E-mail, Scandals, and Digital Footprints — AGAIN!

One of the digital citizenship posters made by my students a year or two ago.

On a fairly regular basis a public scandal occurs, and these days just about every one of them reminds us of how ignorant people are about the transparency of their digital footprints.

If reading about the most recent scandal doesn’t convince you of how easily accessible digital footprints can be, then this November 17, 2012 Washington Post article should. In The FBI’s Long Reach Into Digital Lives, reporters Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima describe how easily the FBI gets into an individual’s e-mails and how accessing one account leads to exploring the accounts of other people who have sent or received e-mails.

Interesting Quote from the Post Article

Investigators with a warrant to search a house for drugs can seize evidence of another crime… But the warrant does not allow them to barge into the house next door… But what are the comparable boundaries online? Does a warrant to search an e-mail account expose the communications of anyone who exchanged messages with the target?

Scandals arising from common digital mistakes can provide opportunities for adults and children to participate in family conversations, learning more about their online and networked world. However, if you do not want to talk about the scandal, that’s fine — talk about the lack of privacy that everyone experiences today. Children who make mistakes have no protection as they  explore the digital world, because what they do can easily become public and embarrassing. In any past era their common and developmentally appropriate errors would mostly remain private, but with today’s speedy and electronic communication tools, that’s less and less likely.

We are not trying to scare children, but we are trying hard to make common sense second nature.
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Good, Bad, Ugly… Internet? – Danah Boyd

Check out Danah Boyd’s short commentary, The Good, the Bad, the Ugly … and the Internet in Boston Magazine. In the June 15, 2012 piece Boyd describes how fears about children’s safety have curtailed their time out in the real, face-to-face world for several generations. Today many parents have transferred their fears into the digital world.

Read some of Boyd’s blog posts here.

Boyd points out that many serious behavioral issues, bullying, for instance, have been and continue to be huge problems. Yet they tend to be more frequent and serious face-to-face than in the digital world (though the digital problems get more media coverage). As one of the most well-regarded observers of teen social networking behavior, Boyd conducts research for Harvard’s Berkman Center and for Microsoft.

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Are Teens Moving Away from Facebook?

Take a few minutes to read Some Teens Aren’t Liking Facebook as Much as Older Users, a May 30, 2012 business article in the Los Angeles Times. Facebook’s growth is slowing, and many teens, after  absorbing lessons about privacy and the need to share less personal information, now seek to socialize online in smaller community groups with people they know.

Reporters Jessica Guynn and Ryan Faughnder point out that students are also far more eager to use mobile services designed for their smartphones. Interestingly, parents are still avid Facebook users.

Best Quotes from the Article

  • Teens… can also be more selective about what they share and with whom, and feel less social pressure to “friend”everyone in their school or friends or friends.
  • Teens who belong to the first truly mobile generation — their most common form of communication is text messaging — are increasingly gravitating to services made for their smartphones and tablets.

Online Etiquette Not the Greatest

 Check out the May 13, 2012 post, Online Etiquette Lacking, Study Finds, over at the  Techlicious blog

Writer Christina DesMarais describes a study that identifies irritating digital world behaviors such as communicating at inappropriate times, sharing too much information, and highly negative commenting — all related to our increasing use of 21st Century social media.

This article is filled with digital world conversation starters that parents and teachers can use to begin discussions about ethics, privacy, and security.

Also, you can check out my related post, Conversations About Commenting.

The Public Forum, Facebook, and Democracy

Visit the U.S. Capitol — a symbol of our democracy.

Read Social Media — The Public Space on Steroids, a May 4, 2012 opinion piece in the Seattle Times.

Today, as everyone is talks about the public stock offering and it’s worth, writer Taso Legos examines the value of Facebook as a societal public space that enables people to share ideas and speak up. Without a doubt, face-to-face communication is occurring less and less in coffee houses and community centers, but we are all aware of that aspect of our 21st Century virtual world communication bargain.

I wonder, though, about what is the best balance between face-to-face and electronic communication — the best to ensure a vibrant democratic process. It’s up to parents and teachers of digital kids to help identify the right balance.

Most Interesting Quotes

We engage more in the public sphere because it has never been easier to do so.

… the new electronic public sphere offers instantaneous dialogue with little time for reflection. Democracy is thus now on steroids and this speeding up affects how we make decisions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read, Conversations on Commenting.

Sherry Turkle TED Lecture-Connected but Alone?

The TED Talk site just posted the most recent lecture by MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle. It’s embedded below.

In her presentation Professor Turkle  illustrates several of the most compelling issues from her recent book, Alone Together. She points out that technology may give us an illusion of togetherness with others, but she challenges us to understand that digital connectedness is not a substitute for person-to-person interaction.

  • Are we hiding from each other even as we are connected?
  • With fewer face-to-face conversations with one another are we less able to learn how to have conversations with ourselves?
  • Do feelings that no one is really listening to us make us want to spend more time with machines that make us feel like these devices are listening to us?
  • Are people increasingly willing to settle for the pretend empathy of devices and robots?

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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 in side our house. We ignored this since the phones were working

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