Business Insider found that teens and young adults are losing interest in Facebook and spending more time each day on Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat. Of the 1,884 Americans ages 13 to 21 that were surveyed, 30% of them have reported abandoning Facebook completely, while over 60% check Instagram and YouTube on a daily basis.

19
Jul

Americans Value Digital Literacy – But Are Bad At It

According to an article in Forbes, MindEdge Learning's State of Critical Thinking study found that while most Americans believe critical thinking is essential in assessing the truthfulness of online information, very few – including college educated Americans - can identify suspicious material when they encounter it on the web. Identifying misinformation includes paying attention to such details as spelling or grammatical errors, the presence or absence of photo credits, indications that the content is being promoted or contains suspicious web addresses, and other obvious indicators.

The study, now in its third year, recorded a decrease of 17 percentage points since 2017 in the proportion of respondents who achieved an "A" grade on the organization's digital literacy test. Three quarters of millennial respondents received an "F" grade, failing to get more than five questions right. Interestingly, older respondents (60 and older) scored better than Millennials, who are generally considered more web-savvy.

18
Jul

Using Technology to Create Connections

Despite having more technology than ever, people are feeling increasingly disconnected, says Mandy Manning, 2018 National Teacher of the Year. Education Dive recapped the International Society for Technology in Education conference where Manning spoke recently. Manning remarked that an updated Gallup poll that found only 43% of U.S. students feel hopeful about their future, a 4% decrease from 2017, and 36% said they feel stuck. She also added that 23% reported feeling actively disengaged and 21% feel discouraged. Lack of hope leads to a lack of resilience, and when students are not resilient, they cannot learn or connect to one another, Manning added. She feels that parents and teachers should help students use technology to connect and develop compassion and empathy.

17
Jul

YouTube Moving All Kids Content to YouTube Kids

Here is a move you may want to keep an eye on. Bloomberg reports YouTube is contemplating moving all children's content to its stand-alone YouTube Kids app to shield young viewers from distasteful videos. This report comes in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission investigation regarding objectionable content and data collection practices. Executives created YouTube Kids to address these ongoing issues in 2015, but employees and outside watchdogs say the platform has come up short and research says that most children use the YouTube app rather than the YouTube Kids app on digital devices.

16
Jul

Facebook Wants To Be Regulated

In the wake of the revelations about the foreign infiltration of Facebook during the 2016 US election, Facebook itself is calling for government regulation. Of course we should not be surprised that they would also like to be part of making up the rules. Or at least that is what Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told an audience recently in Europe, where new laws govern companies that collect, store or process large amounts of information on residents of the European Union, requiring more openness about what data they have and who they share it with.

15
Jul

Teachers and Students Too Distracted by Mobile Devices

Ever hear of "Nomophobia" (the fear of being without a mobile phone) or Textaphrenia (the fear of being disconnected)? Many teachers believe that their students could be suffering from these and some were even honest enough in a recent survey to say that they have a touch of both as well.  The survey also reported that 80 percent of teachers say their students "multi-task" during instructional time, using their devices while they are supposed to be paying attention to a lesson. 61 percent believe that "multi-tasking" has affected students' ability to learn.

12
Jul

Influencers: Time to Be Realistic About Body Image on Social Media

Social media is skewing the way children view life, according to Damian Hinds, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Education, in an article in the Metro (UK). Hinds makes this statement following the Mental Health Foundation’s finding that 40 percent of teenagers reported being worried about their body image due to comments by friends. He is calling on influencers and others to help support body positivity, in part by being more transparent about how photos they post online are edited.

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