Jose Carillo's Forum


Facebook is a major influence on girls, says UK survey

Facebook has become one of the biggest influences on the lives of girls, according to a survey.

A study of eight to 15-year-olds for National Family Week found 40% of girls identified Facebook as one of the most important things in their lives, compared with 6% of boys.

Parents were found to underestimate the significance of technology.

The role of social networking was particularly important in families with a single mother as parent.

The survey, carried out last month and based on 3,000 parents and 1,000 children across the UK, looked at the perceptions of children and parents of family life.

It was commissioned by National Family Week and supported by charities including the NSPCC and the Women’s Institute, which encourages families to spend more time together.

The survey presents a picture of girls using social networking as something central to their social and family life.

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Letter writing “dying out” among children

The traditional art of letter writing is dying out as growing numbers of children turn to email, text messages and social networking websites, research suggests.

One in 10 schoolchildren have never written a letter by hand, it was disclosed, and almost a third of teenagers have failed to put pen to paper for more than a year.

By comparison, almost half of pupils use websites such as Facebook and Bebo to communicate with friends every week.

The disclosure in a study commissioned by the charity World Vision prompted fresh fears over a decline in writing skills among a generation of schoolchildren.

A rise in the use of computers has already been linked to poor spelling, punctuation and grammar as pupils become over-reliant on electronic checkers.

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US Library of Congress to save Tweets
By Steve Lohr, The New York Times

Not everyone would think that the actor Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter musings on his daily doings constitute part of “the universal body of human knowledge.”

But the Library of Congress, the 210-year-old guardian of knowledge and cultural history, thinks so.

The library will archive the collected works of Twitter, the blogging service, whose users currently send a daily flood of 55 million messages, all that contain 140 or fewer characters.

Library officials explained the agreement as another step in the library’s embrace of digital media. Twitter, the Silicon Valley start-up, declared it “very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history.”

Academic researchers seem pleased as well. For hundreds of years, they say, the historical record has tended to be somewhat elitist because of its selectivity. In books, magazines and newspapers, they say, it is the prominent and the infamous who are written about most frequently.

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Policymakers urged to heed language lessons in major new handbook

UNITED KINGDOM—The teaching of literacy and language skills, both in the UK and overseas, needs significant reform to curb the “unproductive” effects of government standardization, a major new study suggests.

Writing in the Routledge International Handbook of English, Language and Literacy Teaching, scholars argue that excessive state control of the way in which English is taught and tested, both in Britain and abroad, has a recurring, restrictive effect on pupil performance and on teachers.

The international study found that education policy-makers all over the world succumb to the same cycle when trying to drive up children's attainment in language and literacy—first tightening their control of the curriculum, then loosening their grip as the approach proves “unworkable, uninspiring and ceases to provide the results it is intended to deliver.”

Researchers behind the study argue that teachers and pupils should be given more input into the shaping of curricula, and that the present system of assessment for children’s literacy skills in the UK should be redeveloped so that it becomes “the servant, rather than the master or mistress of learning.”

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Stop using English, China tells TV stations

BEIJING (AFP)—Basketball without “NBA”? The state of the economy without “GDP”? This could be the new reality for television viewers in China, as Beijing has reportedly curbed on-air use of English abbreviations.

China Central Television and Beijing Television told the state-run China Daily that they had received notification from the government to avoid using certain English abbreviations on Chinese programs. Broadcasters will now be asked to give the Chinese equivalent for such phrases as NBA (National Basketball Association), GDP (gross domestic product), CPI (consumer price index), and WTO (World Trade Organization).

It was not immediately clear how many English abbreviations had been listed in the government notice, Wednesday’s report said.

Last month, Huang Youyi—a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a body that advises lawmakers on political matters—proposed tougher measures to keep English from polluting Chinese.

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Media need multiple platforms, revenue streams to thrive

NEW YORK (Agence France-Presse)—Multiple platforms and revenue streams are going to be key for media industry players hoping to survive and thrive in the fast-changing digital landscape, top media executives said here recently.

With advertising revenue eroding and free content abundant, media companies are going to need to adapt their strategies to the new environment ushered in by the Internet, they said at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Media Summit.

“The brand has to transcend all of the different platforms,” said Renee Plato, the vice president of digital video distribution at Walt Disney Co., whose properties include the ABC television network and sports giant ESPN.

“Our main goal is to reach the fans wherever they are on the best available screen,” Plato said, whether that be on mobile screens, computer screens or TV screens.

“Perhaps there’s a way that consumers are paying for that access, that convenience, and perhaps not,” she said.

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Boys read as much as girls but prefer the simpler books, survey shows

First the good news: boys are reading as much as girls. Now the bad: the books they choose are far less challenging and easier to comprehend than those selected by girls, and this gets worse as they grow older.

The findings of a major study of 100,000 children's reading habits coincide with national curriculum test results which show that – at all ages – girls score more highly on reading tests. “Boys are clearly reading nearly as much as girls, a finding that may surprise some onlookers,” said Professor Keith Topping, of the University of Dundee’s school of education, who headed the study. “But boys are tending to read easier books than girls. The general picture was of girls reading books of a consistently more difficult level than boys in the same year.”

The gap in the standard of their reading habits becomes most marked between the ages of 13 and 16, the report says. The favourite girl’s book in this age group is Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, the first in the vampire romance series that has sold 85 million copies worldwide. This was ranked far more difficult to read than the boys’ favourite, The Dark Never Hides, from the British novelist Peter Lancett's Dark Man series, illustrated fantasy novels aimed at reluctant teens and young adults struggling to read.

The study notes that both sexes tend to choose books that are easier to read once they reach the age of 11 and transfer to secondary school. Compared with a similar study two years ago, the Harry Potter author JK Rowling has tumbled down the top 10 most popular children’s authors, from second to ninth place.

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Breaking down language barriers on the web

The Internet is rapidly expanding around the world, with thousands of non-English web pages being added daily.

The number of non-English websites is expected to grow as the web opens up to more people across the world and domain names expand to include native character sets.

In late 2009, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the creation of internet addresses containing non-Latin characters.

The web provides billions of people with information, across a range of different languages. According to Internet World Stats ( in September 2009, the total number of English internet users made up only 27.6 percent of internet users around the world. Chinese language users followed closely behind with 22.1 percent.

Internet users speaking Spanish, Japanese, French, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Russian and Korean were in the top ten most used languages on the web.

Google introduced a new beta version of their Chrome web browser for Windows users on March 1 hoping to bridge the widening internet language gap and “make the world’s information universally accessible in an easy, frictionless way.”

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Colleges test Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader as study tool

Even before Apple announced the iPad, higher-education technologists predicted that e-book readers were on the brink of becoming a common accessory among college students; last fall, two-thirds of campus CIOs said they believed e-readers would become an "important platform for instructional resources" within five years, according to the Campus Computing Project.

Now, as several major universities finish analyzing data from pilot programs involving the latest version of the Amazon Kindle, officials are learning more about what students want out of their e-reader tablets. Generally, the colleges found that students missed some of the old-fashioned note-taking tools they enjoyed before. But they also noted that the shift had some key environmental benefits. Further, a minority of students embraced the Kindle fairly quickly as highly desirable for curricular use.

If one clear consensus emerged from the studies that have been finalized at Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, it is this: For students who were given the Kindle DX and tried to use it for coursework, the inability to easily highlight text was the biggest lowlight of the experience.

"Because it was difficult to take notes on the Kindle, because PDF documents could not be annotated or highlighted at all, and because it was hard to look at more than one document at once, the Kindle was occasionally a tool that was counter-productive to scholarship," Princeton researchers wrote in a summary of their study, released Monday.

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