Posted in 21st Century teaching, digital device distraction, digital devices, teaching digital kids

A California School’s Smartphone Solution

hand on phoneDistraction in 21st Century schools is a huge issue. Read this descriptive article about students, digital devices, and paying attention in the classroom, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Probably no device has become as frustrating for teachers as the smartphone. Many educators, whether they teach in middle school, high school, or college express a sense of frustration about the amount of time their students spend glancing down at their mobile phones when they are supposed to be paying attention to what is going on in the classroom

Administrators at San Mateo High School, about 20 miles away from San Francisco, have decided that student phones will be locked up during school hours. At the start of the day students insert their devices into a pouch that closes with a school lock. The kids keep the bags with them, and at the end of the academic day, the administrators unlock them.

The goal of this school’s policy is to decrease the student distraction and to stop students’ habit of looking down at their phones every few minutes. The above link includes an interesting NBC news story.

It will be interesting to see if other schools develop similar policies.

 

Posted in 21st Century life, back-to-school, Back-to-school digital reading, digital wellness, parents and technology

Back to School: 2019-20 Digital Parenting Checklist

backpack picThis post includes a downloadable handout.

At the beginning of the school year, what can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids — with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online endeavors — get off to a good start?

Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes, and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members and working together to set up a family media plan that works for each person in the family.

Below are a few issues for parents and educators to consider as they seek to maintain quality in kids’ 21st Century digital lives during the 2019-2020 school year. Raising strong and competent digital citizens requires teamwork and immense effort — at home and at school.

handout image 2
Download this PDF handout.

1.  Make decisions about screen time in your family. Altogether, as a family, figure out your plan and then think about how you will re-address your decisions as the year progresses. Check out the 2018 article, How Much Screen Time Affects Kids’ Bodies and Brains at Forbes. Family issues to consider might include:

  • What limits will your family set up for digital devices, electronic games, and television?
  • If your child uses a personal device from school, are you aware of specific teacher expectations and time commitments?
  • What else would you like your child to spend time doing?
  • A good article for parents and educators (and a great back-to-school piece to share with parents) is on the NPR website — Kids and Screen Time-What Does the Research Say?   

Continue reading “Back to School: 2019-20 Digital Parenting Checklist”

Posted in digital change, digital wellness, electronic personal assistant, kids and privacy, parents and technology, personal data, personal data security, privacy

Understanding Kids’ Echo Dot Privacy Controversy: Key Articles to Read

Echo Dot must have seemed like a really good idea, at least to some people, but then the privacy concerns surfaced.

Echo DotIt appears that Echo Dot records what children say, saves that personal information, and apparently, it’s still saved even after parents delete It. A group of child advocacy organizations has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FCC), and they are supported in a detailed letter from a bipartisan group of United States Senators. Amazon insists that they need to collect the recordings to improve the device.

Um, all our kids’ comments and ideas stored for posterity — I mean Amazon? Growing kids say lots of things that they quickly realize they shouldn’t have said. Ask any teacher. Those archived recordings may contain comments that most parents did not even know their kids say. Just imagine the out-of-this-world corporate data trove provided by all those children. Whatever happened to COPPA?

Below are a few articles to help adults learn more about the kids’ personal assistant privacy issue and how it may affect children.  Continue reading “Understanding Kids’ Echo Dot Privacy Controversy: Key Articles to Read”

Posted in 21st Century life, 21st Century parenting, digital devices, digital parenting, parental control apps, screen time

Five Articles About the Apple Parental Control App Controversy

The thing is, I love Apple. I’ve owned various Apple computers since 1984 and iPhones for almost ten years. Not to mention various other items like iPods and IPads. But once in a while, I find the policies in the App Store to be dispiriting. Now is one of those times.

screentimeAs a specialist in 21st Century educational technology and media literacy, I’ve often helped parents select a parental control app that is right for each family. Lots of these apps are out there, and they allow adults to ensure that their children are not misusing their mobile devices

Many of these parents realized the need for these apps, bought them — and used them — early on. Digital parenting is challenging, many of these parents took their responsibilities seriously, and the companies that enabled these good decisions should also be taken seriously.

Frankly, when it comes to monitoring screen time, Apple came late to the party. Continue reading “Five Articles About the Apple Parental Control App Controversy”

Posted in 21st Century life, acceptable use, cell phones, civility, digital devices, digital parenting, mobile phones, parents and technology

KTRK-TV Lists 14 Apps that Parents of Teens Should Learn More About

It’s been some time since I’ve discussed specific mobile phone apps on MediaTechParenting, but a few days ago, KTRK-TV, an ABC.com affiliate, posted a list of fourteen of them and encouraged parents to learn whether their 21st Century children use these apps on their cell phones.

14 phone apps for parents to learn about
Click to visit the list @ KTRK.

The Texas-based television station’s list includes several apps that may be familiar, such as Instagram, Ask.fm, and Snapchat, but others, such as Holla, Omegle, and Hot or Not, are not as well-known. Some of these apps, in the hands of teenagers, encourage questionable and even uncivil behavior, so they are definitely worth some parent study time. Continue reading “KTRK-TV Lists 14 Apps that Parents of Teens Should Learn More About”

Posted in 21st Century parenting, cell phones, digital devices, digital kids, image sharing, parents and technology

To Share or Not to Share a Photo?

Infographics_Post a Photo_letter_051712_letter sizeCommon Sense Media has, for years, posted this excellent image-sharing resource, and it’s as timely today as it was when it was first published. The infographic posits a series of questions for 21st Century middle and high school kids to consider before deciding to share a photo on a digital device.

The questions probably take less than a minute to think about — time well spent if a digital child identifies certain potential consequences and decides not to share an image. Continue reading “To Share or Not to Share a Photo?”

Posted in 21st Century parenting, digital change, digital devices, digital footprints, family life, learning and the brain, parents and technology, personal voice assistants

Should Babies Learn Alexa’s Name Before Mama’s?

Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.

51ciPnzyhQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.

Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.

Continue reading “Should Babies Learn Alexa’s Name Before Mama’s?”