Privacy 2015 Part II: Find Out How Invisible Trackers Collect Your Information

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 2.08.04 PMWe hear, over and over, about how people are tracked online. Now we have a way to watch for ourselves and learn. Download Ghostery and let it tell you who is keeping track of your data. When I downloaded it to my computers, it was so amazing that I could not believe my eyes!

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Ghostery identified 4 trackers on Word Press.

The quick install, available for every browser, makes it possible to identify and display any website tracker that is collecting information. As a user moves from website to website the number of trackers changes. It’s amazing, because, despite the fact that I have checked the box in my browser asking sites not to track me … they do.

At first I was skeptical, so I went to the Ghostery website to find out why a company would “out” so many other companies. There’s an enlightening video to watch and lots of information about how and why the company does what it does. Read more on the company’s about page.

If you don’t know much about tracking check out the first post in this series.

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Privacy 2015 Part I: Parents Can’t Pay Too Much Attention

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 2.08.04 PMIt is a given in this age of connected life that our privacy is much diminished, and it does not matter whether we are children or adults. The trick seems to be for each us to make thoughtful decisions about what family members share and, as much as possible, be aware what is shared or collected about us.

For me, this has been an interesting week where privacy and kids’ privacy is concerned, because four distinct event occurred.

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Google Dashboard: A Connected-World Teaching Tool for All Ages

A screen show from the Google Dashboard.

A screen shot from the Google Dashboard.

If you use Google, take a few minutes to check out the Google Dashboard and look over a detailed digital footprint snapshot of your Google activities. Learning about digital footprints is an important 21st Century connected-world skill.

The Dashboard keeps track of everything — and I mean everything — that you do on Google. It’s a dynamic digital footprint collection. To sign in and examine your Gmail or Google Alerts is easy, and you can also check out the other features offered by Google such as Google Docs, Google Calendar, Blogger, or Google Reader (many more Google products are available and new ones become available on a regular basis).

Google Dashboard is an awesome connected-world teaching tool for 21st Century children at any age and for adults, because it makes a point — concretely — about the amount of information that Google accumulates on each of us. Many people are surprised, and a bit disconcerted, on a first visit, because the Dashboard depicts a good deal about each user.

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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 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)

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