Digital Literacy

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What and How Will Kids Be Learning in 2030

2030 is only 12 years away, but in this age of rapid change what are technology advocates saying that kids should be learning now to prepare for their futures? According to an article in The Irish Times , preparing children for a future workforce where menial tasks will be done by technology means that higher-level cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are going to be even more prized. Students will need to be able to create, analyze and interpret complex data patterns. As one expert from Microsoft puts it, “I do think that everyone should get the opportunity to code in primary school. Everyone should be exposed to computational thinking to a reasonable degree, and then some will say ‘this is for me’ and some won’t. The bigger point is the notion of how we will tackle big complex problems in the future; everyone will need these skills because I think that’s the way the world of work is going to go.”

Instagram and Snapchat Go Head to Head in Popularity with Teens

A recent report by Mashable found that about 85% of teenagers use Instagram at least once a month, in comparison to 84% who use Snapchat the same amount.  The research survey polled about 8,600 teenagers across the U.S. with an average age of 16. While the usage is neck in neck, 46% say Snapchat is their preferred social platform compared to 32% who favor Instagram.

Other findings from the survey show that Amazon was the most preferred teen’s shopping website (47%), with Nike coming in at a not-so-close second (5%), and that Netflix is the number one streaming service. Teens spend 38 percent of their time each day watching Netflix, "well ahead" of YouTube at 33 percent, Piper Jaffray said. Apple grew its share of the wristwatch market among teens to 17 percent, with the Apple Watch ranking as teenagers' second most popular watch.

Vetting Sources – A Bit of a Case Study

According to the online magazine site Quartz, only 17% of the current biographical entries on Wikipedia are about women, and the site is particularly thin on women in science. This stat was shared in light of some controversy about an entry on physicist Donna Strickland that was rejected by the online encyclopedia for not containing enough information about her. Days after the article was removed, Strickland won a Nobel Prize in physics, making her the only woman alive to receive the award, and a new biographical entry was posted on Wikipedia. Something to remember if your kids use Wikipedia as a preliminary source for projects – they may not be getting the full story and some additional research is always a good idea.

What Your Kids Are Watching – Quantity of Likes Over Quality

Did you know that what you little ones are watching on YouTube is likely to be determined by the number of likes for a particular video or channel rather than the quality of the content?  These days the biggest kids’ content creators are YouTube upstarts, not traditional media companies like Sesame Street or even Disney. Channels like ChuChu TV (created in India) and Billion Surprise Toys are garnering views in the billions for content that catches kids’ eyes with “bright lights, extraneous elements, and faster pacing,” as one expert comments in an article from The Atlantic. Viral videos like “Johny Johny Yes Papa” could train kids’ brains’ to expect the same elements of all content, undermining less flashy educational endeavors. In other words, if kids watch a lot of fast-paced videos, they may come to expect that to be the way videos work, which could make other educational videos less compelling and effective. 

Not Much of a Role Model

A common theme proclaimed by anti-cyberbullying experts is how important it is for adults to act as role models and to monitor their own use of social media before expecting children to follow suit. One Texas school district superintendent, Lynn Redden is under review by the Onalaska Independent School District in Piney Woods, about 75 miles north of Houston, over an insensitive post he made on the local newspaper’s Facebook page. Redden says he regrets his comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and even tried to delete the comment, but not before others had taken screen shots of his words. This is yet another example of digital permanence and a good reminder for kids to think twice before posting anything.

Should You Digitally Track Your Teen?

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that while most parents don’t track the locations of their 13- to 17-year-olds, a full 16 percent do. Where do you stand on the issue? Before you make up your mind, you might want to read an article from The New York Times Family section entitled Should You Track Your Teen’s Location? that poses an interesting question: how do you learn to take care of yourself if you know someone else is always watching?

Digital “Time Well Spent” Movement Spawns New App Features

YouTube is the latest of many digital platforms giving momentum to the industry-wide time well-spent movement, an initiative that aims to help people reduce the amount of time they spend looking at their phones and scrolling through their social media feeds. YouTube is rolling out more features designed to help users “take charge” of their digital well-being. The ‘Watch History’ screen within a YouTube profile’s account will show how much time the user has spent on the app that day, the previous day and over the past seven days. This latest feature comes after YouTube released the option for users to set a timer that would remind them to take a break from the app, a feature that was first introduced in the YouTube Kids app.

Similarly, Apple and Google both recently announced a range of functions designed to help users monitor the amount of time they spend on their iOS and Android devices, and Instagram just released a “You’re all caught up” message to notify users when they have seen every post in their feed from the last 48 hours. In August, Facebook announced it would be rolling out activity dashboards for both Facebook and Instagram where users could track the amount of time they spend on the apps.

Another Approach – Issuing Tickets To Kids for Cellphone Use At

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Wisconsin school district is seeking a village ordinance to issue citations to students who violate its cellphone policy a third time. Across the country, school districts have a mix of policies that include outright bans on campus to allowing phones in the classroom for schoolwork on a classroom by classroom basis. What policy does you school district follow? Do you and your kids think a policy like being given a ticket and facing a fine would be successful in curbing cellphones at school?

Turning Off Those Targeted Ads

You look at a pair of shoes online and the next thing you know, ads for that pair of shoes show up in a side bar on nearly every website you visit next. Some call them stalker ads and most people agree they can be annoying and maybe even a little bit creepy. How can you get rid of them? Brian Chen covers all sorts of ways to counteract having your online shopping missions stalked in the Tech Fix blog on the New York Times site. He suggests everything from periodically clearing your cookies, to purging your Goggle ad history, to resetting your advertising ID, which is the unique identifier that Android and Apple phones use to help marketers track you. You can reset it whenever you want. On Android devices, you can find the reset button in the ads menu inside the Google settings app, and on iPhones, you can find the reset button inside the settings app in the privacy menu, under advertising.

How to Turn Off Google Tracking

You may have heard recently that an Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on both Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

To their credit, Google is typically up front about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. But what if you want to turn it all off? To prohibit tracking activity on your apps and other Goggle services, including location history, check out these step-by-step directions.