Two Pithy Quotes on Social Media & Democracy

How can worldwide social media companies ensure that their digital tools are not used to promote chaos?

Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly  allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes —  and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data.  Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.

Fast Company’ article, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt On Fake News, Russia, And Information Warfare describes how Google and social media companies were caught off guard by the manipulation of their systems and the prevalence of divisive news. The October 29, 2017, article by Austin Carr contains two interesting comments by titans of digital industry, though neither of them testified at the Capitol Hill hearings.    Continue reading

Are People Well-Informed if They Only Consume News that Suits Their Point of View?

Lee Hamilton served for 34 years in Congress and was Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission.

Lee Hamilton served in Congress for 34 years in and was the Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission.

In this age of fake news news, one of today’s challenges for educators and parents is guiding young people toward an understanding of what it means to be an informed citizen.

An important responsibility is helping children, pre-adolescents, and teens learn how to identify news sources and writing that come from responsible journalistic sources.

Months before the 2016 election former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton penned a thoughtful commentary, Social Media Challenges Democracy, considering what is required of an informed citizen, and predicted — intentionally or otherwise — some of the questions about news consumption that citizens have asked since November 2016. It’s an excellent discussion resource for educators and others who work with youth groups.

Lee Hamilton heads The Center on Representative Government at Indiana University.

In his commentary he asks:           Continue reading

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

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-8-53-43-pm

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..

Teaching Civility to Kids? Excellent Resource @ WikiHow

Civil behavior is a fundamental building block of our democracy, and throughout our history both children and adults have strived — and occasionally struggled — to demonstrate it through their behavior. In our 21st Century connected world, civility has become even more difficult for many people to understand and attain because certain aspects of digital life can thwart many individual’s good intentions.

unnamedIf you are seeking useful information about civility to share in your school or community, check out How to Teach Civility to Kids, over at wikiHow. The article is, in essence, a tutorial, explaining what adults should do to encourage young people to grow into civil and kind individuals, and it offer specific ideas for conversations and activities.

Parents and teachers spend an enormous amount of their time and energy focusing with children on why it’s important to become civil individuals and  emphasizing that these principles are the same either online or off. Yet educators and adults need continuing support and guidance as they go about the work of promoting and upholding civility. Their challenges are encouraging kids to learn how to be respectful and how to disagree respectfully and  demonstrating to children the importance of being polite, even when they don’t feel like it. Encouraging children to assist others and be kind anytime ensures that children understand much more about what it means to be civil. The wikiHow article offers information and help. Continue reading