Weekly Roundup

Fortnite

The newest video game sensation is Fortnite. It’s appealing to people of all ages, making it the biggest smash outside of the typical gaming world since Minecraft. Even Houston Astros are showing off their Fortnite moves—check it out here. Part of the game’s appeal is that it is free to download and can be played on smart phones. However, this popularity has led to school-age kids playing it on their smartphones while in class. Read here to see how some school districts have even gone out of their way to block access to the game on their Wi-Fi connections, so kids won’t be playing it during class. This article contains some good tips for parents to monitor their children’s playing time, and here is a parent’s guide to Fortnite.

YouTube Privacy Concerns for Kids

It seems like every day brings another news story of a website illegally collecting data. The latest claim is that YouTube is illegally collecting data from kids. Despite needing to be 13 to sign up for a YouTube account, channels that market to kids are a big industry on the site. According to this article, “In a complaint filed Monday, more than 20 advocacy groups asked the FTC to investigate the Google subsidiary for violating the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which limits how a company can collect data about kids under 13. Under the law, companies have to notify parents and get their consent before collecting data on children.”

STAAR Testing in Texas

April and May in Texas bring STAAR tests for school-aged kids. Hate them or tolerate them, these high-stakes tests are part of life for kids in public school in Texas. Here’s the calendar for this year’s tests. The Texas Education Association does not provide a way for parents to opt their children out, as this article points out: “Section 26.010 of the Texas Education Code says, ‘A parent is not entitled to remove the parent’s child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test.’” But, the article also mentions that some school districts, including the Houston Independent School District, have created policies for parents to opt out their children.

Weekly Roundup

Utah Passes “Free-Range” Parenting Law – First of its Kind

After a New York mom allowed her 8-year-old son to ride the subway home alone, her story went viral with people calling her “America’s Worst Mom.” But now, the Utah state legislature is using her story as a basis for a new law.

The measure, sponsored by Utah state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R, exempts from the definition of child neglect various activities children can do without supervision, permitting “a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities . . .” Those activities include letting children “walk, run or bike to and from school, travel to commercial or recreational facilities, play outside and remain at home unattended.” The law does not say what the “sufficient age” is.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, R, signed the bill into law earlier this month after it passed unanimously in both chambers of Utah’s legislature. Critics, of course, have argued that this style is not safest for children, despite the fact that stranger abduction is rare. This story begs the question, what implications will this have for state child-welfare authorities in Utah? Will other states follow suit? You can read more about this measure here and here.

Black Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Speak Out

A mostly white group of Stoneman Douglas survivors started a movement after the shooting to honor the victims and rally Americans to stop gun violence. Last weekend, they took their fight for stricter gun control laws to Washington and other cities in what they called a March for Our Lives. Many citizens are lauding these young people for their achievements and bravery, but what about the African American students who attend the same school?

“I would say that our voices were not intentionally excluded, but they were not intentionally included,” said Kai Koerber, a junior. “Now more than ever, it is time to represent the diversity of our school, and the diversity in the world.” Kai is part of a group of students who feel that their Black peers were unable to muster the same kind of support as the mostly-white students have, dating all the way back to activism surrounding the Trayvon Martin death. About 11% of the high school’s 3,000 students are black.

The other students from Stoneman stand in solidarity with their African American peers, and hope that they can combine forces to shed light on Black Lives Matter in their fight. It is truly inspiring to see what these kids have accomplished in mere months, regardless of whether you agree with their point of view. You can read all about it here.

Study Finds Second-Born Brother More Likely to Get Involved in Criminal Justice System

A new study conducted at MIT found that second-born children are more likely to break the law. It looked at hundreds of sets of brothers and found that the younger counterparts were 20-40% more likely to get in trouble at school and enter the criminal justice system.

Those who conducted the study have a few theories as to why this may be the case. Parents often don’t dote on their second-born children as much as they do on their first-born. They tend to spend less one-on-one time with them and are often less enthusiastic about doing engaging activities like reading bedtime stories and playing games. Parents also tend to take less time off from work with a second-born child. As a result, second-born children may feel like they have to compete for their parents’ attention and may act out more. You can read more about the study here.

It will be interesting to see whether this study has any implications on the school-to-prison pipeline research already being conducted across the country. Why does “getting in trouble at school” have to immediately translate to “entering the criminal justice system”? Is this study biased in and of itself? Regardless, it is important for parents to think critically about how their parenting style may shift from child to child and how that will effect their children long term.

Weekly Roundup

Can Children and Youth Change the World? Younger Protesters are Certainly Ready to Try… Starting with Gun Legislation.

The 11-year old Inspiring a Nation with her “March for our Lives” speech:

When high school students organized marches across the country, led by the survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, for action in gun regulation, the grass-roots movement did not stop with secondary schools. Naomi Wadler, an 11-year old attending Alexandria’s George Mason Elementary School, asked “[w]hy not elementary school students too”?

In a speech lauded as “eloquent,” the engaging, inspiring elementary-age student “urg[ed] the nation not to forget black women, who are disproportionately represented among the victims of gun violence.” Students across the country are catching the wave, in their own #MeToo moment-esk, Wadler asked, why not “Me Too;” standing up against preclusion of even our youngest students from political and social action.  An 11 year old showed us she can “represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”

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Celebrity Support: Kid’s Choice Awards Recognizes Protester-Children & Youth

Celebrities like Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon are chiming in on child protests, encouraging protesters, and telling them they are “the future.” Nominee at the Kid’s Choice Awards this March, Candace Bure a even told audiences “she’s proudly raised her daughter to be an activist.” Encouraging kids to “speak up,” she admonished that “it’s so important to teach our kids to speak up for what they believe in and use their voice and know that they are never too young to have an opinion

Young star Patrick Schwarzenegger shared he “can’t wait to see this young generation of activists become the leaders of tomorrow,” and that when school shootings happen “they’re killing… dreams… and our future activists and politicians.” With crowds heralded by the article as rising to the level of “the kind of numbers seen during the Vietnam era,” celebrities are encouraging activism by children across the country.

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Advice Parents and Caregivers – 11 Tips for Successful and Safe Protesting with Children:

Timely tips for children participating in protests include working with kids to provide explanations on important reasons for activism, matching shirts to stay together, and a plan everyone knows in the event groups are separated. Perhaps a few of the best pieces of advice is when Not to bring children to a protest and knowing when to leave.

When carefully planned and prepared for, “bringing your children to a protest you are helping to shape them into involved, concerned, civic-minded citizens.”

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Student’s March on Washington

Youth Voices in EU Countries