Posted in 21st Century life, American Academy of Pediatrics, defining screen time, parents and technology, screen time, young children

Screen Time?? What Counts & What Doesn’t?

How do you count screen time? Screens are so much a part of our lives, and in just a few moments we can check texts, read the newspaper, and map out a bike route. Our kids see this.

Remote Video Grandchildren Skype Grandparents
Facetiming! A public domain image at Dreamstims.com

It’s been fascinating to watch my grandson gradually become interested in light and then screens over these past four years. Early on he’d glance at any area that was lit up — a window, a lamp, a toy — and eventually I’d see him study, with rapt concentration, a lit up screen or unusual light anywhere in the vicinity. When he was a bit over two, his parents got him a fake toy screen — not at all interesting — but real screens, the type we use in almost every part of our lives, grabbed his attention, and fairly soon he wanted to do things with those devices.

Now four, he thinks screens are a big deal. He’d love to play games, watch TV, or just get mom or dad’s iPad or mobile phone to play a game. However, although he lives in a home with multiple screens, his time is limited, and digital devices are rarely used as a baby sitter or diversion. Besides, he has books, lots of books.

Yet, if I take out my cell phone, or his mom gets out her iPad, he’s right there checking it out and ready to go. When I babysit, it is not uncommon for him to ask if he can watch TV. (Usually, my answer is not right now.)   Continue reading “Screen Time?? What Counts & What Doesn’t?”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning resources, fact-checking, fake news, image evaluation, information credibility, media literacy

MediaWise: A Cool Initiative for Teens

describing-real-newsIf you are searching for an educational media literacy initiative that focuses on the mechanics of fact-checking, take a few minutes to learn about MediaWise, a project of the Poynter Institute.

Eighteen teenagers from around the United States are part of a MediaWise fact-checking network, learning about strategies and techniques that can help them identify misinformation. They participate in training that helps them understand how to determine what’s true and what’s not, and then the teens can set about investigating on their own. Finally, and this is the cool part, after the students decide whether the information is true or false, they create videos that illustrate the process they used to evaluate the information.

I’ve embedded two of the videos below.             Continue reading “MediaWise: A Cool Initiative for Teens”

Posted in American history, coding history, digital world challenges, technology changes, women and computing, women in history, women mathematicians

Code Girls: Top Secret American Brainpower During World War II

97803163525501Today we often hear that children must learn how to code as the only way to be prepared for the technical challenges they will encounter as adults. I used to teach coding to children at my school, but after reading Code Girls, I am reminded that we should not lose sight of the importance of a broad education that emphasizes languages, math, science, music, and all the other subjects that make up the liberal arts. This type of education serves people well, because it ensures that students possess thinking skills and develop the wherewithal to learn, when necessary, new types of technical skills, such as coding and programming.

in Code Girls author Liza Mundy tells the story of how young women, many of whom were academically prepared in the liberal arts to become teachers, came to work for the Army and Navy in Washington, D.C. during World War II. They mastered extraordinary technical skills, learning how to decipher complicated and perplexing coded wartime communications. Continue reading “Code Girls: Top Secret American Brainpower During World War II”

Posted in 21st Century life, bedrooms, devices and bedtime, digital devices, digital devices and gadgets, digital devices and sleep, digital life, parents and technology, tech free time

When Did We Stop Thinking of Bedrooms as Places to Sleep?

bedroom deviceShould we make kids’ bedrooms better for sleeping?

I’ve just finished reading an October 2016 editorial in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, Problems Associated With Use of Mobile Devices in the Sleep Environment — Streaming Instead of Dreaming. The short piece describes the problems that digital devices, especially those that are mobile and easy to glance at or grab in the middle of the night, reflects on research published in the same issue of the journal. Unfortunately neither article is freely available; however, the links I’ve added offer a summary describing how the research was conducted and highlighting the findings.

The JAMA Pediatrics research article explains how the study asked the question, “Is there an association between screen-based media device access or use in the sleep environment and sleep quantity and quality?” Researchers conducted a meta-analysis (examining the results of many studies and combining the results) by searching through 20 previous studies, involving more than 125,000 children, that examined sleep patterns of children between 6 and 19 years old.                       Continue reading “When Did We Stop Thinking of Bedrooms as Places to Sleep?”

Posted in 21st Century life, newspapers, parents and technology, searching, searching for information

A Tale of Two Online Newspaper Searches

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The newspaper article in the morning paper

It’s Monday morning and over breakfast I’ve found two articles that I want to read more closely, perhaps to share on my blogs — one in the New York Times and the other in the Washington Post. When I decide to share, I usually print out the article, mark it up a bit, and copy the all-important link. My digital life features online newspapers, but in the mornings I still love to look over the paper version,

The 21st Century searching experience for the two newspapers could not be more different.

On the Times website I search for the headline that I’ve just seen and up pops my article. Within moments it’s printed and ready for me to study. Interestingly, even if the Times’ online version leads with a different headline, my article will pop up with a search for either headline.     Continue reading “A Tale of Two Online Newspaper Searches”

Posted in data collecting, media literacy, media messages, parents and technology, searching

Your News, My News – Do We Get the Same Views?

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-24-28-amAccording to a video shared by the DuckDuckGo website, when we  search for information on Google each of us can get slightly different, or sometimes enormously different results – even if we use the exact search terms in the exact order and at about the same time. DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasizes privacy, is a Google competitor.

The order of Google’s results may guided by what it knows about the individual who is doing the search. (Check out Ghostery to identify trackers on any or all of your pages.)

Collected information – including any previous searches, where we live, what we read, where we get our news, what we purchase, how much we travel, and much more can affect what we see in the results. I never thought about this much, but I do remember how a few years ago a group of my middle school students were searching on Google for information, and I noticed and was puzzled that similar searches sometimes generated lists of slightly different results. Continue reading “Your News, My News – Do We Get the Same Views?”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century life, credibility, evaluating news, evaluating web site resources, fake news, information credibility, media literacy, parents and technology

Real or Fake? How to Check Yourself

img_7661If you think a lot about fake news these days, and if you aim to help your students or family members develop the ability to effectively evaluate and decide what’s real and what’s not, National Public Radio (NPR) just published an excellent article, Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts. This piece highlights six steps that individuals can use to judge the stories they encounter, and the article includes a detailed description about how to go about following through with each step.

The entire NPR post, which is chock full of helpful information, will be a useful teaching tool for anyone who wants to gauge a news item’s authenticity, and the six basic steps are easy to master. Post the list near computers, on the refrigerator, and in rooms where family members use digital devices and on digital devices’ note pads.

News Evaluation Steps from National Public Radio (Read the article for lots more detail.) Continue reading “Real or Fake? How to Check Yourself”