Thursday, October 31, 2013

Online Foot Prints

The effects of leaving a digital footprint on the internet can be very harmful in many different ways. It can be harmful because everybody can see what you say, do, and look at on the internet, and leaving a comment or cyber bullying online can make a huge effect in the other side of the screen.

When you go on the internet and you look at any website or link it is all recorded by the NSA( National Security Agency) and anybody can see it, especially people you do not even know and the NSA. According to the NSA, their mission is to “Collect, process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions.” So they are in your Ads online also target what you see online and zoom in and send ads to your facebook about what you look at online. "The moment we start using a computer, whether it be to log in to Facebook, read a blog, book a flight, buy groceries, do the banking or look up the weekend’s weather forecast, we have already begun to formulate our digital footprint." (The Modern Parent) This sometimes has a destructive effect on your online and life reputation on the internet, in the world, and for your future. The ability of everyone being able to see and look at what you're doing leaves you with exposure. Being exposed on the internet leaves you very vulnerable.

Being exposed online can also reveal a whole new and different personal side of you and it could easily destroy your reputation online and for your future, this Even something that you did not even mean to put on the internet can badly affect your online reputation. And if you said something very personal about yourself like if you give away where you live or your full name everybody can see it which leaves with so much exposure online. If your friends looked you up on Google, they can easily see what you say and what you did in the past. They can really see what kind of a person you really are on the internet. Colleges and jobs search your name on the internet and see if you did anything bad online or in the media. Leaving a personal footprint can affect your reputation online and in the world. A lot of people online have had this affect them.

Certain individuals on the internet say leaving a footprint online can make a positive impact. This is true, but Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. Leaving a footprint of cyber bullying can affect your life in the future, because some colleges look for a background check of you and what you have done in the past. If they see something bad that you have done, like cyber bullying or any other bad things, they ignore everything about you.

The evidence that I put here is overwhelming with the effect of leaving a footprint. Leaving a digital footprint has many other effects leaving proof on the internet about what you did or saw can be, what other saw the what you said or did and easily reveal another side of you that you do not want other people to see and, Third Thing, can all be harmful to you when you're on the internet. Internet is a hard place to stay safe in for a long time so we need to be aware and concern about our actions and all of our consequences.

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Updated 11/14/13

I want to add that some websites like Facebook or Google give away or sell your information to other people online. They have permission to do this because people agree to their terms of service. “Google’s privacy policies explain how we treat your personal data and protect your privacy when you use our Services.” This means that google has the right to invade through your personal data and do whatever they want if it. This can disrupt your footprint online by putting your data or your information everywhere. When you agree to the terms of service with Facebook they have permission to keep all your data. Facebook does this because if you leave they want you to come back and start where you left off. Facebook still keeps all your post or comments you have so can just start using their services again. When you said yes to their terms and services you gave them permission to keep all your data. Facebook only wants more people using their services.

As a result, services like Google and Facebook pose a great threat to your online footprint and to your experience on the internet. Services like Google sell or give away your personal data and your privacy. Services like Facebook make you agree to them having permission to keep or to give away all your personal information. Is it really worth it? Is it worth selling your privacy to use their services. I say it is not because it poses a great threat to your privacy and your online experience on the internet.

Digital Life: The Consequences of Sharing Online

Don’t you enjoy posting a picture on Instagram now and then? Or maybe uploading a video to Youtube? Many people do, but having a digital life isn’t all fun and games. Lots of people have the opportunity to have a digital life, but, if a user is not careful, the costs of a digital life can significantly outweigh the pros. For example, catfishing, luring, and bullying are all serious consequences that can happen to careless online users.

Having a digital life makes teens easy victims for “catfishing” (creating a fake identity online and deceiving other users). Many teens are targets of catfishing, and even though the people you are talking to or sharing information with online may seem nice and understanding, they might not be who their online identity says they are. One teen in particular, Renamai Balisi, says that he would never get into an online relationship, because he would be afraid they were catfishing him. “And with those types of things, you can never really be sure” Balisi noted. Renamai Balisi had a good point when he said you can never really be sure if someone is catfishing you or not. If you met someone online, and you have never actually seen them in person, then you could be interacting with just about anybody. This fact makes online dating a bit dangerous, because although you could be chatting with a real person with good intentions, there is the risk that someone is catfishing you.

Catfishing can lead to luring. When someone asks to meet you offline, it would be a wise idea to be cautious because you might not end up meeting with the person you thought you were. “...if you think about it, when you are an adolescent girl and you agree to (meet someone offline), most people would agree that that’s a dangerous thing to do.” says Dr. Jennie Noll, the director of research for behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Even though there can be risks when having a digital life, if you are safe and cautious online, your digital experience can be quite enjoyable. A digital life can be a good experience to interact with people you know, and it enables people to communicate with ease or find out information quickly. “...the Internet can act as a big-time mood enhancer; as explained in the infographic, social media makes teens feel more confident, popular, sympathetic, and, ironically, outgoing” reports Sam Gutelle in his article about teens and social media.

Photo shared with  Creative Commons Attribution, 
The most common and perhaps most horrific risk that users face is cyberbullying. Statistics show that nearly one half of teens have been the victims of cyberbullying. More than half of these young people never tell their parents that they have been bullied online. The reason cyberbullying is so horrific is because it can be extremely harmful to teenagers and adolescents. Cyberbullying can cause the victim to have anxiety, depression, and even lead to suicide. In fact, On September 9th, 2013, a twelve year old girl named Rebecca Sedwick killed herself after continuous torment online. Rebecca had been bullied in person by two girls, one of whom was her former friend, at school. “The bullying grew so intense that Rebecca began cutting herself and was sent to a hospital by her mother to receive psychiatric care” reported Lizette Alvarez, from the New York Times paper. Even after Rebecca’s mother switched her to a different school, the bullying continued online. The two girls bullying Rebecca had harassed her using “Kik” and “Ask.fm” as well as Facebook. For me, it seems a bit frightening that a girl as young as twelve years old would find herself in such a bad situation, that she would resort to killing herself to escape from it. The bullying that Rebecca endured got so overwhelming for her that she jumped to her death. In a study that the US National Institutes of Health conducted, they found that the victims of cyber bullying showed more signs of depression than other bullying victims, because the bully can many times be anonymous and relentless.This can make the bullying more frightening and discouraging.

An extremely serious consequence of not being a safe user online is “luring”. Many children, and teenagers, face the dangers of cyberspace and online sexual exploitation. According to a survey done in 2005 by the Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS), 1 in 3 people using the internet from the ages 10 to 17 was exposed to sexual material that was unwanted. Many kids have online messaging, e-mails, or social media accounts. This makes it extrememly easy for the sexual exploitation of children. Lurers can easily contact children and attempt to find out information about them. If the situation gets grim, and the child is giving out personal information (where they live, how old they are, what school they attend, etc.) then the person luring the child or teen might be able to go to the house of the victim and attempt to harm the child in some way. While this may not be the outcome every time a predator tries to lure a teen or kid, it has happened before, and is a possible outcome of giving out personal information to strangers.

To conclude, all of these factors are reasons why having a digital life can be dangerous and risky for online users. However, if you try to be a cautious user, you will probably be able to avoid things like catfishing, luring, or online bullying. To protect yourself, you need to steer clear of luring, and say “no” if a stranger asks to meet you in person. Even if the person seem good-natured, you truly can’t be sure if they are who they say they are. Being bullied online can be much harder to avoid, but, there are ways to stop it. If you find yourself being bullied online, tell an adult immediately. Also, if you are bullied from a social media site, Instagram for example, you have the ability to put your account on the “private” setting. That way, people have to ask for permission to follow you and see or comment on your pictures. In my opinion, it is important to try to keep track of your privacy settings because it will make it much harder for online bullies to contact you. It may seem unnecessary to take these precautions, but I think they will help in protecting you and your wellbeing.


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Conclusion:
Updated 19 November 2013

Constructing this blog really helped me see how many risks exist when doing things online, and also how easy it is to avoid them. To restate my points, having an online experience can be very fun and enjoyable, but if you are not careful or do not take precautions, there could be serious consequences (such as catfishing, luring, online bullying).  I really appreciate the people that commented on my blog, because their questions and observations made me think more deeply about my topic, however, my opinion has stayed the same even after looking at the comments on my blog. When I took a look at other people’s blogs, there was really interesting and helpful information. I learned a lot from reading the blogs, and I think that the facts I learned will come in handy. I learned about things like the harmful side to gaming (which I hadn’t thought much about), the NSA and my privacy, and women in the media. I really hope that my blog engaged the people that read it as much as theirs did me, and that they found the information that I blogged about useful. I truly enjoyed this project, and I hope the readers of my blog found it thorough and captivating.

The Scary Side of Gaming


Photo by: Gaming Today
Did you know that excessive gaming is a very serious topic? There have been serious cases that even have ended in death. There have also been people who just believe that overall, gaming is harmful. How is it harmful, and what does it do? Excessive gaming has a negative impact on society because it isolates people from their communities and can also cause mental and physical health problems.


Science daily reports, "While most teenagers (60 percent) spend on average 20 hours per week in front of television and computer screens, a third spend closer to 40 hours per week, and about 7 percent are exposed to more than 50 hours of 'screen-time' per week.” This is just too much screen time. Teens could be doing so many other things than going on screens/ playing video games. They could be doing school work, hanging out with friends, playing a sport, or doing something active. So much screen time could lead to obesity. If teenagers could cut down their screen time and boost their outdoor activities, I would guess that there would be a dramatic increase in grades. Now I am not saying that is is wrong to play video games, but 31 hours every week is way too much!

Now that is one side of gaming, what you could be doing instead of gaming. But there are effects that gaming has on people. "The risk factors that made a child a pathological gamer include the child being impulsive and socially awkward”(Anaya Mandal). Being socially awkward is not something that can benefit our community, our society, or our world. Being socially awkward means to not be able to talk to people, or interact with other people. Impulsive is also not necessarily a good thing. We need people in our society who think before they act, and think about what might happen if they do what they are thinking of. We do not want people to blurt out bad language, or say something that they really did not want to say. “Sitting at a computer or console for days, whether it's for "World of Warcraft" or for work, isn't healthy for anyone”(Becky Oskin). This is such a good point! It is not healthy at all for people to stare at a computer screen all day long! Staring at a screen for hours on end can cause headaches, bad eyesight, and in extreme cases, create blood clots. The National institute of Health says that too much screen time can increase one’s risk of obesity, make it harder to fall asleep at night, and can increase the chance of attention problems, anxiety, and depression. People need to get some fresh air and take a break! People need to cut down on their screen time!

Video games can lead to more serious things besides being socially awkward, and becoming obese. They can also lead to violence, as Richard Gallagher states in one of his studies. "Video games that feature violent actions and scenarios may lead addicted players to be desensitized to the violence. Richard Gallagher, director of the NYU Child Study Center’s Parenting Institute, states that players who become engrossed in first-person shooter-style video games, for example, may adopt a detached view of society or develop aggressive thoughts and tendencies."This is a very extreme portion of excessive gaming and violent gaming, but is very interesting. There are connections between gaming and real life.

While there are many negative impacts that gaming has on health, there are also a couple of positive effects. Psychologist Peter Gray says, “Why would we want to limit a kid's computer time? The computer is, without question, the single most important tool of modern society. Our limiting kids' computer time would be like hunter-gatherer adults limiting their kids' bow-and-arrow time.” He has a good point. Computers can be very useful when it comes to researching and playing educational games. In his article he also says that there are positive effects of gaming on mental development, and he goes on to relate gaming to higher test scores. This is very interesting. So many articles have many negative things about gaming, but this one relates gaming and doing better on tests of visuospatial ability. I personally do not believe this. I think that there is no way that gaming could have a positive impact on everyone. There are too many negative studies to even allow this one to be convincing.

All in all, excessive gaming has a very negative impact on the people behind the screens. Ultimately it can affect us all. Lets pull the people out from behind the screens.

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Updated: November 14, 2013

Conclusion: I really enjoyed the blog project. This project helped me learn so much about how much gaming can affect ones health, mental state, etc. I found some things that were very interesting and potentially life changing. I know that I will not be playing excessive video games for the reasons obviously stated in my blog. I will also not be allowing my kids to game excessively. I believe that it is not only the child behind the screens fault for excessive gaming, but also the parents and the communities, and I will not let that happen to my child. It not only allowed me to learn about my own topic, but fellow classmates as well! Some of the people in my class wrote great blogs that I found very moving and interesting. This project was not only an educational experience, but it was also really fun. I really liked how much the teachers helped. If I was stuck, they would offer very good ideas or solutions. I also really liked the idea of allowing people to comment on my blog. I liked the comments because most of them were really good feedback, or something new that I did not know...So thanks for the comments! Overall, this project was great, and I would do another one just like it in a heartbeat. 

Facebook Friend or Foe

Brent Pohlman says that Facebook has made it easier for people to gather information on others and stalk them, but I completely disagree on the grounds privacy. Privacy settings are easily usable, for example when I turned 14 Facebook sent me a notification that my profile, if I wanted, could be public to the world, but I remained private. The people who are stalked are showing some degree of carelessness because Facebook profiles can be locked down so tightly that anyone who tries to friend you, they can't see your pictures, and your wall. An even more aggressive thing to do is to make your profile invisible to others; you can friend them, but they can't find you. The technology isn't the problem here, it’s the users and their carelessness.

Social networks touch a huge number of people’s lives daily. There are more than 1.15 billion users on Facebook--one seventh of the world’s population--and 669 million daily users, 80% of whom are living outside the United States. Do you know how many people manage Facebook? Hundreds, thousands, millions? The answer is only 5,299 people. Only 5,299 people manage a site that a seventh of the population uses. Facebook has changed society in many positive ways but one specific way I am going to focus on, is how Facebook has impacted society, but more specifically people. Facebook has allowed us as a society, the ability to share picture with the click of a button. Mark Zuckerberg said that his company was built around around the simple principle of user control of what they share. He believes that if people control what they share, then they will want to share more, and this has been very effective and still is.

Facebook has also forced us as a society to become better people. David Kirkpatrick, who wrote “The Facebook Effect,” says that Facebook has made it harder to cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend, because of the instant ability to check to see if they actually are. For example, If you are curious about your boyfriend or girlfriend, just check their wall, check what people have been commenting and look at what he or she has been commenting. One of my best friends broke up with his girlfriend over what she had been posting on another friend’s wall. Facebook has brought back this idea of a small town, because the instant something happens in a small town, almost everyone knows. The instant that something happens, somebody posts it on Facebook, and everyone knows, even though Facebook has over a billion users.

In conclusion, Facebook has provided us with instant connectivity to share important information, or just information with others that we wish to, as well as forcing us to be better people. The fact that Facebook is full of stalkers is not true, and even if it is, just use the privacy settings, they are easy to use and very helpful. Every problem of this type can be solved by simply educating those who don’t know.


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Update: November 14 2013

Before this project, I had no concept of blogging, I had no idea how to structure a blog. I have always been writing academically but never informally. My process started off very slowly, picking my topic was easy, I had wanted to blog about Facebook, but it was difficult to decide how I wanted to portray them as a company. I eventually decided to portray them in a positive way because my friends and I have never had a bad experience. My real trouble was narrowing the topic, I finally narrowed it enough late in the project and it ended up t being pretty good. I complete agree with what I wrote, and i haven't found an article to date. Facebook is a great tool when used properly and users are educated.


The NSA Needs a Leash

View of the NSA building. Source: nsa.gov
The NSA has too much authority concerning the privacy of the US citizens, and the policies need to be changed because the NSA can spy on virtually anyone freely. The NSA is gathering information from US citizens daily.It is abusing Its rights as a government organization. The NSA is walking too far into the personal lives of US citizens and needs to be reprimanded. The NSA has also been taking information from different places including social sites and phone records, and the NSA thinks nothing of it. Be careful about what you're doing on the internet because it could be watching.

Former NSA Director and Department attorney John Yoo both went to newspapers to Defend the Presidential Surveillance Program, which is a set of programs which allows the NSA to spy on United States citizens. Millions of records can be gone through daily using this program to monitor whether or not you (the american) have been apart of any terrorist activity. Many pieces of information between you and the informant can be searched by this program, even the most personal things. These two do believe that there are some pieces of information about terrorist activity that can’t be attained without invading the Privacy of the US citizens. This should be a price both of us (the NSA and the US citizens) has to pay, because at the expense of our safety we get fairly extensive privacy.

Richard Epson and Roger Pilon say that invading privacy is indeed not necessary when you’re dealing with citizens that are working minimum wage jobs, but it is almost impossible to find the right balance of personal privacy and how much safety a government can provide. If too much power goes to the government then the people of the USA would have no privacy. But if the government doesn’t fiercely search everyone then there is always a chance that a terrorist will attack. While this is a valid reason for the NSA to exist the privacy of the US citizens should be the government's first priority should trust in its own people. The NSA shouldn’t be searching through mass phone records, they should be picking out the most significant ones that are most likely to cause a threat and only looking at those.

The NSA needs to stop spying on the citizens of the US because we (as US citizens) deserve the right to keep our personal information private. The NSA has multiple agents that have released information on what kind of information the NSA has access to. It is hard to balance the rights of the citizens and the power of the government but the citizens privacy should be a high priority. The NSA should only be checking information that have direct evidence of a terrorist attack, not going through mass records. While the NSA does have the responsibility to protect the US citizens, they are abusing that right, looking in on too much. US citizens shouldn’t have to monitor what they are about to say to the world or another person. But that’s just my opinion.
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Update: 11/14/13

Thank you everyone for commenting! I enjoyed reading and responding. The NSA has too much power concerning the privacy rights of citizens of the US. After reading your comments, my opinion has not changed about the NSA. I still believe that the NSA needs to be more careful about what they search through and why. Blogging has been a great learning experience for me. I feel like I'm actually talking to someone, whereas if you're writing an essay it isn't directly at anyone. I like blogging and feel like I could do it on my personal time as well. However, the place where I had the most problems was in writing the initial blog post itself, as there were a lot of holes in my blog at first, but I worked through it using extra research and a rework of my writing. Overall this experience was great and I think I'll do it again in the near future.

Violence in Sports

Source: 

Yadier Molina with a concussion in June 2008

Why are we just becoming more aware of concussions and are the changes we’ve made as the result of this evidence on concussions too big? This is the question I am trying to answer. Recently (within the last 10 years), you hear more and more stories about concussions and how brutal they are. Brutal indeed, within the past 10 years the concussion rate in high school sports has increased by 16%! In the NFL the New Orleans Saints have been fined for rewarding players with money if they knock an important player out of the game. There are many reasons for this increase.

Within the past couple of years more head protection garments have been introduced. For example, in boxing, people who wear head gear are less likely to receive mental disabilities. "On top of that, the effects of getting hit accumulate fastest in the fighters who do without headgear." This means if boxers don’t wear headgear they are more likely to get brain damage. There are many more head protectors for sports like soccer and boxing, and for football, companies are making more padded and protective helmets. This is helping prevent concussions, but in a way, it is setting up a situation where they are more likely to occur. For example, in football, with more padded helmets people are more likely to tackle head first because it won’t hurt them. But on the other side, these people are hitting hard to the head creating more concussions for the receiver of the hits. This is similar to boxing. It used to be in boxing there were no gloves, so you did not want to punch to the head because you would hurt your fingers and possibly break them. “Helmets do protect against other injuries, like skull fractures, but there's no equipment that can guarantee lowering the risk of concussion”

Sports leagues have tried to decrease the amount of blows to the head. For example, James Harrison a linebacker in the NFL was fined $125,000 for illegal helmet to helmet contact last season. Even though the NFL is trying to limit these hits, they are still being sued by four former players because these players claim the NFL was “ignoring the fact that there could be long term brain damage as a result of hits to the head”. That was 3 years ago, and since then NFL referees have been penalty “flag happy” on dangerous tackles. There has also been a lot of research done on concussions to raise awareness to the general public. There is a research center in Las Vegas who gives boxers MRIs before and after fights trying to see if there is any damage and why some athletes can receive numerous blows to the head and not receive long term damage. So far athletes have been willing to participate in this program, and over 148 boxers have participated in this research. From this research we are learning the effects of fights on the athletes body.

From a different perspective the NFL is being too harsh in changes and the players just need to “man up”. Many people believe that the National Football league is taking the football out of football and that they should let the teams just play with no helmet to helmet contact rule. The players know what they are signing up for when they enter the league and that they are making so much money that it does not matter. This is a valid argument and it should be at least considered by the league. “But is football without kick-offs still football? No more dramatic returns for touchdowns. No more advantage or disadvantage to be won or lost by improving field position. No more exciting, surprising, game-changing onside kicks.” This quote is criticizing the league for taking kickoffs out of the pro bowl. The fans just want excitement and actions and with this change that also may be changed in the regular season will take out the excitement and the fans will not be happy at all. There is a fine line between safety of players and just plain ridiculous rules.

I believe that the changes we’ve made as the result of finding out about concussions are not too big. All of the sports leagues will eventually get fined (if they haven’t already) for knowing about the damage that these concussions in sports can cause. My friend received a concussion from soccer, he now wears protective headgear. Even though the headgear doesn’t completely stop the concussions I think he is very smart to wear the protection. Society has come a long way after learning about the long term damage of concussions and they have also been very smart to make the changes they have made.
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Update: November 14, 2013
Conclusion
First, I would like to thank everybody who has read and commented on my blog. You guys gave me new ways of thinking and I have learned more because of you! I learned that many people have either had the experience of getting a concussion or someone close to them has suffered this terrible injury. I have learned how hard it is to recover from a concussion and how hard the struggle is to get back to one hundred percent. I also learned that getting a concussion is way more common that I originally thought, other than what I had heard on T.V. I had only known one person with a concussion. Now, after asking many people, I have learned that there are a lot of people in the community that have suffered a concussion and learning about their stories and roads to recovery was very interesting. It seems as though everybody agrees with my arguments and if anything, the opposing side is quite small. Some people did help clarify some things for me. For example, I had not heard of the help that many people offer and how the concussions affect the sleep patterns (one person once suffering a concussion slept 16 hours a day!). I did have to do some further research on how high school systems deal with kids who suffer concussions and found out that the colleges handle them a lot better. Overall, I really enjoyed this project and I want to thank you all for making it all so memorable!

Teen Online Dating? Should this even be happening?

Teens are going online to meet potential boyfriends and girlfriends. Yes, you read that correctly, and you may be wondering what the world has come to. What about the traditional ways of meeting people, in school or through hobbies that you share? Or, are these the old-school ways from generations before us?

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Online dating has been around since the beginning of the Internet in the 1990’s. It has only been in the past few years that online dating has become popular in the adult world, and teens (and even tweens) are following by example! Before we blame the teenagers for being hormonal and wanting attention, let’s go back to their role models. In the past five years increasing numbers of adults are experimenting with online dating. One in ten Americans have either used a dating website or a mobile dating app (PEW Internet & American Life Project). These adults are parents, role models, and leaders in teenage lives, thus creating examples for teens to follow. Teens like to feel they fit in. In order to do this, they will change or adapt to the environments around them. Some teens are going to online meeting websites because they feel more connected with their peers in the online world. Websites like Mylol.com have chat rooms where people choose to talk with people that share similar interests. These websites do not necessarily promote meeting in person but they usually ask for your location so they can connect you with like-minded teenagers in the area.

The scary fact about these sites is that you have no idea who you are talking to! It is easy for people to lie about their age, and many other details about themselves. There are cases like the Manti Te’o stories, where the college football player (Manti Te’o), had a relationship with a supposed girl for over a year. They never saw each other in person, but had an online relationship. After his girlfriend supposedly died from leukemia, it was found out that the whole relationship was a hoax. These types of stories are too real, and online it is easy to lie about details in your life. Teenagers do not think that people could be deceiving them online at any time. Mylol.com even suggests that you be yourself because “Honestly, you'll get way more friends just for being yourself.” These websites do not verify a person’s background or personal details. It is easy enough to upload a picture from Google Images of someone else that looks completely different. Mylol.com reports that they monitor every photo uploaded. This seems like quite the task since they have over 300,000 members to the website worldwide. The photos and conversations on this website are also supposedly monitored for sexually explicit content and inappropriate language.

One of the big issues with teens on these online meeting sites is the sexual content of the conversations, messages, and pictures. In Teen Dating Websites: Really, Internet?! from Raising America, the girl that created a membership to one of these types of sites got a message asking for nudes. Many of the girls on these websites are asked for pictures from people sometimes twice their age. This is illegal. Possessing naked pictures of anyone not of legal age can be classified as child pornography, even if the other person sent it willingly. On Mylol.com in the terms and conditions it states that you are not allowed to post or send messages or pictures containing sexual content. The website says that making sexual innuendos or propositions “will get your account deleted and reported to your local police. Seriously don't do it.” They do not however, report the number of people who have had their accounts deleted because of inappropriate behavior.

Online dating may appear to be an interesting place to meet new people that have similar interests as you but it can also be very dangerous. There are many people out there that could be lying to you and you would never know! There are also many circumstances that could get you in legal trouble. Are these risks worth it to try and find someone online that can relate to you? Chances are, there is someone that has similar hobbies and feelings as you do that you have not met yet. I would suggest staying away from online dating/meeting until you are older because of the safety risks, plus you have your whole life ahead of you to meet the person of your dreams.

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Conclusion:

Thank you all for your constructive comments and feedback. I enjoyed listening to all of your points of view on Teen Online Dating / Meeting. It would be interesting to see the number of people that start relationships on websites like Instagram and Facebook. I still believe that teenagers should not be looking for love on the Internet yet because of the safety risks and the safety of their personal information. Plus, teenagers still have the majority of their life to live, so I do not think they need to worry about meeting their soul mate yet. I also think it would have been interesting if I had done more research on other websites that are for teen dating to see what their privacy and safety policies are. Your comments helped me get a better perspective of people's opinions on online dating. So far no one has encouraged it. Many people think that adult online dating is all right. When do we become old enough to start online dating. Personally I think it is a choice that you must recognize the risks you could be subjecting yourself to by trying online dating, and you should be mature enough to try online dating. Since there is no such thing as a "maturity test", I think you must evaluate your own behavior and actions and see if you are fit to try online dating or not. I would like to thank my teacher for instructing us and teaching us about the digital world. I learned a lot about the digital world and how I effect it. I enjoyed learning how to blog, a different type of writing from a typical essay for school, and I also feel like I learned about my own personal digital footprint and how it can effect my future also. 

Commenting On Social Media and Websites

Source: Wikimedia Commons
With all the controversy going on about whether comments should be allowed on public websites, I think that comments should be allowed, but only if they are used correctly. In my opinion, comments are supposed to be used for helpful feedback. Obviously I do not share this opinion with a lot of people because there are some comments that are definitely not helpful .feedback. Comment content has gotten so bad that websites have even started taking down their comment streams. Popular Science, a site that publishes articles about the latest news in science, took down their comment stream at the end of September. They did this because people were commenting about false science, and according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, people believe in the content that people write in comments, so they didn’t want anyone to believe false conspiracy theories. Popular Science also took them down because of internet trolls, which is another huge problem in comments.

I think that instead of taking comments down, websites should just moderate their comments for profanity. Some big news sites, like the New York Times, have even hired people to delete comments if they are uncivil. They will delete the comment if they do any of these things:

“You called someone an idiot, a moron, a dope, a dummy, or something else uncivil. No name-calling and personal abuse.”
“You used profanity. Our rules forbid even mild oaths and vulgarities that are now common on TV and the web. We know people talk this way every day, even in our newsroom, but certain words do still offend and anger people, or at the very least make them less likely to come back here. If you wouldn't say it in front of your mother, a minister or a 5-year-old, think twice about saying it here.”
A new way that website owners are trying to make comments more civil is that they are making people who comment login from Facebook, or make an account with them just so they can leave comments. They do this so people can not be anonymous if they comment inappropriate content. I don’t like this idea because if I want to comment, I don’t want people to see my name out there, I would rather stay anonymous as I think a lot of people would as well. Plus I don’t want people to have a link to my facebook so they can creep on me. Instead of doing this, I think website owners should pick the comments that get shown on the site as some already have like the New York Times. Another commenting issue that is being resolved right now is the commenting on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Whenever I scroll through Youtube comments, I see terrible comments everywhere, and I wonder why the person that posted the video doesn’t delete the comments. Sometimes comments even get disabled on certain videos that usually involve kids or something because they know that people will probably go and say terrible things about the video.

In order for all of these problems to be fixed, I think that people should just moderate their comments for trolls and comments that may cause a stream of negativity to start, because comments can be helpful to the producer, and also they can create helpful conversations among people on the topic. I don’t think that people should just delete their comment streams because that is not really fixing the problem.

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Update: November 14, 2013

I believe that comments still should be moderated for uncivilness. One comment I have gotten asks whether I think people should moderate the comments or should the creator of the website or whatever it is moderate the comments. This made me think because I had never actually thought really hard about who should moderate the comments nor talked about it much. I concluded that the creator should moderate them because they should be the ones to decide what the people are going to read, whether it is helpful feedback or not or if it makes the source look good. If people moderated them, they could just delete whatever they wanted, so a lot of people would delete the good comments and leave the bad comments unmoderated, which would ruin the point of even moderating comments. I also got an interesting perspective from someone saying that if comment streams were gone, they would just read a book because if it's and article or an online source without comment streams, then it basically is a book, it is just electronic. If I had a choice of reading a book/article or reading something online, I would choose the book.

Defining the Line: Hate Speech


Image by Carlos Latuff
Among the biggest plagues of the internet is hate speech. Anyone and everyone can be affected by hate speech, and the perpetrators defend it with the prospect of freedom of speech. While hate speech is technically a form of free speech, it should be regulated because of the harm it can or has caused.

According to the Huffington Post, “Stricter regulation of Internet speech will not be popular with the libertarian-minded citizens of the United States, but it's necessary.” The key word here is libertarian. By definition, libertarians hold liberty above all other political aspects. The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights is the right of free speech. The general interpretation of this amendment is absolute free speech with little restriction. However, the same article proves that this is not the case because “The court has imposed numerous restrictions on speech. Fighting words, libel and child pornography are all banned.” They are banned for good reason, too. Masking something as dreadful as child pornography as “free speech” is simply absurd. The treatment that hate speech receives should be no different because it has the potential to be just as harmful.

As one of the largest social networking sites, Facebook is ripe with opinions, debates, and tons of hate speech, of course. Matthias C. Kettemann has taken his time digging through Facebook’s new Abuse Standard 6.2 manual, and writing about the relationship that humor and hate speech has. He has found extremely arbitrary policies such as “Users are also not allowed to describe sexual activity in writing, except when an attempt at humor or insult.” Basically this allows users to make sex jokes or sexually charged insults towards whomever they wish, but activity is a BIG NO-NO. That raises some eyebrows. Back on the topic of hate speech, the guidelines in the manual says “humor overrules hate speech UNLESS slur words are present or the humor is not evident.” Notice how humor is present again. One of the big parts of hate speech is humor. Hate speech isn't just attacking one group of people directly, it is also comprised of jokes that include, but are not limited to racism, homophobia, and misogyny. There is a large gray area that separates humor and hate speech, and frankly, Facebook isn't doing a good job of defining that line. Laura Bates wrote about that line in The Guardian. Laura quotes Facebook's community standards which says "Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech." However, Laura has made it clear that "how it makes that distinction" is well, not clear. Hate speech, arbitrary policies, poor moderation, and a large community such as Facebook is simply a recipe for disaster.

Bringing about the complete annihilation of hate speech without damaging anyone’s right of free speech seems like one of the best things ever. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible and would only make things worse. Take something like Twitter, an extremely popular microblogging site with millions of users and points of view. Just like Facebook, there’s still a ton of hate speech on there. Suppressing hate speech so vigorously is like trying to plug up a volcano. One way or another, the theoretical volcano that is hate speech would just explode, and even more violently than before because everything that was blocked would just be released at once. Greg Lukianoff also has an analogy about banning hate speech. He states that "forcing hate speech underground by banning it is like taking Xanax for syphilis. You may briefly feel better about your horrible disease, but your sickness will only get worse." Even if you could get rid of it, it will only provide temporary relief. What I wish is regulation of hate speech and good moderation policies, which ensures that the worst of hate speech will never see the light of day while others can communicate freely.

Hate speech is actually banned in several countries like Canada, Australia, and India, but we will be focusing on the United Kingdom’s stance on hate speech and how banning it worked out for them. The penalty for hate speech in the UK is usually fines and/or imprisonment. However that usually doesn’t stop some anonymous individuals from expressing their hateful opinions. Like Facebook’s moderation policy, the UK’s hate speech can be arbitrary. In Douglas Murray’s article about double standards in the UK’s hate speech laws, he basically writes that if you were a non-Muslim and wrote something like “Islam is a religion and a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society. Because of media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown,” then you aren't allowed to enter the UK. However, these words were uttered by Robert Spencer, author of the Islamophobic-considered blog Jihad Watch. This fact seems to contradict my point, BUT the words were stated to be the reason for his refusal by the Home Secretary. If you are a Muslim, however, and write something like “Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer”, then you’re just fine! I don’t know if you’re a fan of smashing skulls, but I think that the second statement is far more radical than the first and would be more likely to cause trouble. The first statement just doesn't seem like hate speech, either. It doesn't TRY to attack Islam or it’s believers, despite being from someone that is considered an Islamophobe. It seems like a pretty constructive statement to me. As you can see, England’s abolishing of hate speech is as about as effective as taking aspirin to stop bleeding.

Obviously, hate speech is a huge problem in today’s technological age, where the world is so much easier to access. What I’m trying to get across here is A: Hate speech is bad and something needs to be done about it. B: There’s a huge gray area between hate speech and other things like humor and constructive discussion. C: Banning it is tough and it will make the problem worse. D: Countries have actually outlawed hate speech and it didn't work well. Finally, point E, which is compromise between the libertarians and those who want to eradicate hate speech. We can’t just leave hate speech around and we can’t outlaw it without consequences. The best option here is regulation. Now, you might ask who’s doing the regulating. It’s really up to the private companies and administrators of the sites on which hate speech takes place. They can ban comments at their own discretion. Users of services can help using the Report Abuse button, but that has the potential for abuse and moderators would have to wade through many false reports. Governments can’t legally interfere with the sites, but they could chime in with their opinion. Regulation is the safest option and it still gets the job done.

Comments? Questions? Hate Speech? Put them all down below!

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Conclusion Update: November 14, 2013

Hello, readers and fellow bloggers. I would like to impart my gratitude to those who spoke up with me or against me to discuss the dreadful topic of hate speech. As you might know, this post is about my argument for regulation of hate speech in response to the harm that hate speech inflicts, despite it technically being a form of free speech. I frequently called for the formation of a line that separates humor from hate speech, a line that is extremely blurred today. The comments came from several people with different stances to the situation. Despite differing opinions that some people have, I remain adamant in regards to my opinion on the control of hate speech. The comments clarified and even amplified my stance on the matter. The differing opinions that some commenters left forced me to go through all my evidence, which gave me fuel for my counter-argument fire, as well as meat for the main post. (I admit I was a little harsh with the replies. Oh well.) I was both relieved and disappointed that I did not have to search for new evidence for my replies. Relieved because less work for the procrastinator that is me. Disappointed that I did not get to look at even more opinions on the topic of hate speech. On the topic of blogging, I very much enjoyed the experience. To splatter my entire viewpoint of a situation on a page and have it evaluated is a very satisfying experience. I especially love that you have a little more freedom to express yourself and use your own "voice." I would certainly not type up a school essay with the same vigor and venom. Blogging is a great way to improve your writing and voice your opinions. I will definitely blog again somewhere down the road, and I look forward to reliving the experience.

What is Really Coming Out of Your Speakers

By Jack Newton (Flickr: Hipster) , via Wikimedia Commons
Inappropriate music and music videos can have a negative effect on its listeners and viewers. It should be regulated before being put online or published. Some songs or music videos are not explicit or inappropriate but others are. “Inappropriate” is a word that can be interpreted in many different ways. One of the ways is not appropriate, not proper, or suitable. In this case we are looking at how music and music videos can be not appropriate or not suitable for its viewers. According to an article from Pediatrics.org research has reported that exposure to violence, sexual messages, sexual stereotypes, and substance abuse in music videos might produce significant changes in behaviors and attitudes of young viewers. This brings up a point, how should music be regulated so that viewers who are too young or viewers who should not be watching the video or listening to the song are not doing these activities?

On a blog about the effects of music on its listeners, many people argued that music does not have a negative effect. One post from a blog on this issue reads, “Kids understand the difference between right and wrong. There is no way that music can affect a kids perspective on life.” Yes this is an opinion but it brings up a good point. If music does not have an effect on kids then why do kids exposed to these inappropriate videos and songs show more mood changes and changes in behavior? One idea that I believe is a major player is that viewers, especially teenagers and kids, see these artist as role models. In many cases these artist are not the perfect role models parents want their kids to be looking up to. In an interview with Macklemore, a local Seattle hip hop artist, he talks about how music artists influenced him personally.



The song "otherside" talks about substance abuse and especially the abuse of cough syrup. Here is also the song that he talks about. As you can see from the interview these artist have a major effect on kids. Now with that said sometimes the influence can be positive but in many case such as Macklemore’s it is negative. Where are these kids being influenced negatively? The main source is music and music videos. A 2003 report revealed that three in four 16-24 year olds watched MTV. MTV has the highest percentage of videos showing usage of alcohol and smoking. So 75% 16 to 24 year olds are watching music videos that are showing usage of alcohol and smoking. The Kaiser Family Foundation did another survey among 2760 adolescents that showed that watching television and music videos that shows the usage of alcohol and drugs had an increase of risky behaviors and alcohol use. All three of these facts are related to show how teens consume these inappropriate ideas. As seen here the main source for adolescents is MTV. But what is the main source of actual music for them? Radio or downloads is among the top of the list. But those two are not clean either. "Sex, alcohol, drugs, and profanity are easy to find: just turn on the radio. During the summer of 2009, the top 20 songs were full of such references." From June 10 to July 22 [2009], 29 songs were listed on the top 20 airplay charts as posted by Mediabase. An astonishing 69 percent of the songs made at least one reference to sex, alcohol, drugs, or contained profanity. Nearly half (46 percent) of the songs contained sexual lyrics and 31 percent of the songs referenced drugs or alcohol. Profanity occurred in 41 percent of the songs. Those are high numbers. Shouldn’t the radio be full of music that sends a good message to kids instead of glorifying inappropriate content? I believe so. Many things have been put into place to keep kids from viewing these songs or videos. Like for example on Youtube some videos you have to confirm your age to watch. Also on some radio stations words and cut from songs. 

Unfortunately this is just a start. There is a lot more that needs to be done to try and clean up our media. Putting age requirements for viewers to watch music videos or encouraging artist to not put inappropriate content in their music. It is up to use to make these changes though. Do we want kids growing up with these inappropriate ideas? I think not. From this article I hope I have showed you a different side of the media and convinced you that inappropriate music does have a negative effect on kids.
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Update: November 15, 2013

Hello wonderful world of the internet! It is me again. Here to wrap things up with a little reflection on my experience writing, commenting, and researching this blog topic. I am sure we have all seen the news headlines ranting and raving about certain music performances and music videos and how inappropriate they are. Well Inappropriate music and music videos can have a negative effect on its listeners and viewers. It should be regulated before being put online or published. This needs to happen but on the flip side you do not want to limit the artists. You can not take away their freedom of speech through their music. Personal I enjoy music that tells a story or reflects on past events in ones life. How do we make sure that music is either changed or censor without taking away from the quality of the music? This was brought up in my comments by SiestaMan27. I believe it was a very good point. How do we do this so that it will last in the long run? Once I was presented with this question I did some research. To my surprise there was very little on what should we do but when trying to find articles that showed that inappropriate music had a negative effect the research was easy due to the amount of articles on that topic. Interesting? I think so. The facts are there but the solution is not. Is it up to us to find the solution? From the looks of things I believe so. What to do though? I say start at the source of the music, the artists. Lets encourage the creation and writing of positive and appropriate music. Are we being good digital citizens if we are encouraging the creation of this inappropriate music by posting it on youtube or liking the song online? All we are doing is encouraging and asking for more. Send an email to an artists, post a comment on their Facebook or Twitter account, or create a blog on this topic. All we need to do is ask and hopefully we will receive what we need.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do you know who your Facebook ‘Friend’ really is?

Facebook Like Thumb, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Although social media has been, over years, a way for friends to meet each other and keep in touch over distance, 91% of teens say that they use social sites to keep in touch with friends(pew), For many people social media has been used to allow them to know people that they normally would never meet and keep in touch with friends and family that live far away. it has also been exploited by criminals who use social media to hurt people (Boone) and is notorious for being used by stalkers, perverts, and rapists. This article looks into the cons of digital relationships and the dangers of revealing personal information online and what the consequences may be.For many people social media has exposed them to being bullied, harassed, and even sexually abused by trust given in someone they had never met.

Most people on social sites such as Twitter or Facebook are actually fairly truthful about their identities. However they also share much of their information publicly. In a survey 60% of teenagers stated that they were completely comfortable with their Facebook privacy settings and only 2% stated that they found the privacy settings ‘difficult’. However it was also found that teens with 600 or more facebook ‘friends’ also shared, on average, more private or personal information about themselves while people with 50-150 ‘friends’ were 7% less likely to share their real name and 14% less likely to share the city or town that they lived in. People with 600 or more ‘friends’ are also 24% more likely to post their phone number. (Pew)

However perverts and rapists have been notorious for using social sites to form digital relationships with minors. These criminals can get close to people without even revealing their true identities or intentions. for instance in 2010 a UK man was charged with sexually abusing hundreds of children over digital media and even confessed to having set up ‘meetings’ with the children he was harassing.(Lavrusik) Police can use this to catch potential rapists Operation Cardea was used by Florida PD to catch 50 men of 19-60 years old from various ethnicities and backgrounds. These men believed they were going to have sex with minors as young as 11.(Cardea) This really emphasizes how people will do drastic things such as hooking up with people they may not even know in person simply over trust given online.

Criminals have used digital relationships to get close to their potential victims and learn private information and even their victims movements and location. Digital Relationships can be a way for criminals to find potential targets for burglary as well. Burglars can “cyber case” (Boone)houses. For example if a person says “We are all going on vacation for a week” Then the burglar knows that the house will be empty for a long time and that it would be an easy target. (Boone) People have been often known to be foolish enough to add people that they don’t know on Facebook(Pew) or publicly display inside views of their houses as well as their current location, their address, etc.(Boone) All of this information could be tools for a potential burglar who can now easily scope out a house without even having to leave their home.

All of this crime and sexual assaults could be avoided if people simply did not share as much personal information on public social sites where they have countless relationships in which people share extremely personal information with people that they barely know. Digital relationships are already becoming safer with 71% more people 18-29 year-olds limiting what they share on public sites.(Lavrusik) However the change for a safer digital world in which people do not have to fear posting things about themselves is in the hands of the ordinary person who chooses to be safe and smart for the good of themselves and their ‘friends’.


Conclusion:

It is incredibly important for people to be more careful and think about what information they post online with the idea of who might read it. Posting on Facebook is often very public and being careful about what you post can protect you and your family from criminals who use the internet to hurt people and to gather information to use against people. I was very shocked that the more 'friends' people had the more publicly they shared their personal information. I had thought that the opposite was true and am happy that I received a comment asking about it. People should be more mindful about what they post to make the internet a safer place for everyone. Not a place where criminals use the internet to track down their victims. Thank you for reading and commenting. 

Is It Safe to Share Online?

Lock.Shared by Tomascastelazo under Creative Commons License
Nowadays, more and more people like to use social networking sites and share their photos or videos online. A national survey in 2008 by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that about 90% of teenagers are online and have social networking sites and 80% send and receive photos and videos. But is it safe to share online? I think most people will reply: “Of course. I just sit in front of the computer, so I can do anything I want !” However, do you know the hidden dangers of sharing online? Sharing online can be very dangerous.

Strangers can know your precise location when you share a picture on a social network site. There is an article about the dangers of photo-sharing online on NY Daily News by Kimberly Palmer. She reports that a soldier's photo was stolen and posted on another website. Someone used it to control a woman out of thousand of dollars. A family photo was stolen and used as an advertisement in the Czech Republic. A mother's four-year-old photo was pulled out and posted on another website, and unexpectedly the tittle of the picture was "sexiness..." This article shows us some real-life examples about the dangers of sharing online. The picture that you share online not only can be stolen but also can show someone where you are by GPS. And the author suggests we should not share pictures casually and we should check our settings to make sure we don’t share personal information. 

Some users of social media are confused and think they are safe online. Although strangers know where I am, I’m still safe, right? And I will say, NO! Sharing personal information online is really dangerous! Russ Warner has written an article called Real Danger in Sharing Too Much Info Online on a website called “I keep safe”. He wrote, “Other consequences of information over sharing could include home burglary while on vacation or identity thieves taking your identity because you posted your birthdate, address, and cellphone number on Facebook. It’s called the “World Wide Web” for a reason—it’s worldwide.” He describes a girl sharing online that she was alone at home and then she was murdered by someone because the information she sent also showed her location at the same time. And the author suggests that parents use security software to monitor their children if the children like to share information online. Does that scare you? I feel really sad about this young child’s experience, but it shows us it can be so dangerous if you share too much personal information. I think if parents want to monitor their children, they should ask the children for permission first.

Some people realize the problem of over-sharing, and a company made an interesting app called “Snap Chat”. Here’s a video about Felix Gillette discussing the success of snap chat. Felix Gillette said, "The stuff will essentially live forever in the cloud...and the default setting for Facebook and Twitter is that the stuff will live for eternity in the cloud..." It shows the image we send will disappear in ten seconds by Snap Chat and it is the reason that most teenagers like this photo-sharing app: they think it provides security for them. However, does it really help? In my opinion, although the image will disappear, online friends still have some ways to save the image like by using screenshots. And someone has published an app on the internet called "Snap Save" that saves images from Snap Chat. Therefore, I still think it is not safe to share online.

Conclusion:
Why do people want to share online? For communication. We want to build up relationships, so we choose to communicate by sharing things online. Because Digital Citizenship is defined as the appropriate and responsible behavior and effective participation in an online community, it intends to make people communicate safely, clearly and effectively. This blog shows the dangers of sharing online. That's the importance of this blog.

Most of the comments to my blog are that the dangers of sharing online can be avoided through some ways, so sharing online is safe. Maybe I didn't clarify my point clearly. "Sharing online can be very dangerous" doesn't mean I suggest not sharing online. I also share things online, but I never share my personal information. Nowadays we can see many people sharing their pictures online, and they are still safe. It is mainly because there aren't that many bad guys who want to pry into other people's affairs or kill people. Whether sharing online is dangerous or not actually depends on human beings.

An  anonymous commenter thought that parents don't have the knowledge about online security so that they aren't able to monitor their children. In response, I found an article called 13 Tips for Monitoring Kids’ Social Media ,I hope it will help. By the way, I really appreciate him helping me to clarify the meaning of my image. Even a good lock eventually rusts!

Actually I didn't have a blog before and I think neither do the other students. I really learned a lot during blogging, like I should choose my topic and find my private opinion, then use the keywords of the opinion to search on the Internet to find the most suitable sources and marshall them logically. It was really fun!

Do Women Get the Respect They Deserve in Gaming?

Women are not respected in today’s gaming community. They are sexually harassed, overlooked by the gaming industry, and stereotyped constantly. This is not right. The fact of the matter is that about half of the gaming population is made up of women. 45 percent to be exact, and the number is rising. So even with a population filled with women why are they still discriminated against?

 In online gaming women are harassed constantly. They are made to feel like a minority by other gamers through cat calling and unintelligent and generally rude remarks. It leads many female gamers to attempt to hide their online identity, and change how they act around male gamers. In some of my own experience in online gaming, I have chatted with some female players or overheard presumably male players verbally abusing them through the online chat mechanic. When I have talked to female gamers, some of whom are my friends, they simply seemed confused why some male gamers just attack them. They say the majority of male gamers they meet online are friendly or at least not hostile toward them, but that minority who talks trash toward female gamers is discouraging toward them. Many female gamers I know, who once played with a headset no longer do so, because although they understand friendly or competitive trash talk, when it is constant harassment it's not pleasant to anybody, including the other male players who wish only to play and have fun such as myself. Obviously, this pushes women away from online gaming and gaming in general. 

 The truth is that the discrimination goes back as far as the game developers. Women are a minority in the game development community. Even on games aimed at the female demographic, their input is sometimes brushed aside by male developers. Gaming companies also seem inherently biased toward male gamers. Many games revolve around the damsel in distress concept and are often times enjoyable, but the ratio of games about a “damsel in distress” compared to games that are about a male in distress is quite disproportionate. Compared to the number of games where there is a “damsel in distress” you can count the number of games where a female protagonist is attempting to save a male on one hand, such as the new Tomb Raider game, in which the female protagonist saves multiple male characters at one point or another.

Image courtest of Deviantart.com
There is also the issue of over sexualization in video games. Chances are if there is a female lead in a game she has a disproportionate, unrealistic, sexualized body, wearing a bikini into a firefight. In games with great plots and an intelligently designed storyline, many female characters are often times made into eye candy. While this may be something that twelve year old pubescent boys enjoy, many mature male gamers who play games for their immersiveness or challenge do not. It takes away from the fun. It is impossible to take a life or death situation seriously in a video game if your character is in a miniskirt and crop top t-shirt. Likewise there is only rare contrast in games when male characters are exposed at this level. Often times you will see male characters in perfectly respectable attire alongside female characters that are mostly naked. If a male character is ever this exposed in a game he is often stereotyped as “gay” or “weird” whereas with female characters it is commonplace to do so. Gradually many games have been becoming better about this, such as the recent Tomb Raider game, which once had its lead female protagonist grossly over sexualized, but has toned it down to a realistic level with it’s most recent title. Other games which were once dominated by males characters have added females in respectable roles
into the cast, such as Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty Ghosts. 

Women are gradually becoming a huge part of a once male dominated industry, and if the industry wishes to survive, women need to be given the respect they deserve, not just by male players but by the gaming industry itself.

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Update: November 14, 2013

Women do not get the respect they deserve in gaming. This is an issue of digital citizenship for both women and men. It gives men and gaming a bad reputation and disempowers women who want to enjoy video games and who would otherwise grow and expand the gaming industry. My comments mainly focused on the verbal abuse of women in online gaming. This really made me examine how women are treated into online gaming and made me think about my own personal experiences in gaming and what I could have possibly done different or if id do the same. In all the blogging process seemed a bit like any other research project, only that it was a little more relaxed and allowed for more of my own opinion. The comments were also helpful and insightful to my progress in my blog. All in all I've learned a lot about gaming and what goes on behind closed (and not so closed) doors.

Opinionated News

Do you ever wonder when you are watching the news if what you’re hearing is true or exaggerated? Trust me it’s not true! The bias in the media has made our news opinion based instead of maintaining their neutrality. This has made the public poorly informed. Last year MSNBC, Fox News and CNN were tested on their opinionated comments for three days. MSNBC had 85% opinion 15% fact. Crazy, right? Fox News had 55% opinion with 45% fact and CNN had 45% opinion and 55% fact. But were these facts supporting their views? Of course they were Fox even admitted, “We offer opinions not seen anywhere else.” This is just me but shouldn't you say that you offer facts or quality something other than opinion? People want to feel that they can trust their facts.

Now if you happen to be a Republican, Conservative, or agreeing to the shutdown you may think that I’m picking on Fox a little bit. Some reporters are calling this era the “Foxification of News.” You could think this is outrageous and a crazy comment to a so called “fair and balanced” quality news show but just watch this clip and you may believe me. I was surprised at how they viewed a Democrat being elected for president, John Kerry, they thought of it as “unthinkable” for it to happen. Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s go to the government shutdown. The problem is that the public is being poorly informed of why this shutdown is happening. The Obama administration had passed a law for affordable healthcare A.C.A act. The Republicans didn’t agree with some of the details about this new law so they threatened to shut down the government and ultimately did resulting in hundreds of thousands government workers without pay for several weeks . The political press’s job is to hold one party (republicans) accountable for their actions and notify the public about what has happened. "Journalists have been suckered into embracing 'balance' and 'neutrality' at all costs," says Dan Froomkin from Aljazeera. The press is showing a bias from not holding a party responsible. Why Does the press choose not to hold the Republicans responsible?
Bias in the news is sometimes viewed as normal. Frederick Allen states “Every one of us is biased; we all like to hear news in a way that supports our own preexisting views”. The bad thing about newspapers is that they’re forced to use bias and or facts to support their opinion. If they don’t make their stories interesting the newspaper can’t exist because it won’t attract readers. One way to identify different types of bias is Commercial bias. The preference for exciting stories. So if there’s a US senator that dies the news would rather focus on Kim Kardashian's baby. Bad news bias. A child was kidnapped, raped and killed makes us drawn to read the rest of the stories.

It is our job as citizens to find trustworthy news information this is difficult because we all have a bias and we just need to match that with a news show. We pay a price for freedom in the US this is just one of those prices we pay. This is human nature we just want hear our views mirrored back at us.The CNN President claimed "In this day and age you should have a point of view, but not necessarily one that's rooted in knee-jerk ideology.” I agree with this quote because everyone has bias but not one that we’re born with or destined to have. The bias has made our news very unreliable.

We can all try to find reliable news but we must face that most of the things we hear in the news is either not true or exaggerated. PBS and Al Jazeera are two good examples of news programing trying to break the barrier of bias to transform our news and make the public more informed. So think twice when you see a outrageous news headline and check your sources to find out why this story is so important. That’s what will do and I hope you will too.

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Update: November 14, 2013

This project has really made me realize if what I hear on the news is real or just what they want me to either hear or think. This has definitely changed my mind on what the news shows are trying to do which is to make us notice them and hopefully watch again. This is a great  idea because it will make people notice you but it also makes the american public a lot less informed on the current issues facing our world today. An example is maybe the pope approves twerking but a plane crashed in Norway killing two thousand civilians. This helped clarify this issue because I didn't know all the types of bias and who targets who with different biases in the news. I was also able to realize how serious this issue is because it has become so hard to find news that is not opinionated. I did had to do a little extra research to prove that Fox News's bias does work because their ratings are very high so people are obviously are buying into their bias. I enjoyed the writing of blogging because you can write like you're having a conversation so it comes much more naturally than a paper which has more guidelines. I also think that with the writing style of blogs people are able to connect with you better because of the personal touch being put on the writing. Blogging is a way to share your ideas with the whole world safely and effectively. I enjoyed this project and might even do some more blogging in my free time.

Parents? It's Time to 'Check In'

Adults need to enforce stronger punishments when kids are caught cyberbullying. Kids need to be held accountable for their actions and need a punishment when they are caught doing something that puts someone else down. The Globe and Mail states that “We are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyberbullying, most recently the tragic losses of Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia and Amanda Todd in British Columbia.” Rehtaeh Parsons took her life by hanging herself after being cyberbullied because of a picture. The picture was apparently of her being sexually assaulted and it was passed around her school. Amanda Todd took her life on October of 2012. She took her life because she was being cyberbullied by a cyber-stalker and eventually couldn’t handle it anymore. These deaths could've been prevented if the parents or adult figures in these teenagers' lives realized what their kids were doing online and took action.

Words can hurt and cause extreme damages, the damages being suicide, self harm, depression and more. According to The Globe and Mail, “most bullies or those being bullied are children and youth.” Also Bullying Statistics says that “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.” Where do kids learn to treat other kids so horribly while on social networking sites? The answer that makes the most sense is they learn it from seeing the comments on networking sites and think it is okay to talk to people they do or don’t know in harsh or judgemental ways. In order to better prevent kids from bullying other kids online is to show them what the right thing to do is to begin with. Most kids don’t know how much damage their words cause, and it’s because of what they are witnessing both online and face to face.

My Secure Cyberspace states that “cyberbullying takes place over the Internet and mobile devices in ways that could be completely hidden from the knowledge of parents, guardians and school staff.” With this being said, parents allow their children to have access to technology like cell phones, computers, and other devices, trusting them to use irresponsibly. According to Marketing Land, 94% of teenagers use Facebook. What most parents don’t know is that their kids are really abusing their power and using their technology in a way that hurts other people. Now don’t get me wrong, not all kids are like this and don’t go raiding your child’s phone because of what I am telling you, but really know that you should be aware of both your child’s behavior and the way they treat others.

An opposing argument that people could make in regards to parents or adult figures getting involved would be that kids should have freedom of speech as stated in the First Amendment. According to ABA Journal, a bill is being proposed by Indiana’s House of Representatives. This bill would give parents and teachers the power to punish students for treating people harshly online whether or not it is happening inside or outside of schools. However, there are people that would argue that this is going against the First Amendment stating that everyone has the right to say what they want. But when are kids going too far and when should adults have to power to take action in stopping what is said online.

Freedom of speech is definitely something to think about when it comes to leaving comments online. But when is it too much and when should adults have the right to stop and punish kids for what they write online? Parents cannot afford to be checked out, they need to check in and start being aware of what is happening online.

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Update: November 14, 2013

Conclusion: Ultimately I didn't learn much about cyberbullying other than what I already knew. However, the comments that other bloggers left on my blog helped me to consider other options on how to deal with cyberbullying. For example teaching kids at a young age how to act responsibly on the internet. Teaching kids how to be more responsible from a young age is a huge thing and probably would have a major effect on cyberbullying. It would have a major effect because if you learn how to do something from a young age, then it helps you remember how to act when you start to get older. The comments that were left on my blog made it clear that telling an adult isn't always going to solve the problem immediately or at all, especially in the case of cyberbullying. However, I do believe that telling an adult would indeed help lessen the amount of people that cyberbully. Although these comments didn’t make me change my mind about the way to deal with cyberbullying, they really opened my mind and made me think that maybe teaching kids when they are young how to act appropriately on the internet is a smart thing to do especially if you want them to learn how to act responsibly when they grown up both online and face to face.