Under 13 in the Online World

What is COPPA

Thirteen seems to be a magic number for children to create and access accounts on the Internet. This is due to the Child’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which specifies what information companies and people under U.S. jurisdiction can collect about children under 13. According to COPPA, a site’s privacy policy should specify that the site will protect the privacy of children under 13. Website operators who collect personal information need to get parental permission before children under 13 can join and use the site. Many sites find it an arduous process, and simply prohibit use by children under 13. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Skype, Gmail, etc.

Parent Adherence to Terms of Service

In a recent parent workshop for parents of children in Grades PK to 5 that I led on Technology Throughout the Generations, parents were split over whether or not to let their children join a social media site, where the terms of service limit use to children over 13. Some parents spoke of peer pressure, where all their child’s friends were allowed social media accounts. Others shared their reasons for, and approaches to, allowing their child who is under 13 to use Instagram or Facebook.

My Perspective on Violating Terms of Service

My inclination has always been to restrict the use of social media by children under 13. I’m always discomfited by the subterfuge necessary for children to create social media accounts when they are under 13. The age specified in the terms of use of companies, is a requirement, not a suggestion. Is circumventing that requirement akin to buying cigarettes or alcohol for a child who doesn’t meet the age requirement in your city?

I sometimes wonder whether I’m simply preaching compliance, and whether that’s the most important thing. I don’t think thatI am motivated by compliance, but rather the development appropriateness of social media tools and the well-being of our children and families. I think that violating the terms of use of websites requires careful consideration, about lying and when it’s okay, privacy, online safety, rights and responsibilities, and citizenship.

Making Choices as a Family

Ultimately, I think that each family is responsible to decide on their own rules of engagement, to specify whether they will comply to the terms of use of various websites, and to be purposeful and deliberate about choosing how the members of the family engage with internet resources. If you and your family are deciding whether to allow your child on Social Media, read this great guide from Common Sense Media. Whatever decision you make, be clear about it as a family. Understand the issues, and make a choice, rather than simply following the edicts of anyone else.

Related Resources

Learn more about COPPA from  Wikipedia, and this guide from the Federal Trade Commission.

If you would like to know more about social media and teens, look up danah boyd’s book It’s Complicated.


This post was inspired by this prompt for the #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a write a post about student privacy”.

9 Common Problems and Solutions when using iPads

I used these cases with teaching assistants at my school in August, 2016. I hope that you find it useful. If you have any examples or questions, please post a comment.

I had been meaning to write this blog post. I finally got inspired to create a slide show from the original Google Document handout by this prompt for the #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a listicle”.

Making Technology Integration Awesome

It’s a challenge to make effective, transformative use of technology in the classroom. This year, I’ve been working with a small group of teacher representatives from various grades to curate/create a list of skills for every grade level that are realized through the integration of technology. We’ve looked at the ISTE Standards for Students, and lists of benchmarks and standards from other schools. We’ve also explore the Technology Integration Matrix from Arizona and will look at the (more mature) one from Florida. We’ve talked to teachers, and explored the landscape of technology integration at other schools. We’ve discussed how technology is used in our world, and how it is used outside of school by our students. I’ve come to realize that the particular skills on the list by grade level are a direct result of our approaches to teaching and learning, our beliefs and our local context.

We’ve collected a list of skills where students use technology that teachers at each grade level think are important for students to enter a grade with, and leave the grade with. Next, we will build on those lists, taking other sets of internationally renowned standards like those from ISTE and AASL into account. We will use feedback from teachers, and consider the coherence from K-5 to refine the lists. Finally, we will decide how to share the list with teachers in a way that’s user-friendly and dynamic. We have other documents that have been created in the past, but they are outdated and never referred to during instructional design meetings. One approach would be to categorize the skills by the phases of inquiry that we follow in our classes. Another would be to group the skills by the units of inquiry. We will get feedback from teachers about this. Might there be a third approach that we haven’t considered?

As part of this work, I will engage teachers in thinking about their vision of students who’ve experienced successful technology integration during their K-5 experience of school. I’m also interested in knowing your ideas.

Made with Padlet


Note that this post is written for my participation in #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a post about challenging situations”.

Find Free High Quality Images

Met Museum collection, public domain image.

Images can be used in the classroom in a number of ways. We can use images in presentations and other multimedia that we create, in photo essays, digital stories, and blog posts. High resolution images provides greater detail, which are well suited to many activities.Teachers can use them as prompts for writing exercises, and for discussions. They can facilitate both fiction, and non-fiction work in the classroom.

The Metropolitan Museum recently announced that many of their images would be licensed as CC0, which means that anyone can used them without any rights reserved. Here are three museums, with collections of images in the public domain. I’ve hyperlinked to the public domain collection, in each case.

  1. National Gallery of Art
  2. Rijksmuseum
  3. The Met Museum

As a bonus, visit The Commons on Flickr for other Creative Commons licensed images from various institutions. If you’re looking for other sources of images, read my other post on using online images.

Update: February 10, 2017 – I just read that Creative Commons has their own image search engine, out in beta. The search engine lets you find images licensed with Creative Commons from Flickr, MMA, New York Public library, Rijksmuseum, and The Met. This search engine is only for images. The old CC search is still available if you’re looking for other types of media.


Note that this post is written for my participation in #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a post about free web tools “.

Digital Citizenship in Elementary School

Digital citizenship is not about the tools, it’s about …?

Image source: Unsplash

Yesterday, a few colleagues and I spent some time discussing teaching digital citizenship to elementary school students. Much of the conversation centered around how to teach children digital citizenship skills in context, rather than theoretically. We can draw parallels with the idea of learning just in time, versus just in case. One colleague suggested that learning is very powerful when it’s exploratory, relevant, and social, and we should create environments with those components to teach digital citizenship.

We ended with the question: how can we teach digital citizenship in a way that’s exploratory, relevant, and social in elementary school.

Do you have any ideas or success stories to share? Please leave a comment related to the question, or complete the first sentence of this post.

Note that this post is written for my participation in #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a post that includes an image”.