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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Digital World Research-What It Tells Us About Causation vs. Association

On a fairly regular basis I hear presenters and parents cite research results about technology and 21st Century kids. Often they justify their points by making comments such as “According to research,” or Research demonstrates that…”

causationassociationSome time ago, for instance, I heard a presenter comment that too much use of digital devices causes students’ lack of concentration, and she cited a university research study. Trouble is, when I subsequently checked out the research, it was based on 25 participants — a small number on which to form a conclusion and make assumptions about a dramatic outcome. After I read the abstract, I discovered that the researchers who conducted the study concluded that the outcome is an association with kids’ lack of concentration and not a cause. The data did not indicate that too much technology causes a lack of concentration.

The difference between association and causation is significant, and parents as well as those of us in the educational technology community need to recognize the difference. Much of our accumulated data about technology outcomes are collected over a short-term, and in many areas we have no data collected long-term. Television statistics are the exception, because after years and years of well-designed, science-based studies, the causal connection between television viewing and childhood behaviors is only now being firmly established. That’s because enough data exist to enable researchers to draw firmer conclusions about how TV screen time affects certain childhood problems.

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2012 Thoughts About Privacy

This graph from the Poneman Institute’s report, 2012 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy (PDF) depicts the seven-year trends about people’s views about their control over personal information and importance of privacy.

(image used with permission)

privacy views

Kids’ Online Privacy Legislation – Will It Ever Happen?

Image made with Wordfoto with a picture taken at the Library of Congress.

Much of what a child or teen does online gets added to a digital profile. Even when information is not supposed to be collected, it accumulates – somewhere. Moreover, when a child or adolescent acts impulsively or thoughtlessly online, no way exists to erase or delete a digital mistake. Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society posts a great digital dossier video that parents and educators may want to use as a conversation tool.

To learn a lot more about the state of privacy policy, especially as it concerns children and adolescents, read the article Congress Revisits Online Privacy Legislation over at Boston.com.

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Still Think Google is Mostly a Search Engine?

The next time people in your family use Google to look for personal health information, they may be contributing to scientific research.

Google search data is beginning to be used to learn more about the flu. In fact, it’s beginning to look like Google Flu Trends (GFT), which keeps track of searches that inquire about influenza symptoms, may be faster and more effective than the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) surveillance network when it comes to predicting where the flu will become most prevalent. To learn more read this Google Flu Trends FAQ.

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