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  1. Fake news about ‘Blue Whale’ suicides is dangerous - This post first appeared in the Mercury News — the newspaper of Silicon Valley by Larry Magid I got a call on Wednesday morning from a Texas radio station about a 15 year-old San Antonio boy who reportedly took his own life as part of the “Blue Whale Challenge.” Although I had heard about the so-called game, I was unfamiliar with the San Antonio case so I did a little digging and found numerous news stories saying that the boy’s parents blame his death on the game, however I did find one story saying that the “San Antonio Police Department has not verified the challenge was a factor” in the boy’s death. Although I had heard about the so-called game, I was unfamiliar with the San Antonio case so I did a little digging and found numerous news stories saying that the boy’s parents blame his death on the game, however I did find one story saying that the “San Antonio Police Department has not verified the challenge was a factor” in the boy’s death. While I don’t know all the facts behind this tragic suicide, I have heard from numerous child safety experts who tell me that stories such as “the [...]
  2. How to talk with kids about the cyberbullying they see from famous adults - Click below to listen to Larry’s interviews with experts quoted in this post This post first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News As a columnist and as founder of and co-founder of, I’ve  written and spoken about cyberbullying. My work largely has focused on advising parents on how to talk with their kids about how to treat others online and how to respond if they feel attacked. But that advice is more problematic when powerful people — politicians, media personalities and even the president of the United States, are publicly cyberbullying others. How do you tell your children to behave civilly when people in authority – perhaps people you or they admire – are acting badly? For the record, the closest thing to an “official” definition of bullying, as posted on the federal government’s website is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” Add technology and you have cyberbullying. And, if you take away “school aged children,” you have the scene that’s been playing out prominently on the national stage since the beginning of the [...]
  3. Google’s new ‘Be Internet Awesome’ is a fun way for kids to learn to make smart online decisions - Lecturing kids about internet safety has never been a good strategy. Conversations help, but engaging children in ways that are fun can have a much bigger impact. That’s why ConnectSafely is proud to partner with Google on its new Be Internet Awesome program, a fun way to help kids learn about internet safety, privacy and security. Other Be Internet Awesome partners are the Family Online Safety Institute and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. The game takes children to Interland, a magical place brimming with “both awesome and blahsome surprises.” Your assignment, “embark on a quest to become a fearless explorer of the online world.” Interland is made up of Mindful Mountain (share with care), Tower of Treasure, Kind Kingdom, Reality River (don’t fall for fake) and each one of these sections is its own interactive video game aimed at young children. It’s web-based so there is no need to download or install any software. When I was first briefed about this, folks at Google pointed out that there are very few modern, research-based and well made resources to educate young children about internet safety. To illustrate this point, they showed me some of the most popular resources out there and, ironically, one of [...]
  4. ConnectSafely releases free Parent & Educator Guide to Media Literacy & Fake News - You’ve heard about fake news — stories that appear online and in media that are wholly or mostly fake. Sadly, it’s not likely to stop but as parents and educators, we can help stop the spread of fake news but helping our kids recognize it, not believe it and not spread it. Written by ConnectSafely K-12 Education Director Kerry Gallagher and myself, the Parent & Educator Guide to Media Literacy & Fake News will help children and students become more conscious consumers of information, explaining among other things: The difference between fact and opinion in the news The difference between mistakes and lies How to deal with conflicting facts How to teach kids what to do when they see falsehoods shared online Rather than just deal with the symptoms, the guide encourages adults to teach and model media literacy, critical thinking and emotional intelligence to get to the root causes of why fake news can so easily believed and spread.” The dual perspective of a educator (Kerry) and a seasoned journalist (myself) helps makes the guide a practical tool for both teachers and parents. “While we’ll never rid the world of false information, we can help parents and educators immunize young people so that [...]
  5. How to disable location on your mobile device - California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office has published an information sheet titled Location, Location, Location: Tips on Controlling Mobile Tracking. The key advice in that sheet, how to disable mobile tracking on Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices, is reposted below.  The tip sheet also includes location sharing advice for mobile versions of Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook email. Also see ConnectSafely’s A Parents’ Guide to Mobile Phones. Android Phones and Devices: Go to Settings, then Permissions, then Location and turn it off. When an app asks for access to your location, you can choose to grant it or not. To disable geo-tagging of photos, open the camera and then click on the gear icon and set location to “No.” You may have to click the gear icon on several screen layers. You can also choose how accurate you want your location reporting to be (with Location services On). High accuracy mode uses GPS, WiFi, and cellular networks and provides the highest location accuracy and speed, and uses more battery. Battery saving mode uses WiFi and cellular networks to estimate your location, which require less battery. You give up some accuracy and some speed when you select this mode. Device only mode uses [...]
  6. Media Literacy Week and the U.S. election process - — Click above to listen to Larry Magid’s conversation with Michelle Ciulla Lipkin of the National Association for Media Literacy Education by Larry Magid The United States is about to celebrate its first Media Literacy Week (@MediaLiteracyEd) as Canadians have done for the past decade. While the week is not directly related to the U.S. elections, it does coincide with the early stages of both parties’ primary campaigns, which strikes me as a great time to think about media literacy. Very few of us will have a chance to meet any of the candidates face-to-face so what we know about their records, their platforms and their promises comes from the debates, the sound bites we see, hear and read and the analysis of pundits, spin doctors, commentators and reporters. The United States inaugural Media Literacy Week takes place as both the Democrats and Republicans start the process of figuring out who will represent them in the general election in November, 2016. But next year’s Media Literacy Week will take place the week before every U.S. citizen aged 18 or older can go to the polls and exercise that precious right to help make that important decision. Sadly, not everything we hear from the candidates or their supporters and detractors [...]
  7. “3 Rs” of Internet safety: Rights, responsibilities and risk management - by Larry Magid Below is a slightly edited version of a talk I gave at a combined middle and high school assembly on October 22, 2015 and below that is the video of the talk itself. My goal was to demystify some of the tired old Internet safety myths and help students understand how to distinguish what are more and less likely risks and manage the risks that do exist. The lecture was also designed to emphasize students rights as well as responsibilities and to explore the importance of media literacy. [slideshare id=54280556&doc=3rsofinternetsafety-151022203729-lva1-app6891] Watch the video
  8. Identity theft can hit children too - Identify theft can be a serious problem for victims. It can destroy your credit, get you in trouble with the IRS and sometimes even result in your arrest if someone commits a crime in your name. Other consequences, wrote Katie Morell in the book, “Stolen Identity,” include counterfeiting and forgery of documents, stealing medical services in your name and filing tax returns as you so that they can get your refund. A 2008 study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 11.7 million people, five percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, were victims of identity theft during the two years prior to the survey. That represented a financial loss of more than $17 billion. As Morell points out in her book, identity theft is nothing new. It’s actually referenced in the book of Genesis in the Bible with the story of Jacob who posed as his brother Esau. Jacob and Esau didn’t have Internet access (the only tablets around at the time were made of stone), which means Esau didn’t have to worry about Jacob using his identity to apply for credit online as has happened to millions of Americans. One thing [...]
  9. North Carolina teens charged under child porn laws: What you need to know about teen sexting - The Washington Post and ABC News (video) are reporting that two North Carolina teens have been charged with manufacturing and possession of child pornography because they have naked pictures of each other on their phones. The teens are now 17 (they were 16 at the time) and they are old enough to be charged as adults. Had they been 18 it would not have been considered child porn and no charges would have been filed. Sixteen is also the age at which kids can have sex in North Carolina. As Dan Abrams said on ABC’s Good Morning America, they could look at each other naked but they can’t share pictures of each other in that state. Because they are being charged as adults, some media outlets are disclosing their names. I’m not. Laws designed to protect, not prosecute, children Child pornography laws were designed to protect children from predatory adults. They were never intended to prosecute teens for sharing images of themselves. This is a disgraceful use of prosecutorial powers. There are situations when it is appropriate to prosecute around sexting images but these are cases where they are distributed without the subject’s consent or cases where an adult has solicited images of children. So-called sextortion is [...]
  10. Guide helps educators navigate social media for class and professional use - by Larry Magid You’ve heard the stories — teachers who got themselves into trouble over what they posted in social media or were, perhaps, cyberbullied by students. And then there are tales of students wasting their time using social media in class. These are risks to be sure, but when used properly, social media can be a great learning tool and a way to enhance — not risk — educators’ professional reputations. These are the conclusions of a new free publication, The Educator’s Guide to Social Media from Written by Kerry Gallagher and myself, the guide answers the basic questions of how you can safely use social media in class and for professional development and how to maintain both student and personal privacy. Kerry Gallagher Co-author Kerry Gallagher (@KerryHawk02) is a Technology Integration Specialist at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. For 13 years she taught middle school and high-school history where her classes collaborated, created and published their ideas in a paperless environment. Of course, many students are using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but so can teachers to share learning tidbits with students and show off excellent student work with the student’s, and in some cases, parent’s permission. YouTube is a [...]

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