Digitally Literate #224


The Rights of the Child
Digitally Lit #224 – 11/30/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #224 of Digitally Literate, thanks for stopping by. Please subscribe if you would like this to show up in your email inbox.

This week I celebrated Thanksgiving here in the U.S. with friends and family. I love to cook, and experiment in the kitchen. This year I tested out using turmeric in my turkey brine, and a vanilla bourbon, balsamic vinegar cranberry sauce. Both were great.

In the spirit of giving thanks, I continued to connect with many after leaving NCTE. The incredible Jim Burke reached out and helped make some connections.

We posted a new episode of the The Technopanic Podcast titled Saying Thanks. Kristen and I reflect on the past season, and say goodbye to our lead editor as he heads off to student teaching. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, PocketCasts, Stitcher…or the podcast app of your choice.


10 Ways to Read More Books (13:54)

We’re quickly approaching the end of the year, and this means a chance to identify some new habits for the next year. This great video from Mariana’s Study Corner shares some guidance to keep you motivated and reading.

From the topics shared, the first one (IMHO) is the best…switching up genres as you read. Last year I scaled back my consumption of podcasts, and started reading/listening to more audiobooks. To keep me interested, I need to mix up genres as I read. This means reading a non-fiction, after some sci-fi, and then following up with a productivity book. Or…whatever interests you.

Check out this master list of 2019 reading challenges if you need more ideas. This upcoming year I’m planning (hoping) to follow along with Bryan Alexander’s book club. I usually follow up with the books after the group moves on.


Using the Internet to Raise Your Children

Quinn Norton talking about the challenges of parenting in the current information ecosystem.

Our children are the most media drenched children who have ever lived, navigating their way between addictive games and social media platforms, and a hyperfast news cycle trying at all times to push everyone’s nervous system as hard as possible. Then there’s the regular stresses of school and socialization that plagued us when we were young. But they’re also the smartest people who have ever lived, and able to pluck wonders of human understanding from the ether, form groups that coalesce around ideas in moments, and google their homework answers.

Norton closes with a comment that echoes a frequent talking point as I think about this age of screentime…talk to youth.

Education is a conversation between people who care for each other, an energetic passing of culture and skills between generations. It takes our full attention in the moment to do it right, and that’s valuable, even when we don’t have nearly as many moments as we’d like.

Abstaining From Social Media Doesn’t Improve Well-Being, Experimental Study Finds

Will abstaining from social media, or a digital detox make you happier? New research by Jeffrey A. Hall, Chong Xing, Elaina M. Ross, and Rebecca M. Johnson suggests the answer is no.

This research explored whether social media abstinence leads to improved daily well-being over four weeks of time. Community and undergraduate participants (N = 130) were randomly assigned to five experimental conditions (no change in social media use, and one week, two weeks, three weeks, and four weeks abstinence from social media). Participants completed a daily diary measuring loneliness, well-being, & quality of day.

Results showed no main effect of social media abstinence. The team found that there were no significant effects, regardless of how many weeks participants were off social media.

Prevalence of problematic smartphone usage and associated mental health outcomes amongst children and young people

A systematic review of the literature & meta-analysis to examine the prevalence of problematic smartphone usage (PSU) and associations with mental health harms. The review suggests PSU was reported in approximately one in every four children and young people (CYP) and accompanied by an increased odds of poorer mental health.

This study examines the potential health concerns and highlight the need to determine the boundary between helpful and harmful technology use.

I would recommend reading this response from Sam Chamberlain and Amy Orben.

Implementing children’s rights in a digital world

Sonia Livingstone 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with a post considering the wellbeing of children in digital contexts. Livingstone asks how shall we implement children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.

The post indicates that there are current (and future) threats to children as they interact in digital spaces and utilize networked tools.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is currently developing a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment. Read through these materials, and the responses to the public consultation if you’d like to learn more.

We need to be much more diligent as we consider the rights, privileges and protections necessary for youth now…and in the future.

Misinformed YouTubers Are Undermining the Fight for Children’s Privacy Online

In September 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came to an agreement with YouTube over violations to COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Part of COPPA indicates that organizations are not allowed to collect identifying data from any children aged 12 and under without verifiable parental consent.

YouTube was fined by the FTC as they were collecting this data for the purposes of marketing YouTube to content creators as they seek venues to attract youth. As part of this agreement, YouTube also has to enforce two new systems:

FTC bought YouTube up and slapped them on the wrist. YouTube now must enforce a system so that it doesn’t break FTC’s rules. YouTube has begun to enforce some new systems.

First, YouTubers will have to claim whether their material is directed at children, and if so, no data will be collected on these videos. Content creators do not like to have to make these designations will result in lower ad revenue, as well as subscriber data, and perks of the platform (comments, end screens).

Part of the challenge is that terms like child directed & child attractive are not easy to identify and define…even though the FTC recently released some guidance on this. YouTube provides some guidance in an explanatory video and its help center.

Second, YouTube also indicated that they’re using machine learning to identify unlabeled content that is directed at children. YouTube admits that such a system “is not perfect,” so creators of adult content could find their videos incorrectly defined as “for kids.”

If content creators choose to not correctly label their videos, the FTC indicated that they could directly fine individual channels for abuse of the system.


Argue better…with science

Here are two strategies to make your argument stick:

  • If the argument you find convincing doesn’t resonate with someone else, find out what does. If that doesn’t work, use their morals against them.
  • Listen. Your ideological opponents want to feel like they’ve been heard.


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For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the important things I find as I surf, skim, & scan the Internet each week. I take notes of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

This week, I found this three part series (one, two, three) about the History of the Internet from the SciShow. Enjoy!!!

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