Stuff for Kids: Human Evolution, Internet Safety and More
Here are some interesting posts. The first is on new theories of Human Evolution based on new genetic evidence from science fiction-y blog io9: We Come From the Future. The second is on internet safety from on my favorite group author blogs on middle grade literature, From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. The third is research on how kids who write about their anxieties before taking a test actually do better.
I did say that I wanted to post more on science! Human Evolution Theory from my new favorite science (fictiony) blog io9. New advances in genetics are bringing up new theories of human evolution: 1) The “African replacement” theory, 2) the multi-regional theory, or 3) assimilation theory. Anthropologists are still not clear which theory is correct but all seem feasible. Read this excellent post here, The Human Diaspora by Annalee Newitz.
Internet Reality and Safety from The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
“Kids are on Facebook. Millions and millions and millions of kids. Earlier this month the School Library Journal published an article called Navigating Facebook: A Guide For Parents. If you write for kids, teach, or work in a library you need to read this article, whether you’re a parent or not. The article quotes a 2010 study that found 37% of 10-12 year olds have Facebook accounts.
And kids are no casual occasional users. In its study Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-Year-Olds the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8 to 10 year olds spend an average of 45 minutes a day on the internet. By age 10 to 14 they are up an entire hour, online an average of 1 hour 45 minutes every single day. Kids 8-10 have a total media exposure of 7:51 each day. By age 10-14 it rises to a whopping 11:53 every single day. It makes me wonder how they have time to go to school!
What are we adults who care passionately about children, learning, and reading to do? One thing I believe we must do is take our heads out of the sand (kids ARE there, no matter whether we like it or not) and we must use Facebook as a reading resource rather than let it fester as forbidden fruit.
If you’re a parent or teacher (or concerned adult) struggling with kids and the internet there are great resources to help you foster safe internet use:
Connect Safely has great, realistic articles about kids, teens, and the internet.
Common Sense Media is a powerhouse in the world of children and the media. Their site has thoughtful age defined articles on just about every issue involving kids, the internet, the media, and the world we face today.”
University of Chicago professors Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock have shown through experiments that ninth graders who were asked to write about their anxieties for ten minutes just before their first final exam of their high-school career did significantly better than a control group of students who sat quietly or wrote about an unrelated topic for ten minutes before taking the test. Students who were habitually anxious about taking tests benefited most from the pre-exam expressive writing. Ramirez and Beilock believe it’s because anxiety impairs working memory and writing about worries brings them to the surface and makes them less disruptive to performance.
“Writing About Testing Worries Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom” by Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock in Science, Jan. 14, 2011 (Vol. 331, #221, online) http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6014/211.short;