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What We’re Reading: January 13, 2011

by Catherine Jhee
January 13, 2011

Last weekend’s CES was the big event for everyone watching out for innovative technology — and according to reports, the conference exhibitors focused heavily on tablet devices, especially the iPad (see David Pogue’s review of CES in the New York Times). We were thrilled for our colleagues who won KAPi awards at the Kids@Play Summit, especially E-Line Media for most creative game platform (Gamestar Mechanic) and Krista Marks’ Kerpoof Studios. For more about the innovations in kids media that were unveiled at CES, please read Becky Herr-Stephenson’s recent blog post.

Why Low Performing Schools Need Digital Media
S. Craig Watkins, author of The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future and a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, argues that black and Latino youth are just as digitally “engaged as their white, Asian, and more affluent counterparts,” and that they are just as, if not more, likely to have access to mobile devices for social, recreational, and entertainment purposes. Watkins suggests that we can raise the quality of learning by encouraging students to use the technology that they already possess. Can we engage “resistant students” in low-performing schools by reinventing their environments? (Huffington Post)

Growing Up Poor Zaps Your Mental Abilities By the Time You’re Two
Perhaps not surprisingly, psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin have determined that income levels do, in fact, have a marked effect on a child’s cognitive potential — in this study of 750 sets of twins, children from poorer families showed signs of mental stagnation before they reached the age of 2. The findings suggest that children from wealthier families are not necessarily genetically smarter, but that they have more opportunities to develop their cognitive potential than their poorer counterparts — and provides more food for the “nature or nurture” debate. (Good)

Report Finds Parental Monitoring Software May Carry Privacy and Liability Risks
According to a recent report published by School Safety Partners, parents who install anti-bullying and anti-sexting software to monitor their kids’ activities online may inadvertently be giving up their family’s privacy. With some companies, parents are essentially granting the company the right to publish all private messages and photos transmitted through the. Also, the company may also reserve the right to notify law enforcement agencies without first notifying parents or children first. This article reminded us that as tedious as it can be, it’s important to read the Terms of Service agreements when we sign up for a new service. Read more for tips on learning more about potential services and protecting your family’s privacy. (School Safety Partners)