Internet usage amongst the world’s population has more than doubled between 2005 and 2013, from 16% to 39%. Given that the world population was 6.916 billion in 2013, this statistic points to a whopping 2.7 billion people entangled and engrossed in an expanding mesh. A recent study of media literacy among children shows that although children (ages 5-15) in general continue to watch television more than going online, tweens and early teens spend more time on the web than the box.
These children are most concerned about their image online – according to them, there were three frightening things about the net viz (a) “Bad things friends have written” about them (b) “Friends being nasty mean or unkind” to them and (c) the pressure to “appear popular or attractive online”. The risk of gender stereotyping notwithstanding, girls appear to be more influenced by the internet than boys perhaps because of their natural proclivity to social image.
It is interesting that while parents restrict smart phone use time for children, there aren’t as many restrictions placed on the tablet, which, going by the many ‘l-o-l’-worthy online videos of infants and gadgets, has apparently emerged as a baby-sitter among many things. There is now also an increasing trend of using the tablet and other online devices to obtain information and knowledge for home and school work, a library-on-the-go, if you will. This is a positive use of the internet among children but carries with it the onus of recognizing useful and reliable information against falsities. The absence of peer-review and censorship on the web makes it very easy for chaff to be sold as seed.
As with any emerging technology, there are more brickbats than bouquets to children using the net. The biggest concern is safety. The cyberworld mimics the real world, and the intersection of the two has been growing exponentially. The danger to children in cyberworld is just as real as in real world, or perhaps even greater because of the anonymity possible on the web and the lack of unifying rules and laws that govern and manage this parallel universe. Age-inappropriate information, cyber bullying and harassment are very real risks and must be taken seriously by the parent when a child enters cyberspace.
The internet media insurgence into childhood is a natural and real event. As with any event involving childhood, the responsibility of safety and utility lies with the parent. The study shows that a parental role in educating children on internet safety is essential, and this, in turn, hinges on thoroughly understanding the risks and benefits of this medium.
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At last count, there were 10 million iPads deployed in US school systems. Overcoming initial resistance, schools are increasingly embracing mobile learning, specifically iPads. Experts like Dr. Elliott Solloway and Dr. Cathy Norris question the frenzy. The goal of such initiatives should be to change the education paradigm from a 'memorization-oriented pedagogy' to an 'inquiry pedagogy'. The question is whether it is making a real difference in the student's journey.
"To support 24/7 inquiry, a student needs a mobile device that is ready-at-hand," argue Dr. Solloway and Dr. Norris. "A 10 inch-screened device is not truly ready-at-hand; or more likely, it is sitting in the iPad charging cart in the classroom."
It is true that most mobile learning initiatives in schools restrict usage to the classroom. And that is a shame because it undermines the goal of "inquiry pedagogy"! At Mobicip, our founding mission is to support ready-at-hand learning, anytime, anywhere. Here's to unleashing the cart-bound towards true mobile learning.
There is no question that parents are the first role models for kids. But a recent study makes a claim that a father’s level of education is the strongest factor determining a child’s future success at school. The report from the Office for National Statistics in the UK claims that children are seven and a half times less likely to be successful at school if their father had a low level of education, and three times less likely to have a low educational outcome if their mother did so.
Previous studies have indicated such a link between parent-child education levels, but the latest study shows a marked impact of a father's attainment level on the child's education. “This report shows just how important education is in breaking that cycle of poverty across generations and ensuring that poor educational achievement is not transmitted from parent to child,” says Conor Ryan, Director of Research at the Sutton Trust, a think tank that addresses educational inequality. Learn more.
One of the many challenges faced by the digital parent today is the question of how much screen time is good, or not good, for our kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the average kid spends 7 hours a day across television, computers, tablets and smartphones. It also recommends that parents should try to limit screen time to 2 hours a day at most. Critics of such one-size-fits-all studies argue that not all screen time is the same.
"The idea of telling my kid he can only have one to two hours of computer time a day makes me laugh. Seriously?" argues Dresden Shumaker, a writer and parent who makes some valid counterpoints. "When it comes to screens, time isn’t what needs to be monitored. What needs monitoring is content and how involved we are."
The younger generation has always been a step ahead in adapting to new technologies and platforms. Modern smartphones and tablets have allowed them to evolve into true 'digital natives' as opposed to their parents' generation of 'digital immigrants'. This generation gap has created a challenge for parents today in keeping up with their tech-savvy kids, if not staying one step ahead.
- Empower them with the knowledge to protect their personal information
- Make an effort to understand the basics of technology
- Establish ground rules, monitor and stay in touch
- Turn the device into a positive learning tool
Schools are embracing digital technologies like never before. However, many parents have a mistaken notion that the tablet or laptop replaces the previously used physical medium, like the textbook or notebook. Some others acknowledge that it is a good consumption device, where students can review content posted by the teacher or school. All it takes to flip the switch is one look at a teacher using technology for learning in a simple and intuitive manner.
Monica Burns, a former elementary school teacher in a 1:1 classroom, usesGeoboard - a virtual manipulative app - to reinforce math concepts and promote higher order thinking skills.
"Geoboard is an app that is all about the activity you choose to do with it, as opposed to leading students in a particular direction." See full article here.
As schools are increasingly going digital, parents should be asking some important questions about what apps their kids are using at school, what data is being collected, and how the information collected is being used. If the whole issue of privacy is new and the phrase 'personally identifiable information' doesn't mean anything to you, it is time to get started and educate yourself!
- Do your own research
- Ask teachers about websites used in class
- Ask administrators about the school's use of data
- Monitor your school's web and social media sites
- Minimize your data entry
- Opt-out early and often
- Make your voice heard
Most K-12 schools are back in session (in the US) over the next few weeks. It is time to prepare to get back into the routine and get things in order. One thing to check on is your kids' devices to make sure they are setup with age-appropriate restrictions and parental controls. Done already? Ok. Here are some more resources to help you de-stress and stay in control over the next few days.
- Check out Common Sense Media's tips to navigate the social media landscape of high school.
- USA Today's Jennifer Jolly takes a look at hottest tech gear that gives you bang for the buck.
- Edutopia's resources to help children begin school with a positive mindset.
- PTPA is back to talk about some must-have tech tools for elementary students.
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Every parent has concerns about their children's health and safety, but sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone. The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital publishes a national (US-wide) poll based on an annual survey, and this year's results are as revealing as they come. Read the full report here.
- Internet Safety is one of the top concerns in the local community and nationwide
- Bullying nearly tops the list nationwide, second only to childhood obesity
Are we worrying too much? Stephen Balkan, CEO of Family Online Safety Institute, offers the sage advice, "let’s help kids to become resilient, by helping themselves and then helping others." Enough said.
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