Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Parents Posted WHAT about me!

A little while ago I looked up my name and guess what I found? Pictures of me when I was 5! While the photos were not particularly embarrassing, I still didn't want the whole world to see them. I am not the only person going through this. A 2010 study reported that 81% of kids world wide have an online presence by the age of two. In America that number increases to 92%. While parents might be proud of Junior and all of his accomplishments, we don’t want to see pictures of him in the bath, and I’m sure that Junior feels the same.

While my dad doesn't post about me to embarrass me, and neither do net icons like BatDad(seen on right), it is still embarrassing to see pictures of yourself when you were younger. I am the daughter of parents that won’t even let me get a Facebook account because they are worried that I will post something that I will be embarrassed or ashamed about later, yet they posted pictures of me without asking.

Most parents actually know less about online safety that their children do. There are parents all over the world that never use privacy settings and yet tell their kids to ‘always use privacy settings’ when they don’t even know how to turn theirs on.

On the other hand, in a concerned effort to preserve privacy, there are parents that post nothing about their children, though this is almost impossible in this day and age. Amy Webb, the author of the article We Post Nothing about Our Daughter Online, found that out the hard way when someone claimed that they had found a picture of her daughter online.

There are many theories about why parents feel the urge to post everything about their kids online. One theory is that parents feel insecure about their parenting, so they seek the comfort of the internet and other people saying the same thing. Another is the common ‘Parent Pride’ idea, sharing your child’s cuteness or accomplishments, such as my parents did in the surprise I found online recently. Another idea is that parents think that they have found a solution to a problem and feel the urge to post about it. This last theory is actually helpful to some parents, “ More people are reading about parenting in order to reduce their anxiety by seeking a ‘recipe’ to follow.” said Pamela Savoy. I have nothing against parents posting about their kids, as long as they don’t mention their kids names or post pictures, and while it may still be embarrassing when mom posts things like how hard it is to deal with a kid going through puberty, it is a lot better if their name is not mentioned.

While the majority of the world is in agreement with keeping a child's anonymity until they can decide for themselves, there are some people who think that it is a good thing that parents share pictures of their children online. Andrew Leonard says that “we are strengthening the ties that bind a larger community of family and friends together.” Some people think that it is a way for people to become more friendly towards each other and become a more tight knit community.

But do you really want to become a more tight knit community by sharing pictures, not of yourselves, but of your kids online with people you don’t know? Personally, I would share more about myself, which I give myself permission to do, rather than share pictures of my children without asking their permission. I am perfectly fine with people embarrassing themselves, but as soon as they bring other people into the picture, especially when the person might have no control over what they were doing(i.e. two-year-olds), it is invasion of privacy.

If you are a kid who has an embarrassing picture of yourself posted on the web and you want your parents to take it down, my advice would be to TELL THEM. Most of the time, your parents will listen. I don't mean to storm to your parents' room and start screaming at them to take the pictures down. Talk to them about it. Explain what about the picture embarrasses you and ask them to get your permission before they post any pictures of you in the future. They might say that they aren't trying to embarrass you, and they probably aren't. This isn't them being insensitive, this is them being too proud of you to see how it might be embarrassing. Stay strong! If you tell them why you want it down, they will listen. I talked to my dad about taking the photos of me down. He told me he would... except he didn't have access to that account anymore, so he couldn't. So I have pictures of me on the web forever, much to my horror. But most people won't lose access to their accounts. So ASK! You will be happy you did.

I perfectly understand the desire to post pictures of your kids, and I am sure that everyone does, but next time you are about to post a picture of your kid, think ‘When my child grows up, will they want this picture online?’. If the answer is no, which it usually will be, then don’t post it. Even net icons like BatDad admitted that if their children were embarrassed by what they posted online, they would feel very bad.  So my advice to parents is think before you post.  Would you want your parents to post embarrassing pictures of you on the web? Always remember the golden rule. If you don’t want someone to do it to you, don’t do it to someone else.

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Conclusion, Updated March 7th

This was my first time writing a blog and I must say that it is a lot different than writing an essay for English class. For one, I can use personal pronouns like “I” without getting docked points. It was also really scary to state my opinion to the entire world and open myself up to criticism. But it wasn't just my opinion that I was offering to the world, it was also a personal story, i.e. the permanent photos, and how I felt and responded to it. After launching my blog, I went back every other day or so and would read the comments. The first day I checked I was scared that people would just criticize me, but there were mostly positive responses. It was great reading that almost everyone agreed with me and the stories that people would share about their own experiences. But I also enjoyed reading the comments that disagreed with me. Those posts challenged me to think differently and see my topic from someone else's view. It made me go out and read more about my topic, and I found a lot of arguments that say that parents shouldn't post pictures of their kids and lots of arguments saying that it was fine. However, I am still of the opinion that parents shouldn't post pictures of their kids. If you are a parent and you do post a picture, just be ready to take the pictures down when you kids want you to.

Is Technology Negatively Affecting Our Health?

Yes, the overuse of technology is negatively affecting our health due to potential hazards of magnetic  eye strain and overstimulation.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Watching television or surfing the web before bed lowers the sleep producing melatonin and increases alertness to things. That is why when you go to bed and close your eyes after looking at a screen for a long time, you will see flashing lights or a reflection of what you had just seen. “Out of a poll of 1,604 people, 95 percent reported that they used the internet before going to bed.”Huffington Post A lot of people are using computers and cell phones before bed, which means that they are probably experiencing the side effects of seeing the flashing lights.

Noise can affect your study habits as much as it can your health. An example of this was prevalent in two classrooms of New York. One was close to some train tracks where it was noisy and distracting. The other classroom was located on the opposite side of the building where it was quiet and could see the park. Results show that the classroom next to the train tracks “fell nearly a year behind” the others. A reason why noise affects people so much is because in everyday life you hear noises everywhere, whether it be the buzz from your phone or someone talking in a room next to yours. Your brain picks up all of these noises and determines whether they are wanted or unwanted. So, if you are in an environment that is very noisy, you might not work as efficiently because of the distracting atmosphere.

According to the National Cancer Institute phones emit radio frequency and affect parts of tissue that are closest to it. The rate of calls are going up. In 2000, 110 million people were connected to cellphone carriers. Now 330 million people are connected. Despite the consequences people are using cellphones for more than just calling and texting. People now communicate through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I find using my phone to call someone or text someone more important than thinking about the risks of cancer associated with it.

With all of these factors people are moving towards life with less technology. The name of this phenomenon is called the 'pushback.' People who are not using technology as much fall into 3 distinct categories. There are the addicts, discontents, and the hipsters.Seattle Times. The addicts feel as if they are pressured into checking the web every five minutes and feel like they need to stay online at all times. They are tired of this and are deciding to live with less technology. The discontents feel as though they can spend their time differently than watching Youtube videos and reading blogs that don't relate to them. Instead they could be walking around the park or even holding their pet turtle. The hipsters feel as though too many people are using the social media and take pride in reading physical books rather than eBooks and listening to vinyl than mp3. After all, the pushback is real and it is starting to become more of a trend to stop using technology in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, the overuse of technology is affecting our health negatively. Surfing the web before bed and listening to music can be detrimental to us. That is why so many people are following the ‘pushback’ to live life with less, or even without using computers, cell phones, and other devices that harm us.

After writing on this topic, I have been trying to use my phone in a more efficient way, this includes not using it right before I go to bed and not carrying it in my pocket all day. This was hard for the first week because I got so used to the instant gratification my phone provided. For example if I wanted to call someone I could do it right then and there (depending on the situation) but now I wait to call them until the end of the day just to get used to not using my phone. Now I put my phone in my backpack and hardly use it throughout the day, I communicate with friends more often now because I broke that habit. I try not to get sidetracked when using my computer to reduce the time I’m on it and get my homework done faster so I can go to bed earlier and get more sleep. Before I would get sidetracked very easily, not only because I wasn’t aware of the terrible things my computer could be doing to my brain but because I could go to sleep easier after that. Although I have never studied with music I have even more of a reason not to. Before I read the article on music I thought that it was distracting to listen to music when it is loud and very energetic. I have heard many instances of classical music being good for studying because it is soothing. Now I know not to study with my favorite song on because you will know the lyrics and your brain will subconsciously sing along with them. Also those two to three seconds it takes for you to change the song you are listening to is distracting because that time can add up. All in all I really liked writing on this topic and I have learned a lot from it through the comments and the articles.
Thank you ~ Evan

M for Misleading

M-rated game caption Courtesy of nintendoenthusiast.com))
I bet you didn’t know that 90% of critics think that M games are being viewed by an audience much too young. Or that about 69% of middle schoolers are frequent players of M rated killing games. Or that 90% of kids from the ages 12 to 17 have played a killing game. The statistics on the increase in children playing games such as Grand Theft Auto (GTA) have skyrocketed in the last 5 years alone. The result is a society that researchers speaking to the New York Times said that is more likely to get health problems, be more aggressive and be more likely to commit crime.

Researchers studying the effects of gaming have learned that it can be extremely bad for your health after just a couple years and even more so for children. The earlier the violent games start, the worse it is because by the time kids are 18 they could have easily been playing for 15 to 16 years.  Researchers from the The University of London have proved that people who play video games are 25% more likely to have health complications dealing with sensory development, eyesight, and cramping in the hands later in life. And although it has not been proven that these games lead to shooting, it is known that they increase adrenaline that can make people more susceptible to serious health complications dealing with the heart. Many people want to stop video games overall, but this is very unrealistic, and with the next generation consoles that just came out, the gore and violence are more realistic than ever.

But health complications aren’t the only thing you have to worry about when starting young. You definitely have to worry about the aspect that deals with emotions and what kind of a person games like this will make you. As a test, a team of researchers from the US, Italy and the Netherlands analyzed 172 Italian high school students aged between 13 and 19, who were required to take part in a series of experiments to determine how violent video games affected their personalities. Researchers took tests while playing GTA-5 compared to mini golf and ping pong. One of the tests included having a kid play mini golf and GTA-5 and setting chocolate next to them and telling the teenagers that it was very unhealthy to eat a lot of chocolate right before leaving the room. The teenagers who were playing GTA-5 were 3 times more likely to eat more chocolate than the people playing ping pong. Also the teenagers were then asked to solve a 10 item logic test. For each question answered correctly, they were rewarded with one raffle ticket that they could exchange for prizes.The researchers told the teenagers how many questions they answered correctly and asked them to take the correct amount of raffle tickets from an envelope. The researchers knew how many tickets were in each envelope so they would know if any of the participants had taken more tickets than they had earned. Results from this experiment revealed that the teenagers who played violent video games cheated more than eight times more, compared with those who played non-violent video games. These tests are such a clear example of how they can affect a personality and this was only one time playing GTA-5. Imagine a lifetime of playing these violent video games.

And one last reason why violence in video games is awful is because it can lead to real life shootings.
A researcher named Benedict Carey said,

“The young men who opened fire at Columbine High School, at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado., and in other massacres had this in common: they were video gamers who seemed to be acting out some dark digital fantasy. It was as if all that exposure to computerized violence gave them the idea to go on a rampage — or at least fueled their urges.” 

There are many researchers who think that exposure to violent video games can lead to negative effects in life. Eighty-five percent of scientists in the field of psychology think that the shooting was caused by something seen either by gaming or TV. The fifteen percent of people who thought it was otherwise still think that murder or violence was seen at some point in their life. While it might not be the only reason, at a young age it can be very confusing and even later in life it isn’t natural to see death on a regular basis. Because then you will start looking at death as a game that is fun and in the real world that isn’t the case. So even though it might not be the only reason for a shooting it can definitely can be a cause.

Violent video games can be truly devastating in a physical, psychological, and social standpoint and if started at a young age and kept unchecked can strip a human being of sensitivity.



Conclusion (3 March 2014)

My topic was about how video games can affect behavior in a bad way and can sometimes shape actions.  The people who commented on my blog made me think about my topic in many different ways and it was good to hear their opinions.  Though many people agreed with my opinion there were also some people who respectfully disagreed with me.  It is always good practice to hear opinions other than yours and I made sure that I kept an open mind.  Although my opinion didn't change from the other people opinions I was happy people were making an respectful opinion of their own.  All in all people comments showed me that video games relating to violence is a long hard road to talk about and try to explain.  But hopefully there will come a time where smart people like those who responded to my comments can realize a solution to this controversial topic.


Are Password Restrictions Doing More Harm Than Good?

Many sites have developed ridiculously high standards for passwords in an attempt to get people to stop using common passwords such as “password” or “letmein”. However, many websites may be at risk of inadvertently worsening the passwords. It is important to set restrictions, however, they should be set with consideration to the importance of the material being protected, as well as with guidelines that do not hurt the quality of the password.

What Websites Are Doing Wrong

Some websites restrict the number of months in which users are allowed to use each password. Arguably, this is one of the most harmful requirements. “Requiring frequent password changes often causes users to develop predictable patterns in their passwords”, says Mark Burnett. To further worsen matters, it is more difficult to keep track of frequently changed passwords. As a result, more people will write them down in a password book, which is one of the first items a thief will take.

Also among the most harmful of restrictions are assigned passwords. While these may prevent “password” from making an appearance, they also prevent those more adept at deciding on passwords from keeping their information as secure as they otherwise would have. They also assist in password cracking, since hackers can automatically eliminate passwords that don’t fit into the pattern.

Possibly the easiest way to figure out all of someone’s passwords is through “forgot password” links, which usually ask simple questions such as “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was the name of your first pet?”. These questions are particularly bad for those with accounts on social media sites, as their passwords can be stolen through a technique called “nabbing”, which involves using the information easily found on these sites to answer the questions.


What Websites Could Do Instead

Websites need to keep in mind the importance of the information they’re trying to protect. If you’re signing into an account that allows you to comment on funny cat videos, you likely don’t need the same level of security necessary as a government official guarding top secret files. In fact, on websites like those you likely don’t even need any password restrictions, as you’re more in danger of forgetting your password than it is of being cracked.

Personally, I think passwords should be treated like usernames. If a password is already taken, then no one else should be allowed to use it. This would completely eliminate the issue of common passwords while still allowing people to use the password of their choice, provided that it’s original.

It doesn’t hurt for users to be required to change passwords occasionally on sites that guard important information, but not more than once every few months. While I don’t feel this is the best approach to solving the issue of password security, many believe in it strongly, and if you’re decent at remembering passwords, it isn’t a bad idea.

What You Can Do 

Source: xkcd
Choosing a secure password doesn’t have to be painful. Security is important, but if you think you’ll have trouble remembering the password, then there’s probably a better way you can go about creating it. Keep in mind, most websites allow the use of spaces, which can add another level of complexity without making your password difficult to remember. Being able to recall your password should be a priority. It doesn’t matter how complex a password is; if you need to write it down to remember it, then it isn’t secure.

So how exactly should you choose a password? I recommend using Correct Horse Battery Staple. This is a method that involves choosing a number of randomly generated words, (usually four) and optionally adding capitals, spaces, and/or numbers if you so choose. You can find a word generator specifically for this purpose here.

Maybe you want to use your own system, but you’re not sure how secure it is. Checking is simple enough, but you need to watch out for sites that claim to check the strength of your password. Many of them are actually stealing it. If you’re looking for a safe one, I’d recommend going to this website.

Stay secure!

Conclusion, updated March 6th, 2014


A few of you have commented on my idea of treating passwords like usernames, expressing disagreement. The issue you brought to my attention was the potential difficulty of choosing a password on larger sites that incorporate this system. While I feel this wouldn't be an issue, considering the Correct Horse Battery Staple system would work for choosing untaken usernames virtually every time, it did inspire me to search for further issues that could be caused by the idea. I came to the realization that hackers might be able to use this system to their advantage by keeping track of which passwords are taken, particularly on smaller websites. I'd like to thank those who commented for helping me to come to this conclusion.

One commenter (Holly Gerla) also mentioned a useful strategy I seem to have left out. One good method of keeping unique passwords for different websites is to insert your password between the initials of the site. Her examples include "F*insertpasswordhere*B". I'd like to add that I've seen different variations of this system, including using the first two letters, or the first and the last. I'd like to thank Ms. Gerla for her contribution.

It's been excellent hearing feedback from all of you. I'm very happy to hear so many of you found it helpful, and I'm grateful to have made a positive (hopefully) impact on your views regarding passwords. I wish you all good luck with passwords in the future, and I thank you again for taking the time to read and comment.

My Photo, My Choice?

Image courtesy of Common Sense Media
This is a great photo of me! Yeah, Sarah looks weird, but I look awesome. I’ll go ahead and post it anyway.

Imagine if that wasn’t fictional Sarah who looked weird, but it was you. My guess is you would not be happy. Therefore, is it ethically or morally just to upload a photo of another person or a group photo without approval of everyone in the photo? From that perspective, you might think, “no, obviously it’s not okay to post pictures of others without their permission.” But, what if you were in the other position, would you still say the same thing? Things get tangled up because you might not think it’s a picture you need to ask about, but are you only seeing how great you look? Despite what some people might say, I believe that it is morally wrong to post pictures of others online without their permission. Even, if it is your child, as a minor, they are legally too young to give consent. Not only that but, because that picture, never really goes away and in doing so, you are essentially making their digital footprint for them.

Posting photos of others without permission will often embarrass them, or worse. If there is photo of them doing something inappropriate for their age, then years down the road when they are applying for a job, if a soon-to-be boss searches for them online and finds those things you posted, it could really hurt them. Luckily, according to Wassom.com, if a judge is officiating a court case with that friend they are not allowed to look at that person’s social media sites, but it is still around for employers. Even if the pictures got deleted off of their Facebook/ MySpace/ Twitter/ Instagram, etc it never really goes away. For all anyone knows, people halfway across the world could be viewing that photo and sharing it with their friends. Even if the photo gets “deleted” It will never ever go away. Many online sites save the photos and statuses you write and don’t get rid of them, so, they can use them as much as they want. That is often what people sign away when they agree to the “terms and conditions” without reading them. What happens to many people is that they click the box that says "agree" and soon they don't have any of their rights to what they say and/or post online. According to Electronic Frontier Foundation, many times, it's legal for the companies to do so. So, when you post that photo to the internet, you are giving away your friend’s picture. Is posting that photo of your awesome hair day be worth it?

As I mentioned before, at one time or another, you are likely going to be the friend who wants to post the photo.You might not be considering poor Sarah’s feelings with the same amount of sympathy before you post it. For example; you have an amazing (and I mean amazing) photo of yourself with your best friend. You want to post it on social media websites so all of your friends/ followers can see how great you look that day. Do you need your friends’ permission before hand? You don’t think she looks bad, but how would she see it? Could posting that photo upset your friend? If your friend says to you specifically, “please don’t post that” and you do anyway, you could be jeopardizing your friendship over one silly photo. Once again, is it worth it?

If one were to look at the photo from a legal standpoint, according to Ken Kaminesky Photography, technically whoever took the photo (for now I will assume that you took it) owns the photo and is free to do what he/ she chooses with it. So, if you wanted to post a photo of your friend, then legally, you can because you own the copyright to it. But on the matter of ethics and morals, posting without permission is different. It may be legal to post it without permission, but just because it's legal doesn't mean that it is necessarily the ethically right thing to do. 

However, if you are absolutely certain that you MUST post that photo, there are ways to post it without your friend in it so you don’t need to ask permission. There is a new application called “Obscurecam” that allows you to blur out or pixelate the faces in a photo that don’t want to be seen. Another option would be to crop the photo so that only you are in it. If possible, you could always share it exclusively with a few friends that the two of you agree upon. If all else fails, and neither of you can agree, keep the photo to yourself and enjoy how great your hair looked.

In conclusion, I believe that you should ask your friend for permission before posting that photo or using it anywhere else for three reasons: 1. It could negatively impact their future, 2. No picture is worth losing a friend, and 3. they are a part of the photo and should have a say in how it is used.




Conclusion, updated: March 6, 2014
In reading the comments left for me under this post, I have not been shown any major opposition, however I did learn something from my readers. I learned that almost everyone thinks about this topic (even a little) right before they post something. However, they may not think about it as much in depth. While writing this, I was almost constantly thinking, oh, they must think about this in depth all the time. But, people tend not to do so. I don't say that in a way meant to offend others, but in the simplest way possible. Another thing I learned to do while I was writing this, was to think about almost every photo I post before I decide to do so. I always make sure that I get consent form those in the picture, and I try to stop myself and ask, "Do I really want the whole world to see this?" if the answer is yes, I post, if not, I don't post. It has really opened my eyes to lots of the photos on the internet. During the process of researching my topic and finding new sources, I stumbled across a couple websites (while in the midst of writing my article itself) that proved to be very helpful. Some are linked in the above writing. I already knew that the pictures could be found on the internet in the future (by a possible employer...) but I never realized, up until I started researching, how true it was that the pictures never really go away. All in all, I have re-enforced my knowledge of the current accessibility of all of my past photos, and given myself (and hopefully others) a strong reminder of the thoughts one should think before they post a photo of others.

E-Venge

“In 2010, the FBI released statistics on the 20% of teenagers who have admitted to sending nude or semi-nude photos using cell phones or posting them on the internet.” In highschool or college, this typically happens through sexting, sending sexual photos or texts. These messages spread quickly, whether that was the intention or not. In fact, if you were to sext your “significant other” they may keep that picture. In fact, they may be “saving them in case [they] needed blackmail.” (source) There are more and more people using these pictures as leverage, or for revenge. Some of these victims of revenge posting are pushing laws against it. I believe that revenge posting should not happen because it is easily preventable.
Courtesy of Jorge Quinteros via Flikr

The Dangers of Sexting


We trust our friends, because that’s what friends are expected to do. To be trustworthy. If you entrust something very personal to a friend, usually you believe it is in safe hands. Unfortunately, not all relationships last and if your “friends” have that embarrassing picture, or the post that shows the darker side of you, they may expose them. I’m not saying to doubt your friends, I’m saying that you should be careful about what you share.

Marianna Taschinger, a normal young woman is a victim to revenge posting. She was 18 when this happened. Her boyfriend asked her to send him nude photos, or sext him. “He said if I didn’t want to send them to him, that meant that I didn’t trust him, which meant that I didn’t love him” (source). She sent the photos, to prove her love, but later they broke up. Unfortunately, Marianna found her photos online, in a revenge post website with a lot of personal information.

Once you sext your boyfriend or girlfriend, those photos are no longer yours. Those photos are theirs. They also have the ability to do anything they want with them. And if something were to happen and you guys break up, and they’re mad, they can single-handedly ruin your life with just a few clicks. Nowadays, colleges and jobs check applicants’ backgrounds. They research you and look for your digital reputation. If they find those pictures, it is likely that they won’t accept you (source).

Victims of revenge posting report to feeling humiliated, especially if the post was shared with friends or family. It can cause them to feel unsafe, if the post included an address and name. It can make people feel paranoid about their digital reputation (source). These things really change a person’s life and I, personally don’t want this to happen to me. I never send photos texts that seem embarrassing.

Off To Court


There are also legal consequences too. If you are a teenager and you sext someone, it is considered distributing child pornography. “A first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252, faces fines and a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison” (source). You’ll possibly go to jail for at least 5 years, which is a long time. especially for a teenager.

About a year ago, 10 teenage boys were convicted of the possession and the distribution of child pornography. The boys convinced some girls to send them sexy pictures, "The young girls wanted to charm these guys so they sent the photos”(source). These boys distributed these photos through their phones, email, computers, tablets, and the snapchat app. The police went into their houses, took their phones, tablets and laptops and arrested these boys. They were facing a possible three years in prison. This is some pretty serious stuff, and these boys are 13 to 15 years old.


What is this for though? Is all this worth “proving” your love to your boyfriend or girlfriend? You don’t even know if the relationship is going to last. If someone asks you to sext them a picture, they’re probably not trustworthy. Don’t fall for that trap, don’t mess up your own life.

Conclusion, updated 3/6/2014

Before making this blog, I did not know anything about the consequences of sexting. I definitely understood the concept of revenge, especially since I have a younger brother, but I was never aware of the legal consequences. In my post, I may have focused a little too much on how its your responsibility to prevent "e-venge" from happening. It may have seem a lot like victim blaming. I just wanted to clarify that it is not the victim's fault for anything that may happen. Yes, it is their responsibility to keep track of their photos or information, but a lot of people look past the criminal, because they think the victim could have prevented everything. Learning that sexting at this age is actually illegal surprised me. I never really thought of it as distributing "child pornography". Making this blog was sort of eye opening for me, being one of the few teenagers who never received or sent a sext, now I know a little bit more about the world that I live in. I would also like to thank those who commented, and I apologize for not replying. I totally forgot. You guys left some really great feedback, especially those who asked questions back. When I was researching this, there were no states that had any kind of law against revenge posting, and to hear that there are now two states is pretty great. I believe that we are moving in the right direction. Since I have failed to respond to everyone, I will just answer all the questions right here. (These questions are from VolleyDolly7) I believe that parents could make a small impact on their child's decisions, but make sure you don't tell them in a form of a lecture. That might make them automatically ignore you, I know this from experience. There has been records of victims of revenge posting which dramatically changed their life in a negative way. They most definitely regret their decision, but we should still remember the person who made the photos public. They usually get away with it with no consequences. Thanks for your input! (Next up is Girl15) The Snapchat app allows you to send a picture to someone else. That picture will "self-destruct" and "disappear" after several seconds. What a lot of people don't know is that there is this handy thing called a screenshot. The people who do know, sends their images regardless. This may give people a false sense of security, making them believe that no one else could possibly see the image, so yes, this may encourage sexting. In the article about the boys, there were no records of what happened to the girls. I imagine that they were blamed for the whole thing since there were many people defending the boys, saying that they didn't mean any harm, or they're innocent. Thanks for the feedback! (Question from Paco) I previously answered this same question by VolleyDolly7. I agree that in our society today, it is extremely easy to share things whether its on purpose or not. Thanks for your response! (Question from Markie) I believe that teenagers, or kids in general are mirrors to the world. We reflect what we hear and see and we do what we think is acceptable in society. The teenagers were very open about what they did. They did share the photos with their friends at school. They thought it was an ok thing to do. So, to answer your question, yes. The boys probably did this because of the media and what they are exposed to. Thanks for sharing your opinion! (Questions from Ms. Gerla) I think that the person who received the photos and shared them with the world deserve some kind of punishment. They are actually single-handedly ruining someone's life. I believe that revenge posting should be some kind of crime. Stealing a certain amount of money is considered a felony, but what the criminal took usually can be replaced. Revenge posting takes away someone's privacy, their security, their stability, their jobs, their social lives and so much more. These things are worth more than a thousand bucks. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This conclusion may be a little longer than I expected it to be, but I owe it to you guys, the readers. Thank you so much for your feedback and your opinions.

The NSA: National Snooping Agency?

Edward Snowden.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Everyone has been taught that privacy is something that should be respected and should not be snooped about. However, a government organization somehow has the power to break that rule and how the organization is able to look through everyone’s personal devices. Most of the public does not like the fact that their personal affairs are being monitored by a government organization and many people want this snooping to be stopped. This organization is known as the National Security Agency (NSA). Its name alone makes the group seem good and reassuring for the country, and their work could one day save the country from a future act of terrorism. However, the NSA’s work really puts everyone’s personal affairs in the open (for our government). I think that the NSA should not look into people's texts and overhear daily made phone calls through people’s personal devices because they violate several spaces of privacy that people see as unethical.

The National Security Agency has been traced as far back as 1917 when America first started fighting in World War I. The organization’s work has been very discreet in the American public up until June 2013. A former employee for the NSA, a man named Edward Snowden, revealed to the public about what work the NSA was really doing; searching through people’s personal devices and snooping in other countries as well. Snowden released revelation after revelation to the New York Times newspaper which sparked outrage across the country. Marked as a traitor by the US government, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, but he is currently being held in Russia and has been granted asylum. However, his actions, in the eyes of Solhjell (a former environment minister) and Valen, have “contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order”, and Snowden is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (The Independent). Due to the actions of Edward Snowden, the US is now aware of the NSA tapping into the public’s phones and the public is doing what they can to stop the snooping.

The NSA’s snooping in personal devices have caused eruptions of concern amongst the public and one of the biggest is personal privacy. Last December, a US judge delivered the NSA its first legal blow against its phone data collection program. The case made it clear that the NSA’s work interferes with a US person’s liberty and has been deemed unconstitutional. The NSA phone data collection program PRISM has been collecting data about every phone call made in America and these records are kept by the government. According to Al Maurer, “Personal privacy, personal space is rapidly shrinking. The only thing protecting you is the Constitution” (The Washington Times). The NSA’s PRISM program is seen as unconstitutional all across America for their interference of personal space, but what many people don’t realize is that their snooping could be a factor to stopping a future act of violence in America that can be very extreme.

The NSA is being persecuted for its snooping among people’s personal devices, but the agency claims that their work is vital to our country’s safety. In some ways, this statement is true. The “snooping” that the NSA is doing can actually help intercept any calls, messages, etc. that can be pinpointed to a future act of violence against the US. Some people really understand what the NSA is really trying to do and these people criticize the American public of blindly hating an organization that is dedicated to the country’s safety.

Despite the good things that the NSA survelliance can bring, I think the snooping has gone over the line. Thanks to Edward Snowden, the public knows about the NSA’s wiretapping and people are able to start movements that protect their personal rights. The public also knows that they can take a stand against things like the PRISM program to protect their rights. However, at the same time, people can’t blindly hate the NSA because their work could protect the public in the future. Modern society and government needs to find the balance of what the NSA can and can’t look at; the balance between surveillance and what’s sacred.
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                                                             Conclusion & Reflection
The National Security Agency has been doing many things that invade many people's privacy. This relates to Digital Citizenship because we talk about how we try to keep online privacy away from getting into the wrong hands of other people or groups. What the NSA does completely takes away that online privacy. This made me feel like that I no longer have any personal space and privacy anymore. I'm sure that many people feel the same way. That's why the NSA's snooping should be limited so they can't gather all the information they can get about an individual. But then again, their work is also helpful a little. I just hope that sometime in the future, we as a nation can solve this issue and find a balance of power for people and the NSA.

The comments that were posted on my blog really challenged me to rethink some of the concepts I researched during this project. Some of the questions were like should the NSA's snooping be illegal? Why do you think Snowden did what he did? How would the world be without the NSA and their snooping? These questions really helped me to better explain some of my key points. I'm really glad about how these comments have helped me to better myself with this project. I hoped that my blog has done more to spread awareness about the NSA's real work and that people will take a stand against it.

This entire process of writing, editing, and commenting on Blogger went great. Google Docs helped me make it easier to write a rough draft, edit that, then finish a final draft which I could easily transfer to Blogger.The other thing I liked about Blogger was how I learned about some other issues involving digital media and how they are affecting my everyday life. I had a load of fun doing this project and I really enjoyed learning about the world of digital media.

What is Rape Culture?

Image by CMCarterSS
I’m sure most of you have seen “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. If not, it’s a music video with nearly naked women (or entirely naked, depending on what version you watch) in which Thicke sings about how sick he is of women who are “good girls” and so of course they say that they don’t want sex, when in actuality they do. He communicates this throughout the song in its chorus: “I know you want it.” This song was by far the biggest selling and most popular song worldwide in 2013. This song, and how popular it's become, acts as a nice summary of rape culture in our society. If a woman is saying that she doesn’t want sex, she can’t honestly mean it when she was dressed like that (which was referenced in the song). This is an example of rape culture, and the song’s popularity showcases its extreme prevalence in our society.

Rape culture is an age-old societal phenomenon in which rape is ignored or even encouraged, and it needs to stop. Rape culture is a topic encompassing quite a lot, but the main points addressed in this post are: our society normalizing rape behaviours/encouraging them, and the sexualization of women to the point that seeing a shoulder - a shoulder - is, in many places at least, much too distracting to boys, and so can’t be tolerated. Another age old topic closely related to rape culture is victim-blaming. Victim-blaming is when someone who has been subjected to some sort of assault (almost exclusively sexual) is then written off as the cause of their own assault. You hear victim blaming in phrases like: “She shouldn’t have been drinking” or “if she didn’t want it then she shouldn’t have been wearing such a short skirt.” People that actively participate in slut-shaming also make women wrong on a regular basis for showing what they consider too much skin (like said shoulder from earlier).

There are many people that believe that a very large portion of reported rapes are faked, when, in actuality, “between 6% and a maximum of 10% of rape cases may be false.” Another interesting (and possibly related) statistic is that about 97% of rapists are never jailed, and, last, but most certainly not least: approximately 300,000 women are raped every year in the USA alone. I would like you to take a bit to reconcile those facts. Finding it difficult? So did I. It doesn’t help to know how devastating a crime like this can be to the victim. A prime example of this is the Steubenville Rape. In this rape some of the Steubenville high school football team raped (repeatedly), video taped, and photographed a female classmate who was unconscious from drinking. These photos and videos were then uploaded to social media and sent to friends. When an investigation was launched, the school officials covered up the crime that their students committed. They did this to protect the boys, because they didn’t want their lives to be ruined by this mistake, when they have such bright futures. Many even ended up blaming the victim of this awful crime for doing this to the boys (hint: great example of victim blaming). Much to everyone’s chagrin (though to some more than others), this is anything but an isolated event. Things like this are happening all the time.

Now that we’ve established rape culture as a very real and prevalent thing, we need to understand something else: it needs to end. Now. Rape culture destroys lives, both of victims and, as much as I hate to say it, the perpetrators (very very occasionally). By teaching our children that women are to be seen as sex objects, well, it causes them to be seen as sex objects. While this has innumerable consequences, one of them is that they are then treated as sex objects. If that’s all a man knows a woman as, what possible reason is there for him to resist any and all impulses he has? Have you heard the whole argument protecting rapists that goes something like: “boys will be boys”? That we shouldn’t expect them to control their urges? That’s because we tell them that it’ll be okay, and that there won’t be any repercussions. Now, after having said this, please don’t think that I’m saying that what these people have done is in any way excusable or okay at all. All I’m saying is that if we continue to require our women to be attractive enough to pull a good husband (because everyone knows that that’s what it’s all about (other than the hokey-pokey), but then tell them that if they are too attractive, they’ll be assaulted, just doesn’t work. Especially when we then pardon her assaulters and then, when she needs it most, instead of consoling her, pile even more blame onto her.


Video Games and Education, Can They Mix?

Many people's perception on whether or not video games can be used to effectively teach young kids are usually self made, with the idea that video games make kids less social, more aggressive, and lacking in the education department. That is very much not true. Despite most people’s thinking, video games can be used to educate and help kids improve motor skills.
Courtesy of Wikimedia

To begin with, video games help kids improve motor skills. Video games and playing interactive video games such as Wii have been thought to have a connection. In a study done by the Deakin University in Australia the researchers “involved 53 children aged from three to six years,” and had “35 percent of the children played non-interactive electronic games,” while the remaining children either played interactive video games or a combination of the two. Each group played for a certain number of hours each week. The researchers found that the kids that played more interactive video games had an easier time with some of the movements, such as kicking, catching, or rolling a ball. But when it came to locomotor skills, movement forcing the feet and body to move places such as jumping, there was no clear connection. Dr. Barnett, the head researcher said “we found that greater time spent playing interactive electronic games is associated with higher object control skill in these young children, we cannot say why.” This shows that there is a connection between video games, in this case interactive video games, and with children development of motor skills.

Although some misconceptions of playing too many video games are wrong, there are some that are correct. A negative effect of playing too many video games would be addiction to them. In the documentary “China’s Web Junkies” directed by Shosh Shlam, the documenters followed the lives of many teenagers that have been sent to this isolated camp without any electronics whatsoever to try and “cure” them of their internet/video game addiction. In another study six experts in neuroscience and cognitive psychology got together to congregate and to show their opinions of questions on the effect of video games on the brain. When asked if video games can have a negative effect on the brain and the behavior of the person they agreed by saying, “Intensive play of high-action video games has been shown to have negative cognitive effects.” Also, researchers have discovered more of a connection between violent video games and thoughts of aggression.

Finally, video games can also help children with their education. In a visual aid the visual aid has many statistics to do with the point of view from both the teachers and the students. More so in younger kids, K-5, are teachers starting to implement the use of video games to teach their students. This is helpful because the children are more comfortable with this style of learning, “91% of school-aged children (ages 2-17) in the U.S. play electronic games.” This means that since so many kids have played video games before and are familiar with them, that the kids will want to be taught in this way because they have done it before. Also, this is helpful because the more familiar a kids is to his work and how to do it, the more able they are to keep track of his/her work. This means that because teachers are starting to use video games more that the students will more than likely be comfortable with this, and if the student is more comfortable with this then they are likely to keep track of it and stay on top of it. This could improve grades of kids because they would want to learn more do to the usage of electronic games. The majority of students believe that their daily educational schedule should include some form the video game with it. This shows that students are already thinking of implementing video games into their daily schedule. Overall, video games are starting to be used more often, and they are actually educational, not just an easy way for students to get through the day.

Once people understand the positive effects video games can have on children, improved motor skills, such as being able to roll a ball, catch a ball, or throw a ball, and learning ability, they will start to implement them more into the educational system. Many things come from video games, some are good, some are bad, its our job to sift through all the junk and find out what really works to help our next generation of little Einsteins.


Updated Conclusion 6 March 2014

From creating a blog I learned from others that the idea of putting education and video games together is a very alien idea to them, whereas some of the statistics I found were on the opposite end of the spectrum. Also, I learned how concerned some are of how much time is spent on playing video games, and whether or not parents limit their child’s time. I’m used to being trusted with how much time I spend on the internet and so I assumed that was a typical thing for parents to do, but I learned that a lot of parents think some terrible things about video games. Before this I didn’t think that video games being integrated into education was that much of a topic to talk about, but I have found out how controversial it really is. Since some parents are likely to be less educated on the positive effects of video games they would naturally think that video games would destroy the education system, and think that the idea was absurd. I thought that my original argument was engaging enough for the readers to become interested in or at least think about it. And I still think that now, especially when it comes to the parents. Opinions from people that have or actually are living through this situation, with their kids, are very interesting to me. That is because of how much the thought of video games has evolved in parents of the newer generation from older parents or grandparents.

Bibliography
"Tex playing video games." Wikimedia. N.p., 1 Nov. 2005. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. This gave me my image for my blog. 


Is the Internet Taking Over Your Life?

Image: Flickr Commons
Some people spend all night staring at a screen in a cafe, other feel depressed when they are not online. Some studies even show that internet addiction can have similar effects on the brain to those caused by drug addictions (Science in Context). Although Internet Addiction is already recognized globally as a real addiction, the US is still debating on whether or not it should be recognized as an addiction here.

Internet addiction isn’t just the amount of time people spend online. Technology is such a huge part of our everyday lives that it is hard to avoid using it. According to Opposing Viewpoints, Internet addiction is characterized by the habits of the person with it, not just the overall hours. People might spend a ton of time online but if they can still balance it with their offline social lives then they don’t have a problem. It’s when they start to lie about how long they use the Internet and when it starts to get in the way of their social lives that it becomes a problem. Many psychologists and other scientists are pushing for more research in the US to get internet addiction recognized in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5” as a serious addiction. Recently a new program was opened in a US hospital to treat internet addicts. The program costs $14,000 and must be paid ‘out of pocket’ because health insurance companies don’t pay for it since internet addiction isn’t formally recognized as a health issue. Kimberly Young, a psychologist who founded the program, notices that the most common ‘victims’ of internet addiction are young, smart, antisocial, boys and that most of them weren’t interested in social media or pornography. Most of them just wanted to play games like “World of Warcraft” where they could, “become someone else and be admired for their skills.”

In other countries, including China, internet addiction is already being treated like a serious problem. This video shows China has already come up with their own solution to internet addiction. Some of their treatments include drills similar to those done in the military and complete isolation from all access to the internet. The cases that they see in these ‘boot camps’ are often much more extreme than what is seen in the US because the US seems to be behind China in terms of number and severity of internet addiction cases. One of the people working at the camp says, “[Some of the people here] think taking a restroom break will affect their performance at these games. So they wear a diaper." A few of the boys that were interviewed in the video were crying because they felt ashamed of using the internet so much. Many of them said that they had refused to admit that they had a problem and many of their parents had to trick them into going to the camp to get help. One boys' parents had to go as far as to drug him with sleeping medicine to get him to the camp. It is because of this that some of the adults working the camp, “call it electronic heroin.” However the camp does not only address the people who are addicted to the internet, they also hold seminars for the families of the patients to inform them on what they can do to help and why they might be doing it in the first place.

On the other hand there are people who are showing others that they can control themselves when it comes to internet use. Many people have started committing what they call ‘virtual identity suicide’ and deleting all of their social media accounts. Studies have been conducted that show that the people who do delete their social media tend to be more cautious about their online privacy and tend to be more agreeable in general. Most of the people who do commit virtual identity suicide are males and are older on average. This is not the only way people have been showing that they can show their self control online. In this article Melissa Maypole, head of a company that offers parental control software, talks about how her family dealt with technology trying to take over in their lives. Maypole said one day she and her whole family were all sitting in the same room and none of them took any notice of each other because they were all on their own electronic devices. This is when she realized that they needed to do something as a family to limit their use of the internet. Maypole knew that with todays modern technology it would be nearly impossible to not use electronics at all so they decided to incorporate them into their family life. As a family they decided that some individual time of the internet was okay and that they should also take to time to put down the electronics and unplug as a family. They also decided to find some games they could play as a family on their electronics to find a ‘compromise’ between family time and electronics.

All of these stories show that internet addiction really is a problem. Some people can recognize when enough is enough and balance internet use in their lives. However, there are still people who need help balancing their online and offline lives.

Hutchinson, Alex. "Seeing Addiction." Popular Machanics. Science in Context,
Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

"Quitting Facebook -- what's behind the new trend to leave social networks?"
Opposing Viewpoints in Context. N.p., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.

In conclusion, I think that doing this project and writing this blog post was a very interesting experience. It feels good to know that there is a way to get my opinions heard and spread awareness on causes that I care about. Its also nice to know that there are people out there who also care about what I care about. The whole process of writing a blog was challenging, from finding an interesting topic to the research to writing the actual post and posting it. I do think that Internet addiction is a real issue and that it should be addressed. The people who commented on my blog really did change my thinking on this in a way. They helped me clarify that the Internet is dangerous to everyone, not just young males into gaming. Also that it is not something to be avoided because it can become dangerous. Even though you should still use the Internet with caution it is still a useful tool as long as it is used properly.

Reading Between the Lines: Privacy Agreements

Screen Shot taken 12 February 2014
Do you ever wonder what it is that you agree to when you check that box saying you have read and agree to the terms of service in order to continue the sign in process to a website? Well, the greater part of social media users do not take the time to read what they are agreeing to. Agreeing to the terms of service without reading it, is like a signing a hard document without reading it over and knowing exactly what you are signing, most likely you would never do that. We are agreeing to things like having our images shared without our knowledge, and having them sold to other companies without compensation. Although, most of us do not take the time, it’s not always our fault that we don’t read the fine print. Most of it’s written in hard, lawyer-like language that the average user does not understand. Not only is it an issue with adult users not understanding what it’s saying, but the majority of social media users are between the ages of 13-17(Gizmodo), and kids surely can not understand the difficult way the terms of service are written. This issue has led to many social media companies, like Facebook and Instagram, to revise their terms of service for the average user to understand. Now, there is no excuse for not reading them before you agree. We need national legislation to demand for simpler worded terms of service that every age of users are able to understand because there have been many misunderstandings between users and social media companies. Although, some companies have voluntarily edited their terms of service because it has come out that they are allowed to share everything from passwords to images with other social media companies, it would be more convenient for the terms of service to be stated in simpler words in the first place.

Instagram has taken into consideration the complexity of their terms of service, and they have gone back and added an additional set of terms of service agreements, as of January 2013, that are more appropriate for the majority of their users. Bits reports, the simpler terms of service are ideas like, “you may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service," and “you are responsible for keeping your password secret and secure.” The article goes on to say, the terms also include clauses like “Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.” This is an essential piece to add because there was confusion, that USA Today reported, with users thinking that Instagram was “going to sell their photos to other companies without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing.” The confusion stems from users not reading the terms of service carefully, and Instagram hopes to eliminate this problem by adding the easy to read terms of service.

Instagram with it’s 175 million users, Facebook is trying to sort out a similar issue with their terms of service. Facebook’s confusion came from information that was hiding in their terms of service. It came out, as the New York Times reports, the company reversed changes to its contract with users that had appeared to give it perpetual ownership of their contributions to the service. Unlike Instagram, Facebook did include this important piece of information, but people not taking the time to read the terms of service resulted in a misunderstanding between the company and its users. Facebook was scrambling around trying to figuring out how to fix the issue. One of the solutions was announced by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, that they have invited users to contribute to the “Bill of Rights” and responsibilities of using Facebook. Their overall goal is to get the information out in the open so every user knows exactly what is happening with posted information. The New York Times reports that Facebook’s chief privacy officer made clear that the company “became very concerned and wanted to communicate very clearly to everyone our intentions by rolling back to the old terms of service.” The issue of Facebook's terms of service took place in 2009, but as of November 2013 The New York Times reports that "official changes to its privacy policies that make the terms of using Facebook more clear than ever."  Facebook has made it clear to it's users that they are permitted to use any posting and images for advertising.  If users would have been aware of Facebook’s terms of service in the first place, then the issue of rules and regulations being hidden would have been avoided completely.

Although Instagram and Facebook are going through major changes with their terms of service documents, and users are blaming the companies for complicated terms of use, at some point common sense needs to come into play. Users should have the responsibility and the maturity not to post “violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content.” This not only applies to the adult users, but parents of users who are under the age of 18 should be involved and should be aware of their child’s use on social media, then the responsibility of keeping it clean is not up to companies like Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook and Instagram are two examples of companies that have gone back and revised their terms of service agreements because issue of unclarity for their users. As I have stated before, if the terms of service were stated in simple language in the first place, clarity between the company and it’s users would have been there in the first place. A solution to solve the problem of unclear agreements would be for national legislative to be passed so it would be a law for the terms of service to be written in simple language for everyone to understand.

Conclusion-

Working on the blog project was an eye opening experience because I was doing research on a topic that is so important, and one that I actually knew little about.  Before researching, and proving the point that there needs to be national legislation to demand for simpler worded terms of service that every age of users are able to understand, I did not truly understand why this issue was important, when signing up for new programs or services I would freely check the box "yes" saying I agree, but after researching indepth of what some company's terms of service ask, I will not be checking that box as freely.  This was the first time a piece of my writing had gone live so people, who I don't know, were able to read my writing.  I enjoyed having people commenting because they gave me constructive criticism, which forced me to go father with research.  I like the fact that my blog may have taught people and opened their eyes to what's actually written in the pages and pages of terms of service agreements.  I feel like going live with blog helped and taught other people as well as myself.  This experience has inspired me to keep on blogging.

Photoshopping: Crossing the Path of Enough?

Image: Courtesy of Flickr.

Imagine that you are at the store, waiting in line for the cashier. You quickly take a glance at the magazine rack, and you cannot believe what you just have seen. A celebrity who you would be able to recognize in a heartbeat now seems so unfamiliar with a ridiculously thin body, an elongated neck, perfect skin, and no blemishes whatsoever! Is this real, you might ask yourself? Of course not. This is far from real. However, you leave the store feeling a little subconscious about your own appearance compared to the magazine beauty who is ideally respected among the media. Now, with that in mind, it is important to note the current uses of photoshop which are in conjunction with modern, deceiving advertisements. But as implied before, shouldn’t there be a concrete point in the media where enough is enough with all of the image editing? Because of the significant impact photoshopping may leave on insecure individuals, the government should enforce regulations throughout the digital world unless advertisers have already voluntarily limited their use of this application.

"I became immersed in this world very quickly. I gave up the agency and photography and delved into the dark world of anorexics and bulimics. I realized that only legislation can change the situation...There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death” (Adi Barkman). On March 9th, 2012, the Israeli parliament passed the Photoshop Laws, which regulate both the fashion and advertising industry. These laws prohibit the use of models who are underweight as determined by the Body Mass Index, and they also regulate the usage of Photoshop in media and advertising. Adi Barkman, a photographer and fashion model agent, aided many anorexics and bulimics to help overcome their insecurities, and he grasped that there must be an immediate change regarding the way in which image editing has been used. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there is a direct correlation between the impact of photoshopping and eating disorders. Actually, "of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight" (Martin, 2010). Doesn’t that sound crazy, especially given the fact that they are elementary school girls? But I’m afraid it is the truth; I know that I have multiple times doubted my appearance compared to these ‘perfect’ (but PHOTOSHOPPED) models. Furthermore, even the adults agree with me: out of a surveyed 1,000 adults, 70% believed that if ads used more realistic sized models, we, as the digital world, could potentially prevent harmful eating disorders (Martin, 2010). All in all, it is important to recognize how the use of photoshop has been consistently exerted into the daily lives of individuals, and it has gotten to an extent where it has become too extreme by becoming a main contributor to very damaging eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.
Image: Courtesy of Flickr

In addition to engendering eating disorders, the use of photoshopping in advertisements can lead to the unrealistic expectations consumers may have about the product being advertised. The National Advertising Division (NAD) director, Andrea Levine, voices that "you can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.’” Recently, it was announced that Proctor & Gamble will never again sponsor an ad for their CoverGirl Mascara since the amount of enhancement and photoshopping used to make the eyelashes look longer and thicker was astounding and quite unrealistic in their previous ad. These types of ads can be quite deceiving to customers, since in reality they germinate results far from what is portrayed in the advertisement. Therefore, the NAD prescribes self-regulation among the advertising business, which luckily has been accepted by most companies since the NAD is partners with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who has the power to fine, sue, or bring embargoes against rogue companies. As a young female, I have to agree and say that it can be quite intimidating when you see an ad that is beyond achievable. It creates this type of unrealistic expectation of the ‘right’ body image from society, and I can relate to the amount of pressure this might cause for teenagers and young women. I’m sure you can relate to a similar experience, am I right? Just think about it.

However, there is another side to this story. The Associate Creative Director at Bensimon Byrne, Dan Strasser, points out that “it’s just expected. Everything gets retouched … even if you’re just taking a photo of a natural setting. You’re going to tweak the colour balance.” It has been recognized how retouching affects all types of advertising and marketing in positive ways. I mean, come on, how many times have you seen the McDonalds commercial and right in front of your face is the definition of burger beauty? I’m sure that has probably happened to most of you, and later on, when you decide to go there and buy that burger, not only do you receive a smaller and less appetizing one, but you actually increase the profit of the company and their advertisement. In addition, there have been claims made by Sasha Grujicic that “you cannot court consumers without creating some gap of where you are and where you want to be. Advertising is precisely aimed at that gap.” By increasing consumer attention and advertising dollars, photoshopping is an entire culture; an entire industry significant to various companies.

To conclude, I believe that the excessive use of photoshopping has crossed its limits, and it serves to function as both an important yet deceiving application in the advertising business. However, as discussed above, there should be government regulations on photoshopping, like in Israel, and advertisers should limit its use in their campaigns to help eliminate the insecurity it may spawn among young women.


Conclusion--
Updated 3/5/14

Overall, I really enjoyed doing this project, and it exposed me to prevalent issues that deserve to be recognized and debated upon today. Photoshopping has always been a topic of interest to me; however, I never really looked at it as an application which should be monitored legally. This project enabled me to successfully do that, and I have gotten so much out of it. I believe that photoshopping or any type of image editing should be regulated by the government in order to prevent any insecurities or "ideal" expectations which might rise from it. This topic closely ties in to what we have explored this year in my Digital Citizenship class: Should there be limits on an application like Photoshop when used to manipulate images? What are its effects on both women and men? Are they positive or negative? I found myself asking those questions in my head when we covered the Digital Rights and Responsibilities unit, specifically editing and ethics. That is when I got the idea to write my blog about the uses of Photoshop (specifically in magazine and modern advertisements) and whether or not they should be regulated. When I began researching, I was fascinated by the information that I had collected- there were so many shocking statistics, specifically how magazines/ads influence elementary school girls to achieve the "ideal body image." It was so crazy to know that girls (at the ages between 8-11) have already been exposed and influenced by the media on how they "should" look. I was also startled when I read statistics that revealed a direct correlation between the impact of image editing and eating disorders. These facts made me become much more passionate toward arguing my topic as strongly as it could be. I really appreciated all of the comments that I received! None of them made me change my mind about my topic since all of them helped support my main ideas I delivered throughout my blog. By doing some more research after receiving these comments, I further clarified for myself how photoshopping ads can positively affect the company's sales, like a comment pointed out; now I can fully understand the flip-side of my topic after a few weeks of publishing my original post. As mentioned before, I did have to do further research in order to reply persuasively and effectively to all of the comments. I really enjoyed doing that so I could continue to engage the reader in a conversation, and by further research, I learned more about this topic through many fascinating blogs, websites, and statistics! To conclude, I definitely got so much out of this project and the process of blogging in general; I am very intrigued by these controversial topics, and I hope to continue to research and learn about them outside of class. This project opened up my eyes to many issues in which some individuals, including myself, were not aware of before, and I think that creating a blog to spread that awareness was a very memorable and unforgettable experience.

Male Ideal: Corruption by Media?


Image: DeviantArt
The media images of men are changing to become more muscular and have a more robust build. First of all, it is commonly believed that women are only affected by the media, but that is not true. The question is how does this affect how men view themselves, and is it a positively or negatively? This topic is controversial, but I believe that it does negatively affect men, boys and teens because they are being influenced into the idea of obtaining this unreachable body image. There are many methods that males use, and I believe all these methods are an example of how the media affected the majority of males. The media’s ideal image has influenced a change in male behavior, and the steps taken to achieving this image, while some being good in moderation, are mostly harmful to their bodies.

One of the most common methods to improve one’s body is the change in eating habits. Diets and changing your eating habits can be good, until they become unnatural which can lead to a disorder. An Eating Specialist wrote, on Huffington Post, that " according to NEDA [National Eating Disorders Association], at least one million males in the United States have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia." This contrasts with the idea, she wrote, that "twenty years ago, very few people even knew what an eating disorder was." These statements show that people’s eating habits are changing, and this reaction is attributed to the change in media messages. This message appears in a variety of media, in fact, actor Sam Claflin has this same problem. When he is cast in Catching Fire, as Finnick Odair, the idealized male, he was “admitting he didn't see himself as Finnick at all.” He believed that he isn’t muscular or handsome enough, and that he was insecure. He says, “My wife calls me manorexic, I do seriously have issues, I think. She thinks I'm getting so skinny, but I look at myself and think I'm getting fat.” The fact that a perfectly athletic actor has such views about himself shows that the media is really affecting people, even actors, who are thought to be some of the most confident, secure and popular men in the world, and that this change in media IS negatively affecting males worldwide.

More of these methods that males are using are the use of steroids, protein powders and working out. In a New York Times article, a eighteen-year-old is quoted “I didn’t used to be into supplements” and that “I wanted something that would help me get bigger a little faster.” This shows how teenagers want to change and show a desire for the “improved” body image. Also, teenagers are showing an aptitude for better body images, in fact, almost 40% of boys and teens work out to get a better body. Also, “thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.” This is an another example to show how people are trying to increase muscle and have better body images. These supplements can be dangerous as a professor of medicine at Boston University says, “The problem with supplements is they’re not regulated like drugs, so it’s very hard to know what’s in them,” therefore it can lead to many problems within a body. This increased amount of younger men involving in improving and adding muscle mass to their bodies show that media is affecting males with different occupations and also different ages.

On the flip side for both of these two methods are the positive effects gained. If the eating habits aren’t drastically changed, or if they aren’t severely reduced, to say almost anorexia, then it is good to diet and become healthy. Dieting is good for the body because it can lower chances of getting diseases, and some “fat around the waist is typically buried deep in the abdomen and increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and dementia.” Getting rid of these chances for disease is obviously a benefit. This is also the same with working out, it can be good for your body, and make someone become healthier. However, the perfection of these images creates jealousy, and also an article on Huffington Post says that “Perfectionism leads to the desire to be good, accepted, perfect and in control -- all of which are prerequisites of anorexia.” So, I believe that while these images can spark benefits in health, however, they usually create an over-obsession in one’s body image, due to its perfection. Therefore, I believe that this change in media is negatively influencing men and boys to excessively obsess about their personal image.

Overall, I think that these changes in media are negatively affecting people, and not very often benefiting people because of the perfection of the media created image. While it is good to have people aware of their own body and not being unhealthy, it shouldn’t be taken to drastic measures. People shouldn’t be scrutinizing their own image, and trying to change it.

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Conclusion: I enjoyed doing this project because it brought me to realize and learn about how not only females, but males are affected by the media. Woman are usually thought of as the more affected gender by media, but I learned that isn’t always the case. Men are also affected, and sometimes they are also to extreme severity. The effect of media on males, I researched, is negative, and harmfully affects most, by portraying the idea of working-out to have a muscular body. By having so many men affected by the media, it emphasizes the impact that it can bring, and how powerful it is. Also, everyone who did, thank you for commenting. All your comments were very helpful, and they helped bring up some topics, such as if famous actors, in this case, Sam Claflin, would be increasing the amount of men affected negatively, which I think it does. Also, they talked about if it can be personal and related to me, which it is. None of the comments brought up the other side of the argument, any positive effects the media brought to men, so my opinion remained unchanged. These comments did encourage me to research in more depth, about the eating disorders and how perfection can play into that, and especially how athletes have an effect on males, as well. Overall, this topic was both enlightening and interesting. I was intrigued by the research and the topic, itself, and I was able to find many resources regarding males. Also, this process was fun at the same time, by when I was thinking for “hooks,” flashy titles, etc.