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Three Steps Towards Better Cybersecurity in Remote Learning At Home

Teachers, students and parents in remote learning environments have plenty to juggle -- including cybersecurity. Ryan Cloutier of SecurityStudio outlines three steps everyone can take to create a more cybersecure learning environment including how to know your personal risk, how to understand and avoid scams and how to protect personal digital devices.

Study Cautions Against Facial Recognition in Schools

Although schools across the country are varying in their approach to safety during the pandemic, many colleges campuses are still active. With the addition of new “touchless” technologies, concerns about facial recognition software continue to come up. A study from the University of Michigan, confirmed the noting that facial recognition technology has the potential to display racism and other prejudice, as the facial recognition is less accurate for people of color, children, women and other groups

Kids and the Pandemic: Digital Device Use Continues to Rise

Kidsay, a market research firm specializing in brand engagement for kids, tweens and teens, has a new report entitled Devices and Digital Engagement: The Impact of COVID-19 (So Far) on Device Use of Kids, Tweens and Teens that you can access for free if you sign up. Some takeaways include that smartphone use (and ownership) is on the rise, especially in the 5-to-7-year-old demographic and that 74% of tweens and teens say that they are using their favorite devices more often during COVID that they were pre-COVID. Predictions for the future in the report include: eSports will continue to grow its youth base, animation will become even more prominent in kid-centered content (since it does not require filming on location the way live action does), and TikTok and Instagram will continue to rise since they deliver the connection and content kids seek. Kidsay also says that in the near term, kids will continue to have an unprecedented amount of free time, causing increased parental concern for the amount of time they spend on their devices.

Homework Gap Threatens Remote Learning

About 17 million school-age children -- including one-third of students in Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native households -- do not have at-home Internet access, and 7.3 million lack access to a computer at home, according to an analysis from the Urban League, UnidosUS, the National Indian Education Association and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The groups are calling for $6.8 billion from the federal E-rate program to be directed to close the "homework gap."

Pandemic Fuels Demand for Back-to-School Digital Devices

Families are expecting to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year, partly because of e-learning tech needs spurred by the pandemic, a survey finds. Laptops, tablets, speakers and headphones are likely to be big sellers, with the average K-12 family expected to spend nearly $800.

Byte Takes Chunk Out of Tik Tok

Now that President Trump and Secretary of State have both threatened to ban the video app, TikTok, for its possible Chinese connections, a competitor called Byte is being downloaded at a record pace from the Apple App store. TikTok, a current favorite of teens and tweens, is still around, but it looks like young users aren’t taking any chances of losing the ability to easily shoot and share short videos.

Survey: Students Faced Online Learning Obstacles

Only 39% of students reported learning a lot daily during remote instruction, according to a survey by YouthTruth of 20,000 students in nine states. About half of students reported feeling depressed or stressed, and many students said they had obstacles to remote learning, such as distractions at home. These are interesting statistics given getting back to school is just around the corner for many students, and while not all states and districts have decided how to handle instruction this year during Covid -19, virtual learning in some capacity is sure to be a reality.

Going to a Protest? Some Tips for Protecting Your Digital Privacy

While smart phone videos taken by ordinary citizens have changed the conversation about policing in the US, it is important to know that there are privacy issues you should be aware of when taking your smart phone to a protest. Digital surveillance tools, including facial recognition technology, can be used to identify protestors and monitor their movements and communications. Furthermore, investigators and prosecutors have come to view protestors phones as potential treasure troves of information about them and their associates, setting up legal battles over personal technology and Americans’ Constitutional rights. And while protesters are within their rights to take pictures and video at protests, the images they capture could lead to unintended consequences for participants.

Telehealth and Your Family

While stay-at-home orders are being lifted, one change in daily life that seems likely to stay is telehealth. Simply defined, telehealth is the use of digital devices to remotely access health care services, which has been very important during the lockdown, when going out of the house was not suggested. But like most uses of technology, there are pros and cons. Certainly some of the pros are convenience and accessibility since you can manage your health care visits without leaving the comfort of your home. Many a parent has been very grateful not to have to transport, particularly on public transportation, a sick child to the doctor on a cold or rainy day just to get a quick diagnosis. Another pro is that telehealth makes health care more accessible to more people, although it should be noted you do need a smart device to access most telehealth apps and not all adults in the US have or use the right kind of sophisticated technology and high speed Internet to connect.

Another con is patients often fail to notice or mention other symptoms that would be helpful to the doctor in a diagnosis. For example, the tone of a person’s skin, eyes, lips, and body could signify a certain disease, but their discoloration or lack of color might not be evident to a doctor on a video screen. That means that patients become an even bigger factor in their own diagnosis and may need some training to help with diagnosing.

While telehealth is useful during times like this, especially when traveling to and going inside a hospital could put a person at more risk of getting ill, it is important to recognize the limitations. Patients that need physical interaction with doctors for wound care, broken bones, procedures and more still need to stick to the traditional in person visits. Bear in mind that you should always weigh the pros and cons of whether you need to see a doctor in person and choose the one that would be best for you and your family's health and well-being.  

Remote Learning is Taking a Toll on Some Students, While Others Flourish

Remote learning is taking a toll on parents’ and students' mental and emotional health, say Peter Faustino, a school psychologist for a public school district in New York State, and Shawna Rader Kelly, a school psychologist in a Montana district. They share strategies to help teachers and parents identify kids who are disengaged, such as logging on for a class but not enabling audio or video, and suggest ideas for offering support.

In contrast, some students are thriving with remote learning, including some who have shown to be distracted or struggle in a traditional classroom environment, or who prefer to learn at their own pace. These turnarounds have also manifested among some teachers, who are faring well with less social interaction.