Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Dozens of US schools, universities move to ban TikTok

Dozens of US schools, universities move to ban TikTok

The TikTok social media app has raised concerns about cybersecurity and online safety. Future Publishing via Getty Images
Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

A growing number of public schools and colleges in the U.S. are moving to ban TikTok – the popular Chinese-owned social media app that allows users to share short videos.

They are following the lead of the federal government and several states, that are banishing the social media app because authorities believe foreign governments – specifically China – could use the app to spy on Americans.

The app is created by ByteDance, which is based in China and has ties to the Chinese government.

The University of Oklahoma, Auburn University in Alabama and 26 public universities and colleges in Georgia have banned the app from campus Wi-Fi networks. Montana’s governor has asked the state’s university system to ban it.

Some K-12 schools have also blocked the app. Public schools in Virginia’s Stafford, Prince William and Loudoun counties have banned TikTok on school-issued devices and schools’ Wi-Fi networks. Louisiana’s state superintendent of education recommended that schools in the state remove the app from public devices and block it on school-issued devices.

As a researcher who specializes in cybersecurity, I don’t believe these schools are overreacting. TikTok captures user data in a way that is more aggressive than other apps.

The version of TikTok that is raising all these concerns is not available in China itself. In an effort to protect Chinese students from the harmful effects of social media, the Chinese Communist Party has issued a rule that limits the time students can spend on TikTok to 40 minutes a day. And they can view only videos with a patriotic theme or educational content such as science experiments and museum exhibits.

Aggressive tactics to capture and harvest user data

All major social media platforms raise privacy concerns and include security risks for users.

But TikTok does more than the rest. Its default privacy settings allow the app to collect much more information than the app needs to actually function.

Every hour, the app accesses users’ contact lists and calendars. It also collects the location of devices used to access the service and can scan hard drives attached to any of those devices.

If a user changes privacy settings to avoid that scrutiny, the app persistently asks for that permission to be restored. Other social networking apps, like Facebook, don’t ask users to revise their privacy settings if they lock down their information.

How TikTok handles the data it collects from users also raises concerns. Ireland’s data protection regulator, for instance, is investigating possible illegal transfers of European citizens’ data to Chinese servers and potential violations of rules protecting children’s privacy.

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities

As with other social media services, researchers have found serious vulnerabilities with TikTok.

In 2020, cybersecurity company Check Point found that it could send users messages that looked as if they came from TikTok but actually contained malicious links. When users clicked on those links, Check Point’s researchers could seize control of their TikTok accounts, get access to private information, delete existing content and even post new material under that user’s account.

Hackers have also taken advantage of viral TikTok trends to distribute malicious software that creates additional cybersecurity problems. For instance, a trend called the “Invisible Challenge” encouraged users to use a TikTok filter called “Invisible Body” to film themselves naked – assuring users their followers would only see a blurry image, not anything revealing.

Cybercriminals created TikTok videos that claimed they had made software that would reveal users’ nude bodies by reversing the body-masking filter. But the software they encouraged users to download actually just stole people’s social media, credit card and cryptocurrency credentials from elsewhere on their phones, as well as files from victims’ computers.

National security concerns

Many U.S. lawmakers have objected to the app’s location tracking services, saying it could allow the Chinese government to monitor the movements and locations of U.S. citizens – including members of the military or government officials.

If the Chinese government wants information about the more than 90 million TikTok users, it does not need to hack anything.

That’s because China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires Chinese companies to share any data they collect if the government asks.

Technology industry observers have also raised concerns that ByteDance, the company that makes TikTok, may be partially owned by the Chinese government.

These problems take on even more importance in the context of the Chinese government’s alleged efforts to build a huge “data lake” of information about all Americans. China has been linked to several large-scale cyberattacks targeting federal employees and U.S. consumers. These attacks include the 2015 hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2017 attacks on the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax and the 2018 attack on hotel group Marriott International.

Negative effects outweighing positive ones?

Teachers and school administrators have used TikTok in some interesting, and useful, ways – such as connecting with students, building relationships, teaching about the risks of social media and delivering small, quick lessons.

But it is not clear whether those positive effects counterbalance the potential and actual harm. In addition to general concerns about the possible risks of social media addictions, some school officials say increased TikTok use has distracted students from paying attention to teachers.

Also, the app’s algorithm for recommending videos to watch next has increased students’ risk of suicide and eating disorders. The “One Chip Challenge,” which asks TikTok users to eat a single chip containing two of the world’s spiciest chili peppers, sent some students to the hospital and made others sick.

TikTok videos have also led students to engage in vandalism. In response to one viral challenge, some students stole bathroom sinks and soap dispensers from schools.

With all that potential for harm and damage, it’s not surprising school officials are considering a ban on TikTok.The Conversation

Nir Kshetri, Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Governor Newsome, California Rejects Mandatory Kindergartem

 The governor of California has vetoed a bill that would make kindergarten mandatory.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

What Kindergarten Parents Should Do Before Kindergarten


Get the child to start developing a routine at home. Doing the same things at the same time during the day help the child to adapt to the routines of kindergarten. These activities can be getting up in the morning, dressing, bathing, meals, nap time, etc.

Start reading to your child. The earlier the better. Get them interested in words and pictures. This also preps them for instruction time in kindergarten. Give your child their own big picture and word books to look at whenever they want.

Play thinking games. Ask questions about their day, their pets, or when shopping. Ask them thinking questions, like, should we wear sandals or shoes today, and why. Get them involved in preparing a meal.

Coloring books and drawing time. Children should start using crayons and other appropriate things to color and draw. It's not about perfection or realism, it is about the skill of using a writing and color instruments. It also fosters creativity.

Start them on the road to being independent. Start dressing themselves. Put their toys away. Wash their hands. Of course they should be feeding themselves and picking up their own dishes. These are things they need to be doing when they start kindergarten.

And that of course means not turning to you for help each and every time. If they drop something, they pick it up. If they make a mess, they clean it up, or at least help. Hang up a coat, put boots away, etc. If something they can do needs to be done, they are encouraged to do it themselves. Perfection is not needed, but attempts are a must.

Give them chores and responsibilities. This could be picking up all dishes after eating. Sweeping a floor. Wiping off their own faces. Getting a tissue and using it for themselves. If you go on a picnic, have them carry something. Anything the family does, they have a part in.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Top Most Comfortable Shoes for Teachers


All feet are different, and you might go through several shoe brands before settling on one that suits you. We have compiled a list of the top five shoe brands that many teachers attest to.

Allbirds Shoes: They say they are like walking on air! Visit: Sustainable Shoes & Clothing | The Most Comfortable Shoes in The World | Allbirds

Sanuk Shoes: Teachers claim they are easy on the feet! Visit: Women's Sidewalk Surfers | Sanuk® Official

HOKA Shoes : A durable and very comfy shoe. Visit: Women's Recovery Sandals & Shoes | HOKA®

UGG (Not just for boots!) Visit: Women's Fashion Sneakers & Slip-Ons - Pay Later with Afterpay | UGG®

Hot Chocolate- Chocolaticas: Support, comfy, and oh so cute! Perfect for a teacher of younger children.  Visit: Women's Slip-Ons – Hot Chocolate Design

Monday, September 19, 2022

Where is the Best State to Work as a Teacher?


Wallethub has compiled a state by state ranking for places best to teach. So, if you thinking of relocating, this might be a start. The rankings take into account things like salary, pensions, tenure, turnover rate, and enrollment. The top 5 states were:

New York






The bottom 5 states/areas were:

New Mexico


Wash. DC

New Hampshire


Remember, this is only a guide. Teachers are individuals and these states might not suit you. There are things like climate, commutes, and what you may or may not like as far as living conditions and attractions nearby. Many of these rankings are subjective.

To see the whole list, and where your state ranks, visit:

Wallet Hub's Teacher State Rankings: 2022's Best & Worst States for Teachers (

Other articles of interest:

How to get a teaching job (

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Cursive Teaching is Going Away Rapidly


The students you encounter today probably will not know how to read cursive, let alone write with it. And they get by just fine. So, what happened, and are there any consequences of this?

If you go back to the history of writing, humans hand wrote for centuries. Then inventions like the printing press changed writing. No longer was all printed material hand written.

As time went on from there, other things came along. Like the typewriter. Soon type written correspondence and manuscripts became the norm. Teachers demanded students turn in perfect, typed essays and reports.

The implementation of computers in every walk of life ushered in the word processor. Those computers led to communicating more and more electronically. Email first, then the explosion of texting.

Cursive was now rapidly becoming an unneeded skill. The student of today has little need for cursive. No matter what your feeling on cursive is, that is the honest truth.

Over 10 years ago, updated standards, like Common Core, the cursive requirement was entirely eliminated. The cheer around the world from young kids learning cursive was deafening.

So, we now live in a world where people just do not do cursive, and have no need for it. 

If that makes sad or mad as a teacher, just think about things we no longer teach or use in modern classrooms. Latin, slide-rules, film projectors, record players, slate and chalkboards are just a few.

And let's be frank. Like it or not, writing throughout history has always an evolving technology.

Let's not kid ourselves and over-romanticize cursive. It really is a fading talent.

But now we get to the heart of this post. Like all fading "technologies" and skills, there are bound to be repurcussions.

First, how about signatures? We can't worry about much. Your signature was never about cursive, although that was common. So signatures today, for our young students, are some amalgamation of the letters they have learned to make.

But one of the biggest consequences is reading and interpreting old-style documents, manuscripts, and art work. Students who do not learn to write cursive, will most likely have a hard time reading it.

Showing a copy of, oh let's say The Declaration of Independence, becomes an excercise in futility. It's hard enough for a normal human to read the old-fashioned letters, but what about the modern student? They are now looking at that document as just an old piece of paper. They need a printed, typed out copy to get anything out of it.

It's a shame to admit it, but soon anyone working in a museum will probably be taking a night course on reading cursive. Similar to what a person needs if they are going to need to read Latin or some ancient writing.

The student of today needs to concentrate on modern skills, and keyboarding is at the top of the list. So please don't lament the loss of cursive instruction too long.

Those who go into history, or want to truly be a history buff, will need to learn to read and write cursive. Cursive skills won't die out completely, but sooner or later, people will not even be discussing it. It won't be there. Out of sight, out of mind.

Other things are going the way of the dinosaur as well. Some you probably never learned if you are part of a newer generation. Like dial phones. Film cameras.

You might not have even thought about shorthand, as you yourself may have never even seen it, let alone heard about it. That too has been almost eradicated by modern recording devices. Court reporters still use some shorthand machines, but they too will be phased out by artificial intelligence and digital recording devices.

As technology takes over tasks, it just creates a whole new skill set that students need. Don't lament the loss of cursive too long. And if you know how to read and write it, think of yourself as having a talent that can actually be valuable in many situations.

Someone, someday, might come up to you, hand you a letter from their great-grandfather, and ask, "Can you read this for me?"

You might be interested in: Should Teachers Assign Homework?

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Bullying in Kindergarten

Disruptive kindergartners are likely to be bullied later in elementary school

Misbehavior increases the risk of being bullied. Rubberball/Nicole Hill/Brand X Pictures via Getty Images
Paul L. Morgan, Penn State

Kindergartners who act out, disrupt classrooms, get angry and argue with their teachers are especially likely to be bullied once they reach third, fourth and fifth grade, our research group has found.

We continue to investigate bullying in U.S. elementary schools, but our initial findings indicate that the odds that disruptive kindergartners will be shoved, pushed or hit, teased or called names, left out, and have lies told about them are roughly twice as high as for kindergartners who do not act out in classrooms. We observed this in analyses accounting for many other risk factors.

Our findings are consistent with, but also extend, prior research documenting that children who are from poor families or who are struggling academically are more likely to be bullied than their peers who are from wealthier families or who are more academically skilled.

As with older children, we find that young boys are more likely to be shoved, pushed or hit, while young girls are more likely to be teased or called names, left out, and told lies about. Children with disabilities, particularly boys, are more likely to be frequently bullied. Black boys more frequently experienced other children telling lies about them than white boys, consistent with prior work finding that Black children are at greater risk of being bullied in adolescence.

We believe our study represents the first analysis of a nationally representative sample that identifies which kindergartners are most likely to be bullied later in U.S. elementary schools. We hope the information helps parents and school staff identify and support young children who are especially likely to be bullied.

The harms of bullying

Schoolchildren who are frequently bullied are likely to later be depressed, anxious and suicidal as well as to be unemployed, impoverished and abusing substances. These risks are as large as those associated with being placed in foster care or experiencing maltreatment.

Early identification can help support those children who are being bullied and so limit the potential damage. Screening and prevention efforts are more effective when delivered while children are still young. Mental health supports may be needed for those being frequently bullied.

And looking at specific types of bullying may help schools and parents more directly serve the different psychological needs of children experiencing physical or nonphysical bullying.

The results suggest that the more schools can do to help kindergartners learn to manage their disruptive behaviors, the less likely these children are to be bullied later on in elementary school.

[Interested in science headlines but not politics? Or just politics or religion? The Conversation has newsletters to suit your interests.]The Conversation

Paul L. Morgan, Eberly Fellow, Professor of Education and Demography, and Director of the Center for Educational Disparities Research, Penn State

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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