Echo Dot Dot Dot…

Remember when you first learned how to echo?  Maybe you were on a hike and your voice reflected off a wall or mountain.  Maybe you were imitating or repeating everything said by your best friend.  Maybe you were eliciting a sympathetic response to a sentiment expressed. Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses a smart speaker Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, read the news and more.

Until recently echo meant any or all of the above.  With the introduction of Amazon Echo and, most recently, Echo Dot For Kids into homes around the world, the word “echo” has taken on new meaning.

Echo Dot For Kids

Echo Dot For Kids is being marketed as a kid-friendly DJ, comedian, and storyteller.  Boys and girls can ask her to play music, read stories, answer questions, tell jokes and more.  If there are compatible Echo devices in the house, parents and kids can even “talk” to each other or tell each other good morning or good night.

Unlike the outdoor echo experience of a voice bouncing off canyon walls, young voices are heard, responded to by a voice-activated speaker recording everything your child says all in the “privacy” of your own home.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that children are a key market for tech companies.  With the introduction of Echo Dot For Kids, advocates by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) say voice activated devices could prove to be a security risk as well as just one more device to encourage compulsive technology use.  Further, Google, Amazon and Facebook have all introduced devices or messaging services for kids that could potentially put a child’s privacy at risk and cause further exploitation.

What’s next?  Is parenting being replaced with devices?  What are tech companies doing to promote face-to-face, authentic, family connections?

FERPA and Social Networking

School district personnel need to ask the question:  Is your use of social networking FERPA compliant?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.  You can read more about FERPA at their website.

There are things schools may disclose with or without consent of parents or eligible students but it is important to know the distinction.

Teens are heavy users of social networking and do not seem to be overly concerned about giving out sensitive personal information. Yet educators must be vigilant about releasing personal student data.

Nothing we do on the web is private.  Find out about what’s protected under FERPA. Share some scenarios or guidelines that will help facilitate discussion and understanding amongst colleagues and parents.

Facebook:10 Reasons To Spend Less Time

  1. Personal free time spent checking Facebook and other social media sites takes time that could be spent with someone in your real life.
  2. How do you define friends? The definition of friend has become fuzzy in our  social media world.  Facebook friends may like your posts but most won’t be available in real time or when you truly need it.
  3. Facebook and other social media can bring out the worst in people. From the safety of a computer, people feel entitled to judge, often bashing those that don’t agree with their views.
  4. Competing with friends gets old. You see your Facebook friends’ posts with amazing photos of events and activities.  You feel compelled to post something of your own to keep yourself relevant.  Before you know it, competing can be exhausting.
  5. Facebook uses your data. You wouldn’t publicize or share your private data with just anyone, so why allow  access to your information and sell it?
  6. The influence of fake news. Fake news articles posted and shared  may have influenced the outcome of the last presidential election. While we may not know if that is truly the case, we do know that it is one of the biggest sources of news today and voters read the fake content. Even with task forces trying to control it, fake stories and misinformation persists.
  7. Social manipulation. Facebook will suggest friends based on the friends you already have, pages you like or info you may share.  These may be subtle tactics to suggest broadening your network, but it is essentially social manipulation.
  8. Exposure to excessive advertising. It seems the ads on Facebook now outnumber posts from friends and family.  Why would you want to spend valuable time looking at advertisements telling you about a product you recently searched on Amazon last week or a retailer a Facebook “friend” likes?
  9. Protecting your digital reputation. What began as a fun way to share our lives with friends and family has become a hunting ground for colleges and companies as a way to background check and possibly eliminate, potential candidates.  Your digital reputation can be impacted every time you post or like something  and/or any time you are tagged.
  10. Increasing anxiety and depression. Research clearly shows that the more time you spend on Facebook and other social media, the more anxious and depressed you are likely to become.