Young Children, YouTube Kids & Learning: Thoughts to Consider

If you have preschoolers in your family, check out The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube, appearing in The Atlantic.

YouTube Kids splash screenWritten by Adrienne LaFrance, the eye-opening article describes how the YouTube Kids app works as well as the experiences of 21st Century preschool children who use it. The author also shares thoughts about the app (though not endorsements) from academics including Michael Rich, who directs the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School and Sandra Calvert, who heads up the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University.

It appears that many older toddlers and preschool kids spend a considerable amount of time with YouTube Kids. They love the app, and the article in The Atlantic details many of the reasons why.

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Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Virtual Reality Is Amazing & a Little Bit Scary

My virtual reality head-gear.

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

An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem for Kids With New Digital Devices

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Click here to read my second poem about kids’ advice to parents.

Since it’s National Poetry Month, I decided to write a few amusing verses about digital kids and the connected world. You are welcome to attach this poem, with attribution, to any new device that a member of your family receives. Enjoy!

An Amusing but Pointed Welcome Poem PDF

Congrats on acquiring a new mobile device,
Have fun working and playing, but here’s some advice.
With your friends or relations who, like you, love the web
You’ll connect with so much, you’ll feel like a celeb!

But remember! When you work, play, or hangout online,
You must understand when you need to decline.
Kids often forget while using devices
That it’s easy to get caught in another kid’s vices.

It’s great fun to partake of apps, websites, and more,
Because you and your friends mostly do know the score.
You’re connected, you’re sharing – and that’s really great!
But please know that you’ll make more than one big mistake.                        Continue reading

No-Tech Zones Enrich a Child’s Life — and the Family’s

You might want to read 5 No-Phone Zones for Parents and Kids Alike, a January 2017 New York Times article.

screen-shot-2015-04-06-at-8-36-54-pm-e1428367741259Written by Perry Klass, M.D., a pediatrician and long-time writer, the Times article reminds  parents to put down their phones when they interact with their 21st Century children, and it emphasizes the importance of any time that a child spends away from digital devices.

Despite the wonders and access that our mobile phones and other connected world devices bring to our lives, screen-free time is essential in a child’s life as well as for an adult. Klass suggests five phone-free times that she considers sacred, though she points out that she is not always successful in her quest. Check out the article.

Posts on this blog highlighting the importance of screen-free time and space include:   Continue reading

Japanese Internment in the U.S. — Information to Share With Today’s Students

I have known six people whose families were forced to move into United States government Japanese internment camps. It’s been an honor for me and my family to listen to their stories — though not always easy to hear about or imagine the cruelty they experienced. The internment, a reaction to the war with Japan and called an evacuation by the United States government, began in 1942 and essentially imprisoned more than 117,000 people. Two-thirds of them were born as American citizens and over half were children,

February 19th, the day in 1942 that President Roosevelt signed an executive order known as the internment order, is a Day of Remembrance in many states. Educators and parents can use the day to understand more — and help 21st Century children learn more — about the internment of Japanese families during World War II. Today, as we deal with the challenges of increasing diversity in the United States and recognize our immigrant history, it’s more important than ever to understand what happened and why the United States now recognizes the internment policy as a mistake.

As U. S. President Gerald Ford said, “Not only was the evacuation wrong, but Japanese Americans were and are loyal Americans.”      Continue reading

The News User Manual — A Great New MediaLit Teaching Tool

Visit the The News User Manual website.

Visit the The News User Manual website.

If you have not discovered The News User Manual as a media and news literacy  resource for 21st Century digital kids and  yes, even for their parents, do check out the website.

Started by two seasoned broadcast  journalists, Jim Kane and Rich Nagle, The News User Manual features ongoing  podcast conversations (sometimes we call them casts) that encourage individuals to ask questions, think about, evaluate, gain understanding of, and develop personal news curating skills. The News User Manual’s mission encourages listeners to ask lots of questions about the news. In one cast they comment:

The thing to remember is to neither believe nor disbelieve what you’re reading, hearing or watching online. Rather, ask yourself how, when, why and where it was reaching you.

How, when, why, and where — media literacy at it’s best!

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