Archives February 27, 2018

Nearly half of parents worry their child is addicted to mobile devices

Parents berate themselves for staying glued to their smartphones. But they’re even more worried their kids can’t detach from the small screen.

A survey from Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey found 47% of parents worry their child is addicted to their mobile device. By comparison, only 32% of parents say they’re addicted themselves.

Half of parents also say they are at least somewhat concerned about how mobile devices will affect their kids’ mental health. Nearly one in five say they’re “extremely” or “very” concerned.

“For as much attention as technology addiction receives among adults, parents — particularly those with teenagers — are far more concerned about their children’s device usage than their own,” Jon Cohen, chief research officer with SurveyMonkey, said in a statement Thursday.

According to the survey, 89% of parents believe it’s up to them to curb their children’s smartphone usage.

The survey conducted between Jan. 25 and Jan. 29 included a sample of 4,201 adults, including 1,024 parents with children under age 18. Data was weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the U.S. for adults over 18, based on Census data.

Recently, tech giants including Facebook, Google and Apple have been pushed to come up with solutions to prevent kids from growing addicted to technology.

This month, Common Sense Media and the non-profit Center for Humane Technology launched a campaign to explore the mental health consequences of technology.

The Truth About Tech campaign will be funded by $7 million from Common Sense and money raised by the new non-profit. At the time the campaign was launched, Common Sense said it would also use donated airtime from Comcast and DirecTV. The nonprofit now says its earlier statement is not accurate. Comcast said it is not supporting the Truth in Tech campaign. DirecTV would not comment.

“Parental concerns about technology addiction and the content children are exposed to on devices is very real, yet parents feel that they alone are responsible for managing these issues,” Common Sense Media CEO James P. Steyer said. “It would be nice if the tech companies would partner with parents in this effort.”

Former employees of Facebook and Google are among those leading the charge to urge tech companies to act.

Last month, two major Apple investors implored the company to explore ways to fight smartphone addiction among children. The investors collectively control about $2 billion in Apple shares. In response, Apple said it was adding more “robust” parental controls to its devices.

Common Sense and other children advocacy groups have particularly criticized Facebook for recently rolling out a Messenger Kids app aimed at kids under 13. Facebook has defended its decision to go ahead with it, pointing to the advice it received from a team of child experts and efforts it took to make sure parents had control over the app. But a recent Wired report detailing Facebook’s financial support of these experts, which Facebook says covers logistics costs for their time, added more momentum to the controversy over whether tech companies are trying to get kids hooked too early.

Many devices and services feature parental controls, but some parents may not be aware they exist. The Common Sense-SurveyMonkey survey found 22% of parents did not know YouTube — which has faced scrutiny over how easy it is for kids to find inappropriate videos — offered parental controls. Also, 37% have not used the controls before.

That’s a problem as YouTube often is the go-to entertainment platform of choice for kids, who have made creators such as Logan Paul superstars.

Among parents surveyed who say their kids watch YouTube videos, 62% said their kids have seen inappropriate videos on the site. Most, or 81%, said it’s the parents’ job to prevent kids from seeing these videos.

For parents who worry their kids spend too much time on their smartphones, here are some tips:

*Set time limits and enforce them. Block out time during the day where your kids can use a smartphone or tablet. And don’t give in when they might beg for “one more minute.”

*Explore parental controls. Most services such as YouTube offer them, but your smartphone has its own suite of tools to tailor the experience to your kids.

*Try zones where tech is not allowed. Want a phone-free dinner? Or no gadgets before bed time? Consider creating areas in your home where technology is completely off limits. Just remember parents have to follow these guidelines, too.

Efforts grow to help students evaluate what they see online

Alarmed by the proliferation of false content online, state lawmakers [in the United States] are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington state, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

Advocates say the K-12 curriculum has not kept pace with rapid changes in technology. Studies show many children spend hours every day online but struggle to comprehend the content that comes at them.

For years, they have pushed schools to incorporate media literacy — including the ability to evaluate and analyze sources of information — into lesson plans in civics, language arts, science and other subjects.

How Do You Vote? 50 Million Google Images Give a Clue

What vehicle is most strongly associated with Republican voting districts? Extended-cab pickup trucks. For Democratic districts? Sedans.

Those conclusions may not be particularly surprising. After all, market researchers and political analysts have studied such things for decades.

But what is surprising is how researchers working on an ambitious project based at Stanford University reached those conclusions: by analyzing 50 million images and location data from Google Street View, the street-scene feature of the online giant’s mapping service.

For the first time, helped by recent advances in artificial intelligence, researchers are able to analyze large quantities of images, pulling out data that can be sorted and mined to predict things like income, political leanings and buying habits. In the Stanford study, computers collected details about cars in the millions of images it processed, including makes and models.

Identifying so many car images in such detail was a technical feat. But it was linking that new data set to public collections of socioeconomic and environmental information, and then tweaking the software to spot patterns and correlations, that makes the Stanford project part of what computer scientists see as the broader application of image data.

Forbes: Cellebrite can unlock every iPhone

Cellebrite, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based vendor that’s become the U.S. government’s company of choice when it comes to unlocking mobile devices, is this month telling customers its engineers currently have the ability to get around the security of devices running iOS 11 . That includes the iPhone X, a model that Forbes has learned was successfully raided for data by the Department for Homeland Security back in November 2017, most likely with Cellebrite technology.

The Israeli firm, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sun Corporation, hasn’t made any major public announcement about its new iOS capabilities. But Forbes was told by sources (who asked to remain anonymous as they weren’t authorized to talk on the matter) that in the last few months the company has developed undisclosed techniques to get into iOS 11 and is advertising them to law enforcement and private forensics folk across the globe. Indeed, the company’s literature for its Advanced Unlocking and Extraction Services offering now notes the company can break the security of “Apple iOS devices and operating systems, including iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11.” Separately, a source in the police forensics community told Forbes he’d been told by Cellebrite it could unlock the iPhone 8. He believed the same was most probably true for the iPhone X, as security across both of Apple’s newest devices worked in much the same way.