Spring Clean Your Digital Profile

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Download the document at A Platform for Good.

The idea of spring cleaning each individual’s digital profile is terrific — something for parents and teachers to do themselves and then share with children.

Just like we tidy up our homes and our gardens in March, April and May, it’s a good time to put our digital domiciles on the to-do list. Paying attention to the upkeep of our digital footprints and devices allows us to clean up and polish online images and minimize potential problems on our devices and gadgets. In the process we learn a lot about ourselves, but also about the details that others can learn about us online.

So check out the Family Online Safety Institute’s (FOSI) digital life spring cleaning mini-poster over at the organization’s newish web space, A Platform for GoodFOSI designed A Platform for Good as an informational site that helps  parents, teachers, and teens connect, share, and do good online.  The website’s about page shares this thought about its mission:

Our vision for A Platform for Good is to start a dialogue about what it means to participate responsibly in a digital world. While recognizing the potential risks, we will celebrate technology as a vehicle for opportunity and social change.

The clean-up-your-digital-life mini-poster, available by link or download, asks each of us take some time to dust off our online lives. Suggestions include ensuring that our passwords are strong, Googling ourselves to see what comes up from a search, and examining our devices to be sure that they are secure and up-to-date. The Platform for Good document also encourages individuals — adults and children — to evaluate the privacy settings on any social network accounts (many adults and children reside on these sites as if they are second homes or at least daily digital playgrounds).

So why should we go through this process?          Continue reading

Celebrate Christmas? Check out this Digital Advent Calendar

Check out Jacquie Lawson e-cards!

My mother sent me an electronic Advent calendar from Jacquie Lawson E-cards and Greetings. It’s amazing. No, this calendar is not just amazing — it cute, whimsical, and downright fun. Also it’s a simple and easy gift to give to a grandchild, a grandparent, or anyone in-between — and it’s easy to use. It may be necessary to join the e-card site, but it’s cheap relative to what we spend on cards and greetings.

Each morning, just like when I was a child, I dash to my computer or iPad, open the digital door, and start the day’s Advent/Christmas animation. My calendar depicts Victorian London, and so far I’ve decorated a tree, watched a London market stock up for Christmas, and explored a room inside Big Ben’s clock tower.

A couple of weeks ago the calendar arrived via an e-mail message with a download link and instructions. It works on my PC and my Mac (in fact, the day after installing it, I upgraded to a new Mac operating system, and the calendar continued to play without a hitch), and an advent calendar app is available on iTunes.

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Terms of Use, Readability, and Digital Kids

Check the terms of use readability level at your favorite sites.

Just about every time I head over to iTunes to purchase something, I’m all set to finish up when the site diverts me to a change in the terms of use. It happens at lots of sites.  And each time I click to look at a site’s terms of use, it’s a longer document — 40 pages, 41, 42… Now I don’t object to changes or even insisting that users check things out, but terms of use are abstract and arcane and not especially easy to read or even understand.

I’ve always thought it would be an interesting conversation topic for parents and kids — taking a few minutes to look at those terms of use statements that most people accept and go right by, and helping children discover a bit about the fine print.

About eight months ago, I read a posting about terms of use documents, C’mon! Match Terms of Use Text to Users’ Comprehension Level, written by Linda Criddle over at the I look Both Ways blog.

Criddle described her experience examining terms of use documents posted on well-known and popular websites. She looked over the terms of use documents for the sites such as the New York Times, Amazon, iPhone, Club Penguin. Then she ran each document through a readability index – a tool that examines a passage and estimates how easy or hard it will be for a person to read the words, as well as what level of education the reader might need to comprehend the information. Continue reading

Getting Serious About Online Privacy

Your family’s privacy is significantly diminished by online activities, and a new government report is critical of the situation.

Yesterday’s New York Times (December 1, 2010) featured an article, F.T.C. Backs Plan to Honor Privacy of Online Users, reporting on recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about collecting online information without permission. The article, written by reporters Edward Wyatt and Tanzina Vega, describes the FTC report Protecting Privacy in a Time of Rapid Change (122 pages of interesting reading) in some detail, but the gist of the recommendations, according to the Times writers, is “that companies adopt simpler, more transparent, and streamlined ways of presenting consumers with their options…” Take time to read the entire piece.

A few interesting points from FTC the report include: Continue reading

Sharing or Stealing? M!T!P! Blog Excursion-10/7/10

Children download electronic files all the time — documents, music, books, pictures, and more. Sometimes they also connect computers to a peer-2-peer (P2P) software network, such as BitTorrent and LimeWire, that enable all sorts of file sharing between computers.

P2P file sharing can be intentional, but sometimes an owner many not know what the peer-2-peer network and personal computer are sharing, so it’s easy for unexpected and illegal content to end up on a computer without a person’s knowledge. Unfortunately, while kids today understand the mechanics and ease of accessing and downloading content, few of them, whether elementary, middle, high school, or even college age, comprehend ownership issues.

Digital citizenship requires an understanding the nuts-and-bolts of content ownership.

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