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Big tech CEOs at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Child online safety

Social Media CEO's Congressional Hearing

You may have heard that recently (Jan 31, 2024) the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing caught the nation's attention, CEOs from leading social media giants including Meta, TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter) were called to testify on one of the biggest topics that we face as parents, children’s online safety. This pivotal moment moves the needle forward for awareness and action among parents striving to navigate the digital landscape with their children.

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Woman with a disposable camera taking a picture

The disposable camera era is back!

In this crazy world of digital innovation, parents everywhere have the challenge of raising tech-savvy kids while instilling healthy habits. We find ourselves in the middle of a digital revolution, shaping a generation that has grown up surrounded by screens and instant digital experiences. However, a timeless lesson from the past holds significant value in this digital era—a lesson that can guide our children toward balanced technology usage.

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Pinwheel Announces Phone Upcycling to Prevent Adult Phones from Going to Kids or into the Landfill

Austin, Texas (October 26, 2023) – Pinwheel, maker of the best-selling Pinwheel smartphone for kids, announced today the launch of its Hand It In Phone Upcycling Program, which allows parents to send in their old phone and get a kid-specific phone at a discounted price for their children.

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The Smartphone Epidemic: Alarming Statistics on Teen Phone Usage

Phones serve many purposes, like creating connections with family and friends, providing entertainment and, unfortunately, often serving as a permanent prop in our children's stories.

Kids and smartphones seem inseparable, and a new report from Common Sense Media validates that feeling. The research aimed to understand the roles and impacts of media and technology in kids' lives---hearing directly from the kids themselves. This new report bridges an important gap in understanding how teenagers use their smartphones.

 "Teens told us that the draw of their smartphone is both complicated and powerful," Common Sense Media states in their press release. "They're managing a barrage of notifications from the apps on their phones—buzzing almost constantly." 

Working with kids aged 11 to 17, the study unveils the digital phenomenon that's become deeply ingrained in our society.

Phone Use During School Hours: A Shocking 97%

School policies differ widely across the nation, and while it would be great if 97% of kids are picking up their phones to check their grades or use the calculator function, the details share a different story. Most of the apps used were social media, video games, and YouTube. 

For my school, we do have a phone policy and we're not technically allowed to have it out during class, but a lot of people do in spite of that. And definitely, I think if you track kids at my school, their phone usage, you would definitely see them checking their phones, and then checking Snapchat during class.

—10th grader

 

Late-Night Phone Obsession: 60% Awake During Bedtime Hours

The study found that 60% of kids aged 11 to 17 were wide awake and glued to their screens during the witching hours, specifically between midnight and 5 a.m. Research on the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on overall well-being and academic performance is clearly documented. 

I might say that for certain apps, like TikTok, it's really hard to fall asleep once you use it close to when you're gonna go to sleep. I can't use it within an hour, or else I'd struggle … and then I'll just get back on the app 'cause I'm not sleeping anyway.

—10th grader

 

Notification Overload: 237 Pings a Day

Imagine your phone buzzing, pinging, and chiming relentlessly throughout the day. For more than 50% of kids in this study, that's their reality, receiving almost 10 notifications per hour each day. Some teens reported receiving 4,500 notifications per day.

Snapchat and Discord have mastered the art of keeping teens tethered to their screens with an incessant stream of alerts and updates, showcasing the competitive nature of the tech industry, where user engagement is key to success.

Yeah, for me, I have notifications on for the apps that are messaging apps, but then for the other ones, I don't have notifications on for YouTube or Instagram … For me, I don't like the notifications that just tell you to go back on the app or just something random like that, like an update or something. I don't really care about those ones. But the ones I do like getting are the ones that are from the messaging apps, like if someone sends me a text, I wanna know what it says.

—10th grader

 

The TikTok Phenomenon: Why Teens Just Can't Resist

One platform has managed to capture the hearts and minds of teenagers by offering bite-sized pleasure and effortless interaction, all seamlessly tailored to the user's interests and mood. 50% of participants had TikTok installed on their phones, and they weren't just casual users. On average, these teens spent a median of one hour and 52 minutes per day on the platform while some clocked in upwards of seven hours daily.

The app's algorithm quickly adapts to the individual's preferences, serving up content that aligns with their interests or current mood, all while catering to the modern attention span with short, snappy videos.

 

Unveiling the Dark Side of Young Kids on Smartphones

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Three Ways to Create a Village for Your Teens on Social Media

In the era of technology, social media has woven into the lives of teens and sometimes even younger children. While engaging online can have a positive influence on teens' growth through learning and connections, parents need to address the hazards and big picture in order to raise healthy, happy teens. 

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11 Tips to Guide Your Teen's Social Media Experience

Before introducing your teen to social media, give them a solid foundation with Pinwheel, the phone that grows with your child. Pinwheel lets parents monitor and guide their child’s digital interactions, and allows for a gradual introduction to texting, screen time limits, and gaming. In other words, it lets your child master the basics without exposure to the harms of social media.

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My Middle School Kid Wants Social Media

These days, it's hard for parents to avoid social media. You probably use it, your friends use it, and chances are your kids use it too. More and more young children are joining social media platforms, even though the US Surgeon General warned that it may harm mental health. 

If your teen is ready to sign up for their first social media platform, there are some simple ways to keep them safe online. According to psychologists, the key is education and awareness. But before diving into that, run through this list to make sure your child is ready.

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First Kid-Safe, Parent-Monitored AI Chat Bot Powered by ChatGPT

Free app from maker of the popular Pinwheel kid-safe smartphone generates age-appropriate responses and enables parents to monitor chats 

 

Pinwheel, maker of the best-selling Pinwheel smartphone for kids, announced today the launch of PinwheelGPT, the first child-safe AI chat app powered by ChatGPT that enables parental monitoring. The new, free PinwheelGPT app will be available on any device (including Pinwheel phones) through a mobile app, or via a mobile or desktop web browser.

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Discord’s New Safety Tools

Imagine that your local local movie theatre showed everything from the latest Pixar hit to film pornography. A single ticket allows anyone--even children---to enter the front doors and then choose a theater room. Which one shows porn? That's not clear until the movie starts, but somebody is handing out candy for entering theater 9.

Discord is like that. Some servers are well-supervised and kid-friendly, and kids can even join private servers with only their friends. Some are full of the darkest extremes of humanity, and they all look alike from the outside. Many kids join Discord to talk to an approved group, which is no more risky than any other group chat.

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