Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Distinguish True vs. Fake News With Factitious Quiz

Visit the site and play Factitious.

I am having great fun with Factitiousa quiz that tests my ability to identify real news (as well as the fake stuff). It’s a resource that can help middle and high school kids fine tune media their literacy skills, guiding them to figure out the truthfulness (or lack of truthfulness) of a news story. Oh, and maybe it can help adults, too.

Developed collaboratively by JoLT and the AU Game Lab,  two organizations at the American University in Washington, DC, the quiz highlights news stories that have appeared in print and asks players to read evaluate them. At the bottom of each story is a button to click to identify the source of the story. With these two bits of information players decide whether the news story is true or false. The game indicates whether an answer is correct or incorrect, and then provides a description of the news source, explaining whether it’s known for false or reliable information.                                   Continue reading

Privacy: When Will They Ever Learn?

Uploaded by Mancala at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

What will it take to make adolescents and teens understand that what they do just about anywhere is not private — even if it’s digital and feels like a limited number of others will know? Perhaps we are about to find out.

Harvard University recently rescinded acceptances from ten or more incoming students who formed a “private” Facebook page and traded sexually explicit and disgusting memes about kids, women, and people of color. Putting aside the loathsome behavior — just for a moment — why on earth would these young people consider any Facebook group or any other online group to be private, even if it has private in its name?

Crimson reporter Hannah Natanson writes:

In the group students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups…

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My Need For Google Decreases Each Time My Privacy Feels Threatened

I’ve written before about the growing loss of privacy in our 21st Century lives.

Just about everything we do these days creates data that can be collected by someone. Found on Pixabay.

Now, after reading the Washington Post article Google Now Knows When Its Users Go to the Store to Buy Stuff, I am even more concerned about privacy. Fellow blog readers, you should be too.

In essence, Google is now using credit card data, to combine with the data it has already collected about us, to learn more about our purchases — those made online and and those we purchase without any online connection. The goal, according to Washington Post reporters Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, is to discover whether Google’s  searches and its advertisements have helped  people decide what to buy — even when a purchase isn’t made online.

The company continues to collect data and learn more and more about people of all ages. That’s creepy. It feels even more creepy when I consider how we use Gmail in my family to share calendars and when I look at the Google Dashboard that keeps track of and shares with me some of the data Google has collect about us.

Most Interesting Quote From the Article Continue reading

Virtual Reality Is Amazing & a Little Bit Scary

My virtual reality head-gear.

Many years ago, at a conference on the campus of Virginia Tech, I entered a virtual reality (VR) area — I think it was  called “the cave” —  with all sorts of things going on around me. I think I was expecting the holodeck from Star Trek, where they went through a door and suddenly found themselves on vacation in a beautiful and peaceful place (check out what Virginia Tech’s video that describes virtual reality and the holodeck). Instead during my first foray into VR I wore big goggles, and I got a bit dizzy. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try again.

This past week I gave virtual reality another try, this time at the Newseum VR Lab in Washington, DC. I was handed a pair of goggles, put them on, and followed the instructions to start the show. Continue reading

Are You Sometimes “Botified” When You Communicate Online?

Watch David Ryan Polgar’s video below.

Take some time to watch an interesting video, Are We Becoming Bots, presented by tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar. In his video Polgar describes how in today’s digital age, each person is connected to many, many other people. Too many connections can lead individuals to send “botified” responses —  meaning that we sometimes behave more like robots and less like people. “Botified” behavior occurs because of the digital world challenges that arise when we try to accommodate way too many online connections.                                Continue reading

Digital Kids to Parents — Don’t Break Your Own Rules! A Poem

Several years ago I uploaded a post, Advice from Digital Kids to Parents, including some of the thoughts that kids in grades 3-6 shared with me about adults’ digital activities. My students often commented that it was unfair when parents asked their kids to sign a digital life contract or agreement, because adults then proceeded to break many of the common sense rules.

For some time I’ve felt those children’s voices bubbling up with their ideas, and since today (Sunday) is the last day of National Poetry Month 2017, I listened to those voices, penning this poem about kids, parents, contracts, and common sense.

So here’s my second, and I hope amusing poem about digital life from kids’ perspectives. (Read my first poem.) Children have brought up all these events in discussions with during digital citizenship activities.

Hey Mom and Dad…

I’m really glad I got my phone,
It’s cool and lots of fun.
I’m texting friends and playing games,
It seems I’m never done.

I signed your contract with my name,
Yes, it was right to do.
But I wish you’d take the time
To follow those rules too!

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