Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Social Media: Harm or Help?

Social Media: Harm or Help?
In the past years, technology has made huge leaps and bounds in the ways we communicate with each other. As social media, the websites and applications used for social networking, has evolved and grown, more and more of the teenage population using it is also increasing. In fact, as of 2012, 95% of teens in America between the ages of 12 to 17 have a social media account. The common question for parents is, “Is social media benefitting our children or is it hurting them?” Despite what you might read or hear about teens behaving badly online, studies show that social media does indeed benefit teenagers’ communication skills and broadens their radar for information. Social media is an excellent tool for those who can wield its power correctly.

Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are extremely popular applications for teenagers all over the world. Why is it so popular? Social media is a network of websites that allows users to virtually share and view what others have done. The information can be seen immediately, and is undoubtedly faster than sending letters. Such speeds allow classmates to communicate outside of school, friends from the other side of the world to message each other, and for adults to rekindle old relationships.

Although people often relate social media to people who waste several hours of their day posting things, not all users fit into that category. In fact, many people believe that using social media can be helpful. Nicole Ellison, PhD says that “the benefits provided by social network sites such as Facebook have made us better off as a society and as individuals, and that, as they continue to be adopted by more diverse populations, we will see an increase in their utility. ”

Studies have also shown that social media helps people practice 21st century skills, find jobs, and reduce loneliness. Nowadays, many jobs revolve around technology. As more work requires using social media and the computer, the more important it is for employees to be able to correctly use it.The more proficient one is with the new technology, the more likely they will be hired. A report in 2002 also proved that social media helps reduce loneliness. For people who have Asperger’s Syndrome and those who have trouble communicating with others, social media is a great way to connect with others without feeling uncomfortable.

Not only is the social media a great way to learn from others, it is also an excellent teaching tool. In August 2013, Facebook set up a workshop in Zimbabwe and other African countries to inform children about HIV and AIDS. By teaching a few children about the dangers of STDs and correct social media usage, Facebook believes that the kids will be able to spread the news and improve the health of a large population.

Social media is also a good source of current events. On Facebook, for example, the user has the option of liking a news page. The page will send notifications about recent news. That way, when the user logs on, they will be able to see the latest reports.

On several occasions, social media can be used for great good. An exemplary example was made by Youtube user, MagicofRahat, who managed to gather over $ 40,000 for a homeless man. The money was raised by viewers who donated after seeing the first video made by MagicofRahat. The money was used to rent out a house, buy furniture, appliances, food, insurance and savings. The heartwarming videos show how much people online can help others, even when they could never meet in real life.

Many people, including experts like Tom Hodgkinson, a writer for the Guardian, think social media is a waste of time because it takes away the face to face interaction between humans. However, they do not understand that some people can’t meet each other face to face. Social media is a high speed mail system that people require to accomplish important things that offer little time to finish. It is also a helpful tool for people to learn how to fit into modern society. Finally, social media can be used for amazing and inspirational causes.



Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

When I first learned that we were going to do a blog project, I felt totally fine. Then, Ms. Gerla, our teacher says "Oh, and whatever you write, others from all over the world will be able to read it." At that, my heart skipped a beat. Even though I use the internet everyday and read blogs on several topics, I never really thought of the gravity of posting my own opinion to the world. As we began our project, I had a feel of dread, because I had no idea what to write, what to say and how to say it to an audience. However, as I made more and more progress in my project, I began to feel more and more confident. By the time I finished with my blog, I realized that I really enjoyed the process.

Throughout my blog, I tried to persuade the reader that social media is not as bad as society thinks it is. It can be used to benefit the world. I chose this topic because the society is so against social media, and stereotypes emerge from people who are using it wrong. I wanted to prove that social media is not only a breeding place for bad news. For some, social media is a conduit for them to extend their reach and give aid to others,

Throughout this entire blogging process, I learned several reasons how social media can benefit our society. I read several articles about individuals or groups who selflessly helped other with the help of social media. Being a social media user myself, I plan to follow in their footsteps.

Blogging-wise, I really enjoyed the experience, and if I had the chance to write another blog, I would be more than happy to get started.

Last but not least, I would like to thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. For those who commented on my blog, you all left great feedback, but I did not change my mind about my thesis because everyone agreed with my view. You all also asked excellent questions, and some, I did not have the answer to on the top of my head. I had to research more to be able to answer your question. I really appreciate all of your feedback, and from them, I will improve my writing.

-Sincerely Daniel Wang

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hypnotized By The Television

Image posted by Roger at Get Hypnosis Help
Many years ago there was the family hour where you could sit down and not worry about what your child or what you would see on the television screen. Now these days you have to ask yourself questions on whether your parents would approve of the show you are watching or if you're a parent, then you would ask if your child should be watching that one show. A child is far more easily influenced than an older one. Children watching television at a young age does more harm than good to both the mental and physical state of a child.

There are some positive things on television that can benefit a child. Through watching certain channels such as the Discovery Channel, they can see different cultures in different places. Adolescents can find a positive role model in some cases. They can also discover new ideas that they will never encounter in their own community. Television can also make kids ask their parents about topics that the parent might not want to approach because it is sensitive. It brings children to be more curious and want to discover more things.

Now someone can argue what type of show counts but I am looking at the overall picture. I think that TV is doing more harm than good in a child’s life. There are a few reasons that I believe this. For one thing, children under eight can not tell the difference between a logical situation and a fantasy. For example, if a younger child sees his/her favorite action character fighting a bad guy they will believe that since the “good guy” beats up the bad guy, it is ok to hurt people. Children will not think that what they are doing is not wrong because the “good guys” are never punished. Since we are on the topic of ages, an average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders of TV by age 18. Children will often attempt to do the stunt they see on TV in real life which can lead to an injury. 

The average child watches about 1,200 hours of television each year, but only spends about 900 hours in school. This causes numerous amounts of things. The first being the fact they won’t focus on school and the second being they will spend less time with family. The worst thing is the age of these children. When 4 - 6 year olds were asked whether they would want to watch TV or spend time with their father, 54% said that they would prefer to watch TV. Children will also start avoiding chores do to the distraction of TV and their grades will also start to drop. Obesity is all a huge issue for children who watch a lot of television because they are not physically active and tend to want to snack. Most commercials are also advertising the unhealthy snacks such as chips. Children in the United States see 40,000 commercials a year. These are all the negative things that can be the outcome of watching television at such a young age.

Overall the negatives seem a lot longer but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more. I do believe though that these negatives can only be achieved through watching television. Learning about culture, finding a role model, seeing new places, and discovering ideas can be possible without the television. It all comes down to age. Again, the older you are the more you can tell the right from wrong. However the average child in 1970 began watching television at 4 years old. Today, the average age is 4 months old. Age is everything in the topic of watching television.


Conclusion: Updated 28 May 2014

At first this was a scary thing to do. Clicking that publish button took a lot more effort than what I thought it would take. The overall process was an adventure of its own. From using NoodleTools to all the the research and not to mention the bibliography. Overall I learned a lot about children and television. I believe I could do a little more research to further strengthen my thesis. After reading my comments that I received I realized I should of wrote more about the parents and whether it is their responsibility or not. The things I learned from other people actually came from the questions they asked. It required me to do some further research which I enjoyed because I learned more about the topic. One thing that really caught my attention was how the past was brought up. I forgot that instead of having news channels, there used to be newspapers. Now that I think about my youngest sibling probably not even know what those are since they are becoming more and more unknown to the younger generations. Books were also brought up on a comment. I believe that my argument was thorough and deep enough to engage my readers because I received a lot of questions that furthered the discussion. Some commenters even went and researched more into the topic. What I really noticed was that almost everyone brought up the Discovery Channel and how educational it is. I wish that I made it more clear that I do not think that educational channels are negative, I believe it is all about how much time is spent watching these programs. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who looked at my first blog. Thank You!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014


Image from Wikimedia
Due to the complexity of copyright laws, many people are unaware and do not acknowledge copyright, which leads to them abusing their digital rights. One of the many reasons people are unaware of these laws is because of the constant changes the laws undergo. Essentially any piece of work has a copyright, as copyright protection exists immediately once an author creates his or her work. Another reason why people are so clueless to these important laws is because of social media! Social media apps and websites such as Instagram and Pinterest are making it easier to break these laws through distributing unlicensed work. Because of how many people ignore the laws of copyright, others think that it is acceptable to do the same, or that there is in fact no laws against what they are doing. However, the laws of copyright are simply being broken on a large scale. A wide majority of people use work without the express permission from the original artists. 

Many people do not understand why copyright laws are important or why the original artists would be upset with their work being illegally used. The fact is that music theft has increasingly gone up while music sales have drastically gone down. Many people contribute towards making music and art, and by violating copyright you are not only deducting profit from the main artist but from everyone else who has helped in creating the art as well. More music is acquired illegally today than is actually purchased. This results in millions of dollars of profit to be lost, causing approximately 70,060 jobs to be lost every year. Illegally downloading media and violating copyright may not seem like a big deal to you, however to the artist it can be a very big problem.

As expected, not everyone has the same opinion on the matter. Many people believe that copyright laws should not exist at all, and that they actually put a dent in our future. One of the many arguments heard from those who believe copyright is not theft, is that it is productive and increases the amount of people who see the artist’s work. Author of “The Rational Optimist,” Matt Ridley argues, “The minute you share an idea with anyone, it’s no longer “yours” in any meaningful sense. Ideas replicate, mutate and evolve when they’re shared from one person to the next.” Many people who are against copyright do also see it as a way for artists to get free publicity, but how does that work when they are the ones who are taking credit for the original artists work?

The fact is that violating copyright is in fact theft. You wouldn’t re-sell an author's book with your name printed on the cover (hopefully). So how is violating copyright any different? It’s irrelevant whether or not you think using the artists work is providing free publicity, because the publicity is not being given to the correct artist, which should be the original author, singer, painter, etc. Nobody should be able to claim or be awarded credit for someone else’s hard work. It is important for people to become more aware of the laws of copyright, how it impacts artists, and how they can help to make a positive change.

Appropriate Ratings

Image by:Vector Logo
Many parents and guardians don't realize what they are letting their kids watch on television. Showing maturely rated and violent shows on TV can affect the behavior of kids in the future and present day. Although parents may not take the action of blocking these shows, the shows may not be as strictly rated as they should be. There is a responsibility to rate TV shows and movies, but most parents disregard the ratings and its affecting the youth of our society.

Many shows have profanity, sexuality, and violence in them, which is screwing the vision of today’s generation of kids. Kids at a young age believe what they see on tv, there for sex, violence, and profanity seem as if they are a normal behavior that they can preform. Violence, more so than the others, is put into kids’ shows, such as cartoons. These cartoons teach the kids that it is normal in society to perform violent acts. This also leads to bullying in school when these kids are imitating their favorite ninja turtle or Pokemon by beating up on the weaker kids at school. A study was done with a younger audience and “many thought violence was comic and had few consequences.” Violent TV shows a teaching their youth audience that violence is a common behavior among everyone, especially their heroes. This causes to acts of violence at school which results in bullying. Violence in children's’ shows are teaching kids that violence is common in everyday behavior.

Parents and guardians make naive decisions that influence their kid’s way of thinking. Before every show is aired that specific show is required to show the rating for 15 seconds before it starts. That’s not a very long time to inform the audience of the rating. With that being said it might not always be the adult’s fault but the program’s fault. The parent should still be paying close attention what their kids are watching at a young age. Now TVs have something called a V-chip which is the technical term for parental guidance. The V-chip allows the parents to regulate and block certain channels and shows with specific ratings. This give parents no excuse for letting their kids watching inappropriate shows while they are gone. It’s the parents’ responsibility to apply the parental guidance to the TV setting to protect their children from mature material.

Some might think the ratings aren't as harshly enforced nor rated as they should be. There are seven different different TV ratings and four of them are directed for kids. All of the ratings are meant for kids seven and older. The average kid aged 2-11 watches four hours of TV a day. That means over half of the kids are watching TV that is not appropriate for them. These TV shows that are supposedly appropriate for 7-year olds contain "mild fantasy violence or comedic violence that may scare younger kids”(TV-Y), “fantasy violence may be more intense in these programs than others in the TV-Y7 rating”(TV-Y7), and “little to no violence, sexual dialogue
or content, or strong language”(TV-G). These ratings should not be including violence in the rating if they are targeted for 7 year olds.

In todays world there is a lot more inappropriate information available to a younger audience and not enough restrictions put on this information. Parents now have the ability to block certain shows on TV and prevent inappropriate information from reaching their kids minds at too young of an age. The ratings can also deceive the parents because violence is now in the majority of shows and movies. This violence is tampering with the minds of our youth causing bullying in schools. With everyone's help we can sensor what our kids see on TV and prevent inappropriate behavior in the future.


Conclusion, update May 30 2014
During my experience writing my first blog I learned how interesting it can be to do research on a topic  that interested me and share my results with the wold.  I really enjoyed watching the constant increases of people reading my blog for reference for the topic I chose.  It really inspired me to publish  more research or work that I do because with out resources such as blogs and other website publish their work, I would not be able to access the information needed to find out more information for school or personal interest.  Also the comments I received on my blog gave me even more scenarios that I did not think of and made me reconsider my point of view of the side that I took in the argument that I gave.  In the end I remained on the side that I took but maybe in the future someone will persuade me to completely change my point of view on something by giving me a new scenario that a may not think of.  This would increase my knowledge of on a topic that I enjoy or improve my argument in a paper for school.   I really enjoyed this blog project because I found much more information on a topic that was familiar to me but also had a lot of unexplored information that I found to be very fascinating. I'm very excited for this to be my first true publicly published piece that can be I can be traced back to.

Take Control of Your Digital Footprint: Advice for Teens

Social Media
College applicants need to be more careful about posting online because it can and increasingly will be viewed by the interviewer. Your digital footprint is becoming more and more important in a world where almost everyone uses social networking. Your online presence gives important information about your life to the interviewer that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Make sure you put your best self on social networking sites and never expect anything to be private.

Over 73% of the population uses social networking sites and the number is growing. Having a clean and professional online presence becomes more important as the number of social media users increase. The number of college interviewers and employers who are checking their applicant's social media is also increasing. Over 25% of interviewers say they have Googled or checked the applicant’s Facebook profile. This number is up 5% from last year. Of those who check, 35% say they have seen something that negatively impacted their applicant’s chances at being accepted. This number is nearly triple from the 12% of last year. Once something is posted, it remains on the web even after you have deleted it. Through sharing, a private post or photo can spread to all sorts of people with embarrassing results. A casual post or comment made long ago can haunt you because once it is out in the web, as it is almost impossible to remove completely.

There have been many cases where an acceptance to a college is revoked because of something that comes up online. When colleges check social networking, they are mostly looking for hate speech and unthoughtful comments or pictures. Interviewers say they scrutinize social media only when they see these types of comments. At Bowdoin College, a high school senior posted hateful speech on Twitter. Although she was denied by the college because “her academic record was not competitive enough,” the absence of those posts would definitely have increased her chances at being accepted. Make sure you think before you post and be aware that colleges are checking. Colleges look at your friends and what they post as well. Make sure your friends are not posting unthoughtful comments as this can negatively impact your chances just as much as your own posts.

Posting online is not all bad, however. Social media is a great way to stay connected. Having a clean and professional online presence will help you greatly. Colleges interviewers notice when you have a good digital footprint with intelligent posts and comments. Maribeth Kuzmeski, a social media expert, says, “In a tough employment market, a social media presence can make or break job candidates.” A professional digital footprint can give you an important edge when applying to colleges or jobs.

There are several ways to improve your digital footprint. Do not post anything that would be uncomfortable to share with your parents or grandparents. Always be respectful and thoughtful to the people you are talking to. Social media is another place besides your resume where you can show off your knowledge and share your interests. Post your achievements and activities that you are most proud of. Hopefully, if you are smart about your posts and comments, social networking will help you get into your dream college.

Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

Having a good digital footprint is important when you are applying for college or a job. This is the first time I have done a blog but I had a very good experience. I was nervous at first about publishing, but afterwards, I was glad to have done this project. I learned a lot about my topic (and blogging) during my research and from the comments. Thank you all for reading and commenting on my blog. After doing this project, I am working on improving my digital footprint and having more presence online. The comments were very thought provoking. Some comments pointed out whether colleges should have the right to look at the applicant's posts and comments in the first place. After doing some additional research, I found that there are some legal constraints on interviewers. For example, the employer or interviewer cannot discriminate against someone from information gained from posts. This can lead to discrimination claims. Also, some states are passing legislation to ban interviewers from asking for the applicant's passwords to social media sites. As long as the interviewer is not violating these laws, I believe they have the right and should check the applicant's social media. This is because the applicant is responsible for what he or she has posted. As a student or employee, the applicant will be representing not only himself but the whole institution. However, I would want to do more research on the topic to see if an applicant has ever fought back successfully against a rejection from a college or job. 

You’re Multitasking? That’s Costing Your Cognitive Brain

Wired Man by Mike Licht on Flickr

You have a big load of work to get done tonight? I hope you are not planning on multitasking. In the face of all the technology available to use in this day and age, it might seem that you’ll actually get some progress done. But, studies show that juggling many tasks at a time is actually slowing us down. It allows our brain to disconnect from the important things and impair our cognitive control. About 2% can actually multitask efficiently. And the other 98%? Sorry, but you are just lowering your IQ by 10 points.

As a student, I understand the stress of societal and parental expectations because I, too, have stayed up late to study for a test or finish an assignment. Before conducting research on this topic, I could say I was the king of multitasking. Although, I may have felt productive I still asked, “Why does my homework take this long? It is 1:00 am!” Well, from personal experience, staying up late was not just because of needing more self control but rather from distractions. Imagine this, you have your favorite sing along song on, you are messaging your friend on Facebook, maybe even texting, and last you have twenty-one math problems to complete. Now, every time you get a message, your computer and/or phone notifies you with a DING! Yeah sounds great, like look how far technology has advanced. Although this might be great, how about we really think about this. Once you are about to get an idea and figure out a problem you keep on getting a message from your friend every 15 seconds. But, let’s be honest, you probably don’t even notice the impact; that multitasking is actually affecting your brain by stopping neural connections.

Author: Brews Ohare
In teenagers, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and judgement, is not fully developed like in an adult. Rather, teenagers use the amygdala, the part responsible for responding to fear, threats, and danger. This makes it more difficult for teenagers to make good judgements in situations that call for decision making and distractions, and these distractions are happening everywhere. Teenagers are on their electronic devices during school, work, driving, walking, in the bathroom, you name it. In addition, since teenage brains have not fully developed the ability to control impulses, this can be a teenager’s biggest distraction.

Multitasking teaches us to stray away from persistence and rather to just switch to the next task, tab when things start to get difficult. Also, it forces us to endorse in a habit of filling every spare moment with something “productive”. But, your “productivity” causes your brain to shut down neural connections. To restore theses connections, you will have to repeat the thought process, aka “spreading activation.” The bouncing back between tasks slows down the actual task. This was proven in tests conducted at Stanford University by communication professor Clifford Nass, and his two colleagues, Eyal Ophir and Anthony Wagner. Three tests were conducted that measured heavy media multitaskers on their ability to ignore, to recall information, and to switch between tasks. In all three tests, non multi-taskers performed better. Multitaskers do not pay attention as well, control memory, and/or switch from one task to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

“But I always listen to music when I am doing my homework, is that wrong?” Well, A little music never hurt anyone, and according to NPR, they agree. Multitasking can be good in small amounts. A lot of the time people say that music can help them focus. This could be because it keeps you alert but still allows you brain to block it out and remain connected with the main task. This works because it is not forcing itself into your consciousness. Unlike cellular devices and other IM websites that extract you from your learning and concentration, every time it buzzes.

But music is an exception, not the rule. Most media use is taking away from our learning, disconnecting us from productivity, and forcing bad habits. Researchers are still studying whether media multitaskers are born with the inability to concentrate or if they are damaging their cognitive mind by juggling too much.


Pause Before You Post

Image from Wikipedia
The explosion of technology and social media has influenced everyone who absorbs new information through the internet, newspapers, television, film and radio etc., including teenagers. A piece of information can be sent to a large number of audiences in a short period of time through social media. Teens tend to spend a lot of time chatting and posting things online, which can be a big problem because you never know what others think about the thing that you post online. Thus, teens have to be cautious about the shareability of the things that they post on the internet and think about the influences it brings to themselves and others before they do that.

Social media can cause a lot of trouble when teens are not paying attention to the things that they are posting online. The widespread nature of it has formed a new type of bullying, cyberbullying, which is the bullying that happens online. A lot of cyberbullyings start with sharing information online. Nowadays, if you post something on social media sites, it can be widely spread in a short period of time and bring a huge influence to the person in the picture or video that you shared. It provides a wide space for rumors to be spread and cause the damaging of lives. In the story of Megan Meier, she committed suicide after being bullied on MySpace. Gossip and rumors about her are posted online. What’s really important in this story is that her classmates or friends didn’t stand up for her to stop the spreading of these cruel messages and rumors. A lot of teens use the term “drama” rather than bullying when they see these kind of things happen, which allows them to “downplay its seriousness” (danah boyd). Lots of them also think that being bullied is a way of showing weakness, so they use "drama" to avoid being described as being bullied, which allows them to "save face" by doing this. However, the consequences that cyberbullying will cause is as serious as the traditional bullying. “Since there is no face-to-face contact (on these sites), students cannot see or feel the immediate harm they are inflicting”. According to the data from 2011, “95% of teen social media users who have witnessed cruel behavior on social media sites say they have seen others ignore the mean behavior” (Megan Meier Foundation). As a result, teens spread a lot of gossip and rumors on social media sites without recognizing the serious consequences that it might cause. We have to consider if the things that we are posting on social media sites will do harm to anyone related to that post before we do that.

Some of you might say that when people mention social media, they always link it to the negative influences that it brings to teens. However, a lot of teens actually think that social media affects them positively most of the time. It helps them build up their self-confidence when they see all the positive comments. It also makes their relationships with their friends better. Teens can get a lot of information and news online, and feel more involved in their friends' lives through social media. Even though there is a lot of news that talks about the negative influences of it, it has the potential to bring many positive influences to teens lives if used carefully and thoughtfully.

Image from technology rocks. seriously
It’s clear that social media does a lot of good things for teens, but while we are using it, we need to be careful about what to put online for everyone to see. Sometimes you think that you are just joking, but not everyone knows that, so it might actually hurt that person you are talking about. In a word, pause before you click the button that says “post,” and think about if the thing you are going to share with everyone is going to do harm to the person that is related.


Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

Writing this blog is quite challenging for me when I first started it because this is a completely new experience for me. This is the first blog I've ever written, so I want to thank you all who read through my blog and left a comment. When I was thinking about my topic for the blog with the concept of digital citizenship, the idea of pausing before you share it with everyone on the internet came into my mind almost immediately because a lot of teens are posting things about everything on social media sites constantly without considering the consequences that might be caused. As the internet gets more and more involved in our life, teens need to be more and more cautious about what we are sharing online. When I was reading all the comments I got from others, I found everyone agrees with me on the idea that teens don't really realize that the “jokes” they are saying and posting online can actually hurt someone, and everyone thinks that we should definitely think about if it is going to cause a bad influence to others before we publish it. I found it in the comment that the reason why it's hard for teens is that their brain is still developing, so they might end up posting something that they regret later. Also, to clarify the reason why kids tend to use the term “drama” instead of “bullying” when they are being cyber bullied, I reread the research from danah boyd. The using of “drama” allows them to feel like a normal person instead of a victim of bullying while communicating with others. They want to stay away from the word “victim” because they think it's a symbol of weakness.

I’ve learned a lot through the whole process of writing this blog started with doing research annotation on NoodleTools. This is a great experience for me, and once again, thank you everyone who has left a comment or read through my blog. These are great encouragements for my work!