Young Children, YouTube Kids & Learning: Thoughts to Consider

YouTube Kids splash screen

Click to visit YouTube Kids.

If you have preschoolers in your family, check out The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube, appearing in The Atlantic. Written by Adrienne LaFrance, the eye-opening article describes how the YouTube Kids app works as well as the experiences of 21st Century preschool children who use it. The author also shares thoughts about the app (though not endorsements) from academics including Michael Rich, who directs the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School and Sandra Calvert, who heads up the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University.

It appears that many older toddlers and preschool kids spend a considerable amount of time with YouTube Kids. They love the app, and the article in The Atlantic details many of the reasons why.

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Achievement vs. Kindness and Respect?

In case you missed it this past summer, take a moment to read Why Kids Care More About Achievement Than Helping Others, an article by Jessica Lahey. The June 2014 Atlantic piece describes a research project that surveyed 10,000 middle and high schoolers, asking them to rate achievement, happiness, and caring for others in order of importance. By far, students ranked achievement and happiness over caring for other people.

The article notes that many parents believe they are sending strong messages about values such as respect, caring, and kindness, yet the study illustrates a disconnect between what parents think they say is important and how their children interpret their parents’  messages. The students tended to believe that their parents rated achievement the highest.

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Hurricane Sandy: Finding Reliable Information That Helps You Learn as Well as Look

When a super storm event like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital kids and their families get a good, and sometimes sobering opportunity to learn a lot more about the work of journalists — professional and citizen — as well as first responders. Much suffering, as well as amazing feats of service to others, occur during these events, so it’s important to view and consume the most authentic of resources available.

Hurricane Sandy damaged the
Ocean Grove Great Auditorium.
Photo by Paul Goldfinger  and Blogfinger.net. Used with permission.

Lots of Hurricane Sandy coverage can be found in newspapers, blogs, and other social media, offering us opportunities learn together as families — as we share the content about the storm, the terrible damage it caused, and the ways that people responded. Children and adults will also use these resources in the coming days to figure out how to help, and in the process we all strengthen our media literacy skills (important in today’s world) by identifying the best and most reliable sources of information.

The other day I discovered an amazing blog as I searched for coverage of the storm and its effects on Ocean Grove, New Jersey (where I spent many happy summers as a child). Run by Paul Goldfinger and colleagues, Blogfinger.net offers me on-the-scene hurricane reports from the little beach town, so dear to me and my family, and now without its own newspaper.

Blogfinger — I discovered it thanks to my cousin, also know as Sandy — turned out to be a terrific resource. It has solid  information, great pictures, and well-written narrative. The picture to the right, shows the damage to the Great Auditorium, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a place where I’ve attended dozens of worship services and concerts. You can check out many other Ocean Grove photographs at the Blogfinger site.

One does not need to look far, however, to find examples of unreliable sources.                 Continue reading

Can We Stop Confusing Kids’ Privacy with Transparency?

Our digital society hasn’t figured out what to do about privacy. More importantly, it hasn’t figured what to do about the privacy of our kids — we keep confusing privacy with transparency.

It’s problematic enough that adults are diving willy-nilly into the digital world, sharing everything about themselves, private and not so private, but it’s even worse to observe a world where everything a child does and almost every mistake he or she makes is now public. These days we are giving children and adolescents no cover and no protection as they blithely explore the digital world while making what in any other era would be common and developmentally appropriate errors.

Lest I sound like a digital Luddite, I’m not. I love participating in the activities of my digital world, actively but moderately, and I have an arsenal of digital gadgets in my purse, book bag, and lying around my house. As an educator, however, I am keenly aware of how much we are forgetting to nurture and honor kids’ developmental stages as they grow up in this digitally dense world. Part of solving that problem involves ensuring that children have a guaranteed amount of privacy.

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