Posted in apps, cell phones, digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, mobile phones, parents and technology, social media, social networking, tweens and technology

Getting to Know Instagram – Links to Bring Adults Up to Speed

In a matter of weeks last spring quite a few older elementary and middle school children whom I know jumped on the Instagram bandwagon, and they continue to have fun with it. The social networking photography app, now owned by Facebook, lives on their wireless devices, making it easy to use without getting encumbered with computers.

The minimum age for the Instagram app is 13, but that hasn’t stopped the site from attracting many children younger than that. While I tend to be someone who takes age requirements seriously, many parents, after checking out various sites, are more comfortable than I am with letting their children use sites when they are a bit younger than 13 years of age.

The biggest challenge for adults is keeping an eye on the content and quality of the photos that their children are uploading to Instagram. Problems can occur when children err in judgment as they make decisions about what to share (and what not to share).

In any event, all of us — parents, teachers, and any other adults in children’s lives — need to learn more about Instagram. I’ve added the app to my phone and plan to get acquainted with it. The list of articles below offers parents and teachers lots of information  — how Instagram works and how children socialize when they use the social networking app with their friends.         Continue reading “Getting to Know Instagram – Links to Bring Adults Up to Speed”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital citizenship, digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, leadership, research on the web

Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases

September brings the start of a new school year, and once classes begin, it’s not long before the first research reports and projects are assigned. To get started, your child will head right to his or her computer; however, adult assistance at home ensures that a student uses quality sources, as well as develop stronger 21st Century research skills.

Just about any time digital kids search for information at home, they fire up Google. While their teachers use substantial classroom time and energy introducing students to the best online research resources, children often need assistance, not to mention frequent reminders about applying these research lessons on their home computers.

As often as possible adults should remind children that results from Google — as wonderful as Google searching is — provide a huge number of links, many of them of questionable quality. A better way to search for information is to access library online resources and databases — the crown jewels of student research (Links at the bottom of this post will take readers to a few libraries that describe their virtual databases.) Searching in these databases decreases quantity and dramatically increases quality — which, in turn, improves the caliber of a student’s assignment. A web page chart at Illinois Institute of Technology compares  Google searches and database inquiries. A library tutorial from Western Oregon University also compares research on Google and online databases.                       Continue reading “Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases”

Posted in cell phones, digital devices and gadgets, family conversations, online communication, parents and technology, setting technology limits

Some Time Out From Digital Devices?

In Google’s Eric Schmidt and the Curse of Constant Connection, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus reports on the Google executive’s commencement address at Boston University (BU). In her May 22, 2012 column Marcus describe how Schmidt made the case for a bit of balance — urging new graduates (even as they stayed connected during the graduation ceremony) to take an hour or so each day away from the digital devices that keep us so connected.

The full text of Schmidt’s speech is on the BU website, and it’s a good read for digital age parents who are seeking ways to schedule a bit more disconnected time with family and friends.

To learn more about the search for digital device moderation I recommend the book Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. Author William Powers explores how people who lead connected lives (he does) need to find the time for reflection and interaction away from screens. And he describes how his family wants about setting some time to be together and disconnected.

Best Quote from Powers’ Book

If we’ve learned anything in the last decade about technology and human interaction, it’s that as screen time rises, direct human-to-human interaction falls off proportionally.

Posted in apps, digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, parents and technology, privacy

Lots More People are Using Smartphone Location Services

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just published new survey results finding that 74% of smartphone owners — that’s three-quarters — appear to be using location services on their phones.

This statistic is double what it was when Pew conducted a similar survey in May 2011. The increase in location services occurs despite privacy concerns about tracking and data collection. Check out the report to look at the data by age, gender, and ethnic group, depicted in a range of charts and graphs.

I am still minimizing or turning off the number of location services that I use on my phone. While some of us use more location services than others on our smartphones, it’s critical for parents to know how location services work and how to limit access on the phones that their children around each day. Many apps ask to turn on location services during the installation process.

Do you know about Foursquare ? If it’s on an adolescent’s cell phone a parent needs to learn about it. Find out more about location services by reading a post that I wrote about location services, Location, Location, Location – Services that Is.

Each adult needs to figure out how much privacy is necessary or desired in his or her digital life and also in the digital lives of children. People seeking one right answer won’t find it, however, it’s best to take the time to understand the devices that family members carry and apps that they use.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital devices and gadgets, parents and technology, social networking, when kids make mistakes, when to give children email

Your Brain is the Final Spell Checker!

The process of spell checking is a two-part endeavor, and it’s an important digital world lesson for everyone — kids and adults — to master.

Part one features the work of the computer or website, as the spell check program goes to work. But after the digital spell check process a bigger responsibility lies ahead.

Each time a person writes and rewrites, he or she must spell check the spell checker — an important 21st Century skill. And while a commitment to differentiated instruction requires teachers and parents to recognize that some writers will be better at this second step than others, all students need to understand that the digital editing process cannot identify every mistake.

This poem always makes the point effectively with my students. Use it as a great conversation piece (and also to review homonyms) — over 2012 Easter and Passover dinner tables or any other time.

And if you put the words of this poem into Google search, you’ll discover that there are many other versions.

Human Brain Not Yet Obsolete

I have a spelling checker.

It came with my PC:

It plainly marked four my revue   Continue reading “Your Brain is the Final Spell Checker!”

Posted in digital devices and gadgets, electronic communication, land lines, parents and technology

Keeping a Land Line?

Our Oldest Telephone

We are trying to decide whether to give up our land telephone line.

In early February our telephone stopped working. This happens to our phone service from time to time, usually for a few days, always after several days of heavy rain. Each time we call the phone company and each time, a person comes out, tweaks the outside wires, and our phones work again.

Unless it rains a lot, the phones are just fine.

In December when the telephones went down, a repair person from phone company came out, tweaked the line, and once again it started working, but this time they said the problem was in the wiring inside our house. We ignored this since the phones were working

Continue reading “Keeping a Land Line?”

Posted in cell phones, digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, gadgets and sleep, parents and technology, teens and technology

Is the Price of Privilege too Little Sleep?

I’ve just finished re-reading The Price of Privilege, a 2008 book by Madeline Levine. Last week at a professional development event at my school, I heard Dr. Levine speak, while taking nearly three pages of notes and recalling some of the parenting strategies my husband and I  used when our daughter, now out of graduate school, was in middle and high school.

Almost every concern that Dr. Levine raised — perfectionism, discontent, and insecurity — is familiar after years of parenting and teaching. I especially like her descriptions of effective parenting. Most importantly, when I read her book four years ago and reread it again last week, I thought about sleep and how much of a priority it needs to be for parents and children.

After the lecture my husband and I thought back to our daughter’s middle and high school years, considering all of the things we did well or could have done better. In the process, we remembered the emphasis our family placed on getting enough sleep and eliminating computer screens each evening — sometimes to our daughter’s chagrin. Continue reading “Is the Price of Privilege too Little Sleep?”