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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.


This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

If you can't or don't want to watch the clip, here's the quick version:

Many people think the Internet and technology are scary places for kids. But did you know about ...

Martha, who is from Scotland.

She took pictures of her school's lunches every day.

It reached a point where Jamie Oliver took notice and tweeted his support.

The school told her to stop, but after all of the press, instead they did the right thing and made changes to the lunch program. Yay, Martha! And she raised $200,000 for the food insecure.

(Yes, that's Mr. Bean in frame 4.)

There's Josh, who is in middle school in Iowa.

He decided to narrate Pokemon walk-through videos.

He's so good at that, he walked into college with a six-figure income from the ad revenue of those videos(!!).

There's Tavi, who created an online magazine called "Rookie" with her friends.

It has a huge following and has reached far into teen culture.

John created an app at age 15.

He sold it to Yahoo at age 17 for $30 million. Can you imagine?

Lauren decided to send a Hello Kitty doll 93,000 feet into space, and record it.

And she did just that.

And there's a group of teens on the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota.

An ABC News special portrayed their lives as pretty much based on drugs and crime. They made a video to show who they really were: kids with passion, humility, self-respect, love, creativity, and family.

All of these are kids are creating and innovating — but not in school. Rather, at home.

Schools are far too restrictive to allow kids to do things like these kids did, and that needs to change.

The final quote says it all for me. "Get out of their way and let them be amazing!"

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Feel bad when you throw away perfectly good food? Your phone can help.

We waste so much food, it's embarrassing. Our phones are coming to the rescue in very creative ways.



You want it, you need it, you love it. But there are 50 million Americans who don't get enough.

I'm not talking when it's 3 p.m. and you're like, "I forgot lunch!" or the dinner you had that was made up entirely of string cheese. I'm talking the 50 million people in America who live day-to-day not knowing where they are going to find their next meal.

But there's a twist: Our country throws away around 30 MILLION tons of perfectly good food every year.

That means we're throwing away 30 million tons of leftover food while 50 million people go to sleep hungry. What?!

I don't have to dig into the math to know that hunger in America is a problem we can actually fix. And with technology, it can be easy and fun to do it.

Here are five easy ways you can help end hunger without really having to try.

1. Tango Tab

An app that makes it so that part of your bill goes to a local food charity!

So you go out to dinner with friends. That's normal. But did you know you can feed someone across town at the same time ... for free?

That's Tango Tab.

With the Tango Tab app, you simply go to a participating restaurant, check-in through the app while you're there, and a portion of the proceeds from your meal is donated to a local food charity. It's a win for the restaurant (hi, business!), a win for those in need of a meal (bye, growling stomachs!), and a win for the app user through an imaginary pat on the back.

Over 1 million meals have already been provided through the app so far — from people who were already dining out. Talk about a nice gesture that helps folks in your own community, and you don't have to go out of your way to do it.

It's kind of like a blind dinner date without all of the awkward silence! Check out participating restaurants to see what options are cookin' in your area.

If you're already texting, you might as well feed someone. Image by Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images.

2. Leftover Swap

It's exactly what it sounds like. You can swap your leftovers or you can get leftovers from someone who has 'em!

Let's say you're hungry and broke and all you have in your kitchen is dust. Or let's say you're full and can't possibly take another bite without the buttons on your pants popping off — but your plate is still full!

The app Leftover Swap is for both of those situations.

If you're hungry, view the app for local leftovers around you, make your selection, and arrange for pick-up or delivery.

If you've got leftovers, take a picture of them, provide details, and share the rest of your meal with a hungry neighbor.

An app like this can help you reduce waste, eat locally, and maybe even make a new friend (or five … depending on how much pizza you can offer). Worth a try!

3. Ample Harvest

If you're into fresh foods and/or gardening, woo baby, this one's for you.

Ample Harvest makes it super easy for backyard gardeners across the country to quickly find local food pantries to donate fresh crops for their clients.

This is perfect for the person who grew too many tomatoes or peaches and doesn't know what to do with them all. Through the app, you can locate the food pantries in your area and details on how to share your crops. Yay!

Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

4. Feeding Forward

How many times have you thrown away leftovers and thought, "I'm being so wasteful, this is embarrassing."

It's OK. Feeding Forward is there to help.

With Feeding Forward, you can have someone come take leftovers off of your hands and deliver them to a local shelter. This app is especially good for companies or conferences, and right now it's mainly available in the San Francisco area. If enough people are into it, maybe that'll change?

Less trash and more people fed. BINGO.

5. No Food Wasted

This one is all about the grocery store. So much perfectly good food gets thrown out there, it's mind-boggling.

Instead of workers having to throw out food that's about to expire, the No Food Wasted app lets customers buy it. The app shows you discounts available in your area on food that is still good but about to be thrown out.

A pilot study done on the app showed food waste dropped in supermarkets by up to 18%, as Upworthy previously reported. Wow!

And you as a consumer don't have to do anything differently. You just use the app and find great discounts.

The only bummer part here is it's currently only in the Netherlands. So you can either move there to get cheaper bananas or start your own where you live (please?!).

Delicious food image via Ana Arevalo/AFP/Getty Images.

There are problems we face that feel overwhelming. But then there are problems like hunger that we can actually do something about — right now.

We have the power to take steps — even as small as downloading an app — to give people in our communities a helping hand so they can get back on their feet.

Helping each other makes us better humans and more productive communities. Go get 'em.

Edward Snowden has a flair for the dramatic, so it comes as no surprise that his first tweet of all time is pretty darn great.

His second? A question for none other than universal treasure Neil deGrasse Tyson — and a very telling one at that.

Snowden just joined Twitter today. He had over 300,000 followers within hours, but he was following only one account.


Love him or hate him, Snowden touched off more than one critically important debate.

How much latitude should the U.S. government have to spy on its own citizens? What about on citizens of other countries? How freely should companies turn over their data to the government? Can you truly be a whistleblower if you flee the country to avoid facing legal consequences?

And what exactly ... is that facial hair? Exactly?

He's come in for his fair share of criticism to be sure.

Some have criticized Snowden's revelations as overblown. Many have accused him of hypocrisy for fleeing to Russia, a country which also practices extensive domestic surveillance. And others have blasted him for providing critical intelligence to enemies of the United States.

But Snowden's leak has actually led to some real change — and some positive change at that.

Snowden's massive document dump woke up some tech companies to the public relations nightmare that could result from helping governments spy on their users, and many have taken steps to provide more transparency about such requests.

In addition, some argue that the revelations paved the way for legal challenges to the NSA's power to flourish when several years ago they might have died quietly with little fanfare.

It's been slow, gradual change. But change nonetheless. Much of it resulting in more people having greater rights to privacy.

Welcome to Twitter, Edward Snowden.

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images.

Regardless of how we feel about you, you're more than just a giant face on a far-away screen to us.

You're an interesting voice, with interesting things to say. And we're curious to keep on hearing what they are.

Recently the Google Ideas twitter account tweeted this photo:

Google Ideas is a think tank specifically dedicated to supporting free expression while fighting harassment.

From their website:

"Google Ideas is a team of engineers, researchers, and geopolitical experts who build products to support free expression and access to information, especially in repressive societies. We focus on the problems faced by people who live in unstable, isolated, or oppressive environments, including the billions of people who are coming online for the first time.

With the right tools, we can make the internet more free and open. Many of us take the internet for granted, but for human rights activists, journalists, and artists living under censorship, a free and open internet can be a matter of life and death.

We believe that technology can profoundly expand access to information for people who need it most."

Among those present were video game developer Zoe Quinn, activist and writer Feminista Jones, and Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian — all of whom have been the subjects of incredibly scary, targeted harassment by mobs of strangers on the Internet. It was kind of a who's who of anti-harassment advocates.

And at the end of the day, Google Ideas did something completely normal: They tweeted a picture of the group.

Less than an hour later ... Google Ideas tweeted this:

So, wait. What happened? Well...

Sadly, the tweets Google Ideas is referencing are kind of standard fare as far as the Internet is concerned.

There was some racism, some sexist insults, some fat-shaming, and a whole bunch of people telling Google and/or the group to kill themselves.

Online harassment is a real concern.

While it might seem all "sticks and stones," the reality is much more complicated than that.

Last August, Sarkeesian, one of the women in the photo, was driven out of her home after she received received a series of threats, one of which included her home address.

In October, a speech Sarkeesian was supposed to give at Utah State University was cancelled after the school received threats of a school shooting if the event went on as scheduled.

Journalist Laurie Penny dedicated a 2011 column in The Independent to the issue of online harassment:

"You come to expect it, as a woman writer, particularly if you're political. You come to expect the vitriol, the insults, the death threats. After a while, the emails and tweets and comments containing graphic fantasies of how and where and with what kitchen implements certain pseudonymous people would like to rape you cease to be shocking and become merely a daily or weekly annoyance, something to phone your girlfriends about, seeking safety in hollow laughter."

And in June, Google (and Bing) announced that they would be working to remove "revenge porn" from search results.

"Revenge porn" is a type of harassment in which someone posts someone's private photos online to embarrass or extort the target. Google had the following to say:

"Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women. So going forward, we'll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results. This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results."

The following month, Google shared a form where people can report explicit images of themselves that have been posted without their consent. Between this and what the Google Ideas team is working on, it feels like the company is trying to make good on its "Don't be evil" mission statement.

Good for Google for taking on online abuse. Hopefully, the Internet can become a place where all feel welcome.