What Do You Know About Artificial Intelligence & How It May Affect Your Life?

Ideas about artificial intelligence (AI) have tended to swirl around without offering me much to think about. I use Siri and Hello Google on my iPhone, I’m aware of the increasingly powerful social media algorithms, and I’ve watched, with some interest, the accomplishments of IBM’s Watson. Yet I haven’t really thought much about it.

The developments and decisions made about AI over the next couple of years may well affect our lives and the lives of our descendants. It’s best to get to know a bit about what is going on, especially when it comes to personal privacy, and also to ensure that our children learn about the positive and negative aspects of artificial intelligence.

Over the past several days I’ve read Maureen Dowd’s long and detailed report in Vanity Fair, Elon Musk’s Future Shock, describing the unbridled, and sometimes turbulent Silicon Valley debate about AI. This is the first detailed AI article that I’ve read, and it offers readers much to think about as Dowd circles, again and again, from Elon Musk to other AI researchers who oppose his views and back Musk again. I’ve realized that artificial intelligence is no longer something we see in science fiction movies. It may well affect our health and digital wellness. Continue reading

Let’s Also Think About Grown-up’s Screen Time

Mid-morning coffee with an iPad.

Mid-morning coffee with an iPad.

With so much conversation about screen time for kids of all ages, it’s also useful think and talk about adults’ screen time. Adults model, but not always well, screen time habits for the young people in their families. When asked, most 21st Century children can share all sorts of stories about how much time their parents spends on their devices, even at inappropriate or inopportune times.

In his New York Magazine article, I Used to Be a Human Being, writer and contemporary thinker Andrew Sullivan contemplates the overwhelming “full immersion” that he and many adults experience with the online world.

Continue reading

Many Tech Executives Are Low Tech Parents

iPad MelangeWhen a new iPhone, iPad, Android, extra cool website, or app debuts, many of us, right along with our kids, can’t wait to indulge. One only has to observe homes, schools, shopping malls, athletic events, or even carpool lines (both parents and kids) to see the extent of our devotion to digital devices — sometimes in lieu of face-to-face interaction.

So what surprised me about a New York Times article Steve Jobs Was a Low Tech Parent was that at the height of the early iPad onslaught, Steve Jobs did not give one to his kids. The September 10, 2014 article, by technology reporter Nick Bilton, points out that Jobs was not alone. Many tech executives, it turns out, are conservative about the amount of time their children have access to digital activities and gadgets. Many of these digital world leaders, Bilton writes,: “…strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.”  Others, the reporter points out, don’t even let their children have social media accounts.                    Continue reading

10 Digital Summer Projects for Parents and Kids: Collaborate!

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime.  

Yup, it’s almost summer 2014! summer digital projects

With less frenetic schedules the summer months are a good time to learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of kids’ 21st Century lives. So when school is out, plan to do some connected world exploring and learning together, concentrating on projects that can help family members — children and their parents — figure out even more about digital life.

Below are 10 family digital project summer suggestions — all activities require collaboration —  to consider for the upcoming vacation. Note: Be sure to collaborate on these projects so that adults and children make meaningful contributions.

Ten Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Advice from Digital Kids to Parents

Given the chance, kids can offer remarkable insight — good ideas for their parents to consider.

I’ve heard many kids reflect thoughtfully, and not so thoughtfully, on their parents’ digital skills. I often hear my students wonder aloud about why parents don’t always model the digital citizenship expectations that they want their children to learn and apply.

I wish my parents wouldBelow are the nine most common “I Wish” statements expressed over the past several years  by digital children that I teach.  Two of them, I’ll admit, were even mentioned to me by my daughter some years ago. Mea culpa…

Kids Wish Their Parents and Other Adults Would

  1. Try to learn a lot more about computers in particular and technology in general.
  2. Stop saying they don’t know much about technology (mom’s especially)
  3. Not use Blackberries and phones at sports games and school events.
  4. Don’t talk on the phone so much in the car.
  5. Learn to play some of the kids’ online games.
  6. Understand more about helping with searches on the Internet.
  7. Understand how hard it is to learn the technology rules and regulations and not always threaten to take away technology access when there’s a problem.
  8. Stop automatically saying that new things like Wikipedia are questionable.
  9. Try not to act dumb about technology. Even if you don’t understand something, please act like you want to learn new things.        Continue reading

Helping Children Navigate Digital Streets: Ideas for Parents (and Teachers, Too)

Several times recently I’ve mentioned a colleague’s blog post, A Letter to Parents of Digital-Age Students. Published at Getting Smart, this piece is so good that I’ve already shared it with half-a-dozen colleagues and handed it to several parents at my school.

Read the post.

Susan Lucille Davis, a colleague of mine and — lucky for me — a member of my personal learning network, writes about the strategies that we adults must use if we want our children to become savvy and safe digital consumers. The task for adults, whether we know a lot or a little about technology, is to support, guide, and help children as they go about learning to manage the challenges in today’s digital world. We must be adult trail guides.

While Susan Davis directs her post primarily toward parents, educators can also take her information to heart.

Three Important Points in this Article                            Continue reading

Summer, Social Media, and Digital-Age Parenting

Read the research here.

Summer is a good time for parents to learn more about the social media activities of their children, developing additional skill and more understanding about what’s happening in the digital whirl that is a huge part of kids’ social lives.

A 2011 Pew Internet and American Life Project report, Teens, Kindness, and Cruelty on Social Networking Sites, noted that 95% of children ages 12 – 17 are  online, many on social networking sites. Since that Pew report was published, media sources report that children several years younger than 12 are also using social media. Read the NPR piece, Social Networks: Thinking of the Children. Children continue to need guidance and limits-setting from their parents.

The goal is not to prevent children from exploring — that’s not realistic. Instead, parents need to gather enough information to be able to keep an eye on activities, facilitate discussions when required, and intervene when it’s necessary to insulate their kids from impulsive digital behavior on computers, smartphones, and tablets.        Continue reading