Don’t Be Afraid of Device-free Times in Your Family!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.36.54 PMMy March 2011 post, Five Tech-free Times for Families, discussed the importance of planning family time-out activities away from digital devices. Time away from screens, I noted, provides family members with opportunities to communicate with one another and enjoy activities that do not require technology (playing outside, eating together, reading, enjoying a game).

Device-free times also help kids and adults become more aware of the people around them, and without screens good conversation is much easier. Many people have kept journals of their device-free activities, and often they note how much easier it is to talk more with people, try new activities, even sit around and relax.

If you missed College Kids Giving Up Their Cellphones: The Incredible Tale of the Maryland Women’s Team, it’s a great resource to read now and share with the young people in your family.             Continue reading

ENIAC: The First U.S. Computer and How Women Made It Work

ENIAC 6People — young and old — enjoy learning about the first computer in the United States, ENIAC, booted up in 1946. Every 21st Century learner needs to know about this amazing machine and the story of the first programmers.

A few weeks ago I visited Philadelphia and had a special opportunity to visit ENIAC. This huge, old-fashioned computer is owned by the Smithsonian Institution  (read this article), but parts of it are still housed in a building at the University of Pennsylvania, almost exactly where it was originally set up. ENIAC could be  programmed to do extensive calculations much faster than humans could calculate.

The letters in ENIAC stand for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.                             Continue reading

Privacy 2015 Part III: Pew Privacy Report Shows Adults’ Concern About Personal Info

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 2.08.04 PMA privacy report, just issued by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, addresses the views of American adults, now that the country is two years past the disclosure of digital world “information collecting” by the National Security Agency (NSA).

FT_15.01.15_privacy_personalInfoOne especially interesting finding of the report is that 91% of the adults surveyed believe they have lost control of their personal information (how it’s collected and how it is used). A majority of survey respondents also indicated that they would like more control over advertisers’ access to and uses of personal information. Read more about the report.

Often we do not think about the many digital footprints that adults leave behind in the digital world — digital footprints that give companies access to more information. Yet, as I work with children in the K-12 world, it is not uncommon for them to wonder aloud about the privacy of their parents. My students, as they learn about their own personal information dos and don’ts, also apply these lessons to the digital profiles of the adults in their lives. Continue reading

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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So What Else Can Google Do?

Made with Tagul!

Made with Tagul!

Did you know that, besides searching, Google can carry out a variety of simple tasks in daily life — making 21st Century connected life easier or at least a bit quicker? Amaze your children or students by trying out and sharing a few of these Google bells and whistles. A few of the tasks may also support learning activities.

  1. Use Google as a timer by typing set time to 24 minutes.
  2. Find a movie release by typing the name of the movie and the word release: e.g., Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel release.
  3. Check out the sunrise and sunset times by typing sunrise in [town or city].
  4. Get the weather forecast by typing forecast [town or city].
  5. Get a definition by typing define [word here].
  6. Figure out a tip by typing tip calculator.
  7. Get songs by groups you like by typing songs by the [group name].
  8. Convert measurements by typing convert and the units that you want to convert to: e.g., convert 3 yards to meters.
  9. Find books by a certain author by typing books by [author’s name].
  10. Get a definition by typing define [word here].

Check out even more!      Continue reading