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What will it take to make adolescents and teens understand that what they do just about anywhere is not private — even if it’s digital and feels like a limited number of others will know? Perhaps we are about to find out.
Harvard University recently rescinded acceptances from ten or more incoming students who formed a “private” Facebook page and traded sexually explicit and disgusting memes about kids, women, and people of color. Putting aside the loathsome behavior — just for a moment — why on earth would these young people consider any Facebook group or any other online group to be private, even if it has private in its name?
Crimson reporter Hannah Natanson writes:
In the group students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups…
In essence, Google is now using credit card data, to combine with the data it has already collected about us, to learn more about our purchases — those made online and and those we purchase without any online connection. The goal, according to Washington Post reporters Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, is to discover whether Google’s searches and its advertisements have helped people decide what to buy — even when a purchase isn’t made online.
The company continues to collect data and learn more and more about people of all ages. That’s creepy. It feels even more creepy when I consider how we use Gmail in my family to share calendars and when I look at the Google Dashboard that keeps track of and shares with me some of the data Google has collect about us.
Many years ago, at a conference on the campus of Virginia Tech, I entered a virtual reality (VR) area — I think it was called “the cave” — with all sorts of things going on around me. I think I was expecting the holodeck from Star Trek, where they went through a door and suddenly found themselves on vacation in a beautiful and peaceful place (check out what Virginia Tech’s video that describes virtual reality and the holodeck). Instead during my first foray into VR I wore big goggles, and I got a bit dizzy. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try again.
This past week I gave virtual reality another try, this time at the Newseum VR Lab in Washington, DC. I was handed a pair of goggles, put them on, and followed the instructions to start the show. Continue reading →
Take some time to watch an interesting video, Are We Becoming Bots, presented by tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar. In his video Polgar describes how in today’s digital age, each person is connected to many, many other people. Too many connections can lead individuals to send “botified” responses — meaning that we sometimes behave more like robots and less like people. “Botified” behavior occurs because of the digital world challenges that arise when we try to accommodate way too many online connections. Continue reading →
Several years ago I uploaded a post, Advice from Digital Kids to Parents, including some of the thoughts that kids in grades 3-6 shared with me about adults’ digital activities. My students often commented that it was unfair when parents asked their kids to sign a digital life contract or agreement, because adults then proceeded to break many of the common sense rules.
For some time I’ve felt those children’s voices bubbling up with their ideas, and since today (Sunday) is the last day of National Poetry Month 2017, I listened to those voices, penning this poem about kids, parents, contracts, and common sense.
So here’s my second, and I hope amusing poem about digital life from kids’ perspectives. (Read my first poem.) Children have brought up all these events in discussions with during digital citizenship activities.
Hey Mom and Dad…
I’m really glad I got my phone,
It’s cool and lots of fun.
I’m texting friends and playing games,
It seems I’m never done.
I signed your contract with my name,
Yes, it was right to do.
But I wish you’d take the time
To follow those rules too!
For years to come there will be no better case study to illustrate the damage that fake news, internet trolls, and social media can create than ‘Pizzagate’. The shameful, made-up information and the events that followed will comprise an authoritative discussion piece for parents, and it should enter every middle and high school media/news literacy curriculum.
In the April 20, 2017 Washington Post, Comet Pizza owner James Alefantis writes about how fake news concerning his restaurant went viral. His article What Happened When ‘PizzaGate’ Came to My Restaurant describes what happened when his business, neighbors, and customers suffered because of harassment, frightening phone calls, menacing comments to workers and their families, intimidation toward nearby businesses, and even death threats. Yet Alefantis also describes how his strong community — neighbors and other businesses — rallied in support. Continue reading →