So I Just Won’t Use the Cloud! Really?

cloud storage

Just a few of the sites where people I know store data and photos.

Over the past several days I’ve heard more people say that they will stop using the cloud — a reaction to the stolen pictures, possibly taken from iCloud, of movie stars and celebrities (September 2014).

Hummm…  How about being a bit more realistic?

This is a great teaching moments for 21st Century parents, kids, and anyone who works with children. We need to remind ourselves that, no matter what a website tells us, our security depends on the many steps that each of us takes to protect and reinforce our information — passwords, privacy settings, 2-step verifications. Most of use the cloud, and often we don’t even think about it or take our privacy that seriously until something goes wrong.

The Ogden, Utah Standard Examiner newspaper recently published an article, Avoiding the Cloud Won’t Guarantee the Safety of Your Data. Reporter Leslie Meredith writes, “… avoiding the cloud does not guarantee the safety of your data,” and then spends the bulk of the piece describing the steps that each person needs to take to ensure added security and protection. It doesn’t matter what we use — cloud, Flickr, Google, or any of the other storage sites.

The bottom line — each of us has a responsibility to put robust privacy settings in place on our accounts and devices. We also need to back up our data (not just on the cloud), use strong passwords, and whenever possible use the 2-step verification option.

And we need to teach our children these lessons, too.

5 Digital Parenting Questions to Ask As Your Kids Return to School

Now that we are all returning to school routines, take the time to make a few 21st Century family decisions — choices that  can help the device-users in your family grow more careful, thoughtful, and serious about their connected world  responsibilities. With so much going on the the digital world, parenting today is a bit like riding a roller coaster. But some carefully considered decisions can set the stage for fewer digital world scrapes and bumps in a family’s life.

1. Where will digital devices be charged at night? Most educators recommend that families charge devices in a centralized location away from bedrooms. Many parents also set an evening time limit after which mobile  phones, iPads, and even the Internet cannot be used.   made_at_www.txt2pic.com

2. If students have significant amounts of online homework, where will they work? Dining room table? Family room? Den?  Most educators and pediatricians suggest that students do  homework on computers that are located in places where other people also spend time and not in the bedroom. Check out How Does Multitasking Change the Way Kids Learn over at the KQED Mindshift website.

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Word Order: When You Search It Matters!

The word order of a search matters in today’s connected world, so 21st Century learners — of all ages — should understand how search results change when a user rearranges the words. A short video on word order, uploaded by Google’s Search Anthropologist Daniel Russell – check out his Search-Research blog – teaches this lesson effectively.

Use this less-than-two-minute video — I found it in a blog post at Free Technology for Teachers — as a quick and succinct teaching tool with students, parents, and other educators.

Teaching Kids to Search Well and Evaluate What They Find

TechforSuccessMy post, Back-to-School Research Tip: Help Your Child Use Curated Online Databases, is posted over at the Platform for Good website. It describes strategies that parents and educators can use to help children understand more about quality searching and help 21st Century kids become better evaluators of their search results.

To get the new school year started in a digitally sensible way, please take a few minutes to read my post and learn ways to direct 21st Century children to resources curated by experts, materials chosen to help students get good results when they search. The more they encounter quality search results, the better they will become at recognizing poor quality when they use a less curated searching tool.

On the same page, at the right, is a wonderful graphic called Tech for Success that I will definitely use as a handout with students and their parents during the 2014-15 school year. Similar to an acrostic poem, the graphic uses the word “success,”  spelling it down the left-hand side of the page and attaching an important digital citizenship message to each letter of the word.

How Quickly Do New Apps Gain Kids’ Attention?

See the larger charts below.

See the larger charts below.

As we get ready to return to school for the 2014-15 academic year, my thoughts turn toward the digital life changes that I’ll observe in the lives of my 21st Century students when we come together in September.

After three months of summer activities such as volunteering or part-time jobs and the less structured time at camps and on vacations, most kids arrive at school with new digital experiences, devices, and apps — and they want to share everything. I’ve especially thought about the number of apps that seem to come out of nowhere — suddenly appearing in kids lives and on their mobile devices — and I know popular new ones will appear this fall.

Below I am sharing three slides from digital parenting presentations that I made over six months, from October to May during the 2013-14 school year.

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