Back Online

Paul Miller decided to unplug from the internet for a full year. He even went to the Citifield Asifah. However, he learned a lesson completely the opposite of what he expected. Without his gadgets, he realized that he still wasted time and made bad choices. After finishing his year, he realized that the internet did not make him any more stupid or anti-social. His choices did.

Here is his fascinating story: I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet.

Internet in Libraries

Teaching the principles of responsible internet usage is crucial because you can’t keep people away from the internet. Even if you do not allow them computers and handheld devices, they can just go to the library.

According to a recent study, 26% of Americans over the age of 16 went online at a library over the last 12 months (link):

Some 26% of Americans ages 16 and older say they used the computers there or the WiFi connection to go online. Here’s what they did on that free internet access:

  • 66% of those who used the internet at a library in the past 12 months did research for school or work.
  • 63% say they browsed the internet for fun or to pass the time.
  • 54% say they used email.
  • 47% say they got health information.
  • 41% say they visited government websites or got information about government services.
  • 36% say they looked for jobs or applied for jobs online.
  • 35% say they visited social networking sites.
  • 26% say they downloaded or watched online video.
  • 16% say they bought a product online.
  • 16% say they paid bills or did online banking.
  • 16% say they took an online class or completed an online certification program.

Additionally, some 36% of those who had ever visited a library say the library staff had helped them use a computer or the internet at a library.

iGeneration Tech

In this excellent presentation full of practical advice for parents and teachers, Internet Safety Expert Lori Getz shares her perspective on the potential and perils of the Internet.

(Note to the sensitive, she is not dressed like the average Bais Yaakov student)

How Kids Act Online

Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy conducted a study on children’s attitudes to internet use. What they found is that children recognize that they are monitored and limited in their online behavior.

The study is titled “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Talking to Youth and Parents about Life Online” and can be downloaded here: link.

An excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Our findings indicate that there is already a solid basis upon which to build. In spite of widespread concerns on the part of adults, the young people we spoke with were aware of online risks, largely self-regulated their own behaviours to avoid and manage those risks, and consistently demonstrated resiliency and competence in their responses to those risks. They actively sought out parental guidance when needed, and indicated a desire to work with adults when online conflicts or concerns arose.

Download the study here: link

iPads in Yeshiva

The Modern Orthodox high school I attended many years ago, Frisch, has issued iPads to at least some ninth graders for classroom learning. My friend, R. Tzvi Pittinsky, describes some of the lessons he, as a teacher, learned from this experiment (link):

This week we launched our first 1-to-1 iPad program for our 9th graders at The Frisch School. This program, made possible by a generous donation from Mr. Dan and Mrs. Marjorie Fried, was initiated with the belief that the iPad with its portability, long battery life, relatively low cost when compared to laptops, multi-media tools, and apps could transform education. This week has been exhausting but exhilarating as students and teachers quickly adapted to the iPad.

Here are 5 lessons that I have learned from this amazing week.

1. The importance of student-centered learning.

The iPad is the ideal platform for student research, exploration, and content creation. For the teacher willing to take a step back and help guide students to find and evaluate information, this can be a tremendous boost. However, for teachers who wish to be the sole source of information in the classroom, “the Sage on the Stage” as it is described, this can be very threatening.

As my good friend, Rabbi Aaron Ross from Yavneh Academy put it when I asked on Twitter about introducing iPads:

Do the teachers understand how to use them? If not, say hi to expensive notebooks. By which I mean, do the teachers understand how ipads can change the way class runs and are they prepared to change their style?…

Read further here: link.

What’s Instagram and Snapchat?

It is hard to keep up with all the latest Internet fads. I asked some students at Columbia what the latest “big thing” is and they said Instagram, which is a popular photo sharing service. That was a few months ago. Things have since changed.

Here is a Wall Street Journal guide to the different photo sharing services. Sharing pictures online or on phones is dangerous. This is just an informational post and not a discussion about what to avoid and what not, which would also be valuable. But at least now you will know what the words Flickr and Instagram mean (link):

Choosing The Right Photo Service

Holidays are a time for taking photos and sharing them with family and friends.

But the rapid spread of camera-equipped smartphones has inspired a confusing array of sharing options, as new services and app makers dream up features to gain an edge on rivals.

Here’s a roadmap of some of the services and what they offer:

With an iPhone, some of choices have already been made for you. Apple’s free iCloud service has a built-in feature called “Photo Stream,” which is designed to synchronize the photos customers take on their phones with the photo albums on their iPads and computers.

Snap a photo, and it’s instantly beamed to Apple’s iCloud servers, and then down again to any other devices signed in with the same iCloud account. Apple also allows customers to share their photos with other iDevice-wielding friends…..

Read the full article here: link.

But even more cutting edge is Snapchat. CNN explains (link):

You may not have heard of Snapchat. But if there are teenagers or 20-somethings in your life, it’s a safe bet that they have.
Snapchat is a mobile app which lets users share images or videos that disappear after a few seconds. That’s right — they vanish forever in the time it takes you to read a tweet.
In a little over a year since it was released by a Stanford student and his recently graduated business partner, Snapchat has has quietly amassed millions of users and now claims to process more than 30 million messages a day. Some bloggers have called it the “next Instagram.”…

Read the whole article here: link.

A Mother’s iPhone Contract

One mother gave her thirteen year old son an iPhone for their holiday but included a list of required behaviors. This personalized list shows the thought, care and interest we all need to exhibit in our children’s technology habits. While I do not agree with the very premise of giving a thirteen year old mobile Internet access, we can still learn from her actions. Here is an excerpt from the Huffington Post article (link):

You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership….

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?

2. I will always know the password.

3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.” Not ever.

4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 p.m. every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 a.m. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected….

See the full article here: link.

Online Generation Gap

The Family Online Safety Institute conducted an extensive survey examining the differing attitudes of parents and children to online safety. Below are just the headline key findings from the Executive Summary. The full Executive Summary, study and presentation are available here: link. These are sobering facts but emphasize the importance of open discussion about proper behavior:

  1. When it comes to monitoring teens’ online activity, a substantial gap exists between how many teens say their parents monitor their online activities and their parents’ reported oversight.
  2. Similar to reports of online monitoring, parents also claim to be more informed about their teens’ online activities than teens believe them to be.
  3. Social networking and media sharing Web sites expose the greatest gaps between teens’ online activities and parents’ knowledge of these activities.
  4. Both teens and parents feel that teens generally are safe online.
  5. When it comes to specific concerns about teens’ online activity, parents and teens largely are on the same page, but attitudes differ on the hazards posed by strangers and inappropriate content.
  6. Teens are taking many steps to protect their privacy and information online, particularly when it comes to the use of social networking sites.
  7. Parents also say they are doing several things to protect their child’s safety, including many actions of which teens are unaware.
  8. Despite actions taken by parents and teens to protect teens online, notable proportions of teens say they have done things online that would enable a stranger to learn personal information about them.
  9. While teens report steps they are taking to remain safe and vigilant while online, two in five admit to posting something online that they later regretted.

Twenty First Century Skills

In the Jewish calender, we are in the fifty eighth century. But we can still learn from the Partnership for Twentieth Century Skills, which has important resources on educating for competence in the changing world in which we live. Among the skills required are Information Literacy (“Students are able to access and evaluate information effectively and use and manage that information purposefully for the issue or problem at hand”), Media Literacy (“Understanding how, why, and for what purposes, media messages are constructed, and how individuals interpret messages differently”) and Information, Communications, and Technology Literacy (“Students use digital technologies to manage, integrate, evaluate and create information, and to apply technology effectively, using it as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate”). The organization’s website has resources for parents, schools and communities to define and implement these skills:

Tablets For Kids

TechHive provides a useful comparison of parental controls on three recent tablets — Nook HD, Kindle Fire and iPad (including mini). Very useful information about how to control access to internet and apps, if you allow your children to use these new technologies. (link)

Bottom line

All three of these tablets provide good, basic parental controls. But which tablet is best for your family depends on what you’re looking to achieve—and what your needs are.

If you’re already heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, and you can spare the cash to get your kid a tablet of their own, setting up Restrictions on their own iPad can provide them with a safe, kid-friendly experience. However, iPad falls short when you try to share that tablet with an adult.

The best tablet for sharing would be a Nook HD. With its separate profiles for each member of the family and kid-friendly content suggestions, everyone in the family can get something out of this tablet. Plus, you could even set up an account for guests to browse the Web without seeing 50 Shades of Grey in your library.

If you’re looking to pass a tablet to a younger child with minimal supervision when they come home from school, or you have a system where they can earn screen time with a gadget, FreeTime is an excellent tool to enforce those time limits.

Read the whole review here: link