Posted in 21st Century life, connected world problems, digital life and democracy, disinformation, fact-checking, fraudulent news, future tech employment, information credibility, social media

The Word Fake Really Can’t Describe the Word News

“It’s time to move past fake news,” suggests an August 30, 2019 editorial in the Toronto Star, which explains the need to amend or change the terminology, instead labeling made-up information as disinformation. The article points out that, while there has always been made up or exaggerated information, our contemporary digital world provides easy and efficient ways to spread disinformation.

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Social media makes it easy to promote disinformation. Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Best Quote:

Fake news is a misnomer. There is no “news” in it. And the term has become mere shorthand to dismiss anything with which the user of the phrase disagrees.

Quoting scholars including Kathleen Hall Jamieson, at the University of Pennsylvania, and David Runciman at Cambridge University, the Toronto Star editorial writers note that the digital revolution allows people to target various groups with disinformation. Moreover, the digital precision and speed of social media make it easier to challenge the cultural norms of democracy. Sometimes these challenges are designed to make people understand even less about democratic institutions. Continue reading “The Word Fake Really Can’t Describe the Word News”

Posted in parents and technology

Why I’ve Gone Back to Paying for My Email

After six or seven years of using a free email account, I decided to switch to one that I pay for, one that does not share my data or track what I do.

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My Old Email

I made the decision after I looked at my Google purchase list that goes back for years. These notations include hotels, restaurants, transportation tickets, clothes, books and just about everything else that I bought online. Looking over the list, I observed that it was pretty easy to monitor the past few years of my life just by looking through my purchases. I had no privacy.

One of my friends said it best when he commented, “When something is free, you and your data are the product.” So that is when I decided to switch. I do not want to be the product. I am tired of serving as the product.

I looked at half-a-dozen different programs, all of which emphasize privacy and freedom from tracking, and I chose one that several people I know have used. Then I got out my credit card, paid for a year and — wonder of wonders — the charge did not show up on Google Purchases.

Since then I’ve spent time moving things over to my new email system. This includes just about everything that asks me to sign up with my email address and probably anything that relates to business.

I’m pleased!

Posted in 21st Century teaching, digital device distraction, digital devices, teaching digital kids

A California School’s Smartphone Solution

hand on phoneDistraction in 21st Century schools is a huge issue. Read this descriptive article about students, digital devices, and paying attention in the classroom, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Probably no device has become as frustrating for teachers as the smartphone. Many educators, whether they teach in middle school, high school, or college express a sense of frustration about the amount of time their students spend glancing down at their mobile phones when they are supposed to be paying attention to what is going on in the classroom

Administrators at San Mateo High School, about 20 miles away from San Francisco, have decided that student phones will be locked up during school hours. At the start of the day students insert their devices into a pouch that closes with a school lock. The kids keep the bags with them, and at the end of the academic day, the administrators unlock them.

The goal of this school’s policy is to decrease the student distraction and to stop students’ habit of looking down at their phones every few minutes. The above link includes an interesting NBC news story.

It will be interesting to see if other schools develop similar policies.

 

Posted in 21st Century life, back-to-school, Back-to-school digital reading, digital wellness, parents and technology

Back to School: 2019-20 Digital Parenting Checklist

backpack picThis post includes a downloadable handout.

At the beginning of the school year, what can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids — with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online endeavors — get off to a good start?

Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes, and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members and working together to set up a family media plan that works for each person in the family.

Below are a few issues for parents and educators to consider as they seek to maintain quality in kids’ 21st Century digital lives during the 2019-2020 school year. Raising strong and competent digital citizens requires teamwork and immense effort — at home and at school.

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Download this PDF handout.

1.  Make decisions about screen time in your family. Altogether, as a family, figure out your plan and then think about how you will re-address your decisions as the year progresses. Check out the 2018 article, How Much Screen Time Affects Kids’ Bodies and Brains at Forbes. Family issues to consider might include:

  • What limits will your family set up for digital devices, electronic games, and television?
  • If your child uses a personal device from school, are you aware of specific teacher expectations and time commitments?
  • What else would you like your child to spend time doing?
  • A good article for parents and educators (and a great back-to-school piece to share with parents) is on the NPR website — Kids and Screen Time-What Does the Research Say?   

Continue reading “Back to School: 2019-20 Digital Parenting Checklist”

Posted in data collecting, data sharing, digital life, online tracking, parents and technology

Do You Really Understand How Much You Are Tracked in Your Web Activities?

When we use Chrome, Google’s tracking cookies follow us everywhere, and the video below perfectly illustrates how these trackers operate in our digital lives. It was produced by Washington Post technology columnists, Geoffrey A. Fowler and James Pace-Cornsilk.

Enjoy watching, but also ask yourself how much of your personal data and your daily activities you want to share with these trackers? Moreover, how much of your children’s data do you want these cookies to collect? In a connected world, digital life is complicated as is personal privacy.

This video appears in a Post article, Google’s Data Collection Drives Some Consumers Away, by Greg Bensinger.

FYI, I have stopped using Chrome completely (I use Duck Duck Go as a browser), and I am migrating to an email that I pay a small fee for each month.  To learn more about what I use you may want to read two past MediaTech Parenting posts.

Posted in digital life, evaluating news, fact-checking, information credibility, media literacy, parents and technology

7 Games & Simulations that Can Strengthen Fact-Checking Skills

7 fact checking games
Click to read about the games at the Poynter fact-checking newsletter.

Today everyone needs to get better at fact-checking –a critical digital world skill. Interestingly, as we parents and educators help young people learn to distinguish what is true from what is not, we quickly discover that many adults need as much or more practice than the kids.

Online games and simulation activities can help people supercharge their fact-checking and evaluation abilities and even have a bit of fun doing it. Recently the weekly Poynter fact-checking newsletter, Factually, featured a list of seven of these games that can help people fine-tune their content evaluation skills. While each of the games is different from the others, all of them aim to help individuals gain the confidence and competence to determine what is true and what is misinformation or disinformation. All can be good teaching tools.

I recently wrote a blog post about Factitious, a game that is included in Poynter’s list, but the other six games look like they have enormous potential when it comes to helping kids and adults practice and understand a lot more about the need to fact-check and how to go about it.

Posted in 21st Century life, 21st Century parenting, digital health and wellness, digital kids, digital parenting, family conversations, New York Times, parent child conversations, parents and technology

Learn Lots More from the New York Times About Addressing Kids’ Tech Use

screen timeAfter nine years of blogging at MediaTechParenting, I’ve written posts about kids, technology, parenting, screen time, citizenship, 21st Century life, digital devices — well you get the idea. Now a New York Times Smarter Living published report summarizes a good deal of what I’ve been writing about in a parents’ guide to raising and guiding kids in the digital world.

How (and When) to Limit Kids’ Tech Use by Melanie Pinola (@MelaniePinola) includes just about everything a digital age parent needs to know. The comprehensive and well-packaged guide overflows with information. Keep it nearby, whether your child is a new baby, a teenager, or any age in between.

Pinola breaks her digital parenting guide into three parts:   Continue reading “Learn Lots More from the New York Times About Addressing Kids’ Tech Use”