Digital Communication Disrupts the Rules of Civility, Privacy, & Integrity

Click to read the article.

Click to read the Washington Post article.

After spending years teaching digital citizenship and civility in the K-12 world, I’ve now come to the conclusion that we parents and teachers should, in the midst of teaching children, stress that there is never privacy online. Yes, I know that we already teach this — or try to — in most schools and homes, but election 2016, accompanied by the theft and sharing of emails and other connected world materials, is scary. It has proven that everyone can be hurt by what they say online — even when what is said is not intended to generate hurtfulness.

To learn much more about the lack of privacy in private communication read Deborah Tannen’s October 28, 2016 Washington Post column, Why What You Say In Private Looks Bad in Public, Even if It Isn’t. Tannen is a professor at Georgetown University and the author of the best seller, You Just Don’t Understand.

Our confidential comments may differ from what we say in public. When our candid thoughts become widely available — yes, through hacking, but with kids it’s through intentional sharing, gossip, or the unintentional  mistakes that kids make — words can often be interpreted negatively. Moreover, at least for the time being, we live in a world where stealing a public figure’s private communications and making them public appears to be OK.

Good Quotes from Deborah Tannen’s Article  (Read the entire article for much more)           Continue reading

Is Technology Driving Us Apart? Maybe Not

These days we have so much debate about whether or not digital devices are decreasing our face-to-face communication and our quality of life.

Photo Credit: -Ben Thompson via Compfight cc

Bryant Park Looking Toward the Fountain –                Photo Credit: Ben Thompson via Compfight cc

If you are interested in this debate, check out a fascinating January 17, 2014 article in the New York Times Magazine. In Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart, writer Mark Oppenheimer describes how Rutgers University Professor Keith Hampton and his associates filmed the human interactions at Bryant Park — a New York City park just behind the New York Public Library — to discover how people interact in public spaces. In the process, researchers wanted to learn more about how today’s digital devices affect those interactions.

Professor Hampton based his work on the research of William H. Whyte, a sociologist who filmed people interacting in urban public spaces to learn more about their behavior and what they do. Whyte did his filming in the late 1960s and 1970s, calling it the Street Life Project. Studying the films, Whyte tried to discern what people liked to do, how they conversed, how long those conversations lasted and in what locations.

Hampton’s research, up to the point of filming in Bryant Park, focused on how today’s connected world affects people, and by studying communities he came out with a different perspective than many other of today’s university researchers. In his New York Times article Oppenheimer reports:   Continue reading

Inauguration 2013: Digitally Connected All Day Long

Maureen's inauguration pic

Inauguration Day photo taken by my friend and colleague, Maureen Boucher.

Events like today’s inauguration offer teachers and parents unique opportunities to demonstrate what connected learning is all about in the 21st Century. In my house inauguration Day 2013 was filled with digital connections.

We turned on the television around 10:30 this morning and did not turn it off until mid-evening — unusual for us. We also tuned our radios to NPR. A laptop, iPad, and iPhone finished out our Inauguration Day 2013 connections.

When we had things to do around the house we listened to our radios, though I kept my iPhone nearby to check on Facebook friends at the Capitol and along the parade route. When we sat in front of the television, I also used my laptop and iPhone, and my husband used his iPad.

Throughout the day we heard and responded to Facebook pictures and comments, and I often used my iPhone to respond to text messages from friends who shared observations from the Mall. While I thought about tweeting, the tweets were coming in so fast and furiously under the inauguration hashtags that I could not possibly read many of them while multi-tasking on my other devices, so I skipped Twitter for the day.

As we watched television, I opened a laptop window to the live blogging at the New York Times website. At  the same time I used another window to look up things when I wanted to learn more — interesting historical  inauguration facts, for instance. I also searched for poet Richard Blanco’s bio to find more about his work, and another discovery was a terrific PBS News Hour interview with Richard Blanco. After President Obama finished speaking, I also looked for and found a link to the text of his speech at the White House website. Continue reading

Great Digital Parenting Blog Posts at Net Family News

When I finished reading Anne Collier’s two Net Family News posts, The Trust Factor in Parenting Online Kids and Parenting or (Digital) Public Humiliation, I leaned back to process all of the content in these two short articles. “Well done!” I thought.

trust parents kids 2Take some time to read these thoughtful and well-written pieces that address the challenges of parenting digital kids and offer solid guidance. They sum up just about everything a parent needs to know.

Collier examines the need for parents to build insightful and trusting relationships with their digital world children. She notes that we adults should think carefully about any decision to use secretive monitoring and instead consider recognizing the need for honesty and trust whenever we address the lives of children and adolescents who work and play in the connected world.

There’s no substitute for a parent being online, observing and adding his or her two cents when required. Yes it is time-consuming —  but it’s best to communicate openly by transparently monitoring children’s digital activities and modeling the trust and honesty that we want them to develop in their own lives. Perhaps, Collier muses, we are even making digital kids safer, since they are less likely to be seeking ways to hide out or at least take cover online.

Best Quote in Anne Collier’s Posts  (… but there are many other good ones so check out these articles and others at Net Family News.) Continue reading

Looking into Our Kids’ Futures: Will Social Media Be There?

If you missed this set of essays, Is Facebook a Fad? Will Our Children Tweet?, published in the June 19, 2012, New York Times, take some time to read these short pieces on social media and contemporary life.

As a part of a regular Times’ feature, Room for Debate opinion, readers can learn what six knowledgeable media commentators think about the always evolving digital world.

For instance, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle describes the tendency of social media users to “hide” from one another, substituting quick text nuggets for what used to be face-to-face interaction. Morra Aarons Mele, a digital manager and founder of Women Online, acknowledges the communication downsides, but says that social media and the digital professional work it has created make the world more egalitarian.           Continue reading

British Girl’s Blog: Why Make Such a Big Deal About It?

Visit the Never Seconds blog.

You might enjoy reading British Girl’s Blog on School Lunch Stirs it Up in the Sunday, June 17, 2012 Washington Post about a nine-year old girl who is blogging to change the quality of food in her school lunches and to raise money for a local charity, Mary’s Meals, that feeds the hungry. The blog, Never Seconds, has become a sensation…

… because some officials decided to make an impromptu rule — the young blogger cannot take anymore pictures of her school lunches.

So let me get this straight. A child or adolescent starts writing about an issue or a topic and doing it well. She offends no one as she points out that change is necessary — in fact, she writes rather respectfully while taking a stand on making the meals better. People are short-sighted enough to try to stop her?

How long will it take adults in today’s world to understand that life, 21 Century skills, and communication have fundamentally changed — people can create good-quality digital content just about anywhere. They can share it   and other people can also share. Reminder to Adults: Stopping this type of creating on a mere whim doesn’t work. Continue reading

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 want 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.