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

I Love My Sonos Play:1 Wireless Speakers!

It’s great fun to think about how technology improves our lives, especially given how much people worry about digital world problems. For me one of the best changes in our 21st Century lives has been the new and improved ways that I can listen to music, podcasts, and radio programs.

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One of my Sonos wireless speakers

These days with our Sonos Play:1 wireless sound system, my family listens to a vastly expanded range of music, radio stations, podcasts, and much more. Tune speakers sit at strategic  locations around the house, and though we still regularly listen to “old-fashioned” radios, our wireless system is gradually taking over because of its amazing sound quality. The first time we played music on one of our Sonos speakers we joked that it felt like the musicians were in the room with us.

Using the Sonos app, each Play:1 speaker — we now have four — is easily connected to our wi-fi network, and then it runs through a sound test to become familiar with its room. The app also allows us to group the speakers and play the same music throughout the house or keep them separate, thereby allowing any member of the family to listen to different media on the closest Play:1 — once each speaker played different music at the same time for people in each of the rooms.  Perfect for any household with diverse listening tastes!       Continue reading

Your Phone Knows a Lot About You: Even When You Think You’ve Secured It

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-10-49-13-amThose of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.

Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?, Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.

Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.

Check it out.

 

Check Out Harvard’s Free Online Course: Religions of the World MOOC

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MOOC stands for massive open online course.

We all need to learn more about the religions of the world. Even people  who are not especially religious need to become respectfully informed. Now a Harvard online MOOC course on the world’s religions is enrolling and welcoming participants — for free. A lot more about the course by reading a Huffington Post article.

The course is offered as a series of modules, each focused on a specific religion. The course can be taken for free, but if students want a certificate of achievement they will need to pay $50. The instructors leading the classes teach at Harvard University and Wellesley College.               Continue reading

Without Moderation & Mindfulness Tech Can Diminish Our Personal Lives

Does too much technology, with our smart phones especially,os7iphone-2 interfere with the quality and the personal connections in our lives? Do we concentrate less because of the unceasing demands of our digital devices?

I’ve just finished reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s December 2016 article, Technology is Diminishing Us, and he makes thoughtful points about how, despite the good things that 21st Century digital devices bring to our lives, they can also diminish our daily emotional responses and contemplative experiences. The author reflects, with a personal emphasis, on digital distractions that increasingly disrupt of face-to-face communication, and his ideas connect well with the conclusions that Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor Sherry Turkle shares in her books Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversations, also well worth reading.

Foer, whose essay appeared in The Guardian, notes that early on technological innovations aimed to help people more easily accomplish daily life tasks — telephones replaced letters, answering machines supplemented phone calls, email made communication even easier, and texting easier still. Each change or invention sought to help people communicate more efficiently and effectively (in theory). Yet all this ease of use comes with caveats. The devices that connect us to others almost all of the time and to unlimited information whenever we seek it, have become electronic busybodies, obsessively notifying, alerting, locating, and suggesting (even when we try to turn many of the features off) as we attempt to concentrate, interact with others, and get things done. Most of us do little to stop these interruptions.                       Continue reading

George Takei’s TED Lecture About His Family’s Internment During WW II

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Watch George Takei’s TedTalk.

My recent blog post Japanese Internment in the U.S. — Information to Share With Your Students, was filled with learning tools that teachers (and parents, too) can use to help young people learn about the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. One of the connected world resources merits it’s own post.

Recommended by a colleague, George Takei’s TED Talk, Why I Love a Country the Once Betrayed Me, describes what happened when soldiers arrested his family and imprisoned them at one of the internment camps.Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, explains how his parents lost everything and yet possessed the resilience to start rebuilding their lives after the United States government allowed them to leave the camp. I was sure that I had watched this talk, but it turned out that I had not.

Takei’s TedTalk is powerful and engaging, and it brings to life fear, sorrow, patriotism, and the terrible things that can happen when people fear others solely because of their race and ethnic background.

An important lesson in this age when so many people fear refugees and others because of their religion..

Can Honesty With Security Questions Not Be the Best Policy?

Do your security question answers unlock too much information?

Do your security question answers unlock too much personal information?

We hear a lot of discussion about secure passwords, but now people are wondering whether we should pay more attention to the answers we give for security questions.

The article Why You Should Lie When Setting Up Password Security Questions, over at the Techlicious site, makes me wonder whether security questions — and the answers that we provide —  should be re-evaluated. The article emphasizes the lack of security and privacy in our lives, and notes that by giving answers to security questions that describe our personal lives we set ourselves up for potential identity theft problems when hacks do occur.

Continue reading