When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with one word. MODERATION. The sign sat for years, somewhat incongruously, in our living room, so it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, or entering and leaving the house. It was also perfectly placed for the times when my parents’ college students came over to the house for extra study help.
Dad’s goal was for us to think, as often as possible, about self-regulating and managing our daily activities, whether we were engaged in a favorite or a not-so-favorite endeavor.
In today’s hyper-connected world, understanding the importance of moderation is a critical skill. We all — adults and children — live fast-paced 21st-Century lives that center on the media and our digital devices. Thus everyone needs to know how to hit the pause button, disengage, and refocus attention elsewhere.
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.
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”→
There are times when cell phones should be put away. Shouldn’t exercise time be one of those times?
I walk several miles almost every day, sometimes outside and sometimes in, and no matter where I am, I observe lots of people talking on the phone while they move. They may be walking, pushing strollers, on treadmills, or various elliptical trainers or on the street or jogging path — but there they are talking on mobile devices.
The last time I went to the track — my goal that day was to walk three miles — I observed an individual on the phone while pushing a stroller with a wide-awake baby. For as long as I was watching — and I looped the person and the stroller many times on the track — there was no interaction with the child. Moreover, her slowness, trudging and talking in the middle of the track lanes — was an issue with many other exercisers, who needed to give her wide berth every time they approached the stroller. Continue reading “Exercise & Phones — Why Do People Do It?”→
Those of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.
Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?,Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.
Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.
“Our goal,” he writes, “shouldn’t be to ban access to powerful tools for learning. Instead, our goal should be to show the students in our classrooms how to take full advantage of the learning potential sitting inside their purses and their back pockets”.
Read the entire blog post which addresses — broadly — the opportunities for learning that digital devices offer 21st Century students. Lots of educators may disagree with Ferriter’s view, but the fact is we fight a loosing mobile device battle. Students own these devices, and while they are always close at hand and the kids know how to use them to connect with others, most have no understanding for the true learning power of these devices offer. We could help them learn a lot more and become more thoughtful about using their mobiles.
Just when you feel good about your digital world learning curve, a new device operating system brings a serious case of update-time discomfort. While none of us ever stops learning, sometimes these periods of relearning tasks that, in theory, we already know pretty well can be daunting.
I work with educational technology in a school, where updates are part of the job. Yet each time I need to relearn routine tasks I get a healthy reminder that when it comes to digital skill problem-solving and tinkering, I remain a digital immigrant — always a bit slower at figuring out new things than most of my digitally native students. [See note at the end of this post.]
A few nights ago, when I read the stories about the new iOS7 for my iPhone, I resolved to wait a week or two and let any glitches work themselves out. But the next afternoon, Julian, a middle school student, stopped by my technology office asking questions about the cool new iOS7 system that he was downloading — that very minute. I did not know the answers to his questions.
Aha, I thought. Some of my students may need my help. So the next morning at 5:30, I downloaded the new operating system on my iPhone. An hour later with a somewhat different looking device, I fumbled around, located my Audible account, and listened to my latest recorded book as I drove to school — while patting myself on the back. I can manage the new iOS7 — not to mention change.
Then I arrived at school, got out of the car, and could not turn off my book. For more than five minutes I stood in the parking lot tapping at vaguely familiar iPhone icons and finally managed to turn it off. But in the process I turned on some bluegrass music. I had no idea where that music was coming from, because as far as I know, bluegrass does not reside on my iPhone.
If you are an educator who teaches teenagers or a parent of adolescents, check out this newest research release — Teens and Technology, 2013 — from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey results come from interviews with 802 adolescents between the age of 12 – 17 and separate interviews with their parents, conducted over the phone in English and Spanish.
If you have any doubts about how fast digital life is changing for young people, this should dispel many of them.
78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
95% of teens use the internet.
93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
25% say they mostly use their phone online.
Most Interesting Quote
One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phoneand not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.
Schools must find ways to incorporate phones into the 21 Century learning paradigm.