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Alibaba opens e-commerce platform to sellers outside of China

AliExpress, which solely consists of third-party retailers, is notable for selling items at “too good to be true” prices, such as 49-cent iPhone cases or counterfeit luxury handbags for a few US dollars. Last year, AliExpress registered a 94 percent spike in sales. “This year is the first year for our ‘local to global’ strategy,” said Trudy Dai, president of AliExpress to FT. “This strategy is intimately connected to Alibaba’s broader globalization strategy.”

Alibaba’s global expansion is a direct aim at Amazon, which is currently the world’s largest online retailer. But Alibaba’s presence in China is unrivaled, and the country is expected to surpass the US this year as the biggest retail market in the world. Meanwhile, Amazon has struggled to make much of an impact in China, where shoppers prefer Alibaba and JD.com. Last month, Amazon announced it was shuttering its Chinese domestic e-commerce business.

Facebook co-founder urges FTC to break up the company

“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks,” Hughes wrote. “There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”

He called Zuckerberg’s dominion over speech the most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power. Zuckerberg holds 60 percent of Facebook voting shares, and effectively has full control over the company. However, the Federal Trade Commission may be exploring ways to make Zuckerberg personally accountable for his leadership of the business.

Hughes left Facebook in 2007 to work on Barack Obama’s election campaign, and liquidated his Facebook shares in 2012. Still, he feels “a sense of responsibility to account for the damage done.” He expressed contrition over Facebook’s role in shaping the public discourse, and his disappointment “in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders.”

Zuckerberg earlier this year suggested some ideas for internet regulations, suggesting that his company is somewhat open to oversight. However, Hughes expressed skepticism over that stance. “I don’t think these proposals were made in bad faith,” he wrote. “But I do think they’re an attempt to head off the argument that regulators need to go further and break up the company. Facebook isn’t afraid of a few more rules. It’s afraid of an antitrust case and of the kind of accountability that real government oversight would bring.”

The government has to intervene on two fronts, Hughes said. The first is breaking up Facebook by forcing it to reverse its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and spin them out into separate companies. That, he believes, would lead to “real competition around social media and digital messaging.” The second step is a new federal agency to “protect Americans from the overreach of Facebook and other companies like it.”

But time is of the essence to break up Facebook, he noted. It’s in the process of combining messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Once that happens, Hughes said it would be more difficult for the Federal Trade Commission to untangle them and split up the services.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has revealed plans to morph Facebook into more of a “privacy-focused” platform. The company has, of course, faced myriad privacy scandals in recent times. It reportedly told the FTC it would be open to larger oversight of its data-collection practices — as long as it ended an investigation into its privacy failures.

How to buy tech gifts for other people’s kids


Xbox One X

No, not your budget. Obviously you should only buy within your means (and kids don’t care what you spent anyway). I’m talking about the budget of the kid’s parents here. You don’t want to be rolling in with an Xbox One X when Santa could only afford some toy blocks or a pointy princess hat. That kind of petty showmanship should be left to noncustodial parents after a bad divorce. Talk to your friends or family and find out what kind of budget they’re working with and how expensive an item they might be willing to take into their home. If they’re comfortable with you being the adult who gives the kids a big-ticket item like a game console or television, knock yourself out. If not, lower your cash outlay a bit.


Labo VR

Look, a lot of tech products are about the ecosystem. Are you an iOS or Android person? Xbox or PlayStation? That sort of applies to kids too, though in a different way. Obviously you shouldn’t buy them games for a system they don’t own or gift cards for a store they don’t shop at. But in a lot of cases you need to find out if they even have a device at all: There’s no point in buying them an app-controlled RC car when they don’t have a phone or tablet. On top of that, there’s the screen-time consideration. Are the kids only allowed to play video games for an hour each night or just permitted to use a device on car trips? Find out the rules in the home and work with them. Honestly your best bet is to get something that doesn’t require a screen when possible. Ones that get the kid outside will probably thrill parents. Gifts that can be easily shared with a sibling are key too: Two-player games will go a lot further and avoid fights over who gets to play first. On that note, buying a family an extra controller for their system is a great idea.

It’s important to keep in mind suggested age groups for products as well, and not just for the kid you’re giving the gift to. Does the product say 10+ but there’s a six-year-old in the house as well? Despite everyone’s best intentions and efforts, that kid is going to end up messing with it at some point; that’s just how younger siblings work. In these cases, try to avoid things that are easily smashed or have small parts. Otherwise the gift recipient will end up with a broken heart and a lifetime of resentment toward their brother or sister (I’m still salty about my Super Soaker, James).

If you’re buying a STEM gift that requires some parental assistance, you better be sure that the parents actually have time to help their kid out; otherwise it’s just going to sit in the box. In these cases you could also make a gift of your time and offer to babysit or otherwise spend a few hours with them and their new toys. Parents will appreciate you taking their kids off their hands for a little while, and it’ll make the gift more meaningful since it’ll have a nice memory attached to it.


Lego Spike Prime

We want to teach kids teamwork, and you can probably do that with some fun co-op games or a large building product like a LEGO set. But teamwork will also serve you well when giving gifts. If in talking to your friend or family member about what their kids like, they happen to mention that they’re buying their kid a new game system or a tablet, jump on that. And we don’t mean a financial contribution (though that’s nice too). Buy add-ons for the big gift that make it even better, because if the kid is getting a big present that they’re bound to be excited about, any other thoughtful but ultimately small trinket might fall by the wayside.

To avoid that, get something that the kid can enjoy in tandem with the big-ticket item. That includes obvious purchases like new games, but additional game controllers and app-controlled toys will get a lot of play. Avoid overly practical gifts like cases, as they’re basically like socks — nice to have but ultimately boring. If you insist on doing it, try to tuck a small surprise inside, like a figurine of their favorite video game or anime character.

Cases also make great packaging for gift cards. They might seem like a lazy gift, but with so much digital content out there, kids will appreciate having the extra scratch so they won’t have to beg their parents to buy them Fortnite skins.


LEGO Hidden Side

You give a child their birthday present and they’re super excited, but hours later you find it abandoned on the floor. It’s a pretty common tale, one that afflicts analog and digital gifts alike. We’ve already discussed some of the ways you can avoid this — gifts that compliment each other or add new value to something that they already have and enjoy are sure wins. Amiibo are nice gifts for kids who have Nintendo systems, and children with big LEGO collections always like having more parts to build with.

If purchasing a STEM kit, make sure it’s not single use. The kid should either be able to disassemble the pieces to build something else or the toy they’ve just built should be good for long-term fun. Sure, building their own guitar or synth might be interesting, but what if the kid isn’t into music? And what fun is a robot that can only do one thing? The end result of all that labor should also be entertaining.

Save outdoor toys like drones for the summer, and focus on indoor activities in the winter; otherwise the kid will quickly lose excitement and forget about the nice gift you just gave them. Remember that there are opportunities aside from the winter holidays and birthdays to give gifts: The end of school is an event worth celebrating, for example, and children have plenty of free time at that point to enjoy things like complicated coding kits.

Also: Buy batteries. A lot of toys still run on batteries, and when you’re a kid there’s never enough in the house. Make life easier for the kids (and their parents) by including a supply of batteries to keep toys running for a few months.



Always, always, always check to see how noisy a gift will be once it’s powered up and assembled as well as whether it can be easily turned off. No use in getting something that will drive parents up the wall with incessant beeping and wailing: It’ll end up tossed in a closet with the battery pulled out. So don’t do it unless you have some kind of vendetta against your family or friends. However, if this is the route you must take, may we suggest you buy the kid a drum kit instead? No batteries required, and the kids will love it.

The best tech gifts for kids

Moonlite Starter Pack — The Very Hungry Caterpillar Edition

It’s important to read to kids. It helps their literacy skills and lets parent and child bond in the process. It’s best done with a paper book, because those are more tactile and leave less opportunities for distraction. But for those times when the allure of a device is too strong or you’re reading to a large group of children, Moonlite hits a sweet spot. You snap the small projector onto your phone, then insert a story reel containing a classic picture book like Goodnight Moon or The Little Prince. Moonlite will project the story’s vibrant illustrations onto a nearby wall while accompanying them with sound and music to create an immersive experience that might actually get the little ones excited for bedtime.

National Geographic Kids

Children are naturally curious about the world around them, so why not satisfy their curiosity with a near monthly dose of knowledge, delivered straight to their mailbox? Each issue contains plenty of articles about science, technology and the natural world as well as games and other activities to keep them busy. But perhaps the greatest present of all will be the novelty of getting something physical in the mail, a rarity for a generation of children who get most of their information digitally. Print isn’t dead, and magazines like National Geographic Kids are a good way to show them why adults love paper so much.

Highlights magazine

Yep, that magazine you used to read in dentist waiting rooms is still around. And yes, it still publishes Goofus and Gallant comics. Though this magazine has been in print for almost 80 years, it’s evolved over the decades, and current issues carry plenty of articles about science and technology as well as crafts, recipes and puzzles. (Oh yeah, Hidden Pictures is still a thing.) The magazine also encourages reader submissions, so it’s a great opportunity for some kids to see their work in print. And there’s no advertising — something parents will appreciate in a consumer-driven world where their kid’s attention is increasingly monetized.

Overwatch Pachimari 3D Mood Light

Gifts don’t always have to be toys or games to be appreciated. They can even be a little practical without your resorting to boring presents like (ugh) socks. If a kid really likes a particular video game, you can pick up some kind of branded decoration for their room, which they’ll appreciate every time they go in there. If their game of choice is Overwatch, this adorable little mood light will look nice on a shelf next to all their Funko Pops (because every kid has Pops now) or next to their bed if they need a nightlight… even if they’d never admit it.


Robots for kids tend to come as fully assembled toys or complex kits meant to teach the basics of coding. Mattel’s Kamigami line of bug-shaped robots aims for the middle ground there, with a moderately easy-to-assemble kit that doesn’t require any tools. The bots even skitter around like real insects, making them a lot more fun to watch than a standard RC car and certainly a lot safer (and harder to lose) than a drone. And if you did want the kid to learn a bit of STEM from their new toy, there is a rudimentary coding section of the app that allows children to program movements for their bug and even train it to do a little dance that they’ll be sure to show off to all their relatives at family gatherings.

Tech Will Save Us Light Racer Kit

Kids love to decorate their bikes with things like stickers, streamers and reflectors. And parents love when their kids are riding their bikes instead of, say, running around the house driving everyone up the wall. So the Tech Will Save Us Light Racer Kit is a gift guaranteed to make both sides happy while also imparting a bit of STEM know-how. Children are tasked with building an electromagnetic light with easy-to-follow instructions that will teach them about things like coils, emitters and capacitors. In the end they’ll have a nifty light that flashes as the wheel goes round and round — DIY bling for their ride.

PowerUp Dart

Maybe drones are the hot thing right now, but they’re not exactly the best gift: They can wander into other people’s yards or hit other kids in the face, and in some places they’re not even legal to fly, thanks to airspace restrictions. The PowerUp Dart is still a drone, but it’s also a paper airplane. It’s small and light, and kids have to put it together themselves (with plenty of room for customization). It’s a great example of how a classic toy can be updated for the tech age. You might even get some great bonding moments as parent and child watch it do tricks the former could only dream of when they were young.

Air Hogs Extreme Air Boards

If you ever played with three-inch GI Joe figurines as a kid, the Extreme Air Boards will invoke a sense of nostalgia for you. They bear a faint resemblance to those figures but with the notable addition of two rotors on a board so the little stuntman can fly through the air. Each set comes with two modes: The stunt boarder can do cool spins and flips in the air, and attaching the paraglider lets it fly faster and farther like a more traditional drone. It’s basically two toys in one, both of which will make welcome additions to the kid’s next action figure adventure.

8BitDo SN30

Controllers are expensive, and systems often come only come with one in the package. So families with multiple kids will always appreciate help with avoiding a fight over who gets to play next. And while an extra set of the standard Joy-Cons might be useful, the SN30 can be a nice addition to any Switch setup, thanks to its array of buttons and comfortable grip. Kids will like having more options for playing their favorite games (new or old) while parents might be moved by the retro feel of this SNES-inspired gamepad.

Overcooked 2

A valuable skill for kids to learn is teamwork. But they usually only get to practice it in sports or class projects. Instead, give them this cartoonish cooking game so they can learn cooperation and coordination by battling their way through a series of increasingly complicated and delightfully weird kitchens. It’s available for all the major systems, and up to four players can join in on the fun, which makes it a great purchase once you’ve picked up a few extra controllers for the kids. Or even their parents, because families should learn to work together, right?

Mowin’ and Throwin’

It’s hard to get kids to do yard work, and they usually do a terrible job anyway. But asking them to do virtual yard work is a lot easier, especially when they get to compete against their siblings and friends in a no-holds-barred lawn battle where grass is mowed and rocks and fertilizer are thrown. One-on-one or two-on-two matches are available, making this great for groups of varying sizes. Sometimes you might not be able to get the kids to go outside, but at least you can get them playing in the same room together, thanks to local co-op play.

The dos and don’ts of helping your kid to sleep

Do: Limit exposure to blue light

Blue light is a part of the visible spectrum close to UV, which sends signals to our brain that it’s time to be awake. We use this light in its natural form to maintain our circadian rhythms, and in its absence, we know it’s time to sleep. In the redder light of the sunset, our brains know it’s time to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps us get a full night of sleep.

Unfortunately, we don’t stop using lightbulbs, TVs and smart devices just because the sun goes down. The extra exposure to all this blue light suppresses our melatonin production, stretching out the day and compressing the night. It’s bad for adults, but exposing children to blue light has severe consequences for their development.

That’s why it’s important to set clear limits for your older kids so that they’re not watching TV, using mobile devices or playing on consoles in the hours immediately before bedtime. It’s also worth using nighttime filters on all devices and shifting your smart lights to redder hues in the evening to encourage our bodies to switch into sleep mode. There’s a relationship between disrupted sleep and ADHD-related symptoms, which improved when children wore blue-light-blocking goggles.

Do: Use a sleep-training clock

cute girl reaching out for alarm clock

Kids don’t respect the difference between day and night, and they can often wake you up in the middle of the night for no reason. Until they’re able to read and tell the time, they’re often left not knowing why you’re so groggy and/or mad when they call for you at 3 AM. That’s why a sleep-training clock can be useful to help them understand when it’s appropriate to call for you.

These devices often use a combination of simple pictures and colored lights to explain when it’s time to be asleep and awake. And if the lights are bright enough, they can pull double duty as a nightlight to help them feel secure at night. As they get older and can get up on their own, you’ll be able to let them know that it’s OK to quietly keep themselves occupied until you wake up.

Don’t: Overstimulate

Cute boy watching cartoon

Too much TV can harm a child’s development, both by depriving them of human interaction and by exposing them to content they’re not ready for. A lot of people are happy to put their kid in front of YouTube Kids, despite the obvious concerns about the content. A little bit of TV is fine, but it’s probably best not to leave them in front of it for hours.

Young brains need time to wind down and get ready to sleep, which is why kids don’t nod off 10 minutes after TV time ends. Plus, most kids’ TV shows are high energy, which is hardly conducive to creating a calm, sleepy atmosphere. Researchers have shown several times over that there’s a link between evening media consumption and poor sleep.

If you want your kids to sleep, it’s good to turn off the TV at least an hour before you put them down for the night. And it’s probably best not to let them watch hours of TV anyway. Experts say that kids under the age of two should watch nothing at all. Even after that point, researchers believe that your children shouldn’t be given unfettered access to a screen until they’re at least five.

Don’t: Trap your kids in an addiction loop

Two Friends Playing Video Game, at Night

If you’ve ever wondered why refreshing an app feels a lot like playing a one-armed bandit, blame Loren Brichter. The developer created the pull-to-refresh gesture back in 2008 to avoid adding a dedicated refresh button to his Twitter app, Tweetie. It’s emblematic of a wider trend, as tech products are designed to seduce you into giving them all of your free time.

Social apps, mobile games and even high-price console titles are all designed to create reward loops. Essentially, reward loops are short, easily replicable actions that cause your brain to secrete the “reward” hormone, dopamine. Every time you match three candies on Candy Crush Saga, complete a video game level or refresh your social feed, you’re in a loop.

It’s easy enough for adults to get hooked on these short bursts of dopamine, and we’re always playing just one more level of a game. Now imagine how hard it is for kids, who struggle to control their behavior at the best of times. Much like with TV and mobile-device use more generally, a good solution is to avoid playing games close to bedtime. Set limits, and ideally, avoid kids having these devices in their bedrooms at night until they’re mature enough to be responsible.

All of this is proof that technology can hurt your kids’ sleep if used improperly. Hell, it’s bad for adults, so we could all do with a lesson in managing our screen time responsibly. The best possible thing you can do is minimize your kids’ exposure to technology, especially in the hour or two before bedtime. Whatever the inconveniences, it’ll be worth it when they’re getting to sleep, and letting you do the same.

Images: kwanchaichaiudom via Getty Images (Child with Alarm Clock); jovan_epn via Getty Images (Overstimulated child); MilicaStankovic via Getty Images (Boys playing games)

FCC denies China Mobile’s bid to provide services in the US

In a statement, Pai further argued that China Mobile was “vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control” by virtue of the Chinese government’s ownership. And when the Chinese are involved in both hacking campaigns and stealing intellectual property, there was a good chance China Mobile would “seriously jeopardize” American interests through surveillance and other activities.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, meanwhile, cautioned that this didn’t really help national security. The application had been had been on pause from the start, she said — rejecting it didn’t change that the FCC was “doing too little” to address network security and safety.

The decision wasn’t surprising. The current US government has been cracking down on Chinese companies over security fears, leveling repeated (though publicly unproven) accusations that companies like Huawei are conduits for Chinese spying. It wasn’t likely to be any more conciliatory with China Mobile, especially when the network is unambiguously linked to the Chinese government.

The best alternatives to YouTube Kids

PBS Kids (ages 3 and up)

The PBS Kids app is my favorite option when my son wants to watch something on a phone or tablet. It’s available on Android, iOS and Kindle Fire, so you should be able to access it on any device you take out of the house. Beyond being a safe space content-wise, the software is designed so that kids can easily navigate it. The app offers a live feed to whatever’s on the air at the moment in addition to a wealth of on-demand episodes. The likes of Daniel Tiger, Curious George, Clifford, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street are all there. And if you want to beam that stuff to a bigger screen, the app offers both Chromecast and Airplay connectivity (under adult supervision, of course). And the best part: It’s free.

Amazon FreeTime (ages 3 and up)

Amazon’s option is great, especially if you own the kid version of the Kindle Fire tablet. It’s a $2.99 monthly subscription (on top of Prime), but that gives you access to more than 20,000 popular apps, games, videos, books and Audible books. There’s also educational content from the likes of PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney and more. And when you buy one of the tablets, you get a year of FreeTime included.

FreeTime goes beyond the regular streaming app. There are features like locking videos and games until educational goals are met — things like reading time, for example. There’s also a host of parental controls, like setting the age range for content, and there’s no access to social media, the internet or in-app purchases without your approval. You can also add content from Netflix, YouTube and more as you see fit. And as you might expect, your kid can watch kid-friendly Amazon originals like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Tumble Leaf and The Stinky & Dirty Show.

You don’t have to buy a Kindle Fire, though; FreeTime is also available on Android and iOS.

Netflix Kids (ages 3 and up)

It’s true that Netflix has a lot of good stuff for kids… if you’re careful. The dedicated Kids section is relatively safe, and you can set an age rating on individual profiles. However, you’ll want to keep tabs on what’s popping up there to make sure it’s age appropriate. The first row of content is characters, so you and your child can easily search for what they want to watch rather than trying to help them “read” rows of show title cards. Trolls, Talking Tom, Super Why!, PJ Masks and other popular titles are all here. However, be warned that there are also things like Boss Baby and Captain Underpants that might not be the best for the youngest viewers.

More specifically, if you opt for “Little Kids” on your content setting, you’ll only see items rated G, TV-Y and TV-G.: in other words, content suitable for all ages. When you bump it up to “Older Kids,” you get PG, TV-Y7, TV-Y7-FV and TV-PG: the stuff you’ll probably want to keep an eye on.

Netflix is currently pushing its Our Planet series in the Kids section. Sure, it’s great educational TV and probably fine for the most part, but the streaming service has already issued warnings for the more graphic portions of episodes. Proceed with caution.

Things like Our Planet popping up are also the main reason to not use a regular profile for your child. Stick to the Kids section or make sure you set an age rating for any profile you create for your child. I’m speaking from experience here. If Netflix is hyping a new show, it usually shows up even if you haven’t watched anything similar — like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Punisher. This is likely due to set categories like Crime TV Shows that show up on all “regular” profiles, but still, it’s not what you want your kids to watch on Netflix. Take it from someone who learned the hard way when his son almost saw an episode of The OA and stick to Netflix Kids.

DisneyNOW (ages 4 and up)

Disney is definitely getting in on the kid-friendly streaming action. DisneyNOW offers content from Disney Channel, Disney XD and Radio Disney. For younger viewers, there’s stuff from Disney Junior. When you first sign up, your child can pick “favorites” based on a selection of character thumbnails. Shows are arranged in a Netflix-esque grid of images, so it’s easy to find what you’re after. There’s also a selection of games, Disney Channel originals and access to whatever’s on live TV at the moment — much like PBS Kids. Some of the content here is completely free, but you’ll need a TV-provider log-in for full access.

Cartoon Network (ages 9 and up)

For older kids, Cartoon Network has a ton of apps. Many of them are character- or show-specific, but there’s also a main Cartoon Network app for streaming, available on iOS, Android and Amazon. There are some full episodes of nostalgia-inducing classics like Powerpuff Girls available as well as new hits like Teen Titans Go!, The Amazing World of Gumball and Steven Universe without a subscription-TV account. But to unlock everything it has to offer, you’ll need a cable/TV log-in.

Nickelodeon (ages 4 and up)

Nick, as the kids call it these days, has three apps: Nick, Nick Jr. and Noggin. While Nick and Nick Jr. offer full access with a TV log-in, Noggin is actually a $7.99 monthly subscription. For the commitment, you’ll get a host of content for preschoolers, including age-appropriate shows, interactive videos and more that cover things like numbers, shapes, letters/sounds, music, art and manners. Plus, Paw Patrol, Blue’s Clues, Peppa Pig, The Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer and more are all here. It’s available for iOS, Android, Amazon and Roku.

There’s a literal ton of options for kid-friendly content, and these are just a few of the better ones. As with anything your kid consumes, it’s important that you pay close attention to what these apps are serving up and take action when there’s something you’d rather not have them watch. Not every app will work for every family, and that’s OK, but it’s worth taking the time to find out what works for you. And it’s most important to find what you can trust to not show your kids something inappropriate or downright terrifying.

The parents of Engadget on the big (and often gimmicky) world of baby tech

Here at Engadget, we don’t do Mother’s Day gift guides. Nor Father’s Day either. But as the site has grown up over the past 15 years, so has our staff. Whereas we used to just have one or two token parents on the team, we now have around half a dozen, each of whom has some strong opinions about where tech does (and doesn’t) belong in child-rearing. In our not-Mother’s Day guide launching today, our resident moms and dads sift through the sometimes-gimmicky world of parenting tech — a growing class of products that promise to make kids safer, healthier and in some cases smarter.

Throughout, the parents of Engadget weigh in on what to buy, and what to skip, and along the way make recommendations on things like kids’ streaming services, STEM kits, techie sleep aids, tools for managing screen time and tips on how to raise a good internet citizen. And for those of you who don’t have kids of your own but still know a few, we’ll tell you how to buy tech toys for someone else’s children without making enemies of their parents (nothing like a loud gadget to ruin a friendship!). Find our series here — and yes, you should probably call your mom this weekend.

A parent’s guide to raising a good digital citizen

By now you’ve probably heard the term “digital citizenship” batted around, especially when it comes to kids and technology. But what is it exactly? And why should you care?

Well, there’s The Matrix scenario… But perhaps more realistically, you should care because your kids are growing up digitally and will likely interact with the digital world in some capacity on most days of their lives. It’s probably a good idea for them to know how to function as positive, thoughtful, productive, creative, kind humans in said world, no?

Think back to that “good citizenship” award you may have received in elementary school. You know, the one you got for showing that you valued education, participated in your community, listened, asked questions, stood up for others and learned how to politely disagree. Being a good citizen is all about contributing to the good of society, maybe even making it a bit better for future generations.

Lay on the digital and boom: You have digital citizenship.

Being a good digital citizen means being a responsible one: educating yourself and your kids about the digital world, participating in it in positive ways, questioning it and using technology as a tool to make the world a bit brighter (and not in some post-apocalyptic-neon-shroom-cloud way).

How do kids learn digital citizenship? The same way they learn how to be good citizens: They watch good role models, and they practice. As a mom, I try to be one of those role models and give them opportunities to practice, with, admittedly, a pretty tight leash. I do the best I can. I make mistakes. Sometimes, I’m annoying. Sometimes, I need help finding the right resources.

Not sure where to start with digital citizenship? The important thing is to start somewhere. Here are three tools that work for me.

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media

My go-to for all things digital literacy and kids is likely your best starting point. While most of its info is geared toward teachers, its eight main topics help me guide my kids in using the internet as responsibly as they can.

Do I hit on all of these with my kids? No. They’re five and seven. I try, in my ceaseless, annoying way, to talk about internet safety, relationships and communication, digital footprint, and reputation. The rest? I use Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Resources for the Home. Its five key talking points are spot-on.

  • Be kind
  • Keep things private
  • Don’t believe everything you see
  • Don’t overshare
  • Stand up for others

I like these because they’re helpful guidelines for general decency on or offline, and Common Sense Media does a nice job breaking down how to talk to preschool through high school age kids. There’s also a cool printable download. When we’re sitting around looking at stuff online, I come back to these talking points repeatedly.

Of all the concepts on this list, oversharing is perhaps the hardest to teach kids, mostly because they’re constantly taught that being kind means sharing and that sharing is, ostensibly, a good thing. My children, overachievers both, think that if sharing is good, then too much sharing is better. Not quite.

Digital Citizenship

I explain it this way: “It’s OK to share a favorite book with a friend, right? But it’s not OK to share all of your favorite books all at once, is it? Too many books all at once! Your friend won’t know what to look at first!”

“But I don’t share books on the internet!” they say.

“No, of course not. The point is this: Don’t share too much all at once. Ever. Online or in person. If you’re ever confused about how much is too much, ask me.”

And you know what? They do. They also like talking about the differences between online and in person, which are good conversations to start now, during all this supervised internet time.

Common Sense Media also offers some helpful Family Engagement Resources that feature great videos and articles on ways to encourage positive digital citizenship at home — everything from using a cell phone responsibly to combating cyberbullying.

Check out its razor-sharp ratings for apps, games, movies and television too!

Windows 10 update pushes Microsoft closer to a password-free future

This means, on Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft users will be able to login with facial-recognition and fingerprint sensors. The biometrics will grant users access to programs like Outlook.com, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live on the PC and more. With more than 800 million active Windows 10 devices, the impact will be widespread.

This is the company’s latest push to do away with passwords. “No one likes passwords (except hackers,” Microsoft’s Yogesh Mehta wrote in a blog post. Last month, the company revealed that password expiration policies are useless and removed them from its Windows 10 v1903 security baseline settings. Now, Microsoft is encouraging other companies and software developers to commit to a similar password-free approach.