Teaching our kids to curate
These days, most parents have a basic understanding of the digital world that surrounds their kids. Whether they’re toddlers, second graders or middle schoolers, kids are learning to embrace their exciting new environment at lightning speeds.
Even those of us who consider ourselves “tech savvy” still marvel at the ease with which even very young kids take to touch screens, mobile devices and online resources. How do they instinctively know when to swipe, pinch or zoom? Gestures that have to be learned by adults are intuitive to our kids.
But in the Internet age, we still have one important skill to teach our kids: how to be discerning. The sheer volume of information that is available to us through the Web means that we have to develop filters to identify fact from fiction, good from not-so-good, truth from opinion. The ability to curate, which was formerly the exclusive domain of museums and art galleries, is now a hugely important talent for our kids.
So how do we go about teaching our kids this digital age skill? There are some everyday tasks that kids engage in that can become useful training grounds:
1. Curate your friends
From Club Penguin to Facebook, kids are engaging each other on social networks. Even with all the protections in place to prevent them sharing personal information, they tend to “friend” people they don’t know in real life. If you can teach them to be discerning about who they meet online, it’s easier to teach them to be more skeptical about the information they come across as well.
2. Curate resources
At my daughter’s middle school, the head of technology demonstrated to kids and parents how Wikipedia can be manipulated to provide inaccurate information. Schools can be an enormous help in teaching your kids how to curate sites and know which ones to trust for the information they need.
3. Curate images
Kids can take hundreds of pictures with their smartphones and cameras but are not very good at deleting those that don’t make the grade. Cleaning up an overloaded photo cache can be an important lesson in choosing quality over quantity. (And good training for curating family memories later in life.)
4. Curate links and content
Teaching kids which links to open and which ones to avoid can thwart phishing attacks and other malware threats, and is an important step in safeguarding personal information. And knowing when to ignore links will allow them to better focus on their school work and other priorities!
Students Turn to Social Media To Screen Colleges
By Tracey Dowdy
For years, colleges and universities have used social media as part of the screening process for potential students. We’ve all heard tales of students who lost out on scholarships or were denied enrollment at prestigious schools over careless Instagram and Facebook photos or profanity laced Twitter accounts.
Up to now, the burden of maintaining a reputable online presence has been on the prospective student but that dynamic is starting to change. Students are increasingly using social media to research schools and evaluate their higher education options, and that additional pressure has admissions counselors racing to keep up.
Recently, online education resources Zinch & Inigral surveyed 7,000 students on the importance of social media when researching colleges and universities. Consider these results:
- Two thirds of the class of 2012 used social media to research schools.
- 57 percent checked out the Facebook page of prospective schools, 42 percent turned to YouTube, 18 percent used Twitter, and 6 percent looked at Pinterest.
- 38 percent stated their social media findings influenced their decision about which school to attend.
Clearly social media has become a key factor when choosing a school. This generation of students – Generation Z – has virtually grown up online. Technology is second nature to them, and much of their life, including relationships, happens via social media.
Recognizing the value students place on social media, StudentAdvisor.com has developed a list of the Top 100 Social Media Colleges. Harvard is first, followed by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Notre Dame.
According to Elise Perachio Daniel, senior e-communications marketing manager at University of Washington at Seattle (#9 on StudentAdvisor’s list), “Having a strong social media presence increasingly seems to fill their needs in that it makes it easier for them to experience a friendly and dynamic relationship with what can sometimes seem like a difficult-to-navigate and faceless institution…This gives them an opportunity to interact with us in a forum in which they’re already comfortable. I think it takes some of the stress out of it for them.”
Creating that sense of familiarity is critical to drawing students and getting them involved in the enrollment process. “Students want to be connected with other students,” says Gil Rogers, director of College Outreach for Zinch. “You can post a picture of an athletic event, but you also want to be able to connect students to ways that they can be part of that event or be part of that campus.”
Johns Hopkins has created Hopkins Interactive, an interactive web site managed by student volunteers. The goal is for honest, practical advice and information from current students. Who better to tell you about the social life, what the food is like, and how tough it is to balance classes and a part time job? That’s not information that comes across in a typical Student Handbook.
It’s not just other students they’re reaching out to connect with. “Those students are drawn to someone they can identify as an authority and someone who is a resource,” says Rogers. “They’re more likely to want to connect to an admissions counselor via social media because that is the person who has facts and answers.”
The admissions process can be daunting for students and their parents, so savvy admissions departments are making use of social media to streamline and simplify the process. By allowing students to ask questions and answering in a public forum, students have an immediate sense of belonging and connection to the larger university community.
Cutting through the red tape, streamlining the admissions process and giving real time answers to questions students are asking. Pure genius!
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.
All screen time isn't the same
In the digital age, it’s
become conventional wisdom that too much screen time is a bad thing for
our kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under
the age of two have no screen time at all, and that kids over two watch
no more than 1 to 2 hours a day.
Numerous studies have chronicled
both the rise in overall media consumption and the correlation between
too much screen time and poor academic performance. As a result, parents
are constantly reminded to monitor screen time and restrict it as much
Unfortunately, that’s becoming increasingly hard to
do. Think of all the screens that are now commonplace around the home.
There are multiple TVs of course, but then there might be desktop
computers, laptops, iPads, iPods, Kindles, smart phones, gaming devices –
the list is almost endless. Are all these screens equally bad or are
some screens worse than others?
The reality is that screens will be
an increasing part of our kids’ lives, not less. Most schools now
schedule computer time at school. Some schools even make a point of
providing each child with a laptop and require them to be in use for
virtually every class.
The use of computers, iPads, and other
devices is even more pronounced at higher learning institutions, where a
recent Associated Press poll found that the average students stares
into a screen for over 6 hours a day. (That’s nothing – I estimate that
on an average day, I’m looking at some kind of screen for at least 10
So how do we decide good screen time from bad screen time?
Clearly it’s down to content. An hour spent prepping for a test on NationalGeographic.com is a totally different experience for a child than watching an hour of cartoons on Nickelodeon. An hour playing Red Dead Redemption is clearly not the same as an hour reading a good book on a Kindle.
So the next time you worry about your child and too much screen time, stop to consider what kind
of screen time they are experiencing. I don’t think it will ever be
like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but maybe there’s bad screen
time and not-quite-so-bad screen time!
Making sense of data
A friend of mine is mad at the wireless carriers. She thinks they are after her unlimited data plan. “I have had unlimited data since 2007,” she said to me indignantly “and no ‘share this or share that’ plan is going to take it away from me!” I let her calm down for a few minutes and then asked her the obvious question: How much data does she actually use each month? Of course I knew the answer before I asked the question: she had no idea.
Here’s the story I tell most of my unlimited data friends: I am one of the heaviest smartphone users I know. I stream movies, I stream music, I upload photos, I am on e-mail all day long, and I have more apps than I know what to do with. Now, not all this activity takes place on a cellular network. Whenever I’m at home and I’m going to watch a movie or listen to music, I switch to our home network. Similarly, if I’m travelling and I can find secure Wi-Fi, I use someone else’s data allowance not mine.
But this careful approach to cellular data use is offset by constant use of my smartphone’s hotspot. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t fire up the Internet sharing feature on my Nokia Lumia for my laptop, Surface tablet or another Wi-Fi-enabled device.
So how much data do I use on my cellular network? Barely 1.6GB over the last 30 days. (That’s courtesy of Data Sense, a great Nokia Lumia feature which I will come back to later.)
Now, if I use only 1.6GB per month, my friend must barely reach 1GB. She never watches movies on her smartphone, has given up Facebook for Lent, and hasn’t downloaded more than a handful of apps in her entire life. But her jealous guardianship of her unlimited data package continues.
Of course, numerous consumers are giving up their unlimited data, as they switch to the latest smartphones and are required to abandon their old contracts. But despite some initial irritation, I rarely hear any long-term complaints, particularly from moms of bigger families who love the savings that can come from a Share Everything plan.
If you have concerns about how much data your family will consume, check out Verizon’s data calculator. It will help you estimate data usage across all your devices and tell you which activities are responsible for the highest consumption. Verizon customers can also set up notifications, so you always know where you are in your monthly data cycle. And you can always adjust your plan if you see that you’re going to go over.
Which brings me back to Data Sense, the data-monitoring app on my Nokia Lumia 822. Not only does it tell me how much data I have consumed in the last 30 days, but it also tells me which activities have used up the most. For me, e-mail use is always #1, followed by Internet sharing (hotspot use), and streaming media.
Switch to a Share Everything plan and activate those monitoring tools – and you will forget that there was ever such a thing as unlimited data!
Make Mom Proud!
One of the reasons we love our partnership with the WWE is their commitment to social good programs that positively impact families from all walks of life. To coincide with Mother’s Day, WWE and Susan G. Komen this week launched Make Mom Proud, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer.
As part of the campaign, WWE is urging fans to support moms by taking steps to educate themselves about breast cancer, participate in local initiatives, and donate to Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research and community outreach programs. The campaign will be promoted through all of WWE’s assets, including TV broadcasts, live events, digital, and social media.
“WWE fans are making a tremendous contribution to our mission to help women with breast cancer by supporting our community breast cancer programs for uninsured and underserved women, and through our global breast cancer research,” said Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “We’re so grateful for the support of the WWE community in our mission to end suffering from this disease.”
“WWE is dedicated to supporting Susan G. Komen and their fight to eradicate breast cancer,” said Paul “Triple H®” Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent and Live Events, WWE. “Susan G. Komen is at the forefront of breast cancer research and community outreach programs, and I’m proud that the WWE Universe is supporting such an important cause.”
Throughout the month of May, WWE Superstar Triple H and Divas Alicia Fox and Layla will be featured in a series of public service announcements to generate awareness and encourage fans to get involved. Alicia Fox and Layla will also attend the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure and its surrounding events on Mother’s Day weekend in Washington, D.C., an area that has among the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the country.
Susan G. Komen and WWE have a history of success in raising awareness for the fight against breast cancer. In September 2012, WWE and Superstar John Cena partnered with Susan G. Komen to launch the “Rise Above Cancer” campaign. Cena wore co-branded, pink and black ring gear that fans were able to purchase throughout October, raising $1 million to support Susan G. Komen’s mission to eradicate breast cancer and save women’s lives.
To learn how you can get involved, join us today, Thursday, May 9th on Twitter for chat with @WWEmoms and @KomenforTheCure at 7pm ET. RSVP here and use hash tag #WWEmoms.
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