Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading

Can We Stop Using the Word Fake to Describe Made Up News?

describing-real-newsFake is a generic term. We don’t use it much when we teach — in any subject — because it’s judgmental and doesn’t tell us much about whatever it’s supposed to be characterizing. Besides, anyone can say that something — anything — is fake or made up.

So let’s not use fake to describe the news.

I recently read The Fight Against Fake News Starts in the Classroom, an article that describes media literacy lessons developed by Project Look Smart (at Ithaca College) and the principles of evaluating, deconstructing, and applying unambiguous descriptions to the news. The literacy lessons aim to help students gain more understanding of the practice of media evaluation and inquiry rather than simply designating something as true or false. When I finished reading the article and look over the wonderful teaching units, I realized that every lesson can be completed without focusing much, or at all on the word fake.         Continue reading

Getting to Know Pinterest: A Parent’s Guide

Pinterest digitizes image collecting, the non-digital activity that lots of us have been doing for years. In a sense Pinterest offers a 21st Century way to bookmark and collect images instead of accumulating pieces of paper. I’m loving it!

Visit Pinterest.

Many people spend time looking through magazines and catalogs, identifying images such as the best looking clothes, interesting plants, comfortable shoes, or pictures with ideas for an upcoming home construction project. An individual cuts out (or tears out) the image and puts it into a folder. I used to have folders (and more folders) filled with images on all sorts of topics, waiting for me to consult. And I used them from time-to-time, especially at the beginning of a project.

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Collecting Information — Even From Selfies?

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.16.16 PMThere seems to be a way to collect information about — well — everything.

Now that includes our images, and more specifically the selfies that we informally snap and share. Parents of 21st Century digital kids need to know that data mining reaches ever farther into our lives, seeking information from our most spontaneous and casual digital image creating activities.

An October 10, 2014 article in AdWeek, How Marketers Are Mining Your Selfies for Data: Chances are, Without You Knowing, describes how data mining firms collect information on the millions of pictures that are casually uploaded and without privacy settings.                Continue reading

Digital Parenting: Recently Released Research from Northwestern University

Media & Family Conflicts

One of many charts and graphs in the report.

A new study, Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology, was recently released by Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development. The 52-page report is easy to read and chock full of interesting graphics and charts.

Data were gathered through a survey of 2,326 parents whose children were eight years old and younger. The surveys were conducted in English and Spanish. Check out page nine of the report for more information on the methodology of the research project.

Most Interesting Report Findings (more are available in the report)

  • A large number of the parents in the survey do not believe that increased use of media has made parenting easier.
  • Most parents in the survey did not report many or significant family conflicts around media use.
  • There continues to be a big gap between those who can afford new digital devices and those who cannot afford them.
  • The study identified three types of parenting styles when it comes to family media use.
    1. Media-centric family life centers around various types of screens, and parents as well as children enjoy using media a lot of the time.
    2. Media moderate family life includes less media access, and the television is turned off a lot more of the time. Video games are not as important to daily life as in a media-centric family.
    3. Media lite family life includes screen time but less than the other two parenting styles. They tend to do to less television watching as a family, and they do not use television to distract children so that parents can accomplish other tasks.

The blog at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop also describes the study in detail.

When Digital and Social Media Combine With Crisis

Moderation. Even with the best intentions, the decisions we make each day about what to do and how to live become more complex as our digital lives expand. Yet making choices about when and how long to stay connected could not be more important for us, and during times when a tragedy grips the country or the world, our connection choices become even more important.

moderationNow I spend a considerable time on my blogs and at my job encouraging parents, kids, and teachers to embrace digital life while also choosing to pursue plenty of offline activities. Making choices about what to do and not to do is especially critical when children live in the house, but all of us should pay attention to the length of time we spend in the digital world.

Choosing does not necessarily mean avoiding long periods of connected time if we are learning or accomplishing something significant (and yes, a game can count). Good choices, however, keep us from wasting time and from missing valuable face-to-face interactions.

I am usually pretty good at moderating my time online — at least I was until the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. After that tragic event, and for the ensuing six days I’ve not been able to disconnect myself for very long. My husband is a lifelong runner who loves the Marathon, though he’s never run it, but two friend were in this race, so we immediately tried to find more information about them. Moreover, my daughter works at one of the teaching hospitals in Boston.

Digital Mod

So all week-long I could not disconnect from the digital coverage. I checked three newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times, Boston.com) several times a day, added a slew of new Twitter feeds (#BostonMarathon #Marathon #CambridgePolice @Boston_Police, #Boston), and used Public Radio apps on my phone and iPad to listen to Boston radio programs, especially WBUR. (Note: One of my middle school students, a confident 21st Century learner, asked me why I wasn’t using the Public Radio app to listen everywhere I went.) Every day this week I’ve made a final iPhone news check just before going to bed and grabbed my mobile again as soon as I have awakened. I even listened during exercise.

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What to Say to Kids After We Are Saturated With Horrific Images

MD Momma

Check out helpful links for parents are at the end of this column.

We are all still reeling from the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

For parents of digital kids, who with their children take all-the-time media access for granted, the greatest challenge is to figure out how to moderate what their youngsters see and hear in the days immediately following an event. It’s especially difficult because adults often want to be updated continuously by media resources.

Here’s a Boston Globe article with suggestions about how parents can help children feel safer and more secure after frightening events. Written by pediatrician Claire McCarthy for her MD Mama column, the piece also offers links to additional resources on parenting after scary, media saturated events. Dr. McCarthy reminds parents that they can get their updates from smartphones and laptops rather than keeping a radio or television turned on.

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This graphic links to the MGH article.

 Best Quote

        “…as parents, we don’t get the luxury of processing and dealing separately from our children.”

Massachusetts General Hospital, where many injured people were taken, has posted How to Talk to Kids Following the Boston Marathon Tragedy, including the excellent graphic on the left. 

You might also find it helpful to read blog posts, one that I wrote after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, Media Literate Disaster Discussions Balance Concern With Hope, and another, Talking to Children About the News.

Resources for parents and educators are also available at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website.