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On the Internet: Our First Talk About Online Safety

On the Internet: Our First Talk About Online Safety

by Dr. Jillian Roberts

illustrated by Jane Heinrichs

On the InternetWhen we put technology in the hands of children, we need to do it with the awareness that social media involves a lot of concepts that children are not prepared to handle. Many parents did not participate in social media themselves as youngsters, and so they are not always prepared for the difficulties that may arise. With that in mind, Dr. Jillian Roberts, a former schoolteacher and practicing psychologist has written a book to help guide the needed discussions. The book is illustrated with both photographs and child friendly drawings. It includes questions children might ask, answers that an adult can help to interpret, and explanations for terms like “boundaries,” “inappropriate,” and “online bullying.” It also includes positive examples of using social media for good. It is a book intended to initiate discussion between parent and child.

On the Internet: Our First Talk about Online Safety is well written and illustrated, and I recommend it. My personal opinion, however, is that children in grades one through three, the suggested audience for this book, are too young to use social media independently. I suggest that it is not too early to begin the discussion as social media and its accompanying problems are pervasive in our society. Young children hear others talking about this technology and may see older siblings using it. Discussion of online issues not only prepares children for future exposure, but also opens up opportunities to discuss the basics of friendship and bullying as they occur outside of social media.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Orca Book Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children Nonfiction, Computer and Internet

Notes: Age Range suggested by publisher: 6-9 years

Grade Level suggested by publisher: 1-3

Publication:   February 19, 2019—Orca Book Publishers

Memorable Lines:

THINK before you post:

T: Is it True?

H: Is it Helpful?

I:  Is it  Inspiring?

N: Is it Necessary?

K: Is it Kind?

Technology—a Bane or a Blessing?

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My parents used to describe someone who was perpetually late and low on cash as “a day late and a dollar short.” In the parlance of my day, it was “he needs to get his act together.”  Even though I am retired, have few deadlines, and more than adequate resources, I have felt more and more lately that these apply to me, and it is not for lack of trying. I even know the culprit, and I bet it is a problem for some of you too—technology, mainly in the form of social media.

We all know some good things about our digital abilities. We can keep in touch with family and friends easily and quickly. We can accomplish financial tasks with relative ease, and shopping is a breeze. The world is at our fingertips!

I wager you recognize the inherent problems in our use of technology as well. To begin with, the “world” doesn’t stop at our fingertips, it knocks on the door and then pushes on through in the form of unwanted emails, and Facebook requests. The negativity continues on social media where people say hurtful, thoughtless things that I hope they would never say to someone’s face and shouldn’t say online. Bullying happens all too often and is inexcusable.

My problem, however, is the overwhelming feeling of being incapable of keeping up: keeping up with posting on my blog, reading the blogs of those I follow, and then commenting on their posts. There are some truly significant posts going up every day. I want to read them and interact with other bloggers. Meanwhile, there is email and more email. Several times a year I unsubscribe from some email senders, but the dent is small. Ironically, the more active I try to be in communicating with bloggers, the bigger my inbox grows resulting in less time for blogging.

Facebook can be a huge time drain, and I have cut back on my use of it. It is, however, a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends. Instagram is a new part of my repertoire, but I only follow a few people and I personally don’t post. I have no plans for expansion.

On my phone there is text messaging and WhatsApp which is very popular in Mexico. Lest I forget, my computer is a ready tool for looking things up and for Spanish dictionaries, translators, and tutorials. Like the cute mouse in the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, when given a little, I always want more. Perhaps like me, when you get on the computer to accomplish one task, you get distracted and find yourself down Alice’s rabbit hole pursuing an entirely different line of thought.

The bottom line is that I am digitally overwhelmed on a good day. When I am in rural New Mexico, my Internet connection (as I have whined publicly so many times) is abysmal. Should there be interruptions such as illness or travel, to the normal flow of life, then the tides pull the sand out from under my feet and the waves cover me completely.

Certainly I could withdraw from all of this. Literally pull the plug. There are, however, so many benefits to the digital world. I love reading and sharing thoughts about books online, thus helping authors, publishers, and fellow readers. I used to doubt that one could make friends online, but I now see that it happens, and I value those friendships along with relationships with my other  friends. I enjoy watching the growth of my family and friends’ little ones over the quickly disappearing years. I can keep in touch with those I love even though I live in a different country. For me the benefits do outweigh the issues, and so I keep fighting the good fight.

This discussion does not even try to address the balancing act of virtual life with real life; that is a whole other topic. Does anyone else feel the pain and pleasure of the digital age? I would love to hear your thoughts and solutions.

FREE this Weekend! Better Blogging with Photography by Terri Webster Schrandt | The Beauty of Words

Free download of this book July 8-10. I snatched it to get some good ideas, but I also want to publicize it because, as a former technology teacher, I wanted to remind everyone that just because you can say “it is on the Internet” or “I found it on Google” about a photo doesn’t make it free. Although copyright laws have gotten way out of hand from the original intent, thanks in large part to the movie industry giants, they are still laws. In the case of photography the photographer does own the picture. I’d rather use my own work or find a public domain site than risk stealing someone else’s work. And there is always an option to purchase stock images. Happy Blogging!

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

In honor of my one year anniversary of the launch of my eBook Better Blogging with Photography, you can pick it up FREE, from July 8-10, in the Amazon Kindle store!

Better Blogging with Photography cover

As a blogger, are you weary of constantly hunting for images to illustrate the subject of your blog posts? Perhaps you are a new blogger struggling to get more readers. Or a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts. This guidebook is designed to help you utilize your own images on your blog or website.

While free image sites abound, there are limitations to using so-called “free” images. Gone are the days when bloggers can innocently copy and paste an image from the web and paste it into their blog post. After reading this short guidebook, you will want to grab your smart phone or inexpensive digital camera and start taking photos!


Recently, I was pleased…

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The Impossible Fortress–1987 from a teenage perspective

The Impossible Fortress

by Jason Rekulak

the-impossible-fortressHere’s a novel that will take you back to 1987 complete with 14 year old computer nerd Billy Marvin who is currently failing ninth grade and his equally awkward sidekicks Alf and Clark.  Outcasts from all the requisite cliques at their high school, they devise a plan to not only obtain a copy of the coveted Vanna White issue of Playboy, but also profit from the the object of their desires.

By the end of The Impossible Fortress, you really know Billy and the even more digitally talented Mary, and you have laughed and cringed your way through many early teen escapades.  The pair programs on TRS-80 computers and the Commodore 64. Appropriate touches of the 80’s are sprinkled throughout the book–mention of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Christie Brinkley, the must have Bugle Boy pants, and Mark Cerny who started working for Atari at age 17. More than a nostalgic look at the 80’s, we explore the tough times of kids working their way through the difficult teen years. There are times when you hold your breath. times when you laugh, and moments of suspense. This is a book you will be glad you read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: This book abounds with male teenage profanity

Publication:   February 7, 2017–Simon & Schuster

Memorable Lines:

The first step was easy. But the second step, the step where I fully removed myself from the roof–that was commitment. The wood trembled beneath my weight, quivering like the edge of a diving board. I made the mistake of looking down, but there was nothing to see–no alley, just a vast black gulf, a bottomless sinkhole.

“Imagine a computer not bigger than a candy bar!” he exclaimed, and we laughed at the absurdity of his predictions; they were all straight out of The Jetsons.

Teenage Kindness–what a great idea

This may not be a typical education post, but ask any teacher how anxiety and isolation affect student learning.

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. (CNN) – A California teen is sharing her high-tech way to handle lunch-room anxiety. Natalie Hampton, 16, struggled to make friends back in middle school. The hardest part of the day? Lunch time. “I ate along pretty much every day for the two years that I was there. And I have personally…

via California teen launches app to help others make friends at lunch — KRQE News 13

I Am That Teacher Too (Letter 4) Technology—14 years of growth

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 11.43.27 PMDear Former Students,

What do I hope you remember about me as your computer lab teacher?

My enthusiasm! I was so fortunate. In the middle of a job I loved, teaching first graders in a school that valued developmentally appropriate, early childhood instruction, I was given the opportunity to create a computer lab and the curriculum to go with it. I loved teaching kids and I loved technology. What could be better?

Our beginnings were quite humble. We pulled together a lab using one Mac computer from each classroom, but also leaving computers for classroom use. Children had to share computers in the lab, and computers had to share printers. We’re talking primitive sharing, not networking; I unplugged the printer and plugged it into the neighboring computer so you could print your stories using tractor pin feed paper. And I did it very carefully. If one of the pins in the Imagewriter cord got bent, it could be a minor crisis. No printing from two computers and no spare cords. Over time, the lab was continually updated, expanded and kept state of the art.

We were a school where few students had computers at home, but you had a reputation for being able to use computers better than other students in the district. Your teacher joined me in the computer lab, and we worked together, learning and teaching. It was exciting for me and for you. It was learning at its best. I used my knowledge of good teaching to integrate what you were learning in the classroom with our technology projects. As the standardistas took over education, that became more difficult to do. Learning became focused on skills instead of knowledge. The computer lab became “child care” for teachers so they could attend Professional Learning Committees. It was a welcome release of pressure for you as a student. I tried to give you what you needed: mouse skills for K while you learned about jellyfish and celebrated holidays and paint programs for first grade to work on math and writing. In second grade you wrote and indulged in clip art in PowerPoint. Third graders, do you remember the excitement of beginning keyboarding and using Publisher to create visitor brochures about the state of New Mexico? Some of you even got to proudly present them to legislators when you visited the state capitol. Older students, we worked on projects too, but we also dipped our toes into the emerging world of blogging, emails, and Internet safety (which I see many of you practicing today). Our district was trying to enter the digital world in a safe and thoughtful way. To look back now, it appears to have been baby steps, but that was the beginning and it was an exciting and important time. We also struggled with learning about the confusing world of copyright laws and fair use. I hope all of that helped you as you moved on to middle school.

Testing—the Beginning of the End

For many years in the computer lab we always had a word of the week, a technology term that we learned to expand our vocabulary. At the end, even that got put aside. Three times a year, the schedule was thrown out the window as we had to take the required Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests. It was quite high pressure. When you were younger, most of you didn’t understand and were thrilled with the seemingly high score. As you grew older, the “cut score” reality set in. Regardless of how well you scored, it was rarely high enough and you could have always scored higher. There were rewards given by individual teachers and by the school. Even more pressure. Some of you must have felt like failures. You weren’t. The system failed you. What you probably didn’t know was that people above your teacher were telling your wonderful, hardworking, caring teachers that they were failures as well.

At some point I became too expensive as a certified teacher. The only written qualification for my replacement was that he or she should be able to use Microsoft Word. Seriously, that was what was viewed as necessary to do my job? This “assistant” (who she was assisting?) was charged with the care of you, two computer labs, scheduling, ordering equipment, preparing reports, training staff members, and a lot of technology maintenance. I worked with my replacement on the transition, and she is very capable and wants the best for you. The hardest part of this transition was moving my focus from all of the students at the school to only a classroom. I felt so responsible for all of you. I was also a little disappointed that the administration did not announce this change to students. Many of you felt I had abandoned you. This was definitely not the case, and nothing made me happier than to see you on campus and get one of your great smiles and maybe a hug.

What do I hope you remember about me in the computer lab?

A teacher who cared about you as a person and not a number on a test.

A teacher who cared about where you came from and what you went home to. A teacher who helped you learn about writing, language, art, math, science and developing technologies as well as about computers.

A teacher who tried to share with you things that would help you in your classroom and in your life.

A teacher who loved school and tried to provide opportunities for you to love learning as well.

A teacher who respected you because YOU are a person worthy of respect.

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