Ban Smartphones In Schools, Barack Obama Joins Twitter, & More… [Tech News Digest]
Smartphone school ban, Obama tweets, Google mines public photos, YouTube Kids for adults, Anderson Cooper is a ClickHole, and how to schedule your poops.
More Schools Should Ban Smartphones
Schools should ban smartphones from the classroom in order to help kids perform better in exams. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from a study conducted by the London School of Economics. It has been published at a time when, having previously banned smartphones, some schools are starting to lift restrictions.
Titled, Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance [PDF link], the study found that teenagers studying in schools which have banned smartphones perform better by an average of 6.4 percent. This is the equivalent of one hour extra spent in school every week, or, as the LSE put it, the “equivalent of adding five days to the school year.”
This study suggests we should actually be toughening bans on smartphones in schools, especially as students deemed as “low-achieving and low-income” actually saw the biggest improvement (of 14.23 percent) in tests. Thus countering the claims of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who has suggested lifting restrictions on smartphones in schools would reduce inequality.
While this study was carried out in four English cities — London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Leicester — it stands to reason that the results would be replicated elsewhere in the world. Smartphones are obviously a hugely important innovation driving the modern world, but that doesn’t mean they belong in classrooms, where they’re likely to distract students from learning.
Agree? Disagree? Please let us know in the comments below.
President Obama Finally Joins Twitter
Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
Barack Obama has officially joined Twitter, with the U.S. President adopting the username @POTUS. Obama has previously tweeted through the @BarackObama account, but while that is run by staff of Organizing for Action, this new account is believed to be meant for him to use independently.
As stated on the White House Blog, “The @POTUS Twitter account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him. President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them.”
Obama’s first tweet is embedded above, and he has (at the time of writing) sent two more tweets since. Notable people to have tweeted at the President include his wife Michelle and former President Bill Clinton. What happens when Obama leaves office in 2016 remains to be seen.
Google Discovers Time-Lapse Mining
A team comprising engineers from both Google and the University of Washington have discovered what it calls “Time-lapse Mining”. As reported by Engadget, essentially, this method creates time-lapse videos of landmarks and places of interest by stitching together photos uploaded to the Internet.
Images are sourced by Flickr, Picasa, and others, sorted by location, and ordered by date. They are then melded together to create the kind of scenes featured in the video embedded above. Some of these are epic, containing more than 1,000 photographs. Thankfully, the results are breathtaking.
YouTube Kids Not Suitable for Children
YouTube Kids may not be as safe for children as Google intended, at least according to consumer groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. These two groups have already filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but they have now found evidence of some less-than-savory content on the app as well.
As can be seen in the video embedded above, this includes a Family Guy song containing curse words, a guide to red wine, a discussion of legalizing marijuana, and a TED talk about teenage suicide. Google has responded to the claims, telling VentureBeat it “make[s] the videos in YouTube Kids as family-friendly as possible and take[s] feedback very seriously”.
Anderson Cooper Discovers ClickHole
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) May 18, 2015
Until yesterday (May 18) Anderson Cooper had apparently never heard of ClickHole. Now, he’ll never forget the name. This is because Cooper noticed words attributed to him on ClickHole that he maintains he never said. Because he didn’t.
ClickHole is the spoof clickbait site from the same people behind The Onion. It exists to mock the kind of content favored by BuzzFeed and Upworthy . One of the regular features is a succession of made-up quotes by celebrities, and Cooper was recently one of the targets.
After tweeting a denial of uttering the quote, Cooper’s followers clued him into the nature of ClickHole. At which point he graciously took a step back. And to be fair, Cooper isn’t the first celebrity to react in this way, as Russell Crowe did the exact same thing last month.
Deuce Lets You Schedule Your Poop
And finally, we all have to use the toilet on occasion, and this can sometimes get in the way of doing something else more productive. However, with Deuce, taking a poop no longer has to interfere with the rest of your plans for the day.
Deuce is a calendar app designed to help you manage your time better. You just swallow a pill, sync it with your phone, and then plan your day around any impending loo time. Well, you could if Deuce was real, but alas, it’s just a spoof by comedic trio The Bilderbergers.
Deuce may not be real, but there are actual Android apps aimed at helping you pee and poo in comfort and style. Because the truth is often stranger than fiction.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Do you agree that schools should ban smartphones? Will you be following President Obama on Twitter? Are you happy for Google to use your photos for time-lapses? Have your children seen anything inappropriate on YouTube Kids?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credits: Daveynin via Flickr