My iPhone was GONE, I Thought – But Then It Was Rescued!

arlington storm drainSometimes you think something is permanently lost, but with a bit of perseverance, it can be found again.

We parked our car near a restaurant and started to get out. I was holding my iPhone, but just as I opened the door something made me lose my balance a bit, and I dropped my cell. Usually this is not a problem, because I have a well-lined case that ensures my phone is not damaged when I drop it.

Unfortunately, this time when I looked down I saw my iPhone 4s hit the ground and — almost in slow motion — slide into the storm drain. I was stunned.

My husband tried to get me to explain what had happened, but it took a while, because for a few moments I stood there, speechless. Then I threw up my hands tearfully, assuming that after dinner at the restaurant we would head over to the Apple Store where I would purchase a new model that I was planning to buy anyway.

Wait a minute, my husband said.                                     Continue reading

Managing Change and Learning in a World With Updates

os7 iphone 1It never fails!

Just when you feel good about your digital world learning curve, a new device operating system brings a serious case of update-time discomfort. While none of us ever stops learning, sometimes these periods of relearning tasks that, in theory, we already know pretty well can be daunting.

I work with educational technology in a school, where updates are part of the job. Yet each time I need to relearn routine tasks I get a healthy reminder that when it comes to digital skill problem-solving and tinkering, I remain a digital immigrant — always a bit slower at figuring out new things than most of my digitally native students.    [See note at the end of this post.]

A few nights ago, when I read the stories about the new iOS7 for my iPhone, I resolved to wait a week or two and let any glitches work themselves out. But the next afternoon, Julian, a middle school student, stopped by my technology office asking questions about the cool new iOS7 system that he was downloading — that very minute. I did not know the answers to his questions.

Aha, I thought. Some of my students may need my help. So the next morning at 5:30, I downloaded the new operating system on my iPhone. An hour later with a somewhat different looking device, I fumbled around, located my Audible account, and listened to my latest recorded book as I drove to school — while patting myself on the back. I can manage the new iOS7 — not to mention change.

Then I arrived at school, got out of the car, and could not turn off my book. For more than five minutes I stood in the parking lot tapping at vaguely familiar iPhone icons and finally managed to turn it off. But in the process I turned on some bluegrass music. I had no idea where that music was coming from, because as far as I know, bluegrass does not reside on my iPhone.

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Getting Your Child a Cell Phone This Summer? Read This First!

It’s summer 2013…

…and lots of families will soon purchase a new mobile phone for a fifth, sixth, or seventh grade child.

cell phoneRemember, however, you are not just handing over a telephone. A child is getting a mini-computer — a digital device  that takes pictures, shares locations, communicates via text, e-mail, and phone calls, and easily installs apps that connect in all sorts of other ways. A new cell phone networks your child in nearly unlimited ways to the entire world, and most of what he or she sends on the web via cell phone will never be deleted.

Before handing over the new mobile device, 21st Century parents need to think about how they want digital kids to use their new prized possessions and also about what they don’t want children to do.

Adults can be specific and clear about what is acceptable by setting up a cell phone user contract. Use an agreement word-for-word from the list of links on this blog. Or copy one of the contracts as a template and write a more personalized version that is appropriate for your family. Today’s kids are 21st Century learners, eager to use and explore the digital world — a great way to be — but parents need to set clear expectations that help to ensure that a child explores and experiments as much as possible without humiliation and  embarrassment.            Continue reading

40 Really Cool Tips for iPhone Users

emojis

The emoji keyboard has several icon screens.

iPhones seem to have unlimited features to tweak. Since I have owned iPhones for more than four years, I tend to believe I am pretty expert about using them.

Then I read this Christian Science Monitor article, 40 iPhone Tips and Tricks Everyone Should Know, and discovered that I still have quite a few cool new things to learn. The February 2012 report, by Megan Riesz, Eoin O’Carroll, and Chris Gaylord, includes a few far-fetched suggestions that I will never do — in my case some the ideas for tweaking Siri — but it also includes several iPhone tweaks that I’ve already added as I was making my way through the 40 tips.

A Few of My Favorites

  1.   Create an “app “out of a website that you visit a lot.
  2.   Take better pics with HDR photography.
  3.  Install the “emojis” keyboard with lots of little pics and icons — especially nice for texting.
  4.  Take a screen shot on the iPhone.

 

SnapChat: Instantly Deletable Images? Sort of…

Snapchat: the free mobile app that promotes itself as a disappearing act. Parents and educators need to know just enough to understand its attraction to children and adolescents and the potential problems that may occur

snapchat2

Teens and, yes, some tweens are now playing with Snapchat because it’s designed to make pictures disappear at their destination — in ten seconds or less.

I’ve tried to use the app, and pictures really do disappear. Voilà! The content is gone. So does this mean a child (or an adult) can go ahead and send all sorts of pictures?

Well, not exactly. Read A Warning about SnapChat, Teenagers, and Online Photo Sharing, appearing on February 11, 2013 over at the Forbes website.

After downloading and installing the Snapchat app on a mobile phone, a user chooses a picture, text, or drawing and decides how long to allow the a picture to reside on the recipient’s screen — anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds. For Snapchat to work the sender must trust that the recipient will allow the picture to delete and that the recipient will be trustworthy and respect the wishes of the sender. Any user is supposed to be 13 or older.

So yes, the content does disappear, but even a picture residing for just few seconds gives an unreliable recipient enough time to take a quick screen shot, preserving the image. Read this April 10, 2013 New Yorker article, Delete This Picture When You’re Done, by Matt Buchanan, who points out that the Snapchat site is handling over 60 million images a day. Another informative article is SnapChat: Sexting Tool or Next Instagram, a CNN report by Doug Gross.      Continue reading

Mom Writes Phone Contract for Middle School Son

cell phone vocab  image wordfoto

This cell phone vocabulary image created with one of my pictures and the app Wordfoto.

Note: Please check out my Digital Contracts and and Agreements Page if you want to learn more about this topic.

Take a look at a terrific letter about cell phone conduct, appropriately written for a middle or high school age student. In a Huffington Post article, To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love, Janet Burley Hoffman shares a mobile phone contract that she wrote for her son after giving him a cell phone for Christmas. The post also includes a link to a video of Hoffman and her son appearing on “Good Morning America.”

This piece is cleverly written, focusing on cell phone issues that worry many parents of pre-adolescent and adolescent children. Hoffman’s contract addresses, in non-lecture style, the concerns that arise especially as parents watch their children using digital devices.

Last fall, my post, So You Want a Family Digital Device Contract or Agreement, included links to a broad range of web resources that can help parents set up contracts or agreements with their digital kids.

Interesting Ideas that Janet Burley Hoffman Incorporated into This Contract Continue reading

Needed: 2013 Digital Rules-of-the-Road for New Smart Devices

cell phone contract graphicAfter the December holidays lots of digital kids are using new digital devices.

Each new digital gadget requires that parents update or introduce a family digital device action plan — akin to the rules-of-the road that are so critical to new drivers.

These days flashy new smartphones, iPads, iPod Touches, music players, computers, laptops, notebooks, and video games are  connected in some way to the exciting, but rough and tumble world of the Internet. Sometime during the first week of gadget ownership parents and children need to sit together and review digital behavior and expectations.

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