Children and Media

Exposure to educational television has been shown to have positive effects on the social, intellectual, and educational development of children. Is it possible to find truly educational content on broadcast television? Articles below deal with 1) television broadcasters' obligation to provide educational programming for children, 2) efforts to shield children from indecenct programming, 3) advertising aimed at children and 4) children and violence.

Don’t Make Applying for E-rate Fiber Even Harder

Applying for E-rate funding is not simple, especially for applicants seeking fiber-based services. Applicants must have an in-depth knowledge of dark vs. lit fiber, self-provisioning, and special construction, and that’s just the beginning. The vast majority of schools and libraries have to hire consultants to guide them through the labyrinth of E-rate rules and procedures. So the last thing we should want is to make the E-rate application even more difficult. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening.

E-rate fiber applications are being delayed or denied even though they follow the Federal Communications Commission’s policies, past precedent, and the Eligible Services List (ESL). As a membership organization made up of schools, libraries, associations, broadband companies and E-rate consultants, we hear these complaints constantly. The Schools Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) will file comments later this week on the proposed ESL for Funding Year 2018 asking to maintain the existing rules and policies governing applications for fiber-based services. The rules and policies adopted in the 2014 E-rate Modernization Orders are intended to help schools and libraries increase their bandwidth and obtain low-cost fiber services, which will be especially helpful in rural markets. We will encourage the FCC to maintain the 2014 rules and policies and to provide consistent guidance to E-rate applicants.

Program for rural internet in schools, libraries in jeopardy

[Commentary] The federal E-rate program plays a critical role in allowing Kansas kids to harness the power of technology in schools and libraries. Current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has voiced support for the program as a commissioner, repeatedly calling it a “program worth fighting for” and saying it has the potential to “help millions of children in America benefit from digital learning.” Of course, we agree with him on those points. However, since then, Chairman Pai has curiously refused to commit to protecting the program; retracted a progress report demonstrating E-rate’s success following its modernization; and expressed a desire to alter funding for the program in a way that would leave countless kids behind.

With Chairman Pai scheduled to testify to the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen Jerry Moran (R-KS) has an important opportunity to stand up for kids in Kansas and throughout the country. School districts like Garden City, which received $492,000 in funding in 2016 to expand access to high speed internet services thanks to E-Rate funding. We respectfully urge Sen Moran to stand up for our nation’s schools on July 19.

[James Steyer is CEO and founder of Commons Sense Kids Action]

This trend in teen communication just may make the world a better place

Social media used to be a place where people could go to post photos of cute animals, link to weird articles, and share mundane status updates with friends and relatives. But as events such as the 2016 US presidential election have shown, social media has tipped into feeling primarily like a breeding ground for messages of hate and a forum for bullying.

In response to the onslaught of crushingly negative content, a trend among younger users has emerged—highlighting and sharing only messages that are dripping with positivity. Suddenly, for almost every gloomy trend that has percolated on the internet, there now exists a positivity-promoting counter meme. WholesomeMemes, which has an Instagram account with over 22,000 followers, was among the first of these jolly promoters. They often feature animals, babies, and cartoons. The comment thread beneath them is filled with people tagging their friends and phrases like “reminds me of you” or just “us.”

School-to-Home report: Understanding Why 24/7 Access to Broadband is Essential to Student Learning

Students increasingly must gain 21st century technology skills to succeed in life after high school. Despite the technological shift driven by rapid innovations, approximately 5 million US households with school-age children still do not have access to high-speed Internet at home. The paper gives school leaders guidance to improve digital access in their communities.

In addition, CoSN puts forth recommendations for districts to build and strengthen their networks and identifies funding opportunities for school systems to improve digital equity. These include leveraging capital expenditures, operational expenditures, federal and state funds, bonds, levies, grants, and in-kind and school-to-business partnerships to address digital equity. “School-to-Home” details the main barriers to extending broadband to homes nationwide. These include assessing size of the connectivity problem and addressing the need for adequate Internet access at home and in the community, particularly for students from low-income homes. Despite cost and lack of fiber or high-speed Internet availability, some districts are improving Internet access by promoting public Wi-Fi access, providing Internet in school parking lots and athletic fields, and establishing portable loaner Wi-Fi hotspots for student use to take home to do school work.

Supreme Court strikes down sex offender social media ban

The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that bars convicted sex offenders from Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites. The justices ruled unanimously in favor of North Carolina resident Lester Packingham Jr.

His Facebook boast about beating a traffic ticket led to his conviction for violating a 2008 law aimed at keeping sex offenders off internet sites children might use. The court rejected the state’s argument that the law deals with the virtual world in the same way that states keep sex offenders out of playgrounds and other places children visit. “In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn to Use Tech

Over the past decade, the "digital divide" in America's public schools has shifted. Classrooms in nearly every corner of the country have been flooded with devices and software. High-speed internet connectivity has expanded dramatically. Undoubtedly, there are still big disparities in the technologies available to the haves and the have-nots. But in places like Pittsburgh's southwestern suburbs, where some local school districts are engaged in a kind of ed-tech arms race, just offering kids the latest-model laptop isn't enough. Instead, what distinguishes the most innovative schools is what students and teachers do with the technology they have.

Parents want their children prepared to shape the future, not get steamrolled by it. To make that happen, schools like South Fayette Intermediate try to surround teachers like Bishop with supports and learning opportunities, so they can continually find new and powerful ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. For most districts, it's a huge challenge.

In a Fake Fact Era, Schools Teach the ABCs of News Literacy

"Fake news is nothing new, and its impact on the national conversation is nothing new, but public awareness is very high right now,” says Peter Adams, who leads educational initiatives for News Literacy Project. Now, Checkology is being used by some 6,300 public and private school teachers serving 947,000 students in all 50 states and 52 countries. Norwood began using the program in March following one of the most frenetic elections in American history. The platform offers lessons on the First Amendment, the difference between branded content and news, and how to distinguish between viral rumors—political and otherwise—and reported facts. Teachers help the kids understand sourcing, bias, transparency, and journalistic ethics.

FCC Kidvid Rule: What is Your Function?

[Commentary] After 20 years, it's time to reconsider the Federal Communications Commission guideline effectively requiring TV stations to air three hours of educational and informational children programming each week. If it cannot be demonstrated that such programming is effective, the intrusion on broadcasters' First Amendment rights cannot be justified.

[Jack Goodman practices communications law in Washington. He was previously general counsel of the National Association of Broadcasters]