My Itty-Bitty Bluetooth Speaker — Best Summer 2016 Travel Device

Looking down from the top.

Looking down from the top.

One of the most difficult decisions before leaving home at any time of year is deciding what digital devices to bring along on the trip. My laptop or just the iPad? My iPad and my iPhone? My digital camera or just my iPhone? Then there are all the chargers and the surge protector with extra USB ports that I now bring along.

This summer I discovered one more digital device that I cannot live without when we travel — a tiny JAM bluetooth speaker that has big sound and darn good quality. About the same size as the small plastic drinking glass that I bring along when I am not in hotels and weighing not much more, this speaker connects with my laptop or iPad or iPhone (doesn’t matter which devices I decide to bring or not bring).

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The Right Age for a Smartphone? Interesting NY Times Article

os7iphone-2Take a few minutes to read What’s the Right Age for a Child to Get a Smartphone? by Brian X Chen. The July 20, 2016 New York Times article includes interviews with Internet Safety experts and contains some advice from other parents.

The Take-aways? (Well, we know most of this, but reminders are always useful.)                      Continue reading

What to Do About Screen Time – A Diane Rehm Show Discussion

Click to check out the report’s infographic..

Click to check out the Common Sense Media research report’s infographic.

This past week I listened to New Research On Teens, Toddlers and Mobile Devices, an engaging radio program about digital parenting on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). In early November 2015 Rehm featured four expert guests who thoughtfully examined the digital parenting issues that adults should consider when it comes to digital media and children. It was rebroadcast in  December 2015.

The program appeared to be timed to highlight a recently released report, The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens (2015). Educators and parents will learn a lot by listening to this broadcast or reading the transcript and by checking out the program’s resource links.

A new year—with new devices and new considerations about rules and limitation—is a good time to listen to experts who can help adults think more carefully about how to define screen time and  discuss the research (and the need for much more). This program can help adults guide children whose 21st Century lives are increasingly defined by digital activities.                         Continue reading

Digital Literacy 101 for Kids, PreK -Grade 6: A Checklist

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In his book Net Smart, Howard Rheingold writes that for any of us to become knowledgeable connected world users and citizens, each of us needs to develop and continually strengthen five areas of digital literacy. People  who uses the web wisely and with good results develop fundamental skill in five literacy areas — attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption of content.

New Smart

New Smart – Read Rheingold’s Educause book excerpt.

As the lives of children, online and off, grow more complex by the day, we adults spend a good deal of our time helping them learn more about the lives they will live in a 21st Century world. We are accomplished at mentoring children in the parts of their lives that are offline, but often teachers and parents simply react to digital life problems rather than build fundamental digital literacy skills that will help children avoid problems. For kids to really be prepared to develop the five literacies that Rheingold describes, they need to build up a foundation of knowledge about the connected world environment.

How is it that children, pre-adolescents, and teens can understand how to use digital devices, consume digital culture at an early age, and even figure out digital device problems for their parents, but have only the barest knowledge about how to relate thoughtfully to people online, take complete advantage of digital resources, and solve problems rather than create them? The reason? We adults have so often put the cart before the horse. We give children their own personal devices or let them borrow ours — gadgets  connect in various ways to the entire world,  albeit different ones at different ages — and only gradually go about teaching the fundamental literacy aspects later on and especially when something goes wrong.                          Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid of Device-free Times in Your Family!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.36.54 PMMy March 2011 post, Five Tech-free Times for Families, discussed the importance of planning family time-out activities away from digital devices. Time away from screens, I noted, provides family members with opportunities to communicate with one another and enjoy activities that do not require technology (playing outside, eating together, reading, enjoying a game).

Device-free times also help kids and adults become more aware of the people around them, and without screens good conversation is much easier. Many people have kept journals of their device-free activities, and often they note how much easier it is to talk more with people, try new activities, even sit around and relax.

If you missed College Kids Giving Up Their Cellphones: The Incredible Tale of the Maryland Women’s Team, it’s a great resource to read now and share with the young people in your family.             Continue reading

Privacy 2015 Part II: Find Out How Invisible Trackers Collect Your Information

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 2.08.04 PMWe hear, over and over, about how people are tracked online. Now we have a way to watch for ourselves and learn. Download Ghostery and let it tell you who is keeping track of your data. When I downloaded it to my computers, it was so amazing that I could not believe my eyes!

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Ghostery identified 4 trackers on Word Press.

The quick install, available for every browser, makes it possible to identify and display any website tracker that is collecting information. As a user moves from website to website the number of trackers changes. It’s amazing, because, despite the fact that I have checked the box in my browser asking sites not to track me … they do.

At first I was skeptical, so I went to the Ghostery website to find out why a company would “out” so many other companies. There’s an enlightening video to watch and lots of information about how and why the company does what it does. Read more on the company’s about page.

If you don’t know much about tracking check out the first post in this series.

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Back-to-School Digital Parenting Tips – 2013

The back-to-school season is a great time for adults to think about what they can do to help children avoid some of the typical online and social media mistakes and difficulties.

backtoschool cyber rules

These adult strategies can help elementary and middle school children develop safe, secure, and disciplined digital life skills.

Teachers can also share this list with the parents of their students.