Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free — and it should’ve been a red flag

Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains.

Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force.

But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, coauthors of the recent book “Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber.”

It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history — Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create.

“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.

Read more at Business Insider.

How Silicon Valley plans to conquer the classroom

00BIGED2-superJumboThey call it the “Church Lane Hug.”

That is how educators at Church Lane Elementary Technology, a public school here, describe the protective two-armed way they teach students to carry their school-issued laptops.

Administrators at Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest public school system in the United States, have embraced the laptops as well, as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious classroom technology makeovers. In 2014, the district committed more than $200 million for HP laptops, and it is spending millions of dollars on math, science and language software. Its vendors visit classrooms. Some schoolchildren have been featured in tech-company promotional videos.

And Silicon Valley has embraced the school district right back.

HP has promoted the district as a model to follow in places as diverse as New York City and Rwanda. Daly Computers, which supplied the HP laptops, donated $30,000 this year to the district’s education foundation. Baltimore County schools’ top officials have traveled widely to industry-funded education events, with travel sometimes paid for by industry-sponsored groups.

Read more at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

AOL says farewell to AIM, its popular instant messenger service, after 20 years

1006-aim-coming-to-an-end-aol-instant-messenger-twitter-4AOL has posted their final away message in what could be considered the end of an era.

The tech company announced Friday it would be discontinuing its pioneering Instant Messenger chat platform after 20 years of service.

AOL’s website posted the statement saying AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) would be shutting down on Dec. 15. AOL said it was ending the service to better focus on “building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.”

After Dec. 15., AIM users won’t be able to sign into their accounts.

The statement also paid homage to its success in the late 1990s, including being referenced in HBO’s “Sex and the City” and the 1998 film, “You’ve Got Mail.”

Read more at Fox News.

Image courtesy of Fox News.

My week without Instagram

gram logoInstagram was my go-to app. It was the first thing I checked in the morning, and the last thing I scrolled through before bed. When I opened my phone, I immediately opened Instagram. It was my “compulsion loop,” as Bill Davidow writes in “Exploiting the Neuroscience of Internet Addiction.” And I wanted to quit—or at least change these behaviors.

I’m a high school teacher, and recently, as part of a media literacy unit specifically geared toward examining our use of (addiction to) social media, I asked my 75 sophomores to give up their self-defined most-used app. For my students, this meant primarily giving up Snapchat or YouTube; for me, it meant I had to delete Instagram.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

To test your fake news judgment, play this game

Fake news has been on Maggie Farley’s mind further back than 2016 when President Trump brought the term into the vernacular.

Farley, a veteran journalist, says we’ve had fake news forever and that “people have always been trying to manipulate information for their own ends,” but she calls what we’re seeing now “Fake news with a capital F.” In other words, extreme in its ambition for financial gain or political power.

“Before, the biggest concern was, ‘Are people being confused by opinion; are people being tricked by spin?’ ” Now, Farley says, the stakes are much higher.

So one day she says an idea came to her: build a game to test users’ ability to detect fake news from real.

Voilà, Factitious. Give it a shot. (And take it from us, it’s not as easy as you might think!)

Read more at NPR.

Image courtesy of NPR.

Twitter may introduce feature to let users flag ‘fake news’

Twitter is considering a feature that would let users flag tweets that are false or inaccurate, in an attempt to combat the spread of disinformation on the platform.

The new feature, reported by the Washington Post, would allow Twitter users to report a post as misleading, in the same way they can currently report individual tweets as spam, or abusive or harmful.

The move would follow Facebook, which introduced a way for users to report “fake news” in December last year. That tool allows US users of the site to report “purposefully fake or deceitful news” to the site’s moderators. In the UK, however, the same option only allows users to block or message the poster, offering no way to bring the posts to the attention of the administrators.

Read more at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Facebook now has two billion monthly users

mark zuck facebookIt’s official: Facebook now has two billion monthly users. In other words, more than 25 percent of the entire world’s population uses Facebook every month.

Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are no doubt already thinking about hitting three billion users, but the path to that number promises to be much, much harder.

For starters, much of the world still doesn’t have the internet, which is why Facebook is building things like internet-beaming drones and laying fiber cable in Africa. That’s going to take some time.

The second big obstacle is China, where Facebook is banned from reaching the county’s more than 700 million internet users. If Facebook ever gets into China, three billion could be here much quicker than expected.

Read more at Recode.

Bellevue, WA girl bullied at school asks for help, Facebook post goes viral

Bellevue fourth grader says she has been bullied since school started in September. After months of telling teachers, administrators and the district, she was feeling desperate and posted a video on Facebook to get help for herself and other students who are bullied.

The video was shared more than 17,500 times and reached more than 670,000 people.

Nasir Andrews, 9, is finishing fourth grade at Ardmore Elementary School in the Bellevue School District.

Andrews, who is black, said other students have called her “Nutella” and “servant”.

Read more at KOMO News or watch the video below.

Video courtesy of KOMO News.

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‘Lean Back’: Facebook looks to woo viewers and brands with TV-like content

Facebook wants users to “lean back.” No, that’s not the sequel to Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”; it’s how people watch TV, unlike the way they scroll through the News Feed.

For months, Facebook has been talking to its biggest media and publishing partners to introduce TV-worthy programming to the social network. Last week, names of new reality and scripted shows were reported in The Hollywood Reporter — the competition series “Last State Standing” and the comedy “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” late of MTV.

Read more at Ad Age.

Image courtesy of Ad Age.

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Facebook names the ad campaigns that best used Facebook

If an agency wants to win Facebook’s own ad awards, it doesn’t hurt to use the platform’s latest formats and technology. Aside from celebrating innovation, after all, the company is trying to showcase what marketers can achieve on Facebook and its Instagram unit.

The Facebook Awards winners revealed Thursday included campaigns that adopted innovations like vertical videos in Instagram Stories and live 360 video. One winning campaign featured a chatbot built to talk with Brazilian teens about alcoholism on Facebook Messenger. Bacardi USA created a DJ experience using Instagram Stories controls.

“We’ve seen those creative spaces come alive this past year,” said Andrew Keller, global creative director at Facebook Creative Shop. “Advertisers are experimenting with telling stories in different ways.”

Read more at Ad Age.

Image courtesy of Ad Age.

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Wary ‘silver surfers’ embrace social media

Record numbers of older people are embracing social media and smart technology, according to a report from watchdog Ofcom.

But many of them remain wary of about using the internet, with a fifth of over-65s saying they are not confident online.

Despite that, four in 10 baby-boomers – aged 65 to 74 – use a smartphone.

And nearly half of net users in the same age group now have a social media profile.

About nine in 10 of those opt for a Facebook account, with only 6% choosing WhatsApp and 1% signing up for Instagram.

Meanwhile, most of the older age group – over-75s – say they have no plans to go online.

Read more at BBC News.

Image courtesy of BBC News.

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Evian babies swim in adult-size clothes in latest ‘Live Young’ outing

Evian’s latest outing for its “Live Young” babies puts the adorable tots into oversized adult clothes.

The new campaign, by BETC, shows the babies swamped by the grown-up outfits. This time there’s no TV ad; instead the images are running as print, outdoor and on social media including Snapchat and Instagram. Video clips feature Evian sport spokespeople Madison Keys, Stan Wawrinka, Lucas Pouille, Lydia Ko and Maria Sharapova, who drink Evian and then turn into baby versions of themselves.

The campaign, running in the U.S., U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, will include a limited edition Snapchat lens filter. Launching on June 10, it’ll be available for 48 hours to all Snapchat users around the world and will then be available for three months through a Snapcode on Evian bottles.

Read more at Creativity.

Image courtesy of Creativity.

‘The internet is broken’: @ev is trying to salvage it

evam williamsEvan Williams is the guy who opened up Pandora’s box. Until he came along, people had few places to go with their overflowing emotions and wild opinions, other than writing a letter to the newspaper or haranguing the neighbors.

Mr. Williams — a Twitter founder, a co-creator of Blogger — set everyone free, providing tools to address the world. In the history of communications technology, it was a development with echoes of Gutenberg.

And so here we are in 2017. How’s it going, Mr. Williams?

“I think the internet is broken,” he says. He has believed this for a few years, actually. But things are getting worse. “And it’s a lot more obvious to a lot of people that it’s broken.”

Read more at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

Fans manage to will a Lupita Nyong’o-Rihanna buddy movie into existence

A Tumblr post. A tweet. A Netflix deal.

It’s not the normal Hollywood production pipeline, but it’s real: The people of the Internet have managed, through determination and enthusiasm, to bring a movie project into being — one written, directed by and starring black women.

This is a short story, so we’ll get right to it. Here’s the Tumblr post, featuring actress Lupita N’yongo and singer Rihanna, both fashion icons in their own right, looking fabulous at a Miu Miu show in 2014.

Read more at NPR.

Image courtesy of NPR.

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AME and members in King 5 news

A recent King 5 article highlights how our recent statewide leglislation on media literacy sets a national precedent:

Washington lawmakers recently approved new digital citizenship legislation that’s among the first of its kind in the country.

The bill focuses on a new problem in the digital age: teaching kids what constitutes appropriate and responsible use of technology.  That includes knowing what to post on social media as well as how to protect yourself online.

“Our students need to be prepared for this online era we’re in.  The pluses and minuses or it,” said Senator Marko Liias, D-Edmonds. 

Read more and view a video here at King 5.

The recent sexual assault cases in the Seattle area on local teenagers and the role social media and technology is playing in them has prompted local news outlet King 5 to reach out to several AME members for their input and experiences:

AME member Claire Beach was interviewed on King 5 News concerning the recent sexual assault cases that highlight concerns of social media use among teens.  She mentions Action for Media Education.

“We need to talk about it.  People don’t like to talk about these things with kids, but we have to,” said Claire Beach.

See her interview and read more here at King 5.

AME President Michael Danielson and his freshman class at Seattle Preparatory School were also interviewed on the challenges and pitfalls of sharing images on a phone or other mobile device.

“It’s hard to keep up with, and literally every week there’s something new to talk about,” said Michael Danielson.

See the interview and read more here at King 5.

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Think before you tweet in the wake of an attack

Monday night, a suicide bomber took the lives of at least 22 people—including an 8-year-old girl—at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Almost instantly, images and video of the devastating attack overtook Twitter timelines and Facebook News Feeds. As natural and understandable a response to horrific events as that might be, it also threatens to amplify the chaos that terrorists intend.

Terrorists have always sought attention, and the age of social media has enabled them to find it with unprecedented breadth. They use social networks to recruit, to inspire, and to connect, but they also rely on social media bystanders—everyday, regular people—to spread the impacts of their terror further than they could themselves, and to confuse authorities with misinformation. That amplification encourages more terrorism, inspires copycats, and turns the perpetrators into martyrs. It also traumatizes the families of the murdered victims, as well as the public at large.

“In the last few years, this problem has become more acute and more complicated technically, practically, and ethically, with the acceleration of the news cycle and the advent of social media,” London School of Economics professor Charlie Beckett wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review last year, analyzing how social media and journalism amplify terrorist messaging.

Read more at Wired.

Image courtesy of Wired.

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Facebook posts fake-news ads in newspapers ahead of UK vote

Facebook launched a UK newspaper campaign on Monday warning British citizens to be wary of fake news in the lead up to the General Election on June 8.

The social network took out ads in major papers including The Times, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, which list ten things its users should look out for when deciding whether to trust information they read online. The tips include checking headlines, URLs, photos and dates.

The spread of fake news has been a problem online for years, but blew up during the US presidential election last year. Facebook resorting to physical media to warn people about fake news is an indication of how widespread the problem has become and the perceived potential for it to impact the outcome of elections.

“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we,” Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy for the UK in a statement. “That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news.”

Read more at C-Net.

Image courtesy of C-Net.

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Silicon Valley is beginning to fight the Trump administration’s net neutrality plan

A lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other web giants told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission yesterday that it shouldn’t weaken net neutrality rules — an early warning shot at the ideas contemplated by the agency’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai.

Under Pai’s draft plan, which he has not yet presented publicly, internet providers like AT&T, Comcast*, Charter and Verizon could soon escape tough regulation: They would only have to promise in writing that they won’t block web pages or slow down their competitors’ traffic, sources have said.

Read more at Recode.

Image courtesy of Recode.

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Something is breaking American politics, but it’s not social media

Here’s something everyone knows: Social media is driving American politics into a ditch of partisanship. Political junkies log on and cocoon themselves in a bubble of friendly punditry, appealing fake news, and outrageous acts from the other side. Every retweet and every like is another moment of identity confirmation, another high five to our friends, another reminder that we’re right and they’re wrong.

The result is, well, this ugly mess — President Donald Trump, red and blue Americas, polls showing we fear and hate the other party more than ever before, conspiracy theories growing like weeds, a polity where agreement is impossible and everyone is angry. Damn you, Facebook! Curse you, Twitter! (Instagram, you’re cool.)

But what if this obvious analysis is wrong? What if social media isn’t driving rising polarization in American politics?

Read more at Vox.

Image courtesy of Vox.

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Profile of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg reviews “like” campaign

This great piece from BuzzFeed highlights the Facebook CEO’s strategy to appeal to his constituents and expand the brand, drawing on his matured personality and candid lifestyle. The article goes on to say:

Until recently, Mark Zuckerberg’s most iconic public appearance may have been the image of the young startup founder sweating through his hoodie onstage while journalist Kara Swisher grilled him at a tech conference in 2010. But Zuckerberg’s reputation as someone averse to the hot seat began a couple years earlier, on 60 Minutes.

In the segment, anchor Lesley Stahl tells a 23-year-old Zuckerberg he’s replaced Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as the tech exec that “everyone is talking about.” In response, the CEO of Facebook says nothing, his face placid. “You’re just staring at me,” says Stahl. “Is that a question?” Zuckerberg shoots back. Cue the voiceover: “We were warned that he can be awkward and reluctant to talk about himself.”

Zuckerberg, now a 32-year-old dad with one daughter and another on the way, has evolved considerably in the intervening decade. He hired speechwriters. He spruced up his uniform from Valley schlub to monochrome minimalism. He took on a series of annual self-improvement challenges that made him into a “lifestyle guru” for some male tech workers, according to the New York Times Style section.

Read more at BuzzFeed.

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Mastodon.social is an open-source Twitter competitor that’s growing like crazy

Eugen Rochko was annoyed with Twitter. The company had made a series of changes that he thought eroded the value of the service: limiting how big third-party applications could grow, for example, and implementing an algorithm-driven timeline that made Twitter feel uncomfortably similar to Facebook. Most people in Rochko’s situation fired off an angry tweet or two and moved on. Rochko set about rebuilding Twitter from scratch.

Mastodon, a distributed, open-source version of Twitter, is almost identical to the platform it’s based on, but with key differences: posts can run 500 characters rather than 140, and users can make individual posts private.

Read more at The Verge.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

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Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad was so awful it did the impossible: It united the internet

In case you’ve just awakened from a brief coma, Pepsi is taking a lot of heat for its latest ad. The broad strokes: Its official title is the word salad “Live for Now Moments Anthem”; it features reality star/model Kendall Jenner (if your coma was not-so-brief, that’s a whole other thing, which we don’t have time to get into right now); its gist is that we should all unite and “join the conversation.” In that way, the soft drink ad succeeded. It did indeed provoke conversation—about Pepsi’s tone-deafness.

In the 2-minute-39-second “short film,” Jenner throws off the chains of the modeling industry by taking off her wig, then leaving a photoshoot to join a protest. After sharing some knowing nods and #woke-ass fist bumps with her fellow protestors, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star manages to bring everyone together by … handing a cop a Pepsi. The message is clear: All those Women’s Marches, Black Lives Matter protests, and demonstrations outside Trump Tower would be much more effervescent—and effective!—if someone had just brought some soda.

Read more at Wired.

Go viral or die trying

With the House declining to hold a vote on the American Health Care Act, prospects for the millions who would have lost coverage aren’t quite as bleak as they seemed just a few days ago. But the bill’s lack of support came, at least in part, because it was somehow not cruel enough for the GOP’s far-right wing. Last week’s news isn’t cause for celebration because a perfect system has remained in place, then, but rather because a broken one wasn’t made worse. And regardless of what transpires with health care down the line, at a time when more than half of the country has less than $1,000 in savings in case of an emergency, it seems guaranteed that more and more people will turn to the aid of their Facebook network for health care.

For a steadily increasing number of Americans, including millions who now regularly use sites like YouCaring and GoFundMe, raising billions of dollars in charitable giving, health care has in fact become about competition, but not the kind Republicans usually talk about. Instead, even under the Affordable Care Act, it’s become a competition for individuals, like so much else in our modern lives, in the marketplace of virality.

Read more at Esquire.

Image courtesy of Esquire.

Facebook is spending millions to make you trust news again

Facebook and other companies are partnering up to help fund a 14-million-dollar initiative to help restore trust in the media — at a time when it really needs it.

The News Integrity Initiative will be based at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City and partner with a number of institutions around the world to help educate people about media literacy.

“As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we want to give people the tools necessary to be discerning about the information they see online,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships, said in a statement. The company launched its own media literacy project in January. Faculty and students of the CUNY Journalism program will collaborate with researchers and technologists, and conduct research in support of the initiative’s goal.

Read more at Vocativ.

Image courtesy of Vocativ.

A Brooklyn ice cream brand increased sales by 50% after it redesigned its packaging

A curious thing happened when high-end ice cream brand Van Leeuwen redesigned their packaging: People began snapping pictures of supermarket freezers.

“Didn’t even crave for ice cream but just because of the cute packaging,” wrote a customer who shelled out almost $20 for a pink pint of strawberry and an amber-colored container of salted caramel. Such transactions driven by eye-candy, coupled with a new distribution and merchandising scheme, saw the nine-year old Brooklyn business boost sales by 50% since last fall.

Redesigning packaging so it “looks good on social media,” is a deliberate strategy. Van Leeuwen co-founder Laura O’Neill and partners Pete and Ben Van Leeuwen worked closely with storied design firm Pentagram to make their pints and trucks “very Instagrammable,” says O’Neill.

Read more at Quartz.

Image courtesy of Quartz.