What Digital Risks Should We Worry About the Most? On Digital Fear — Part #1

When we interact with digital kids about their hyper-connected lives, I wish we could de-emphasize the fear factor and re-emphasize education and understanding, helping young users become stronger digital world problem-solvers.

fear risk

Image made at Festisite.

A day doesn’t go by without hearing an adult comment about children’s digital world risks, and invariably these conversations focus on predators, strangers, pornography, and cyber-bullying. The relatively high concern about these potential Internet encounters — events that do not occur nearly as often as the mainstream media imply — obscures the importance of so many other interactive problems that happen all of the time to digital kids — daily social events gone awry.  It’s these problems, often the result of online mis-judgments, that most often contribute to a child’s public humiliation and embarrassment.

An article worth reading, Risks, Opportunities, and Realities of Children’s Internet Usage: A Few Moments With Sonia Livingstone, is posted over at the DML Central blog. The piece features an interview with Dr. Livingstone, a professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) who chairs the Department of Media and Communication, and whose research focuses on children’s online safety and risk. The interview covers topics such as developing digital skills, parental control of their children’s Internet activities, risk, and potential harm. While Dr. Livingstone’s research focuses on children and families in Europe, her thoughts and research results may be just as pertinent for families in the United States.

If you want to read a lot more about Dr. Livingstone’s research, check out the PDF report describing the comprehensive 25 country LSE study of more than 25,000 European children, ages 9 – 16, and their parents. Risks and Safety on the Internet is well-researched, detailed, and readable. Easy-to-read graphs are also included. The report offers parents, yes even in the United States, an accurate digital world prism through which to view the lives and activities of preadolescents and teens.

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Amaze Digital Kids with Internet Statistics!

Royal PingdomDo you wish you could amaze the digital kids in your life with trivia or fun facts about the connected world?

For the past couple of years the Royal Pingdom site has posted a yearly overview of Internet statistics. The post, Internet 2012 in Numbers, shares some interesting figures, and they will indeed help you amaze the digital natives in your life. Moreover these statistics can serve as excellent conversation starters and provide good context to help connected learners understand more about the size and scope of the digital world that they take for granted.

Here’s a sampling from the 2012 post. By the end or the year the Internet featured:

  • 425 million active Gmail users
  • 635 million web sites
  • 51 new web sites added during the year
  • 246 million domain name registrations
  • 2.4 billion Internet users and 565 million of them are in China
  • 175 million of Tweets per day
  • 40.5 years as the average age of a Facebook user
  • 4 billion hours watched on YouTube per month

Check out the many other stats and some nifty graphs. Remember, though, that the statistics are from 2012. Royal Pingdom has also compiled numbers for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, so you can have some fun comparing and contrasting the numbers from year to year (and watching them grow). The site has not posted statistics for 2013 – at least not yet.

Get Better Quality Sleep With Centralized Home Charging Stations

From a MakeZine Activity. http://makezine.com/craft/how-to_diy_device_charging_sta/

From a MakeZine Activity

With so many different electronic devices in our lives, it’s easy to get distracted and use them for extended periods and inappropriate times. Concerns about overuse abound, but one of the most significant issues is the way that digital devices keep people, especially 21st Century preadolescents and teens, from getting enough good quality sleep.

To improve sleep habits in your house, consider purchasing or one or two digital gadget charging stations where family members can charge phones and other devices. Locate the charging stations away from the bedrooms.

A Google search for charging stations gets you started, or you can begin with this Mashable post, 10 Chic Charging Stations.

Charging station at Pottery Barn.

Charging station at Pottery Barn.

I recently discovered, in a small way, just how a cell phone screen can disrupt sleep. I received a new Solitaire game app, and began playing two or three games on my iPhone just before bed several nights in a row. A few games grew into 20 or 30 minutes of play, and for three nights in a row, when I put down the phone, it took me a long time to settle down and get to sleep. The fourth night I did not play, and sleep came easily. Lesson learned.

One of my favorite charging stations is the red box at the top right of this post, a nifty craft project made from a filing box.

Twenty-first century parenting demands are unending and sometimes difficult to solve, but introducing charging stations into a home is a simple and elegant solution that addresses sleep deprivation issues for everyone in the family.

A Few Resources to Read on Sleep Deprivation and Device Screen                          Continue reading

1981: A Quaint View of the Connected World to Come

You will want to watch and smile over this video of a 1981 San Francisco area television report describing the early use of online media. Illustrating how far we have come in the connected world, it’ a great video to share with the digital kids in your family! Charming and quaint and posted over at Wimp.com.  Enjoy!

N.B This video requires Adobe Flash so the video does not work on an iPhone or iPad.

San Fran Internet Video

Visit Wimp.com to watch the video.

International Safer Internet Day – February 11, 2014

Parents and educators may want to encourage 21st Century learners to participate in the International Safer Internet Day celebration on February 11, 2014. This year I am especially looking forward to the event, because it focuses on what is good about the connected world. (Unfortunately, way too often people concentrate on the fear aspects of the connected world.)

One Good Thing

Instructions for Submitting a Video

Over 100 countries observe Safer Internet Day each year on a day in February. United States organizers are asking participants to make short videos that share their thoughts about the good things that can happen on the Internet concentrating especially on how these good things contribute to making the world a better place.

The United States sponsors of the event are journalists Anne Collier and Larry Magid, who jointly run the ConnectSafely.org website. Anne also writes on her blog at NetFamilyNews.org and Larry writes on his at LarrysWorld.com.

Check out the U.S. Safer Internet Day website below.                  Continue reading