mfioretti: digital natives*

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  1. Facebook’s goal is to “push down the age” of when it’s acceptable for kids to be on social media, says Josh Golin, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. Golin says 11-to-12-year-olds who already have a Facebook account, probably because they lied about their age, might find the animated emojis and GIFs of Messenger Kids “too babyish,” and are unlikely to convert to the new app.

    Facebook launched Messenger Kids for 6-to-12-year olds in the US Monday, saying it took extraordinary care and precautions. The company said its 100-person team building apps for teens and kids consulted with parent groups, advocates, and childhood-development experts during the 18-month development process and the app reflects their concerns. Parents download Messenger Kids on their child’s account, after verifying their identity by logging into Facebook. Since kids cannot be found in search, parents must initiate and respond to friend requests.

    Facebook says Messenger Kids will not display ads, nor collect data on kids for advertising purposes. Kids’ accounts will not automatically be rolled into Facebook accounts once they turn 13.

    Nonetheless, advocates focused on marketing to children expressed concerns. The company will collect the content of children’s messages, photos they send, what features they use on the app, and information about the device they use. Facebook says it will use this information to improve the app and will share the information “within the family of companies that are part of Facebook,” and outside companies that provide customer support, analysis, and technical infrastructure.
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  2. Children and young people should be educated in using smartphones to stop them being exploited by the rising tide of sex offenders attempting to groom and sexually abuse them via digital technology, a new UK report has suggested.

    The Digital Childhood released at the Children's Global Media Summit in Manchester, was commissioned by 5Rights, an initiative for youth digital rights launched two years ago by Baroness Beeban Kidron.

    It insists children and young people should be at the center of the digital environment and not left behind or overlooked despite extreme risks, such as grooming and child sexual abuse.

    Constant and unrestricted access to media means children constantly see sensationalist headlines, photoshopped images and unsavory content, which takes control out of their parents' hands as to the content they are exposed to from a young age, Jodie Cook, a social media expert and entrepreneur, believes.

    "App creators are working on creating devices and platforms that are as addictive as possible, which will have an impact on children's brains and attention spans. Currently social media platforms such as Facebook have a minimum age requirement for individuals signing up and films have age restrictions, perhaps we will see this with devices too," Ms. Cook told Sputnik.

    Sex Predators

    Online platforms can be used for heinous crimes such as the sexual exploitation of children by pedophiles and sex predators. This type of abuse can take almost as many forms as in the physical world, ranging from producing, storing and trading child pornography to seeking paid or unpaid sex online once onscreen contact has been established, normally via smartphones.

    Online grooming by pedophiles — the process of persuading a youngster to have sex online, sharing photographs or arranging to meet — is now at an alarmingly high level, prompting the UK government to introduce a new law in April 2017 whereby groomers who target children through mobile phones and social media will face two years in prison.

    The National Crime Agency warned December 4 sex offenders are increasingly using live online streaming platforms to exploit children. In one week alone, authorities identified 345 vulnerable children and arrested 192 people, 30 percent involving streaming, blackmail and grooming.

    Minimum Age

    Next week the House of Lords is scheduled to vote on an amendment to the Data Protection Bill which would force social networks to build child protection into their sites as well as make 13 the minimum age at which a child could create social media accounts online. Ofcom said 43 percent of 11-year olds already have accounts.

    YouTube announced on December 5 it will employ new and improved digital algorithms as well as thousands of human moderators across Google to shield its young viewers from disturbing content.
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  3. The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled.

    95% of the US population, 93% of Europeans and 92% of Asians can't do "level three" tasks like "You want to know what percentage of the emails sent by John Smith last month were about sustainability" -- tasks where "use of tools (e.g. a sort function) is required to make progress towards the solution. The task may involve multiple steps and operators. The goal of the problem may have to be defined by the respondent, and the criteria to be met may or may not be explicit."

    Jakob Nielsen's commentary on this makes the point that much of the most basic skills required to work in the tech industry are well beyond the grasp of nearly everyone who will use the products those technologists are designing.

    What Most Users Can Do

    If you want to target a broad consumer audience, it’s safest to assume that users’ skills are those specified for level 1. (But, remember that 14% of adults have even poorer skills, even disregarding the many who can’t use a computer at all.)

    To recap, level 1 skills are:

    * Little or no navigation required to access the information or commands required to solve the problem

    * Few steps and a minimal number of operators

    * Problem resolution requiring the respondent to apply explicit criteria only (no implicit criteria)

    * Few monitoring demands (e.g., having to check one’s progress toward the goal)

    * Identifying content and operators done through simple match (no transformation or inferences needed)

    * No need to contrast or integrate information

    Anything more complicated, and your design can only be used by people with skills at level 2 or 3, meaning that you’re down to serving 31% of the population in the United States, 35% in Japan and the UK, 37% in Canada and Singapore, and 38% in Northern Europe and Australia. Again, the international variations don’t matter much relative to the big-picture conclusion: keep it extremely simple, or two thirds of the population can’t use your design.
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  4. Now what can be done? Certainly the explanation for Trump’s rise cannot be reduced to a technology- or media-centered argument. The phenomenon is rooted in more than that; media or technology cannot create; they can merely twist, divert, or disrupt. Without the growing inequality, shrinking middle class, jobs threatened by globalization, etc. there would be no Trump or Berlusconi or Brexit. But we need to stop thinking that any evolution of technology is natural and inevitable and therefore good. For one thing, we need more text than videos in order to remain rational animals. Typography, as Postman describes, is in essence much more capable of communicating complex messages that provoke thinking. This means we should write and read more, link more often, and watch less television and fewer videos—and spend less time on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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  5. Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.

    Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.

    More than two out of three middle-schoolers couldn’t see any valid reason to mistrust a post written by a bank executive arguing that young adults need more financial-planning help. And nearly four in 10 high-school students believed, based on the headline, that a photo of deformed daisies on a photo-sharing site provided strong evidence of toxic conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, even though no source or location was given for the photo.

    Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are taking steps to prevent sites that disseminate fake news from using their advertising platforms, and Twitter Inc. is moving to curb harassment by users. But that won’t get rid of false or biased information online, which comes from many sources, including deceptive advertising, satirical websites and misleading partisan posts and articles.
    Evaluating the Credibility of News Sources
    As part of Stanford University’s study of students and online news, it asked middle schoolers which of the four tweets, above, were the most trustworthy. More than half of the 204 students responding trusted Lisa Bloom’s tweet more the one from NPR, noting it had the most information. A sample student response: ‘The best tweet for information is the first one because it actually shows him resigning in a picture, and it gives a caption saying that he is resigning.’ ENLARGE
    As part of Stanford University’s study of students and online news, it asked middle schoolers which of the four tweets, above, were the most trustworthy. More than half of the 204 students responding trusted Lisa Bloom’s tweet more the one from NPR, noting it had the most information. A sample student response: ‘The best tweet for information is the first one because it actually shows him resigning in a picture, and it gives a caption saying that he is resigning.’ Photo: Stanford History Education Group

    A growing number of schools are teaching students to be savvy about choosing and believing various information sources, a skill set educators label “media literacy.”
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  6. t’s as if the aforementioned mobile-desktop tipping point is playing out on the political landscape, with Clinton and Bush as the familiar and powerful but static PCs, and Trump and Sanders the fleet-footed, flexible but small-time smartphones.

    This development doesn’t feel like a blip either.

    Network television is becoming a legacy platform because voters can engage with what it broadcasts via the same digital channels they use to access everything else. It doesn’t work the other way round. Mainstream media gatekeepers face obsolescence because the social Web simply opens its own gates, by the thousands, every day.

    This new, mobilized — and mobile-ized — electorate is a force to be reckoned with. As we head into the primaries, the sturdiness of these digital grassroots will be tested to their limit. Some of the most vocal campaigners in this race have never attended a rally, or even voted before. They’ve contributed every piece of their support — from fundraising to partisan point-scoring — via a screen. The significant change since 2012 is the size of that screen.
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  7. New research offers a compelling reason for parents to ban smartphones, tablets and laptops in their children's bedrooms at night: The bright light of these devices may lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that prompts sleep.
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  8. an adolescent who can critically understand and effectively evaluate online information is more likely to become an active civic participant than one who lacks such skills. The study concludes with a few policy suggestions.
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  9. So, in essence, we have given the designers of time and thought saving applications a grave responsibility. We have implicitly allowed them to choose for us what presumably will be in our best interests. I, for one, find the natural progression of that prospect extremely scary and amazingly it is all self-imposed!

    Google, Amazon and Facebook do this all the time by mining our data, targeting us with custom advertising and even creating profiles that in practice could rival ones that our intelligence agencies keep on criminals and terrorists.

    And here is the thing: We all are complicit in allowing this to happen. So next time when you turn on your GPS or phone, which by the way pin-points to within twenty feet of where you are at any time of the day or night, remember the power you are ceding to that vast network in the sky. Do the powers that operate that network really have our best interests in mind or will they one day decide to direct us all to drive off the proverbial cliff? I, for one, will be dusting off my old Rand McNally road maps
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  10. "I wish kids today learned street smarts. It's one of the most important things I've taught my kids! Most kids are so focused on their phone they forget to monitor their surroundings.” -- Rose Nape
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