Educational Psychology & Technology
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Human Emotions Explained In 60 Short Interviews | NPR

Experts in Emotion Article on NPR by Tania Lombrozo

Experts in Emotion Series on Youtube - June Gruber - Yale University

"The Experts in Emotion Series provides a unique opportunity to explore the mysteries of human emotion guided by some of the world's foremost experts on the subject, ranging from distinguished academics to leading figures behind social media services like Facebook. In addition to tackling central questions such as what emotions are, why we have them, and how our understanding of them can lead to happier and healthier lives. You'll also hear first-hand about what first led these key players to study emotion and what they see as the most exciting frontiers ahead." 




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Educational Psychology & Technology
This curated collection includes news, resources, and research related to Educational Psychology and/or Technology. The page also serves as a research tool to organize online content. The grey funnel shaped icon at the top allows for searching by keyword. For research more specific to tech, screen time and health/safety concerns, please see:, to learn about the next wave of privatization involving technology intersections with "Social Impact Bonds", see, and for additional Educator Resources, please visit [Links to an external site].
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Health and Safety Research Gaps in Policies and Practices Integrating Emerging Technologies for Young Children 

Links are as follows in order of the slides: 


The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America's Schools 


Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair
Clinical Psychologist and Research Associate at Harvard Medical School 


Video link may be viewed at: 


Carter B, Rees P, Hale L, Bhattacharjee D, Paradkar MS. Association Between Portable Screen-Based Media Device Access or Use and Sleep Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Oct 31. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2341. [Epub ahead of print] 


Screen Time Hurts More Than Kids' Eyes 


New Media Consortium / Consortium for School Networking Horizon Report 


"American Revolution 2.0: How Education Innovation is Going to Revitalize America and Transform the U.S. Economy" 


"Preschool is Good For Children But It's Expensive So Utah Is Offering It Online" m/local/education/preschool-is- good-for-poor-kids-but-its- expensive-so-utah-is-offering-it- online/2015/10/09/27665e52- 5e1d-11e5-b38e- 06883aacba64_story.html  


Philanthropy Roundtable's: "Blended Learning: Wise Givers Guide to Supporting Tech-Assisted Learning" (Formerly chaired by B. DeVos)  


CyberCharters Have Overwhelming Negative Impact 


Ma, J., van den Heuvel, M., Maguire, J., Parkin, P., Birken, C. (2017). Is handheld screen time use associated with language delay in infants? Presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, San Francisco, CA.  


Jonathan Rochelle’s GSV/ASU PRIMETIME Keynote Speech pitching Google Cardboard for children in schools as proxy for actual field trips: 


Scientists Urge Google to Stop Untested Microwave Radiation of Children's Eyes and Brains with Virtual Reality Devices in Schools //  Asus product manual 


Telecom Industry Liability and Insurance Information 


National Association for Children and Safe Technology - iPad Information 


For infant/pregnancy related safety precautions, please visit 


194 Signatories (physicians, scientists, educators) on Joint Statement on Pregnancy and Wireless Radiation 


Article screenshot from France: "Portables. L'embrouille des ondes electromagnetiques


Wireless Phone Radiation Risks and Public Policy 


"Show The Fine Print" 


Scientist petition calls for greater protective measures for children and pregnant women, cites need for precautionary health warnings, stronger regulation of electromagnetic fields, creation of EMF free zones, and media disclosures of experts’ financial relationships with industry when citing their opinions regarding the safety of EMF-emitting technologies. Published in European Journal of Oncology 


International Agency for Research on Cancer Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans (2011)


For more on source of funding research, see: and 


Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council // Public Testimony


"Until now, radiation from cell towers has not been considered a risk to children, but a recent study raises new questions about possible long-term, harmful effects." 


For further reading, please see Captured Agency report published by Harvard’s Center for Ethics  or 


Updates/posts/safety information on Virtual Reality: 


Environmental Health Trust Virtual Reality Radiation Absorption Slides 


Healthy Kids in a Digital World: 


National Association for Children and Safe Technology 


Doctors’ Letters on Wifi in Schools// 154 page compilation 


Insurance and Liability Disclaimers/Information from Telecom Companies 


Most of the documents and articles embedded within the presentation above are searchable/accessible on the following page:

Document above is a pdf with live links. They are provided above for easier access. To download the original file, please click on title or arrow above. It is a large file so may take several minutes.  

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Privacy Rights Clearinghouse // Data Breaches

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse // Data Breaches | Educational Psychology & Technology | 

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The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education // Elana Zeide 

The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education // Elana Zeide  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

Educators and commenters who evaluate big data-driven learning environments focus on specific questions: whether automated education platforms improve learning outcomes, invade student privacy, and promote equality. This article puts aside separate unresolved—and perhaps unresolvable—issues regarding the concrete effects of specific technologies. It instead examines how big data-driven tools alter the structure of schools’ pedagogical decision-making, and, in doing so, change fundamental aspects of America’s education enterprise. Technological mediation and data-driven decision-making have a particularly significant impact in learning environments because the education process primarily consists of dynamic information exchange. In this overview, I highlight three significant structural shifts that accompany school reliance on data-driven instructional platforms that perform core school functions: teaching, assessment, and credentialing.

First, virtual learning environments create information technology infrastructures featuring constant data collection, continuous algorithmic assessment, and possibly infinite record retention. This undermines the traditional intellectual privacy and safety of classrooms. Second, these systems displace pedagogical decision-making from educators serving public interests to private, often for-profit, technology providers. They constrain teachers’ academic autonomy, obscure student evaluation, and reduce parents’ and students’ ability to participate or challenge education decision-making. Third, big data-driven tools define what ‘counts’ as education by mapping the concepts, creating the content, determining the metrics, and setting desired learning outcomes of instruction. These shifts cede important decision-making to private entities without public scrutiny or pedagogical examination. In contrast to the public and heated debates that accompany textbook choices, schools often adopt education technologies ad hoc. Given education’s crucial impact on individual and collective success, educators and policymakers must consider the implications of data-driven education proactively and explicitly.


Keywords: big data; personalized learning; competency-based education; smart tutors; learning analytics; MOOCs

Suggested Citation:

Zeide, Elana, The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education (June 23, 2017). Big Data, Vol 5, No. 2 (2017): 164-172. Available at SSRN:" 


Shortlink to download:


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Parents question [Summit] online learning program in McPherson schools' redesign // Hutchinson News 

Parents question [Summit] online learning program in McPherson schools' redesign // Hutchinson News  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Jason Beets and Mindy Kepfield

"Parents are upset with a new learning program in McPherson USD 418 they say has their students struggling and has directed children to websites with links to sexually-suggestive content.


The new program, Summit Learning, utilizes an online platform, similar to a textbook, designed to allow students to learn at their own pace. Eisenhower Elementary and McPherson Middle School adopted the platform this year as part of the district’s school redesign program.


Superintendent Gordon Mohn said Summit Learning was endorsed by schools who have used it, and that the USD 418 adopted the platform to personalize education.


Sexual content

Mike Berger, among more than 100 people at this week’s school board meeting, said Summit Learning directed his son to read an article on the website of The Daily Mail, a British tabloid. The site contained links to other content that Berger described as pornographic.


“You will see ads, articles, and pictures of a sexual nature all over this website,” Berger said during Monday night’s board meeting at Lincoln Elementary School. “Thankfully, my wife was there and saw one of the headlines and quickly shut the computer down. It sickens me to think what my son could have seen if she wasn’t sitting right there beside him.”


In an email to the McPherson Sentinel, Berger stated the website contained links to articles and photos that were sexual in nature as well as a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle, with the caption ‘Dan Bilzerian and semi-nude girls shoot pumpkins for Halloween.’”

In an interview, Mohn agreed that the material was sexual in nature and was inappropriate for school-age children.


Berger said the district shouldn’t allow Summit to direct students to articles with these kinds of links.


“There is a huge difference between a child surfing for information, on his own, on the internet, and a student following a link in an assignment that has been assigned by the Summit Learning curriculum,” he said. “If a textbook provided inappropriate content of this nature, we would immediately remove it from the district. Why should these standards be any different for Summit? This should have been figured out prior to going live. Implementing a new curriculum should not be an urgent matter, over the well-being of our children.”


Mohn told a reporter that teachers are currently printing off material, rather than referring students to external websites, while district officials attempt to resolve the problem. They currently are discussing the matter with information technology staff from the Kansas Department of Education and two companies that filter internet content for the school district.


Nicholas Kim, senior director with Summit Learning, said in an email to the Sentinel that Summit’s platform includes thousands of links to materials online that are vetted by educators. He said these links are regularly reviewed and updated by the curriculum team. However, he said that websites and ads could change quickly.


“If there’s an online resource that’s no longer appropriate, we take action immediately to remove that link from the platform, he said. “As educators who operate our own schools, we take very seriously any situations that cause offense to students or their families.”


Crying students

Many parents expressed deep dissatisfaction with Summit Learning, which has caused some students to struggle with their schoolwork.


Lara Vanderhoof said her eighth-grade daughter is frustrated that she has not yet successfully passed a content assessment test and can’t find out what she is doing wrong.


“She is in tears about her schoolwork,” Vanderhoof said. “This is a child who has enjoyed school even though schoolwork comes hard to her.”


Robin Werth said her son, who has dyslexia, is also deeply frustrated with his schoolwork on the platform.


“My eighth grader absolutely loves school. Last year, he cried on snow days because he wasn’t going,” she said. “Now, he cries almost every morning when he has to go to school. He said, ‘Mom, this has got to be a home day, I can’t stand this Summit Learning, I feel stupid.’ He is a very smart child. He has dyslexia, so school is hard for him. Everything that I have learned on Summit Learning is that it’s not good for students with learning disabilities.”


Werth said she is considering whether to send her son to another school.


“He asked me, ‘Mom, if I have to do this for much longer, can I go to another school? What other school has to do this?’” she said. “It’s bad when my Facebook feed pops up an ad for online schools because I have googled other school districts so much today.”


Losing students

When a speaker asked how many parents were considering homeschooling their children or moving them to another school, many people raised their hands. In an interview, Mohn said it concerns him that the district has lost several students following the adoption of the Summit Learning platform.


Jennifer Pickerell, the parent of a child in the McPherson school district, said parents have been unable to receive answers about Summit Learning in one-on-one meetings with district officials.

“You as board members are elected officials who are supposed to represent us,” she said. “You should know the answer to our questions. If you don’t know the answer to our questions, you aren’t doing your job.”


In an interview, Mohn said he understood that parents are frustrated.


“For me, it was obvious that we haven’t been successful in providing parents with the information they need,” he said. “We have made an effort, but it was not at a level that was needed.”

Dartyle Salmans, another parent of a child in the McPherson school district, summarized the view of many parents at the meeting.


“I was informed at one point that McPherson had the best education around, not if they have Summit,” she said.


Mohn said he plans to create an evaluation committee of teachers, community members, and parents, lead by an independent chair from outside McPherson, to evaluate the Summit Learning platform."...


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After One-Third of North Dakota Schools Get Hacked By Foreign Entities, State Superintendent Addresses Attack With Cyber Security Standards // Grand Forks Herald

After One-Third of North Dakota Schools Get Hacked By Foreign Entities, State Superintendent Addresses Attack With Cyber Security Standards // Grand Forks Herald | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Austin Howard

Bismarch — The North Dakota Information Technology Department said there were malware attacks on one-third of North Dakota schools in February 2018. The hackers behind the attacks were from different international locations including North Korea and the malware was downloaded from multiple access points."...


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Apple Device Enrollment Exposes Businesses and Schools to Hacks // Venture Beat

Apple Device Enrollment Exposes Businesses and Schools to Hacks // Venture Beat | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Jeremy Horowitz

"Apple’s business and scholastic device management service, the Device Enrollment Program (DEP), suffers from a significant security hole that could impact organizations yet has remained unpatched for months after its discovery. Duo Security published its findings today after reporting the issue to Apple on May 16, and believes it affects every customer using the DEP service.


Duo’s report claims that DEP’s weak authentication enables attackers to use nothing more than an Apple serial number to link a device to an organization’s mobile device management server, which could then share existing DEP profile information — including phone numbers and email addresses — with the attacker.


According to Duo, DEP thereby exposes organizations to the potential of both “rogue devices” and social engineering attacks leveraging acquired details to gain further access to a network."...


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Number Crunching: Transforming Higher Education Into ‘Performance Data’ // Ben Williamson 

Number Crunching: Transforming Higher Education Into ‘Performance Data’ // Ben Williamson  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Ben Williamson

"Digital data are integral to measuring and managing the performance of higher education (HE) institutions. Under the Higher Education and Research Act (HERA) and the Office for Students (OfS), HE will be crunched down into easily comparable numbers, with universities assessed in terms of quantifiable performance indicators.


Already, sector data contributes to a culture of performance management, auditing, competition and marketisation, as numbers become proxy measures of research quality, teaching effectiveness, student satisfaction, and institutional value-for-money.

Newer innovations in HE workflow systems, management dashboards, data-linking, business intelligence, and educational analytics platforms, however, are accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of data collection and consumption across the sector. The ‘neoliberal takeover of higher education’, to use the subtitle of Lawrence Busch’s book, means universities are increasingly focused on achieving market value through competition, performance metric ranking, consumer demand, and return on investment — with the collection and analysis of student data central to the economic restructuring of the academy.


This brief sets out some of the key developments in student data use that will impact UK HE in coming years. While marketisation of the sector is not a novel phenomenon, it is essential to understand how market reform is being operationalised through data — that is, to see how the politics of marketisation is put into practice through data processes and technical products.


Two key and interrelated developments are taking place: data are being ‘made’ to perform the political work of making the sector more market-focused, measurable, comparable and competitive; and software platforms are being programmed to enable the performance data to flow and enter into comparative performance metrics more easily and quickly, speeding up processes of audit, evaluation and judgment. As a result, markets are being created for new commercial vendors of data-processing services to do business within the sector, and for alternative for-profit providers to compete with universities, while institutions themselves are pushed ever-further into comparative competition for rankings and ratings. Any qualitative valuation of academic labour, institutions, and students’ intellectual development is being rendered invisible by being un-countable in a marketised landscape dominated by student data and performance metrics. It is therefore crucially important to uncover the hidden architecture of higher education currently in construction and to anticipate the consequences of the HE data revolution still to come.

1. Data-making through policy networks

Why are student data, and the technologies for processing them, becoming so central to HE? A range of governmental actors, think tanks, consultancies, sector agencies and commercial businesses has formed into loose public-private policy networks and collectively built consensus that making HE into a perfectly functioning market requires the collection of measurable evidence of student performance that can be used as indicators of institutional performance.

The Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS, now Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) was a significant catalyst, notably in Students at the Heart of the System (2011) and Success as a Knowledge Economy (2016), with student data highlighted as part of a huge reformatory package including the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and student fees. These reforms have created a marketised system (#USSbriefs3) of performance-driven and outcomes-focused mass higher education.

Projects led by think tanks, consultancies, companies and arm’s-length agencies have actively influenced and shaped the case for student data systems as core parts of the market reform project.


The Higher Education Commission and think tank Policy Connect produced From Bricks to Clicks: The potential of data and analytics in Higher Education in 2016 to focus on the use of ‘fluid data’ that are ‘generated through the increasingly digital way a student interacts with their university’. Likewise, Universities UK (UUK) partnered with the US-based company Civitas Learning and Jisc (the not-for-profit organisation for HE digital services) to produce Analytics in Higher Education later the same year. Civitas Learning describes itself as ‘the Student Success Platform for higher education’, utilising its ‘Student Insights Engine’ and in-house data science ‘talent’ to generate ‘insights, action and continuous learning’ from student data analytics. Its report with UUK highlighted the limitations of TEF as an external performance assessment of teaching and learning quality, and instead endorsed ‘predictive learning analytics’ to ‘inform impact evaluations, via outcomes data as performance metrics’."....



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and a printable pdf can be accessed here

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The Algorithms Around Us // Science Friday 

The Algorithms Around Us // Science Friday  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

"Last month, California passed a bill ending the use of cash bail. Instead of waiting in jail or putting down a cash deposit to await trial at home, defendants are released after the pleadings. The catch? Not everyone gets this treatment. It’s not a judge who determines who should and shouldn’t be released; it’s an algorithm. Algorithms have also been used to figure out which incarcerated individuals should be released on parole.


Mathematician Hannah Fry and computer scientist Suresh Venkatasubramanian join Ira to discuss how algorithms are being used not only in the justice system, but in healthcare and data mining too. And this algorithmic takeover, they say, could have a dark side. You can read an excerpt from Hannah Fry’s forthcoming book, Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms here.


Segment Guests

Hannah Fry, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, and is co-author of The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus (The Overlook Press).


Suresh Venkatasubramanian is a Professor at the School of Computing at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For link to main story and to hear podcast, click here:
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Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data, and planetary resources // Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (2018)

Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data, and planetary resources // Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (2018) | Educational Psychology & Technology |

[Selected quote]

..."At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. Many of the assumptions about human life made by machine learning systems are narrow, normative and laden with error. Yet they are inscribing and building those assumptions into a new world, and will increasingly play a role in how opportunities, wealth, and knowledge are distributed.


The stack that is required to interact with an Amazon Echo goes well beyond the multi-layered ‘technical stack’ of data modeling, hardware, servers and networks. The full stack reaches much further into capital, labor and nature, and demands an enormous amount of each. The true costs of these systems – social, environmental, economic, and political – remain hidden and may stay that way for some time.


We offer up this map and essay as a way to begin seeing across a wider range of system extractions. The scale required to build artificial intelligence systems is too complex, too obscured by intellectual property law, and too mired in logistical complexity to fully comprehend in the moment. Yet you draw on it every time you issue a simple voice command to a small cylinder in your living room: ‘Alexa, what time is it?”


And so the cycle continues."...


Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, “Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo As An Anatomical Map of Human Labor, Data and Planetary Resources,” AI Now Institute and Share Lab, (September 7, 2018)



For full document, see:

For downloadable and expandable map, see: 


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Public Service Announcement from the FBI: Education Technologies: Data Collection and Unsecured Systems Could Pose Risks To Students

Public Service Announcement from the FBI: Education Technologies: Data Collection and Unsecured Systems Could Pose Risks To Students | Educational Psychology & Technology |

September 13, 2018, Alert Number I-091310-PSA


"The FBI is encouraging public awareness of cyber threat concerns related to K-12 students. The US school systems’ rapid growth of education technologies (EdTech) and widespread collection of student data could have privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited.


EdTech can provide services for adaptive, personalized learning experiences, and unique opportunities for student collaboration. Additionally, administrative platforms for tracking academics, disciplinary issues, student information systems, and classroom management programs, are commonly served through EdTech services.


As a result, types of data that are collected can include, but are not limited to:

  • personally identifiable information (PII);
  • biometric data;
  • academic progress;
  • behavioral, disciplinary, and medical information;
  • Web browsing history;
  • students’ geolocation;
  • IP addresses used by students; and
  • classroom activities.

Malicious use of this sensitive data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children. Therefore, the FBI is providing awareness to schools and parents of the important role cybersecurity plays in the securing of student information and devices.

Sensitive Student Data

The widespread collection of sensitive information by EdTech could present unique exploitation opportunities for criminals. For example, in late 2017, cyber actors exploited school information technology (IT) systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States. They accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information. The actors sent text messages to parents and local law enforcement, publicized students’ private information, posted student PII on social media, and stated how the release of such information could help child predators identify new targets. In response to the incidents, the Department of Education released a Cyber Advisory alert in October 2017 stating cyber criminals were targeting school districts with weak data security or well-known vulnerabilities to access sensitive data from student records to shame, bully, and threaten children.


Cybersecurity issues were discovered in 2017 for two large EdTech companies, resulting in public access to millions of students’ data. According to security researchers, one company exposed internal data by storing it on a public-facing server. The other company suffered a breach and student data was posted for sale on the Dark Web.

Inter-connected Networks and Devices

EdTech connected to networked devices or directly to the Internet could increase opportunities for cyber actors to access devices collecting data and monitoring children within educational or home environments. Improperly secured take-home devices (e.g. tablets, laptops) or monitoring devices (e.g. in-school surveillance cameras or microphones), particularly those with remote-access capabilities, could be exploitable through cyber intrusions or other unauthorized means and present vulnerabilities for students.


The increased use of connected digital tools in the learning environment and widespread data collection introduces cybersecurity risks of which parents should be aware.


The FBI recognizes there are districts across the United States who are working hard to address cybersecurity matters in their schools to protect students and their data. For districts seeking assistance, there are numerous online resources, consortiums, and organizations available that can provide support on data protection matters and cybersecurity best practices.


The FBI encourages parents and families to:


  • Research existing student and child privacy protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and state laws as they apply to EdTech services.

  • Discuss with their local districts about what and how EdTech technologies and programs are used in their schools.

  • Conduct research on parent coalition and information-sharing organizations which are available online for those looking for support and additional resources.

  • Research school-related cyber breaches which can further inform families of student data vulnerabilities.

  • Consider credit or identity theft monitoring to check for any fraudulent use of their children’s identity.

  • Conduct regular Internet searches of children’s information to help identify the exposure and spread of their information on the Internet.

If you have evidence your child’s data may have been compromised, or if you have experienced any of the Internet crimes described in this PSA, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at"


Questions regarding this PSA should be directed to your local FBI Field Office. Local Field Office Locations:


For original announcement, click here: 

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AI Now Institute: A Research Institute Examining The Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence 

AI Now Institute: A Research Institute Examining The Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

The AI Now Institute at New York University is an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to understanding the social implications of artificial intelligence. 

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Why the Implosion of a Silicon Valley Startup is a Cautionary Tale for Education “Disruptors” 

For direct link to listen on SoundCloud audio, click here or above: 


For John Warner's article on Theranos Story and Education Technology, see: 

The Theranos Story and Education 


For an NPR story featuring John Kerryrou's book, see here

Read John Kerryrou's book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.

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For Sale: Survey Data on Millions of High School Students // The New York Times

For Sale: Survey Data on Millions of High School Students // The New York Times | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Natasha Singer

"LOWELL, Mass. — Three thousand high school students from across the United States recently trekked to a university sports arena here to attend an event with an impressive-sounding name: the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders. Many of their parents had spent $985 on tuition.


Months earlier, the teenagers had received letters, signed by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, congratulating them on being nominated for “a highly selective national program honoring academically superior high school students.”


The students all had good grades. But many of them were selected for the event because they had once filled out surveys that they believed would help them learn about colleges and college scholarships.


Through their schools, many students in the audience had taken a college-planning questionnaire, called MyCollegeOptions. Others had taken surveys that came with the SAT or the PSAT, tests administered by the College Board. In filling out those surveys, the teenagers ended up signing away personal details that were later sold and shared with the future scientists event.


“It wasn’t like I sought out filling in my information for the College Board to sell to other companies,” said Adriana Bay, 19, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University this fall who was solicited by the future scientists event when she was in high school. “You are giving them the liberty to profit off your information.”


Consumers’ personal details are collected in countless ways these days, from Instagram clicks, dating profiles and fitness apps. While many of those efforts are aimed at adults, the recruiting methods for some student recognition programs give a peek into the widespread and opaque world of data mining for millions of minors — and how students’ profiles may be used to target them for educational and noneducational offers. MyCollegeOptions, for instance, says it may give student loan services, test prep and other companies access to student data.


These marketing programs are generally legal, taking advantage of the fact that there is no federal law regulating consumer data brokers. They also face little oversight... " 


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Health Research Gaps in the Marketing and Promotion of Emerging Educational Technologies // (Marachi, 2018) Presented at the Digital Media and Developing Minds Conference, New York 

To download poster, click on title above. For resource collections related to the research and including many of the references cited, see:

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What is Data Exploitation? // Privacy International

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For questions related to the potential for Data Exploitation with "Smart Cities" projects, see: 

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'It's Like Amazon, But for Preschool' // Hack Education 

'It's Like Amazon, But for Preschool' // Hack Education  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Audrey Watters
"A year ago, the richest man in the world asked Twitter for suggestions on how he should most efficiently and charitably spend his wealth. And today, Jeff Bezos unveiled a few details about his plans – other than funding space travel, that is. His new philanthropic effort, The Day 1 Fund, will finance two initiatives: the Families Fund will work with existing organizations to address homelessness and hunger; and the Academies fund “will launch an operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.”


“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” Bezos wrote in a note posted to Twitter. “Most important among these will be genuine intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”


The child will be the customer.


Bezos then went on to cite a phrase that is so often misquoted and misattributed in those shiny, happy motivational PowerPoint slides – you know the ones – that people like to post to social media: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” W. B. Yeats never said this, for the record, but words get so easily twisted, history so easily co-opted.


The assurance that “the child will be the customer” underscores the belief – shared by many in and out of education reform and education technology – that education is simply a transaction: an individual’s decision-making in a “marketplace of ideas.” (There is no community, no public responsibility, no larger civic impulse for early childhood education here. It’s all about private schools offering private, individual benefits.)


This idea that “the child will be the customer” is, of course, also a nod to “personalized learning” as well, as is the invocation of a “Montessori-inspired” model. As the customer, the child will be tracked and analyzed, her preferences noted so as to make better recommendations to up-sell her on the most suitable products. And if nothing else, Montessori education in the United States is full of product recommendations.


There’s another piece to all this, not mentioned in Bezos’s note about building a chain of preschools that “use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon”: Amazon’s own labor practices. The online retail giant is a notoriously terrible place to work – the pay, particularly in the warehouses, is so low that many employees receive government assistance. The working conditions are dangerous and dehumanizing. “Amazon has patented a system that would put workers in a cage, on top of a robot,” read the headline in last week’s Seattle Times. And it’s not so great for the white collar workers either. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” one employee in books marketing told The New York Times back in 2015.


The majority of the early childhood educators in the US are already very poorly paid; many preschools have incredibly high turnover rates. As research has demonstrated that preschool has a lasting positive effect on children’s educational attainment, there have been efforts to “raise the standards,” demanding for example that preschools be staffed by more qualified teachers. But that demand for more training and certification hasn’t brought with it better pay or benefits. The median pay for preschool teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is less than $30,000 a year. Even those with Bachelor’s degrees earn only about $14.70 an hour, about half of the average wages for all those with the same level of education.


This is a field in which a third of employees already qualify for government assistance. And now Jeff Bezos, a man whose own workers also rely on these same anti-poverty programs, wants to step in – not as a taxpayer, oh no, but as a philanthropist. Honestly, he could have a more positive impact here by just giving those workers a raise. (Or, you know, by paying taxes.)

Bezos is not alone in eyeing the early education “market,” which has received quite a bit of attention from ed-tech investors in recent years. So far this year, three companies have raised venture capital to help people run preschools and childcare facilities in their homes: Wonderschool, WeeCare, and Procare Software. Last year, VCs poured millions into similar sorts of companies, including Tinkergarten, Sawyer, and Kinedu. Investors in these startups include some of the “big money” names in Silicon Valley: Omidyar Network, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Andreessen Horowitz, among others. (One of these companies, WeeCare, says it’s also planning to train and license childcare providers, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the micro-certificate, online education, nanodegree folks also jump on this bandwagon. “Uber for Education” or something.)


Ostensibly, there’s no shortage of potential “customers” for these private preschool software startups – the demand for childcare is high, and many families live in what the Center for American Progress has called “child care deserts,” that is places where there are no options for affordable, high-quality early childhood education.


But are private preschool chains really the path we want to pursue, particularly if we believe that access to excellent early childhood education is so incredibly crucial? Can the gig economy and the algorithm ever provide high quality preschool? For all the flaws in the public school system, it’s important to remember: there is no accountability in billionaires’ educational philanthropy.


And, as W. B. Yeats famously never said, charity is no substitute for justice."


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Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China // The Intercept

By Ryan Gallagher [Selected quotes]

"A senior Google research scientist has quit the company in protest over its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

Jack Poulson worked for Google’s research and machine intelligence department, where he was focused on improving the accuracy of the company’s search systems.


In early August, Poulson raised concerns with his managers at Google after The Intercept revealed revealed that that the internet giant was secretly developing a Chinese search app for Android devices. The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. After entering into discussions with his bosses, Poulson decided in mid-August that he could no longer work for Google. He tendered his resignation and his last day at the company was August  31.  


He told The Intercept in an interview that he believes he is one of about five of the company’s employees to resign over Dragonfly. He felt it was his “ethical responsibility to resign in protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments,” he said.  Poulson, who was previously an assistant professor at Stanford University’s department of mathematics, said he believed that the China plan had violated Google’s artificial intelligence principles, which state that the company will not design or deploy technologies "whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights."...


..."The company has ignored dozens of questions from journalists about the plan and it has stonewalled leading human rights groups, who say that the censored search engine could result in the company “directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations.” 

(Google also did not respond to an inquiry for this story.)...


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Drinking, Smoking and Sugar: How Unsavory Ads Wound Up on Edmodo // EdSurge News

By Emily Tate

"Beth Freeman logs in to her son’s Edmodo account from time to time to check on his homework assignments.


Over the last year, she’s noticed ads peppered throughout the communications app, which is used by most students, parents and teachers at her 13-year-old’s middle school. Most of the ads seem innocuous—a virtual charter school or a set of digital worksheets, for example—and don’t bother her much. She usually looks right past them.


But then, in August, she saw something that unsettled her.

The advertisement appeared on Edmodo’s mobile app, which Freeman’s son uses daily for updates about homework, quizzes and other school assignments. On it was the unmistakable image of a glass of beer.


“I was like, ‘Clearly there’s a glitch,’” says Freeman, whose son attends school in Cobb County School District in Atlanta. “I thought, ‘I’m not gonna freak out.’ … But it was weird.”


That the ad ever showed up on a student’s account was a mistake, Edmodo officials say. They acted quickly to take it down—but it’s not the only advertising misstep the company has made in recent months. What’s more, these incidents underscore a troubling problem that is not unique to Edmodo: As edtech companies that once offered their services for free search for revenue models, the stops and stumbles that can follow often come at students’ expense.


In September, between 1,000 and 2,000 Edmodo users opened the app to see an ad that asked, “What is the first time you tried an e-cig?” The two possible answers—“8th grade and above” and “8th grade and below”—overlay a stock image of a young person exhaling a billowing cloud of smoke from his mouth.


That incident was also an accident, according to Edmodo CEO Vibhu Mittal. The company was working on an anti-vaping campaign for the FDA, and at one point, an Edmodo marketing executive accidentally published an internal test poll to public user accounts. Over the course of the day, before the error was discovered, someone snapped a screenshot of the ad and posted it to Twitter.


“@edmodo, you need to rethink the way you do business. This ad popped up twice during homework tonight,” wrote Heather Boggess on Twitter.


“I want to hang my head in shame,” Mittal tells EdSurge of the vaping ad incident. “It shouldn’t have gone up. It shouldn’t have been seen. That was our fault.”


Mittal, along with Mollie Carter, Edmodo’s vice president of marketing, explained these recent blunders as part of the company’s “evolving” advertising strategy. During EdSurge’s conversation with the two executives, there was a lot of talk about “learning as we go” and ads being a “work in progress” as the company fine-tunes its approach.


Mistakes are made at every company. But the idea of figuring it out as one goes along perhaps seems more excusable for an early-stage startup than it does for Edmodo, which has been around for 10 years, boasts more than 90 million registered users across 400,000 schools and was acquired earlier this year for $137.5 million.


When Freeman saw the beer-blazoned ad, she decided to take up the issue on Twitter. Edmodo responded the same day and said it would “investigate as to why this appeared to a student user when it clearly shouldn’t have.” ...


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Education Department Warns That Students on Financial Aid Are Being Targeted In Phishing Attacks // Washington Post 

Education Department Warns That Students on Financial Aid Are Being Targeted In Phishing Attacks // Washington Post  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Susan Svrluga

Malicious attackers have recently tried to gain access to students' financial aid refunds at multiple colleges in a scheme that involves sending fraudulent emails to students, according to a warning issued by the Education Department.

The target is federal student aid refunds, money distributed to students after tuition and other education costs are paid.


The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid received multiple reports from colleges and universities about the phishing campaign targeting student email accounts, a department spokesman said on background. Authorities declined to identify the schools that reported the attacks.


“The Department thought it was prudent to notify institutions about this scheme via an electronic announcement to schools and by posting this alert on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals website," a department spokesman said.

The attacks begin with a phishing email sent through a college’s password-protected website for students, department officials wrote. It is an email intended to fraudulently extract personal information.


The nature of the emails suggests the attackers have done research to understand the school’s communication methods, and the attacks are successful because students provided the information that had been requested by the rogue operations, the department warned.


The money is what’s left over after students have used aid to cover tuition, room and board. A student, for example, might be eligible to receive $25,000 in federal student aid, which is transferred electronically from the Education Department to a university. If a student had $4,000 remaining, the university would typically transfer that balance to the student, offering several ways to receive the money, including a debit card or an electronic deposit to a bank account. It is those electronic deposits that are vulnerable.

Once the attackers gain access, they change the student’s direct-deposit destination to a bank account controlled by the attacker. Then the money intended for the student is sent to the attacker instead."


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Who is Driving The AI Agenda and What Do They Stand To Gain? // The New Statesman 

Who is Driving The AI Agenda and What Do They Stand To Gain? // The New Statesman  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Corinne Cath
"From the critical, like law enforcement, healthcare, and humanitarian aid, to the mundane, like dating and shopping, artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be the answer to all our problems. AI is a catch-all phrase for a wide-ranging set of technologies most of which apply learning techniques from statistics to find patterns in large sets of data and make predictions based on those patterns.

It seems like there are meetings every other week, organised by representatives from industry, government, academia, and civil society to address the perils of AI and formulate solutions to harness its potential.

But who is driving the regulatory agenda and what do they stand to gain? Cui Bono? Who benefits?

This question needs to be answered because letting industry needs drive the AI agenda presents real risks. With so many digital giants like Amazon and Facebook housed in the US, one particular concern regarding AI is its potential to mirror societies in the image of US culture and to the preferences of large US companies, even more than is currently the case.


AI programming does not necessarily require massive resources. Much of its value is derived from the data that is held. As a result, most of the technical innovation is led by a handful of American companies. As these companies are at the forefront of many regulatory initiatives, including those in Europe, it is essential to ensure this particular concern is not exacerbated.


AI systems are presented as very complex and difficult to explain, even for the technically ordained. The merits of those arguments aside, companies and governments alike use this reasoning to justify the deep involvement of the AI industry in policy making and regulation. And it’s not just any industry players that are involved, but the same select group that is leading the business of online marketing and data collection.


This is no coincidence. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon sit on troves of data, which can be turned into the feeding material for new AI-based services. The ‘turn to AI’ thus both further consolidates their market position and provides legitimacy to their inclusion in regulatory processes."...


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The tech elite is making a power-grab for public Education // Ben Williamson

The tech elite is making a power-grab for public Education // Ben Williamson | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Ben Williamson

"In the same week that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced a major move into education provision, the FBI issued a stark warning about the risks posed to children by education technologies. These two events illustrate clearly how ed-tech has become a significant site of controversy, a power struggle between hugely wealthy tech entrepreneurs and those concerned by their attempts to colonize the education sector with their imaginaries and technologies. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and other super-wealthy Silicon Valley actors, are forming alternative visions and approaches to education from pre-school through primary and high schooling to university. They’re the new power-elite of education and their influence is spreading.


I’ve previously written about the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists making a power-grab for the education sector. Benjamin Doxtdator has also written brilliantly about their rewriting of the history of public education as a social problem requiring urgent correction for the future. Here I just want to compile some recent developments of Silicon Valley intervention at each stage of education, to illustrate the growing scale of their influence as they continue linking public education into their networks of technical development.


The Amazon pre-school network
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced via a letter on Twitter his plans to invest $2billion in support for homeless families and a ‘network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools’. The ‘Academies Fund’ will create ‘Montessori-inspired’ preschools through a new organization to ‘learn, invent and improve’ based on ‘the same set of principles that have driven Amazon’. Most notably, Bezos added, ‘the child will be the customer’ in these schools, with a ‘genuine, intense customer obsession’.


While many will admire the philanthropic efforts of the world’s richest man to support early years education, the idea of Amazon-style pre-schools that see children as customers problematically positions education as a commercialized service in ‘personalized learning’. Bezos is not the first tech sector entrepreneur to announce or invest in pre-schooling, and as Audrey Watters commented,


"The assurance that ‘the child will be the customer’ underscores the belief – shared by many in and out of education reform and education technology – that education is simply a transaction: an individual’s decision-making in a ‘marketplace of ideas. … This idea that ‘the child will be the customer’ is, of course, also a nod to ‘personalized learning’…. As the customer, the child will be tracked and analyzed, her preferences noted so as to make better recommendations to up-sell her on the most suitable products."


The image of data-intensive startup pre-schools with young children receiving ‘recommended for you’ content as infant customers of ed-tech products is troubling. It suggests that from their earliest years children will become targets of intensive datafication and consumer-style profiling. As Michelle Willson argues in her article on algorithmic profiling and prediction of children, they ‘portend a future for these children as citizens and consumers already captured, modelled, managed by and normalised to embrace algorithmic manipulation’.

Primary Spaces
Primary schooling has been a strong focus for Silicon Valley for several years. Notable examples include Mark Zuckerberg’s The Primary School and Max Ventilla’s Altschool, two of the most high-profile startup schools to embed personalized learning technologies and approaches within the whole pedagogic apparatus. Less is known about Ad Astra, the hyper-exclusive private school project set up by Tesla boss Elon Musk within his SpaceX headquarters, although it too emphasizes students pursuing personal projects, problem-solving, and STEM subjects.

However, the globally-popular ed-tech company ClassDojo recently announced a partnership with Ad Astra to create new content for primary school age children. Building on the success of its previous content partnerships on ‘growth mindset’ and ‘empathy’, ClassDojo has worked with Ad Astra to create a set of resources focused on ‘conundrums’ that involve ‘open-ended critical thinking and ethics challenges’. The resources are not intended to be used at Ad Astra itself, but will be released to teachers and schools later in 2018.

The ClassDojo partnership means that Ad Astra’s focus on problem-solving and ethical challenges will be mobilized into classrooms at potentially huge scale. ClassDojo already claims millions of users, and is fast expanding as a major social media platform and content platform for primary schools in many countries. The conundrums ClassDojo and Ad Astra have created pose problems that are considered foundational to ‘building liberal society’. This suggests that the kind of ‘liberal society’ assumed by entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk is a vision to be pursued through the mass inculcation of children’s critical thinking and problem-solving.

Given that Musk, like Amazon’s Bezos, is also investing in space exploration, their efforts in young children’s education raise significant questions about what kind of future world and liberal society they are imagining and seeking to build. What kind of child are they trying to construct to take part in a future society that, for Bezos and Musk, may well be distributed into space?

Super High Schools
High schools are the focus for Laurene Powell Jobs’ XQ Super School project, which is a ‘community of people mobilizing America to reimagine public high school’. The project previously awarded philanthropic funding through a competition to 18 US high schools, including Summit School, one of a chain sponsored by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

XQ Super School is not just a competition though—it is seeking to produce a glossy blueprint for the future of public high school itself in its new guise as a ‘community’ or ‘network’ of reform. Its updated website features a variety of resources, videos, guidance, partnership opportunities and other materials to stimulate imaginative thought across the education sector. It also now features highly developed learner goals for schools to aspire to, including problem-solving, collaboration, invention, and the cultivation of ‘growth mindset’–mindset being the preferred success-psychology of Silicon Valley right now, and itself developed and propagated from Stanford University, itself the original academic home of many of the valley’s most successful entrepreneurs.

It is easy to view XQ Super School as a commercial takeover of public education. Perhaps more subtly, though, what XQ are others are accomplishing is a reimagining of high school through the cultural lens of Silicon Valley. These entrepreneurs are pursuing a future vision based on their own politics, their own psychological theories, and their own discourse—of community, of problem-solving, of invention, of growth mindset—and propelling it into the remaking of public education at large.

Intelligent Universities
The contemporary university is also being reimagined by the tech power-elite. Peter Thiel—the co-founder of PayPal alongside Elon Musk—for example, established the Thiel Fellowship as an alternative to higher education for ambitious young technology entrepreneurs. Higher education itself has become the target for a massive growth in the educational technology market, part of what David Berry terms the new ‘data-intensive university’.

The social media platform LinkedIn has become one of the most significant players in the data-intensive HE market. Since being acquired by Microsoft for more than $26bn in 2016, Janja Komljenovic argues that LinkedIn is increasingly targeting the HE sector with particular features that are generated explicitly for students, graduates and universities. These features include student profiles, university branded pages, and the capacity for students to search universities based on graduate career outcomes."...


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Raising the ideal child? Algorithms, quantification, and prediction // (Wilson, 2018) Media, Culture, and Society 

Raising the ideal child? Algorithms, quantification, and prediction // (Wilson, 2018) Media, Culture, and Society  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

The world in which the contemporary child is conceived and raised is one that is increasingly monitored, analysed and manipulated through technological processes. Simultaneously, expectations for the child are changing as new tools and practices for quantifying, managing and predicting achievements and future possibilities become available. Algorithms as ways of anticipating, doing or fixing are central to these technological processes. These intersect with and are informed by social, cultural and political discourses that imagine the ‘ideal’ child. Therefore, this article explores the power of algorithms within the everyday of the child. Drawing upon examples of quantification and prediction practices in the commercial and state sectors, the article raises questions about the issues, challenges and politics of these types of algorithmic approaches in raising and imagining the ‘ideal child’."


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Association of Digital Media Use With Subsequent Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adolescents // Journal of the American Medical Association 

Association of Digital Media Use With Subsequent Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adolescents // Journal of the American Medical Association  | Educational Psychology & Technology |
"Key Points

Question:  Is frequent use of modern digital media platforms, such as social media, associated with occurrence of ADHD symptoms during adolescence?

Findings:  In this longitudinal cohort survey study of adolescents aged 15 and 16 years at baseline and without symptoms of ADHD, there was a significant association between higher frequency of modern digital media use and subsequent symptoms of ADHD over a 24-month follow-up (odds ratio, 1.11 per additional digital media activity).

Meaning: More frequent use of digital media may be associated with development of ADHD symptoms; further research is needed to assess whether this association is causal.


Importance: Modern digital platforms are easily accessible and intensely stimulating; it is unknown whether frequent use of digital media may be associated with symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Objective: To determine whether the frequency of using digital media among 15- and 16-year-olds without significant ADHD symptoms is associated with subsequent occurrence of ADHD symptoms during a 24-month follow-up.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Longitudinal cohort of students in 10 Los Angeles County, California, high schools recruited through convenience sampling. Baseline and 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-month follow-up surveys were administered from September 2014 (10th grade) to December 2016 (12th grade). Of 4100 eligible students, 3051 10th-graders (74%) were surveyed at the baseline assessment.

Exposures: Self-reported use of 14 different modern digital media activities at a high-frequency rate over the preceding week was defined as many times a day (yes/no) and was summed in a cumulative index (range, 0-14).

Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-rated frequency of 18 ADHD symptoms (never/rare, sometimes, often, very often) in the 6 months preceding the survey. The total numbers of 9 inattentive symptoms (range, 0-9) and 9 hyperactive-impulsive symptoms (range, 0-9) that students rated as experiencing often or very often were calculated. Students who had reported experiencing often or very often 6 or more symptoms in either category were classified as being ADHD symptom-positive.

Results: Among the 2587 adolescents (63% eligible students; 54.4% girls; mean [SD] age 15.5 years [0.5 years]) who did not have significant symptoms of ADHD at baseline, the median follow-up was 22.6 months (interquartile range [IQR], 21.8-23.0, months). The mean (SD) number of baseline digital media activities used at a high-frequency rate was 3.62 (3.30); 1398 students (54.1%) indicated high frequency of checking social media (95% CI, 52.1%-56.0%), which was the most common media activity. High-frequency engagement in each additional digital media activity at baseline was associated with a significantly higher odds of having symptoms of ADHD across follow-ups (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.06-1.16). This association persisted after covariate adjustment (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.05-1.15). The 495 students who reported no high-frequency media use at baseline had a 4.6% mean rate of having ADHD symptoms across follow-ups vs 9.5% among the 114 who reported 7 high-frequency activities (difference; 4.9%; 95% CI, 2.5%-7.3%) and vs 10.5% among the 51 students who reported 14 high-frequency activities (difference, 5.9%; 95% CI, 2.6%-9.2%).

Conclusions and Relevance: Among adolescents followed up over 2 years, there was a statistically significant but modest association between higher frequency of digital media use and subsequent symptoms of ADHD. Further research is needed to determine whether this association is causal."

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Tech's Most Egregious Violations of User Privacy // Axios 

Tech's Most Egregious Violations of User Privacy // Axios  | Educational Psychology & Technology |

By Haley Britzky for Axios

"Technologies that have become ubiquitous in the daily lives of most Americans — from ride-sharing and dating apps to social media — are using sketchy practices and violating user privacy information, while most of us are unaware.


Why it matters: With tech becoming more and more sophisticated, users don't pay as close attention as they probably should to what they're signing on for, and if their information is being inappropriately used.

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The latest: MoviePass

The embattled movie theatre subscription service that has had to change its terms to stay afloat is making it difficult for users to cancel their memberships, Vox's Alissa Wilkinson reports:

  • "A lot of MoviePass users are currently discovering ... that they've been re-subscribed" after canceling their subscriptions.
  • Because the company has changed its terms of service so much recently, users "won't carefully read every communication from the company ... let alone the plan updates."
  • If a user opted to cancel their membership at the end of the current billing cycle, but then said they "accept" the updates in MoviePass's plan (which it made every user do when they opened the app), then they canceled the cancellation and will be charged for another month.


Android and iPhone devices running on Google services tracks users location dataeven if you've opted against that in your privacy settings.

  • The Associated Press' Ryan Nakashima reported that this "affects some two billion users of devices that run Google's Android operation software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search."

Google responded to the AP: "There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services."

  • On Thursday, Google clarified that it still tracks users' locations, even after they've turned off location history, the AP reported.

Dating apps

Grindr was sharing users' HIV status with third-party vendors.

  • The company insisted that sensitive information was protected by encryption and not shared with advertisers, and contested criticism saying Grindr was "unfairly ... singled out."

Ride-sharing apps

Uber used "God View," which allowed them to "see all of the Ubers in a city and the silhouettes of waiting Uber users" at a party, Forbes reported.

  • In 2011 at a launch party, Uber "treated guests to Creepy Stalker View, showing them the whereabouts and movement of 30 Uber users ... in real time."

Lyft experienced a similar scandal after it was revealed that staffers had access to users' personal information, including contact information, the pick-up and drop-off coordinates, and more, TechCrunch reported.

  • Staffers were using Lyft's software to see "personally identifiable information" to check up on their significant others, exes, and to "stalk people they found attractive who shared a Lyft Line with them," per TechCrunch.

Digital assistants

An Amazon Echo device recorded a woman's conversation in Portland and "shared it with one of her husband's employees in Seattle," the New York Times reports.

  • Amazon said in a statement to the Times that the device mistakenly heard demands and answers to its questions in the woman's conversation. Per the statement, the device "woke up" after mistaking a word in the conversation for "Alexa," it mistakenly heard "send message," and asked "to whom?" It then heard what it thought was a response, and a confirmation of the message after asking "[contact name], right?"
  • But the woman said "the Echo that shared her conversation was right next to her at the time with the volume set to seven out of 10. It never requested her permission to send the audio."

The bottom line

Due to the lack of clarity on these shady practices, there's been a massive overhaul of privacy settings from major tech companies — mostly after the European Union voted on a new law meant to protect digital privacy rights.

  • Facebook said it was going to make its privacy settings easier to find, "to put people more in control of their privacy."
  • Twitter also moved to make its privacy settings easier for users to find.
  • Venmo updated its privacy policy to "clarify the way we handle data of former users," among other things.
  • Spotify even jumped in, updating its policy to "be as open and transparent as possible with our users about the personal data we collect." 

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Online Preschool: "Innovation" or Exploitation? // Invited Presentation for Screen Time Action Network Conference, Boston, MA, April 2018

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