Even a Web Founder Worries about Today’s Connected World Climate

the-innovators-9781476708706_hr-1Can a world wide web creator be a doubter about what he helped to create?

I’ve just finished reading The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, a book that highlights the many people who helped create, step-by-step, the digital world where we now reside.

The book begins way back in the mid-1800s with the ideas of Lady Ada Lovelace, an amateur mathematician (and the daughter of poet Lord Byron). It was Lady Ada, Isaacson writes, who provided the ideas and laid groundwork for early computer developers to use nearly 100 years later when they created their first computing machines.                              Continue reading

How Are You Helping Kids Learn About MediaLit & Fake News? Progress?

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 9.30.15 PM

Check out Google’s new fact check feature.

Teachers all over the country are sharing ideas about how to help their students identify news that is made-up, unsubstantiated, or just plain false. Now Google has added a feature that identifies false information that comes up on user searches. An April 7, 2017 article at the Pointer Journalism site describes Google’s new fact check in detail and explains how the company went about developing its new feature. You can also read the CNET article about Google.

I’ve been delighted by the articles, such as Five Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News, an NPR education article that describe how three teachers are incorporating media literacy activities into their curriculum.  Plenty of other similar reports have appeared in various the media. I hope that, somewhere, there is an organization that is archiving as many teacher ideas as possible.                          Continue reading

Starting Out With Digital Devices Is Just Like Learning to Swim

swim-meetThe minute a child gets that first web-connected mobile device, the adults in the family commit themselves to extended digital life “swimming lessons.”

Young swimmers become increasingly competent and skilled while at the same time needing adult support, supervision, and occasional intervention. Twenty-first Century digital natives require the same parental attention and guidance as they learn to operate safety and adroitly in the connected world waters. Swimming and connected-world activities, though they require long-term adult oversight, help children explore the world around them and gain confidence, learn new things and grow their abilities, learn to make good decisions and yes, avoid making bad ones. The key to their success is adult support.

Continue reading

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

Civility Is Now Devalued — So What Will Adults Do About It?

If there is ever a time to emphasize ideas on civility, commenting, fact-checking, and media literacy, it’s during an election. Children, preadolescents, and teens will learn much during the 2016 presidential campaign just from all the watching. (Read my post The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and Hearing.)

Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.

On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.

Continue reading

Connected World Coaching for Digital Natives? Read Connecting Wisely

3002_01021048If you teach or think a lot about digital citizenship, take a few minutes to get acquainted with Connecting Wisely in the Digital Age. This new book is simple yet powerful, with content and context for adults who seek to support and mentor 21st Century digital kids. The goal is to help children develop a deeper understanding about the responsibilities that accompany their connected lives.

Authors Devorah Heitner, PhD, and Karen Jacobson, MAbase their book on a singular premise — that the 21 activities introduced in their book, when facilitated by imaginative adults, will make a positive difference in kids’ daily online lives. With its flexibility and its focus on adults as connected world coaches and mentors (not lecturers), Connecting Wisely stands head and shoulders above many other curricula in this category.                 Continue reading

So What Happens to Social Media Data? Read the Terms of Service!

unnamedI am preparing to make a presentation to a group of well-informed teens at a school. In the process, I’ve reread the terms of service at a range of social media sites to remind myself about what can potentially happen to the pictures, comments, videos, and other content that we share on social media.

Social media is a part of life in today’s 21st Century world. Rather than wringing our hands about these apps, and the things that can go wrong, it’s a far better strategy for adults to proactively learn about social media, know what their digital children are using, and help them understand the power of social media apps. Moreover, every social media user — young and old — needs to develop strategies to use when things have the potential to go wrong.

Check out the terms of service for your favorite social media site. What do you think these policies mean for the pre-adolescents or teens in your life? The social media companies design these statements — albeit long documents — to make it clear what happens and what does not. What can you do to ensure that your child develops the necessary tools and strategies to think carefully about what content to post and share and what content to avoid sharing? Ongoing conversations about living in the digital world are are a critical part of family life.

Each of the clips is from one of the social media websites, and I’ve added a link to each site’s complete  terms of service document.  Most of the companies want us to understand these documents.

Continue reading