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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.



A Teen’s Guide to Privacy

A recently published guide for teens is aimed at teaching “how to become a private public person”. Writers Lam Thuy Vo and Caroline Haskins consulted teens, schools administrators, security officers and other experts to write a guide to help teens safeguard their privacy online and stay safe on social media. The guide includes tips such as knowing your audience on social media and separating content accordingly, assuming your words will always be taken out of context, and knowing what to post and what to keep private.


The Pressure of “Likes” Lessened?

Instagram "likes" have become private for a portion of the platform's US users as part of a test it has been running in seven countries, according to Adam Mosseri, CEO. He notes, "It's about young people -- the idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition." While marketers will still have access to "like" metrics, a recent HypeAuditor study found a drop in like counts in those countries where the policy is in effect.


Toy Cars, Girls and STEM

Can a toy car teach girls about STEM? Maybe, and that’s the idea behind the “No Limits” program created by Mercedes-Benz, in partnership with Mattel and the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP). The program’s goal is to teach girls that they can do anything and be anything, especially in fields that are predominately male-dominated. In a press release, the companies state “Through February 2020, girls across the U.S., through more than 100 organizations, will engineer toy racetracks, design cars, engage with female role models and attend STEM workshops through programs designed to expand how they see their future.” As a takeaway gift, 50,000 girls will receive a toy replica of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE that Ewy Rosqvist, a famous Swedish race car driver, used to win the Grand Prix. The toy itself was designed to remind girls of Rosqvist’s feat, and to encourage the girls that they can also forge new paths for women.


App Tackles Smartphone Distractions in the Classroom

A new app called Goya-Move can dramatically reduce the amount of smartphone distractions in the classroom, but parents have to play an active role, its founders say. Goya, an acronym that stands for "Get Off Your Apps," lets parents disable apps on their child's device during specific hours of the day. Most parents support tucking phones away in class, but the vast majority want to keep an open line of communication in case of emergencies, making them somewhat resistant to an outright smartphone ban at school. Goya-Move may be a good compromise as it helps parents sync their devices with their child’s and set the hours of the day that kids are at school. A VPN, or virtual private network, then blocks the apps during that time, locking out chief distractors like Snapchat, Instagram and even web browsers. Kids can resume using apps as they wish after the set hour has passed.


Digital Natives May Not Be Digitally Literate After All

On a scale from 100 to 700, the average score on a computer and information literacy exam given to students in 12 countries was 496, according to the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. US students' average score was 519, but data shows that although students grow up as digital natives they may lack sophisticated digital literacy. U.S. 8th graders can use computers to gather basic information and make simple edits. They also have some awareness of security risks in the digital world, but they are less likely to understand the purpose of sponsored content on a website, use generic mapping software or know how to control color and text when creating a presentation. 


Twitter Releases a Handbook for Parents and Teachers on Media Literacy

Twitter recently released a handbook to help educators and parents teach media literacy, help adults and teens analyze information they see online, deal with cyberbullying, control one’s digital footprint, and more. The Teaching and Learning With Twitter handbook also includes tips to help teachers use the social media platform in lessons and assignments.


New Study Says Angst Over Teen Social Media Overblown

Anxiety about the effects of social media on young people has risen to such an extreme that giving children smartphones is sometimes equated to handing them hard drugs. The reality is much less alarming, according to research discussed in Scientific American, showing that moderate use is fine. Some recent analyses are even showing that these early studies full of dire warnings were flawed, and researchers are finding new methods for leading research into social media and its effect on teens.


Young People Now Spend Twice as Much Time Watching Videos

According to an article in USA Today, young people in the US between ages 8 and 18 spend about one hour a day watching online videos, about twice as long as four years ago, according to a new survey by Common Sense Media. The average amount of screen time consumed each day -- for activities not related to schoolwork -- is about five hours for children ages 8 to 12 and about seven hours for teenagers.


Twitter to Ban Political Ads Worldwide

Twitter will stop accepting political advertising globally, a policy that applies to messages related to a specific campaign and those that address a political issue, CEO Jack Dorsey says. The company will unveil details Nov. 15, and the ban will take effect Nov. 22. This is in contrast to Facebook’s decision to not fact-check claims made by politicians in ads placed on the platform.

Twitter has had some policies in place to keep politicians from making false statements on its platform, but has yet to use them. Earlier this summer, Twitter said that it would gray out tweets from public figures, including Trump, that violated its rules and even restrict users’ abilities to share them, but hasn’t implemented it on any tweets so far.


Facebook Says It is Not Fact Checking Political Ads: Some Ideas For What to Do

It has recently come out that Facebook is exempting political ads from its fact checking processes and rules, with a statement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting, "We don’t fact-check political ads. We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. And if content is newsworthy, we also won’t take it down even if it would otherwise conflict with many of our standards."

His stance on stepping away from holding that power overlooks the fact that Facebook already has that kind of power for other ads, raising the question of why in regular ads, Facebook can be okay with using outside fact-checkers, and banning false claims outright, yet in political ads it can't do the same. It is an interesting topic to discuss with your children relating to misinformation online. Also keep in mind you can edit your Facebook Ad Preferences, and remove anything that you don't agree with or doesn't look right. You can also check out Facebook’s Ad Library, which now includes a new tracker of Facebook ad spending by major political candidates. It is a bit of an eye opener. Interesting enough, on the flip side, Twitter has banned all political ads.


IBM Recruiting for “New Collar” Jobs

A critical skills gap in the tech industry has prompted IBM to develop digital badge portfolios, add apprenticeship programs and strengthen partnerships with community colleges to fill "new-collar" jobs in cloud computing, cybersecurity and other areas where college degrees aren't required. In an interview for Inside Higher Ed, Kelli Jordan, director of IBM career and skills, says it's important that tech companies focus on hiring people with valuable skills, not just people with college degrees.


Time to Ditch Algebra?

When was the last time you divided a polynomial? If you were asked to do so today, would you remember how? Stanford University professor Jo Boaler and University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt say that instead of learning algebra, high-school students should be taught how to analyze data to boost critical-thinking skills and provide them with practical tools for grappling with real-world problems. Such a change would enable students to use math to analyze real-world issues such as the environment, social media or space travel, they insist. Boaler and Levitt point out that the closest most people get to Algebra in their daily lives is working with basic analytical software like Microsoft Excel, so why not teach them how to really use it for something that is relevant to their own lives.


Apps Used in Schools Cause Some Debate

School use of technology and applications that track student data, such as electronic hall passes and education software, has been raising privacy concerns from parents and other education experts . While privacy has been improving in some of these programs and applications, anonymous information may still be sold. Heather Kelly, counsel and director of privacy review at Common Sense Media in The Washington Post says that it is important parents are aware of the policies that deal with their childrens’ data.


LEGOS Empower Students to Try STEM

Many teachers use Legos in the classroom for hands-on STEM exercises, particularly as an enticement to get students who are less confident about their engineering aptitude to give it a try. Middle-school robotics teacher Ian Chow-Miller says he likes using Legos -- from the basic blocks to the higher-end robotics kits -- because his students learn something from every possible outcome. A Marketplace story from National Public Radio highlights some of the projects the class has tried, including videos.


Schools Join Into The TikTok Craze with Clubs

TikTok, a social media app where users post short funny videos, is enjoying a surge in popularity among teenagers around the world and has been downloaded 1.4 billion times, according to SensorTower. Now high schools are joining the TikTok trend with clubs to dance, sing and perform skits for the app — essentially drama clubs for the digital age, but with the potential to reach huge audiences. And unlike other social media networks, TikTok is winning over some educators, like Michael Callahan, a teacher and drama club advisor at West Orange High School in New Jersey, who had never heard of TikTok before his students told him about it. He loves how the app brings students from different friend groups together. “You see a lot more teamwork and camaraderie,” he said, “and less — I don’t want to say bullying — but focus on individuals.”


Asking The Vendors Your School Uses About Student Privacy

Do you know what kind of student data management system your child’s school uses or what evaluations took place to select it? Securing student data should be a leading consideration of any school or district adopting a student data management system, as with almost every week comes another data breach story. What kinds of questions should you as a parent be asking about data privacy? Edscoop recently covered some best practices of education technology polices, which provides some good insight for parents or educators who want to evaluate the technologies their school has in place.


Can Social And Emotional Learning Help Curb Cyberbullying?

Integrating a social-emotional learning in school curricula could help to encourage digital civility and curb cyberbullying, according to Mandy Manning, who was National Teacher of the Year in 2018. Now back in the classroom, Manning says she is focused in part on helping students make human connections and learn to have positive, healthy relationships -- online and in real life.


Some Schools Are Using AI To Grade Student’s Work – What You Should Know

Did you know that some schools are using artificial intelligence to grade student essays? An article in Vox reports that schools across the country are using algorithms to grade essays by making predictions about how a teacher would grade them. Experts say, however, that the technology can get those predictions wrong and it's possible a particular data set could be biased about certain speech and language patterns. One of the other flaws that is noted is that the grading system rewards those who use big words, yet easily be fooled by nonsensical gibberish of sophisticated words strung together.


Quick List of Digital Resources for Bullying Prevention and Cybersecurity

Looking for parent, teacher or school resources on bullying prevention and cybersecurity? Take a look at this list from Tech & Learning online. The resources includes links on how to obtain posters, tip sheets and brochures about bullying for your school, information on Cyber Security Careers, and even a short guide to cryptology that helps students understand the importance of a strong password.