Tag: children

Security robot runs over kid

Robby the Robot - Wikimedia CommonsParents of a kid who was running around a US shopping mall are furious after he was run over by a security robot.

The security robot was on patrol at the Stanford Shopping Center when it collided with a 16 month kid. The robot ignored the kid and carried on going and the boy’s parents say it ran over his foot.

Tiffany Teng, the kids mum said it was lucky that the child didn’t suffer any broken bones and only had a scrape on his leg.

He was crying like crazy and he never cries. He seldom cries,” Teng said. Harwin’s parents say that a security guard told them another child was hurt from the same robot days before. But then a security guard whose job might be taken away by such driods is hardly an anbiased commentator.

The shopping center introduced the robot last year. It’s designed to alert authorities of abnormal noises, sudden environmental changes, and known criminals.

But the fact that it didn’t seem to detect Harwin is something shoppers find disconcerting.  Of course the fact that he was very small and might have slipped below the radar does not appear to have occured to anyone.

Teng hopes that by sharing the story, other parents will be careful the next time they’re at Stanford Shopping Center. We are all for it, anything that stops parents letting their children run around shopping centres has to be encouraged.  If a killer robot does not put the fear of god into parents so that they hang onto to their precious snowflakes  nothing will.

Not my fault Amazon made my kids rude

babyParents across the world are terrified that Amazon’s Echo is turning their precious little snowflakes into foul-mouthed terrors – it cannot be the parent’s fault of course.

According to QZ.com parents are miffed by their kids’ poor manners when interacting with Alexa, the assistant that lives inside the Amazon Echo.

Avi Greengart said that kids push the virtual assistant further than they would push a human and Alexa points out that the behaviour was rude. As a result the kids think that sort of behaviour is acceptable.

Amazon Echo was a sleeper hit because it could control the smart home, add events to your calendar, summon an Uber, even tell knock-knock jokes. Alexa responds to verbal commands and is incredibly child-friendly.

But parents are worried that the syntax is generally simple and straightforward and it doesn’t exactly reward niceties like “Ps and Qs.” In fact if you are polite it trips up the speaker’s artificial intelligence.

As a result, kids are learning to bark orders at an object loudly and see it comply without question. Of course, that is not how life works, even if that sort of behaviour does get a response from over protective parents.

But parents are fearing that the next generation will get used to screaming orders and expecting them to be obeyed. Pretty much like the four-year old who lives next door does already and they don’t have an Echo.

European Union proposes Facebook shake up

European flagA committee in the European Parliament is considering changing existing legislation so children under the age of 16 would need parental permission to use Facebook, Twitter and the like. There’s a vote to include a late amendment to a bill  this coming Thursday.

The move is intended to protect a child’s personal data. The existing legislation applies to anyone under the age of 13.

But analysts have suggested that such a move would stop young people from learning stuff.

Facebook and other vendors are engaged in a frantic lobbying effort to throw out an amendment that could become law in just a few days.

The amendment has been proposed primarily to stop companies like Facebook from harvesting childrens’ data and using it to sell stuff to them.

Facebook doesn’t exactly saw how it uses peoples’ data but it seems pretty good at popping up ads based on the type of content a person uses.

Computers do not help kids study

42074Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.

A global study from the OECD, penned by Andreas Schleicher says the frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.

The report looked at the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.

It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.

“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Schleicher.

“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says schools have £619m in budgets for ICT, with £95m spent on software and digital content.

But Schleicher says the “impact on student performance is mixed at best”.

•Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
•Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
•The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
•High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
•Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills

“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Schleicher.

Classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.

The study shows “there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students’ performance improved”.

Among the seven countries with the highest level of internet use in school, it found three experienced “significant declines” in reading performance – Australia, New Zealand and Sweden – and three more had results that had “stagnated” – Spain, Norway and Denmark.

The countries and cities with the lowest use of the internet in school – South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan – are among the top performers in international tests.

Forget teens now

delly (1)A UK campaign has launched to promote the concept that kids should be allowed to delete their online past.

Dubbed “iRights”, its proposals allow for young people to be easily edit or delete content they have created online.

The plan is backed by Baroness Shields, the UK’s Minister for Internet Safety and Security. It is based on a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England.

As well as supporting children’s “right to be forgotten”, iRights says young people have a right to digital literacy and should be well informed about how their data might be used.

A host of companies and charities, including Barclays bank, the NSPCC and law firm Schillings, have signed up.

Baroness Shields said, “iRights gives a unique insight into how government can join with technology companies, civil society and business to make a better digital world for young people.

Rachel O’Connell, a government adviser and founder of Trustelevate.com, said the proposals largely represented EU laws that would come into force over the next few years.

O’Connell said young people were increasingly becoming wise to the need to protect their privacy and identify online.

“There is a movement among children and young people reclaiming what they can privacy, ownership of their body and images of them online,” she said.

Ian Walden, a legal expert at Queen Mary University of London, said companies often needed prompting before they took privacy issues seriously.

“Many of the companies out there that we know and love are making huge amounts of money from children,” he said.


Facebook plague doomed to die out

Social notworking site Facebook has similarities with an infectious disease and is likely to die off in exactly the same way.

Tesearchers at Princeton have devised a model that predicts Facebook will lose 80 percent of its users by 2017 by drawing similarities between Facebook’s rapid adoption and the proliferation of an infectious disease.

John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler wrote in an article recently posted to the preprint database arXiv that ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out.

Epidemiological models can be used to explain user adoption and abandonment of online social networks, “where adoption is analogous to infection and abandonment is analogous to recovery.”

They based their models on data that reflect the number of times “Facebook” has been typed into Google as a search term.

Google Trends reveals that these weekly “search queues” reached a peak in December of 2012, and have since begun to level off.

If you put these figures into a modified SIR model for the spread of infectious disease you get a nice chart which suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 per cent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.

The researchers tested their model by comparing the same sort of curve against data compiled for the failed social notworking site MySpace and found there as nearly a perfect match.

“It is reasonable to assume that Facebook’s position at the crest of the recent wave of social-media dependence has raised it above the plane on which the infectious-disease equivalence holds true. That’s not to say Facebook won’t die out, or be supplanted by some other, even more immense online social network, it’s just to say that it probably won’t play out in the way these models are predicting. In Facebook, we have ourselves a plague the likes of which the world has never known,” the report said.

On that basis, Facebook’s only chance is to mutate into something else and then it can carry on giving people a nasty rash. 

Facebook is losing its youth

Social notworking site Facebook is losing the hearts and minds of the young, according to new figures.

Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, an anthropologist who worked on the research, wrote in an article for academic news website The Conversation that his study of how teenagers use social media has found that Facebook is “not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried”.

He said that Facebook is morphing into a tool for keeping in touch with older family members and younger people see Facebook as ‘uncool’.

Kinds of today prefer simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat. The only time you will see a teen on there is to stay in touch with older relatives, Miller said.

Miller said that most teens feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.

This year marked the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline of what had been the most pervasive of all social networking sites.

Once parents were worried about their children joining Facebook, and now it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives.

This years Global Social Media Impact Study, which was funded by the European Union, observed 16 to 18 year olds in eight countries for 15 months and found that Facebook use was in freefall. Instead, young people are turning to simpler services like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp which Professor Miller conceded were “no match” for Facebook in terms of functionality.

“Most of the school children in our survey recognised that in many ways, Facebook is technically better than Twitter or Instagram. It is more integrated, better for photo albums, organising parties and more effective for observing people’s relationships,” said Professor Miller, adding that “slick isn’t always best” in attracting young users.

WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the number one way to send messages and Snapchat has gained in popularity in recent months by allowing users to send images which “self-destruct” after a short period on the recipients phone in order to maintain privacy. 

China cracks down on t'internet

British Prime Minster David Cameron has found support for his internet crackdown from the People’s Republic of China.

Cameron has been attempting to get some support for his “filter the internet to save society as we know it” campaign and it seems that he has received backing from the Chinese.

According to IT World, China is moving to tighten its grip over social networking services even more, claiming the government is being destabilised. China has a large amount of online censorship and there had been hopes that the new leadership in the country might lessen it.

However the government instead just thinks that it is not efficient enough. A report said that there are too many different overseeing departments, resulting in inconsistencies and a lack of efficiency.

The government referred to the growing popularity of Chinese social networking and instant messaging tools as a major worry because the services can spread information and mobilize society quickly.

Named and shamed by the Chinese was Weixin, a mobile chatting app developed by local Internet giant Tencent. The app has taken China by storm, and boasts over 200 million monthly average users. Outside of the country, the app is better known as WeChat.

Like Cameron, China’s plans include changing regulatory systems, and increase the scope of their legal authority.

While David Cameron talks about filters preventing witches from talking about their religion online, the Chinese authorities have been cracking down on internet users for fabricating rumours. 

UK losing internet crime battle

While UK Prime Minister David “tough on masturbation, tough on the causes of masturbation” Cameron is trying to rustle up support for his internet porn filter, it appears that cyber crime levels are going through the roof.

Cameron wants people’s attention to focus on purging the internet from anything he does not like, while at the same time ignoring a very real cyber threat.

The Home Affairs Committee, which scrutinises the government’s domestic policy, called for the government to set up a “state-of-the-art espionage response team” to encourage companies, banks and institutions to report hacking attempts to uncover the full extent of online crime.

According to Reuters, the Committee said it was concerned that there appears to be a ‘black hole’ where low-level e-crime is committed with impunity.

Cyber crime policing needed to be merged into a new unified structure as part of a shakeup of the country’s policing structure, but the report added this was just the first stage to tackle a very real problem.

Cameron’s answer is to tighten up online pornography laws and demanded that internet firms block access to child abuse images. Of course that is not going to stop cyber crime but will help some tabloids gloat about their campaign victories.

The Committee said the government is still too complacent about cybercrime, ranging from identity fraud and data theft to the spreading of illegal images and extremist material.

Opposition MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the bipartisan committee, said that it’s clear the UK isn’t winning the war on online criminal activity.

He said that you can steal more on the internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target.

Part of the problem is Cameron’s other obsession with isolating itself from EU-wide justice measures designed to tackle the problem. However, EU members were also slammed for not doing enough to stop attacks too. 

David Cameron's porn law an all-around disaster

David “tough on masturbation, tough on the causes of masturbation” Cameron has admitted that his crack-pot crusade to purge the net from porn is about as effective as a chocolate teapot.

According to the Daily Telegraph , Cameron is getting much mockery over his plan to save children from the perils of porn, but he will press ahead with it anyway.

He already had to climb down after it was pointed out that the Sun should be filtered for running page three.  Cameron needs Sun readers.

The problem is that if page three is not banned then the internet filter is going to be completely arbitrary and pointless and won’t prevent children from seeing naked women at all.

If it was possible for Cameron to look even more ignorant and disconnected with this law he certainly managed it.

His cunning plan was based around the idea that ISPs had agreed to introduce family-friendly filters that automatically block pornography unless customers chose to opt out. Unfortunately it was fairly clear that the ISPs had done no such thing, and some were still lobbying the government to tell it to sling its hook.

Cameron’s plans were criticised by anti-censorship groups, who warned that sites about sexual health and sexuality could get caught up in the ban. Other critics warned that censorship sets a dangerous precedent, is more about control, and that the government could go further than pornography.

While Cameron was thinking “what about the children” he failed to realise that the technology to ban internet porn was impossible. Anyone who wants to watch porn will simply use a proxy site in another country and the whole thing will be a waste of time.

Take, for example, blocking the Pirate Bay. Although ISPs must legally oblige, a simple Google search will get anyone who wants it to a proxy in seconds.

Cameron admitted that there might be a few “problems down the line” with the system particularly as he has already ruled out “soft” or written pornography from the scheme entirely.

This makes any internet filter, short of the great firewall of China, technologically unviable. Even in China it is still possible for people to see porn.

To make matters worse the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, said Cameron’s plan to tackle child abuse images by removing results from search engines like Google would be “laughed at” by paedophiles.

Paedophiles get their porn from peer-to-peer, not from Google, and arrests are too few.

Gamble said that if Cameron really wanted to protect kids from paedophiles he should be investing money in child protection teams, victim support and policing on the ground.

Under Cameron’s plans all households will have to “opt out” of automatic porn filters, which would come as standard with internet broadband and cover all devices in a house.

Possession of the “most extreme forms of porn” will become an offence, while online content will have the same restrictions as DVDs sold in sex shops.

Search engines have been told they will have to redact results from specific searches, while anyone accessing websites shut down by the police for containing such images will see a message warning them that what they are doing is illegal.

But it is fairly clear that Cameron really did not have a clue which legal sites should be banned by the filters and was blaming the technology for having weaknesses.

Talking to the Beeb, Cameron claimed that the filters could evolve over time. He thinks that companies are going to design what is automatically blocked.

What’s more alarming is that Cameron wanted to create marital strife by embarrassing “a husband” who wanted to see porn. Never mind that a “husband” also might not like the idea of Cameron censoring his internet connection.

Cameron’s moves are even hitting at his own conservative core. While there are the usual Daily Heil readers who want everything to be banned other than pictures of royal babies, many conservatives see censorship as a nanny state intervention.

As Daniel Foster, founder of web hosting company 34SP, pointed out, claiming porn is ‘corroding childhood’ is particularly extreme. Since Cameron criticised Labour for operating a nanny state, this reeks of hypocrisy, he said.

Cameron was even attacked by one of his former female MPs, Louise Mensch, for attempting to ban video containing rape simulation.

She suggested such fantasies were common in more than half of all women and it was not up to the government to police that.

Cameron will have his work cut out explaining why he is making such an incredibly unpopular move for absolutely no political advantage at all. Similar moves in Australia were abandoned because they were seen as too politically stupid – and they didn’t work anyway.