It Feels Good to Be Yourself: a sweet, simple picture book about gender identity

Theresa Thorn (co-host of the excellent parenting podcast One Bad Mother and Jesse Thorn (proprietor of the excellent Maximum Fun podcasting network) have a transgender daughter; Theresa has written a beautiful, sweet picture book about gender identity based on her experiences with her trans kid: It Feels Good to Be Yourself. Read the rest

Amazon unveils a new Echo Dot surveillance device for children

The latest addition to Amazon's line of always-on, ever-listening, networked, insecure (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) snitchy smart speakers is the new rev of the Echo Dot Kids Edition, whose "kid-friendly" Alexa is like surveillance Barbie without the pretense of being a toy. Read the rest

Massive, careful study finds that social media use is generally neutral for kids' happiness, and sometimes positive

In Social media’s enduring effect on adolescent life satisfaction, a pair of Oxford psych researchers and a colleague from Stuttgart's University of Hohenheim review a large, long-running data-set (Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, 2009–2016) that surveyed 12,672 adolescents at eight points over seven years. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's bold, risky, well-intentioned plan to improve health outcomes for African-American mothers giving birth

African-American women suffer a much higher level of maternal mortality than the national average, and Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bold -- but high-risk -- plan to incentivize hospitals to root out the institutional, systemic racism that produces these terrible outcomes. Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students. Read the rest

SO LATE SO SOON: fun, genre-celebrating SF for young readers (of all ages!)

[Harry Tynan posts on our forums as Moose Malloy. Earlier this week, he messaged me about his fun, self-published kid's book, written as a series of bedtime stories for his kid (a tradition I'm very fond of -- it's the origin story of The Borribles!). The book is so much fun that I invited him to write a short introduction and choose a excerpt for your edification. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! -Cory]

The great Umberto Eco once wrote, in a marvellous essay about Casablanca, that "Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion." Read the rest

Serpent profiteers: how a summer camp snakebite turned into a $142,938 medical bill

Last July, a nine year old child named Oakley Yoder got bitten on the toe by a venomous snake while at summer camp in Jackson Falls, Illinois: the initial bill for her treatment came out to $142,938. Read the rest

Teens 'not damaged by screen time', new Oxford study finds

Research by Oxford University scientists finds “little evidence of a relationship between screen time and wellbeing in adolescents.” Based on data from over 17,000 teenagers, the study “casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that spending time online, gaming or watching TV, especially before bedtime, can damage young people’s mental health.”

This isn't the first time a scientific study has disproven the notion of a direct link between the amount of time teenagers spend on devices and their well-being, but it's good to know we can worry less about teens' time on-screen. Read the rest

Why are creators paying for TikTok’s mistake?

TikTok is an app that makes it easy for people to make short lip-synching videos, which unsurprisingly makes it a goldmine of creativity and memes. TikTok recently got in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission because it failed to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA requires online services that are either “directed at” children under the age of 13 or have knowledge that they have users who are under 13 to arrange for parental permission before they start collecting personal information about those users. Read the rest

World Citizen Comics: a new line of graphic novels for young activists

Firstsecond Books (previously, publisher of In Real Life, which I created with Jen Wang) has announced a new line of YA-oriented graphic novels called "World Citizen Comics," on contemporary activist themes like "how to fight corruption in elections, blast fake news with truth-telling, and even battle would-be dictators both near and far through a better understanding of constitutions and the rule of law." Read the rest

McMansion Hell tours the homes of the "meritocratic" one-percenters who allegedly bought their thickwitted kids' way into top universities in the college admissions scandal

Yesterday, federal authorities announced 50 indictments of college personnel, wealthy parents, and fixers who ran a multi-million-dollar bribery ring that ensured that the slow, plodding, undeserving fruit of wealthy grifters' loins could be admitted to the top universities in America. Read the rest

Universal Studios is chipping their soda cups to limit refills

A room at a Universal Studios Florida hotel tonight will cost you $197-$536 (plus admission tickets to the park), but make sure that you do all your soda drinking in one compact session, because Universal has deployed the creepily named Validfill RFID system, which limits your self-service (that is, you do the labor) soda refills to two hours after purchase, and after the time window expires, "you are denied soda by a robot voice." Read the rest

Satanic Panic 2.0: The Momo Challenge hoax [TW: Self-harm/suicide]

According to reports from gullible parents' organizations, police departments, and media outlets, Kids on the Internet are spreading memes featuring an image of "Momo" (actually a sculpture called "Mother Bird" created by Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese SFX studio Link Factory) that includes explicit self-harm and suicide instructions (the "challenge" in "Momo challenge" is allegedly to get kids to hurt or kill themselves). Read the rest

Youtube ignored repeated reports about explicit suicide instructions spliced into cartoons on Youtube Kids

[TW: Suicide]

A griefer has been reportedly splicing video of himself giving explicit instructions for committing suicide into animated videos on Youtube Kids; he lets the video run for several minutes before breaking in to say "Kids, remember, cut this way for attention, and this way for results"; despite "hundreds of reports" of this in the comments for the videos, they stayed online for several months until members of the Pedimom community (run by pediatrician/mother Free N Hess) made a concerted effort to report the videos. Read the rest

After more than a year of inaction,one of those privacy-leaking kids' smart watches has been recalled in Europe

It's been a year and a half since the Norwegian Consumer Council commissioned a security audit of kids' "smart watches" that revealed that anyone on the internet could track the wearers, talk to them through their watches, and listen in on them; a year later, Pen Test Partners revealed that the watches were still leaking sensitive information, a situation that hadn't changed as of last week. Read the rest

18 months on, kids' smart watches are STILL a privacy & security dumpster-fire, and a gift to stalkers everywhere

In late 2017, the Norwegian Consumer Council published its audit of kids' smart-watches, reporting that the leading brands allowed strangers to follow your kids around and listen in on their conversations; a year later, Pen Test Partners followed up to see if anything had changed (it hadn't). Read the rest

Unsealed court documents reveal that Facebook knew kids were being tricked into spending thousands of dollars on their parents' credit cards

In 2012, Facebook settled a class-action suit with parents who claimed that their kids were being tricked into spending real money on game items, thinking they were spending virtual in-game currency; the parents said that Facebook had structured its system to allow kids to use their parents' credit cards without the parents' intervention, unlike competitors like Google and Apple, who required password re-entries when a card was re-charged for in-game purchases. Read the rest

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