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

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

Pheed: Combining All Social Media in One Place!

Pheed1

Visit Pheed.

Just when you think your teens (and tweens) have found a social media home — Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, SnapChat, for instance — along comes a competitor that draws users away in droves. In this case it’s Pheed, a website and app that lets users share every type of digital communication — videos, photos, audio, and more — in one convenient place. It’s attracting tweens and teens in droves.

What makes Pheed so popular — it launched in October 2012 and by February 2013 a Forbes article called it the number one app — is that it’s simple and fun to use. But it also expands the capabilities available on other social media sites. Pheed users can send longer messages — 420 characters as opposed to Twitter’s 140 — which in some ways makes it something like the micro-blogging site, Tumblr, and it’s easy to link to a user’s other social media accounts. The comments that users send and receive are called “Pheedback.”

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Digital Footprints — That’s What It’s All About

many footprintsIf you ask a current fifth grader, he or she might say that the only topic I know much about is digital footprints, because I talk to students about these tiny digital trails as often as possible. But here’s the conundrum. I don’t talk about the topic nearly enough.

Despite being a devoted device and technology geek, I remain concerned about the digital footprints that kids (and we adults) leave all over the web. And I worry especially about the apps that kids use — even when they set strong privacy settings. I want students to understand digital footprint issues so well that they become curators of the profiles that they create all over the virtual world — thinking carefully each time they decide to share and forward information.

Last year one of my early posts on this “class-on-a-blog” described how to begin a family digital footprint conversation by exploring Google Dashboard and noting how Google collects information about the tools that we use. To continue the discussion, you can also check out this digital footprint video from Harvard’s Berkman Center.

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