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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Bluetooth headphones protect children’s hearing - Puro Kids headphones If you have kids, chances are very high that they are listening to music through earbuds or earphones. No problem with that, but if the volume is too high, it can affect your child’s hearing. That’s why it makes sense to equip them with headphones or earbuds that limit the volume to about 85 db or less. At that level, children can listen for about eight hours without damage, according to Higher levels are OK for much shorter times. For example: At 91 decibels, your ears can tolerate up to two hours of exposure. At 100 decibels, damage can occur with 15 minutes of exposure. At 112 decibels, damage can occur with only one minute of exposure. At 140 decibels, immediate nerve damage can occur. (source: The noise levels (in decibels) on the thermometer are approximate as measured at a typical listener’s distance. Use this sound thermometer to judge your or your child’s noise exposure. Noise levels at 85 dB or above can be harmful to your hearing and require protection. Most headphones will pump out as much sound as you put into them which means that if you turn up the volume on your device [...]
  • Teen social media & mobile use helps maintain friendships - New report shows how teens make and maintain friendships online by Larry Magid It comes as no surprise that teens are heavy users of social media and mobile phones. But, based on a new survey from Pew Research, we now know that a majority (57 percent) of teens have met at least one new friend online while 29 percent say they have met at least five friends that way. The survey also found that most of these friendships remain online. Only 20 percent of teens have met an online friend in person. More than three quarters (76 percent) of teens use social media and 71 percent of all teens say they spend time interacting with friends on social media while 23 percent say they do so every day. The study, Teens, Technology and Friendships involved interviews with just over 1,000 teens between 13 and 17 between September 2014 and February 2015. Boys are game social I was surprised to learn that boys are more likely to meet friends online than girls (61 percent vs. 52 percent) until I realized that video games were part of the equation. Boys are more likely to play video games (84 percent compared to 59 [...]
  • Students: The one group missing from student data privacy laws & bills - The one group missing in the conversation about student privacy rights is the very group existing and proposed laws are designed to protect. If you read the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) or the proposed bills including the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 proposed by Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), they are all about parental rights but only empower students once they turn 18. I was pleased to see danah boyd weigh-in (all links below) on this subject, which I’ve been speaking about for several months but hadn’t yet gotten around to writing about. Student intellectual property rights As I said at a recent White House meeting with staff from the  Office of Science and Technology Policy and at a recent Berkman Center student privacy event, we need to craft legislation that also protects students’ rights to their own data. That not only means that students should have the right to protect their privacy but also the right to retain their data and intellectual property to use as they wish at any time in their lives. Most of the existing and proposed legislation gives parents the right to control student data until the [...]
  • Moral panics amidst French media reports of kids disappearing for three days in “Game of 72” - The French English-language news site, The Local, is reporting about a supposed game where “teenagers have come up with a new Facebook challenge that dares them disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family.” The site reports that a 13-year old girl named Emma from northern France went missing for three days but turned up safe. The site says that the girl reported told authority that she had taken on a dare to play the “Game of 72” (as in disappearing for 72 hours). The site said that French authorities have been unable to find actual Facebook postings about the game. Fears are spreading even if the game isn’t While the extent to which the game actually exist remains in doubt, that hasn’t stopped police authorities and media outlets from raising alarms.  The Canadian Global News site reports that police in Vancouver, BC are warning parents about the game, which, according to the site, requires that kids not “tell anyone where they are and the more mayhem and panic that is caused, the more points that teen is awarded.” Vancouver police are not aware of any actual cases of the game. British tabloid, Mirror, speculates [...]
  • A conversation with Esther Wojcicki on ‘Moonshots in Education’ - Esther Wojcicki is an award winning journalism teacher and the author of a new book on education called Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom. The book explores digital and online learning with models and examples from schools that are already implementing digital learning. Moonshots is an approachable book that’s part Wojcicki philiophy and part tips and advice from her co-author Lance Izumni and contributors Alice Chang and Alex Silverman. Actor James Franco (a former student of Esther’s) wrote the forward. One of my favorite passages is about a culture of trust The first thing to establish in a classroom is a culture of trust. That doesn’t mean the students are given complete freedom to run wild and do what they want; it means the students trust each other to help in the learning process and the teacher trusts the students. A conversation The interview you can hear below, a conversation really, is more than just about the book. It’s about an educational philosophy that stresses doing rather than just studying and is based on something quite radical in education — respect for students. And the reason I call this a conversation rather than just an interview is [...]
  • ‘Revenge porn’ is about betrayal, not pornography - This post first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News Sharing explicit pictures or videos with an intimate partner is not always a harmful practice, but it can be devastating if those images get into the wrong hands — like those of Kevin Bollaert. In the first criminal prosecution using a new California law targeting “revenge porn,” San Diego-based Bollaert, 28, was convicted Monday on six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft for operating two websites. One of Bollaert’s now defunct sites posted nude and sexually explicit pictures of woman, often taken by a former intimate partner, with names, age and other information about the victims. Another reportedly enabled victims to pay to have their pictures removed from the first site. Cowardly act “Just because you’re sitting behind a computer, committing what is essentially a cowardly and criminal act, you will not be shielded from the law or jail,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said. “The result of this conduct was to make people feel shame and embarrassment in the context of their family, their community, and their workplace,” she added. “Revenge porn” is a term for pictures posted or shared, often by a former intimate partner, [...]
  • ConnectSafely to host Safer Internet Day with Calif AG Kamala Harris and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg - This post first appeared in the Mercury News In 2004, a project of the European Commission launched “Safer Internet Day,” which became an annual event held on the second Tuesday of February. This year represents the 11th Safer Internet Day, which is now being celebrated in more than 100 countries, including the United States. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris to keynote Safer Internet Day Last year,, the nonprofit Internet safety organization that I help run, was asked to be the U.S. host, and we launched our own inaugural event in Washington, D.C., that featured panels of youth and industry leaders plus an address by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. This year, Safer Internet Day USA (which is free and open to the public) is being held on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park with a keynote address by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris; remarks by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; three panels involving youth, industry and social activists; and a presentation by National PTA President Otha Thornton. The U.S. theme this year is “Actions & Activism Toward a Better Net & World,” which reflects ConnectSafely’s perspective on the real meaning of Internet safety As you’d expect at an [...]
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