Summer Camps Cut Back on Technology

gadget-camp1Are your children going to sleep-away camp this summer?

If so, have fun reading this 2011, but still timely  Chicago Tribune article, Welcome to Camp Tur-Ni-Toff, describing the lengths that sleep-away camps are going to preserve “their bucolic bubbles.” It sounds like the luckiest camps are those that do not have cell reception in the area. NOTE: The reporter points out that parents have more difficulty with the gadget prohibitions than do the campers.

My favorite quote:

The essence of camp is to rise and fall on your own … not to call your parents because you’re homesick or having a bad day,

My second favorite quote:

Even letters home are done with actual stamps and paper … a first for many of our campers.

Read the entire Tribune article.

Have A Chat If Your Child Uses SnapChat

Visit Snapchat.

If your children are using or begging to use the Snapchat app on their digital devices, the time has come for a conversation.

Kids love Snapchat because it makes them feel like they can have secrets, sharing them with others by choice, and occasionally venturing into out-of-bounds territory. They like it because it’s private. And they like it because everything self-destructs in a few seconds.

Well, not really disappear, because the digital footprints we make are never lost and are always lying around — often for a long time.

According to a New York Times article, Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure, the Federal Communications.Commission (FCC) has declared that Snapchat’s claims of disappearing messages and privacy are false. This is a good time to sit down with kids and review the situation — emphasizing that none of us has much privacy anymore, no matter what app makers claim. The privacy which many pre-adolescents and teens thought that they had, does not exist, according to Times reporter Jenna Wortham, who also goes into detail about the settlement with the FCC and the terms that Snapchat has agreed to.

Also take a look at the FCC’s memo, aptly titled Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False. It states:                        Continue reading

Educate Family Members About Digital Scams With Snopes.com

snopes1

Visit Snopes.com.

A week does not go by without students and parents asking me about an Internet scam, a circulating chain mail, a digital rumor, or a wild web story. And on a fairly regular basis, someone — always a good reliable kid or a terrific and reliable parent — forwards a digital missive that initially seems somewhat innocuous, silly, or sarcastic but then unleashes a virus or malware. Sometimes for children the strange digital content causes social problems.

To learn more about the unusual stories that circulate on the web, I suggest that 21st Century parents introduce Snopes.com to family members as soon as each individual begins using online communication and digital devices. We all need to learn how to consult Snopes resources and navigate around the site for helpful information — the true and reliable info — when strange and unusual content beckons.       Continue reading

Better Quality Sleep? Get Some Centralized Home Charging Stations

A neat charging station made from a file box from a MakeZine activity.

A neat charging station made from a file box from a MakeZine activity.

With so many different electronic devices in our lives, it’s easy to get distracted and use them for extended periods and inappropriate times. Concerns about overuse abound, but one of the most significant issues is the way that digital devices keep people, young children, and especially 21st Century preadolescents and teens from getting enough good quality sleep.

To improve sleep habits in your house, consider purchasing or one or two digital gadget charging stations where family members can charge phones and other devices. Locate the charging stations away from the bedrooms.

A Google search for device charging stations gets you started (Amazon sells quite a few), or you can begin with this Mashable post, 10 Chic Charging Stations.

I recently discovered, in a small way, just how a cell phone screen can disrupt sleep. I received a new Solitaire game app, and began playing two or three games on my iPhone just before bed several nights in a row. A few games grew into 20 or 30 minutes of play, and for three nights in a row, when I put down the phone, it took me a long time to settle down and get to sleep. The fourth night I did not play, and sleep came easily. Lesson learned.   Continue reading

Watch Out for Malicious E-mail Attachments!

safetyWith e-mail you can’t be too careful!

Despite the increasing role of texting and social media messaging in our lives, most of us still rely on e-mail for a range of important tasks, and often our children do too. To remain safe and secure we must learn how to be on the lookout for malicious attachments.

Perhaps half-a-dozen times or more a month I receive hoax letters from people on my school e-mail lists. These range from messages that call for help from strange places around to world to e-mails with links to web locations that claim to solve problems or help me out in some way. Many of these come from people who I consider to be web and Internet savvy, and most of the hoaxes are incredibly realistic, seeming like they just might need me to click on them. Recently a great article about e-mail security, with information that can help all of us learn more, appeared on the MakeUseOf website.                                        Continue reading