‘The internet is all around us’ what children think of the internet

Recently, Tiana Murray (an early career primary school teacher) and I had an article published in the journal, Digital Culture and Education, which examines what 10-12 year old children think of the internet. We published it in an online open access journal which I think is a fantastic venue for this research as it allowed us to publish a sample of the children’s artwork about the internet. These beautifully demonstrate the children’s ambivalence; the internet is depicted as both being a joyous place and a place of danger. The article can be accessed here and the abstract and selected children’s artworks appear below.

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Ethics, Ed Tech and policy in school

The facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal raises some important questions about the use and security of user’s data, and the operating practices of such companies. The scandal is not so-much that there had been a “breach” but rather that users data had been shared as part of facebook’s business model. It is a model that relies value provided by the data that facebook’s users share. This data, it turns out, is not only of value to advertisers, but as it turns out, political analysts and campaign consultants.

Arguably, this situation has developed because facebook is a form of what’s been termed ‘platform capitalism’. [See Nick Srnicek’s Platform Capitalism for more information]

‘With a long decline in manufacturing profitability, capitalism has turned to data as one way to maintain economic growth and vitality in the face of a struggling production sector.’ (p6)

Platforms as data engines

This is where platforms come in. If data has become a massive new raw material for capitalism, then platforms are the engines that allow it to process this data

Given that such platforms need data as the basis of their product that they use to turn into a profit, techniques developed at places such as Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab are used to the develop and refine these platforms so that people enjoy sharing their data, photos, comments, ‘likes’, etc and receiving positive feedback. This “quantifiable social endorsement” (Sherman, et al, 2018) reinforces data-sharing behaviour, and increases the likelihood that people will continue to provide data to such platforms.

Like all many new technological developments, ethics seems to be the caboose on the end of the train, never able to get ahead and steer the developments powered by new scientific and technological discovery and exploration. Continue reading

Lazy Reblogging #3 Kids and digital footprint

I recently published this piece: ‘Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies‘ and my mother-in-law, (who runs a childcare centre) told me that it was a shame that this information is inaccessible for parents and teachers. With her in mind I wrote up the paper as a piece for The Conversation. Here it is, re-posted in all it’s glory.

Why children should be taught to build a positive online presence

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Rather than just teaching children about internet safety and reducing their digital footprint, we should also encourage them to curate a positive digital footprint which will be an asset for them in their future.

Today’s children are prolific users of the internet. Concern has been raised about the future impact of the digital footprints they are generating. While much discussion of this issue focuses on keeping children safe, little is known about how children manage their digital footprints.

While digital footprints are considered to be a liability, if managed well they can be an asset. Digital footprints can showcase identity, skills and interests. This is important in an era where employers “google” candidates to check their identity and verify their suitability. In this context, having no digital footprint can be as much of a disadvantage as having a poorly managed one.

The “Best Footprint Forward” project explored what children know about digital footprints. Focus groups were made up of 33 children aged 10-12 years from three schools in regional NSW. Analysis of the focus groups reveals children have strategies to keep safe online, but they need further guidance on how to build a positive digital footprint. Continue reading

If you’re not busy on Wed Dec 6th

come and join us at Newcastle for a discussion about EdTech.

We are searching for the middle ground. So much of the discussion regarding technology in education is either evangelical (technology will save us) or pessimistic (nothing will change). Often the educators most enthusiastic about technology are also the most critical. The DICE research group are hosting the EdTech Talkfest – a chance to confab about the contradictions, emotions, optimism and problems of the EdTech field.

If you’d like to come please email Erica Southgate ~ erica.southgate@newcastle.edu.au The EdTech Talkfest will take place on Wednesday 6th December, 2017 9:30 – 4pm, Room X803 NeW Space Building, University of Newcastle, cnr Hunter & Auckland Sts, Newcastle. The event is free but places are limited.

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Conferencing #RE4D

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Re-imagining Education for Democracy Summit. It was a wonderful event and an absolute pleasure to connect with passionate educators from all over Australia, each of whom was there because they felt that it is worth discussing how education can improve democracy in these turbulent times. Corinne Campbell has storified the #RE4D twitter feed if you’d like to retrospectively experience the conference.

With my paper: ‘Digital identity in a ‘post-truth’ world: the case for digital ethics‘ I talked through some ideas that I’ve been mulling over for a while. Continue reading

Digital Footprints research: A brief summary

This post was originally posted on 1 Dec, 2016 on the AARE EduResearch Matters blog under the title: Digital Footprints of children: latest research and the implications.

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Australian children are among the youngest and most prolific users of the internet in the world. They are, on average, a little under eight years old when they begin using the internet and most go online daily. So it is not long before they develop an extensive digital footprint. But not much is known about young people’s digital footprint awareness and how to best educate them to manage their growing online presence.

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Lazy blogging ~ reposting a previous effort

child on loungeWired and tired: why parents should take technology out of their kid’s bedroom

Australian children are among the youngest users of the internet in the world, starting as young as eight years old.

Whether they’re using mobile phones, iPads or the TV, most children and teenagers will use their devices daily to chat to their friends or to access entertainment and education.

But when children use these devices in the evening, they can struggle to sleep, leaving them wired and tired. Continue reading