Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Social Media: Harm or Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

-Sincerely Daniel Wang

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hypnotized By The Television

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

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

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

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

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


Conclusion: Updated 28 May 2014

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

Friday, May 9, 2014


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

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

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

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

Appropriate Ratings

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

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

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

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

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


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

Take Control of Your Digital Footprint: Advice for Teens

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

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

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

Wired Man by Mike Licht on Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pause Before You Post

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

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

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

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


Conclusion: Updated 29 May 2014

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

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

Be Smart with Your Smart Phone

Image source
Sleeping with a cellular phone around a bed can affect an individual’s health. Cell phones produce electromagnetic radiation that cause cancer or tumors. When you sleep with your cell phone on, it elevates your chances of brain tumors. People that use cell phones a large amount of time increase their chance of developing cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there is no proof of harm to humans with cellular devices. However, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer states that the radiation is "possibly carcinogenic to humans." With all the conflicting studies on the dangers of cellular phones being recharged next to one’s bed, it would be wise to relocate your charging stations away from your bed.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are three main reasons to be concerned about cell phone use. First of all, cell phones release radio frequency energy. This is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. This type of radiation can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held, which is of course the head. The second reason the NCI is concerned about cell phone use is because the number of users have skyrocketed just within this last decade. The International Telecommunications Union estimates the global subscription to cell phones is approximately five billion. The third and most concerning reason is that people are using their cell phones more frequently per day and the length per call has become longer. Based on these three reasons there is evidence of a true concern with a person’s health and the usage of cellphones.

Some people are so glued to their phones that they sleep with them under their pillow, on their head or next to their bed. This is a global habit and I believe that if people understood the danger of doing it, they would stop or at least modify their behavior. With the phone still on, it is pumping out electromagnetic radiation all night long, exposing themselves to unnecessary radiation the entire night. There are a few things a person can do. The phone can be put on “airplane mode.” This allows a person to still use the phone as an alarm, but it shuts off WiFi and data, meaning it shuts down the receivers that are putting off the electromagnetic radiation. If the cell phone is needed or wanted to be left on, then it should be placed around 6 feet away from the bed. The best way, but not the most popular is to charge the cell phone with it turned off. Therefore, if a cell phone is going to be on while a person is sleeping, take appropriate steps so electromagnetic radiation released is minimized.

With many cancer studies making a connection to cell phone use, there is another study indicating the opposite. In the United States, the main government run agency is known as the Center of Disease Control (CDC). It publicly states that there is no current study that can undoubtedly connect a cancer to cell phone use. It points out that there were other factors that could have played a role in acquiring the cancer other than the cell phone. For cell phone use to be undoubtedly connected to causing cancer, research needs to be more valid and controlled.

The CDC may be correct in their assessment of cancer/cell phone studies indicating that there may be a lack of validity, but I would tend to be cautious and not wait for the United States government-run agency to publicly announce that the radiation cell phones produce can cause cancer. Cell phones have become a part of our everyday use and follow us to bed. It doesn’t need to be dangerous for individuals if precautionary actions are taken. Either move the charger further away from the bed, put it on “air plane” mode or simply turn off the device when sleeping. Be smart with your “smart phone.”


29 May 2014

      Cellular devices have become part of everyday life, to the point that they are recharged next to beds making them a potential hazard to peoples health. When I first started researching the dangers of cellular devices, I was shocked to learn that there were so many negative affects with using and recharging them.  It scares me that cancer is a potential side effect to using cell phones.  I never knew until I started this blog that recharging a phone next to my head while I slept was a bad idea.  I thought I was being responsible by using it as an alarm.  Since starting this blog and learning the potential hazards, I have moved my phone recharger away form my bed.  I hope that others that read my blog and didn't know of the potential dangers made appropriate changes too.  I am glad we did this activity so my class could have an opportunity to be a positive citizen in the digital life.
     I was pleased to see that I had many responses to my blog. They were just as uninformed as I was when I started the blog.  All that responded, stated that they slept with their phones next to their beds and because of my blog they were going to move their charging stations.  The post I received did not change my mind on the hazards of cellular devices, I informed them and they changed their minds. They were very appreciative of the research I had done.  No one wants cancer. The responses from my peers made me think further than I had about cell phones and cancer.  The post made me think about other hazards with the cell phones and I wanted more clarification on the hazards. I continued to research on the internet about cell phones and cancer, so I could further continue to educate myself and my friends.  When I was able to find more information that I thought was important for people to know, I shared it on my blog to be a good citizen in the digital world. Post were very grateful for the information and didn't need persuasion to make changes with their phones.
    This was my first time blogging.  It was very scary to put something out into the digital world with my name on it that everyone could see and make commons.  It made me do some research on cell phones that helped me and others that read my blog.  I don't want cancer and if by moving my charging station  away from my bed helps, then I'm going to move it.  I am happy we did this activity for the information I learned.  It also felt good knowing I was helping others through a blog by being a good digital citizen.

Video Games: E for EVERYONE

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Video games have been around for about 40 years and in that time the growing question out of all parent's minds is “What is this doing to my child?” While many adults, parents, and public figures say video games are affecting the gamers for the worse, I disagree. Video games affect our everyday lives for the better improving mental and social skill. Video games have been proven to increase motor skills such as kicking or throwing a ball. Video games can also act as a pain reliever. Burn victims that played video games while in treatment said they were in 30 to 50 percent less pain than before. In 2010 researchers found that video game players “develop heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them” and makes them make faster decisions. While there is proof of video games affecting people for the better, some believe they are still bad.

Many parents and public figures in the past have blamed school shootings on violent video games such as “DOOM” or “Wolfenstein.” There have been increasing reports of bullying partially attributed to video games. After the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999 FBI agents said that video games contributed to the shooting. Video games have been known to release appalling acts of violence. In 1998 a study found that 21% of games sampled violence against women, and endorsed violence. In Japan a study showed that exposure to games have shown lowered empathy levels in children which could lead to school shootings. In addition in 1996 the US Marines corps licensed “DOOM II” in order to train US Marines for duty. This shows that many video games including this one are made to help people kill others, and if put in the wrong hands it could lead to an innocent fatality. While this could push someone to believe that video games have a negative effect on people, other proof would push someone to believe that video games have positive effect.

Video games have arguably been the most controversial issue for the last 40 years, keeping them on the shelves is the question that has been asked many times. But video games have been proven to have a positive effect and peoples mind and health. Two researches Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson who wrote the “Grand Theft Childhood,” interviewed over 1,200 children on the subject of influence of violent video games (see video below). They concluded through their research that childhood crime rates have been slowing down the past 20 years ever since violent video games became a normality in the market. They noticed that people that were most susceptible to violence because of video games were the ones that didn’t play them normally and were not used to the content. This shows that people that play video games are more stable and less susceptible to committing crimes and violent actions towards other people.

Video games affect everyday lives for the better making the people who play them less susceptible to crimes and improving mental health. The evidence is clear video games do not make people commit crimes. They do the exact opposite. Video games have become a normality and with that, the normality is to use them as a scapegoat for crimes that are committed by the players. The only effect that video games have on the players is improving the player’s lifestyle.


May 29, 2014 Updated conclusion

The reason I chose to write my blog on the good side of video games is because I feel there is too much, belief in the news media world that they are bad. Video games are a very close subject to me and are a part of my life. I felt if I got the knowledge out to the world about the good video games do then people would at sept them as a normality. It would hurt to tell someone that "I play video games" and have them make the assumption that I am a violent person. I would like to thank Ms. Gerla for showing me the amazing documents on the frustration and violence in adolescents because of video games, they broadened my research to the "bad" side of video games. I would like to thank all of you that commented on my post to give me support and tips to broaden my research.

You Could be Committing a Wireless Crime

Image: Wayda Dreamscape
When people go on-line they could be doing things illegal without even knowing it. For example, you go to a local Starbucks or McDonalds or any other big company store, they usually will have free unlocked Wifi. This Wifi is put there as a guest or client luxury and is not something that other people, who are not authorized to use it and take advantage of. When people are online, they are doing things that are illegal without even knowing it and even if they do know that it is illegal, they are almost sure that no one will catch them.

When you go on your phone or computer and need wifi, you almost always see an option that is unlocked and accessible. It turns out that this is stealing and an act of fraud. When you see an open unsecured wifi network, the person who owns that network is the one who is paying for the internet access. Most of the time they don’t intend for random people to use the network and take up more space on the network so they just leave it open. When they leave it open, it is basically telling random people to come and use it. If enough people begin to use the wifi, then the data that the wifi has to store information will fill up and the owner could lose their wifi, or find additional charges to the monthly bill. When people use others’ free wifi, they are committing a crime according to the computer Fraud Abuse Act of 1986. This act states that if someone logs on to free wifi without authorization from the owner, then they can be arrested or fined for up to four hundred dollars but it is rarely ever enforced because it’s very difficult to detect. However, in 1986 they didn’t have wifi and because of the emergence of it, this act needs to be updated since the technology is better. Since the technology is better, more people hack and use the wifi unauthorized now more than before in 1986 when the act came out.

When you are using free wifi and you have the authorization to do so, make sure you take all the right precautions so that no one steals your information. First of all don’t go on any personal accounts unless you really have to for wrk or some family issue or necessity. When you log into something a small signal is released throughout the network so if someone is hacking the computer, then they have direct access to your device. If you have to go on to a personal account, then make sure that you log out after you are done.

Also, make sure your wifi is locked and secure with a password. You don’t want to be the person who is getting piggybacked all the time because that could lead to wifi suspension or additional fees that you, as the owner, have to pay. Also when you leave the wifi open, it allows hackers to get into the wifi easily and access information about you and all who are logged on to the network. If your wifi is locked, then it would take a hacker with specialized equipment to get into your wifi.

On the other hand, people do this all the time and never get caught. There has only been one case of the Computer Fraud abuse act coming into affect since 1986, when it was created. I mean when you need wifi why would you want to pay for it or take the time to put in a code when you could use a perfectly free and accessible network with the click of a button. And its not like anyone will catch you and bring you in to the police, unless you are hacking which is a whole different story.

In conclusion, if you see an open network, don’t log onto it because in the rare case you do get caught, you don’t want to be the one to pay the fine. Also keep your wifi locked and secure with a password so that no one can get in without your consent. I you do this and follow all of the security protocols, then you and your wifi will be just fine.



Reflection:Updated 29 May, 2014

When I first took on this project I though it would be a drag. I had never thought it would be as fun as it actually was. Yes, there were some parts of this that challenged me. For instance I had never used Noodletools before. I also had never used Blogger. These two programs were great tools that I learned how to use because of this project and I will probably use them again in the future. Before this project I had never even thought about writing a blog mainly because I didn't see myself as a blogger, but now I realize that it's not so bad and I can do it to just like everyone else in the world. While I was doing my research I definitely learned things. I learned about a new law that will now prevent me from logging on to random networks. I also learned what to o and what not to do when on different networks to make sure that my accounts stay nice and safe. Even before all of this I had to choose my topic. Like I said before, I wasn't very interested in this, but the turning point occurred when I looked at some of the articles to choose the topic from. Every time I would click on an article they would get more and more interesting. I finally settled on the one about piggybacking because it is something that I have done and I am sure most people have done too. I also thought that more people should know if they are doing something illegal because I know I would want to know if I was.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Technophobia Takeover

Through out the many centuries new technological discoveries have been found, however there are those who fear the new advancements from these discoveries. This is a fear of technology called technophobia. The point of technophobia that I am focusing on is technophobia online and if
Fear of Technology

it is beneficial to be unsocial online because of the fear of technology called technophobia. When a person has a technophobia then they will not release information about themselves online like online shopping, phone number, pictures, fear of tracking, fear of becoming lazy thinkers, and fear of the Internet on our lives in general. They will not do this because they know that they will constantly be tracked and as a result of do not use technology, which makes them socially unacceptable. Another argument to his could be that technophobia will keep people from being able to associate with society on social media, which is a main source of communication now.

In one of the articles I read that agreed with the ideas of technophobia, it talked about why technology should scare people and how it takes the creativity out of thought process. Children with technology anything is possible, and that essentially takes the fun out of life. "If you have so many other things to help you make it through life, why try hard to achieve anything?" Here in the decadent 21st century, "everything has to be easy, and ballet is very, very hard". Thus explaining that with children always on electronics using them to solve the mysteries of life will drain out the fun of thinking in thought process. Also proving that technology is gaining more power so eventually it will take over human life. With google now a days you can find pretty much anything or do anything from sitting with a computer, which will make people lazy and eventually lead to humans relying on technology to control their lives..

Another article I found agreeing with the fact that technophobia is a good thing is an article that I read on the Huffington Post he other day. The article is all about why a woman and her husband do not want smartphone and some reasons why they do not want one. The three main reasons for this are the device makers, big telecom, and raw materials and recycling. What make a good company to be with and have a phone with, needs to be trustworthy and honorable with your information. “I have resisted taking the plunge for many reasons. Touch screens are slimy, clinical, unsatisfying. Digital surveillance is creepy. (You know your smartphone is tracking you, right?) Apps are overhyped. As a recent book title attests, there's no app for happiness.” Jennifer Rauch tries to show that none of the companies are honest with the customers. If it had not been for her technophobia then she would be just another digi zombie helping with the end of society.

An opposing argument to the previous statement was in an article I read from a New Zealand newspaper about an elder who had been afraid of technology afraid what it offered to society. Then they were introduced to it by a woman who showed them that there was nothing to fear. “not scary at all, quickly taking in my limited ability, moulding the training session around my baby-steps desires. She understands that the fact I do something only twice a year means I have to be retrained each time.” This person was able to overcome their fear and realize that technology helps people with social interactions online and it is beneficial to be sociable online. Without technology people would have almost no communication anymore. For thousands of years there has been much technology found around the world, many people are scared of the social change that it could make. This fear is technophobia. I focused my search on if it is beneficial to be unsocial online or not because of technophobia. I believe that it is beneficial because it can slow down the technological takeover of society, which will eventually happen because we rely on technology. Technophobia causes fears in people that their personal information will be taken to affect them in the future or the future of thinkers.

Bibliography Note: Sources that are cited without a link are from a private database that is inaccessible without an account.

The fear technophobia causes fear when in use of technology, so would it be beneficial to be unsocial while online to keep information being taken offline? That was the main focus of my article on technophobia for my Digital Citizenship class. To answer my own thesis I do believe that it can be beneficial to be unsocial online because it gives a person privacy for the world and will keep most all of their personal and public information not accessible just anywhere to anyone at any time. As I was reading some of comments left for me I realized that different opinions give a new outlook on the topic of my studies. Each comment had an input on my current outlook on technophobia. My mind kept changing sides from being social online is better to unsocial is better. Some of the comments helped support my argument and make them stronger by adding bits of advice to fix or an article to read on the subject. However I did not have to research any more information from my comments because I had previously collected the data when we first got the data to put our thesis together to write out our blog topic. This project was very fun to do research on, searching through all the databases and sites to find just the right information to support your ideas. Also to find an opposing argument and find more on that so people can see both sides of the idea at hand. I wish that I could do another project like this sometime in the future.

Blurred Lines Between Objectification and Entertainment

“I hate these blurred lines! I know you want! I know you want it! I know you want it!” Do these words ring a bell? I bet they do because the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke seemed to be playing on a continuous loop during the summer of 2013. The Daily Beast’s Tricia Romano described the song as “kind of rapey,” which fits the song as it has been criticized for expressing rape myths and promoting rape culture. Blurred Lines, as well as the (uncensored) video that exposes topless women, objectifies women as merely sexual objects for a man’s pleasure. The misogynistic lyrics degrade women as trying to be  “good girls” who really “want it” when in reality most of the time that is just not true. Objectification of women in media promotes "rape culture" which leads to sexual harassment, rape, and victim blaming.

Rape Crisis spokeswoman Katie Russell said,“Certain lyrics are explicitly sexually violent and appear to reinforce victim-blaming rape myths, for example about women giving 'mixed signals' through their dress or behavior, saying 'no' when they really mean 'yes'.” Media that objectifies women leads males to believe women are less than human and can be treated poorly because they are just objects for men's’ pleasure, so it must be okay to sexually harass or rape a woman. People see it all the time in media how women are used for men's pleasure. Blurred Lines is just one example of media that dehumanizes women down to just an object. Another example of media objectifying women are ads portraying them as things like this ad:

Ad for beer: Photo courtesy of Gran Imaginador

And this:

Photo courtesy of infogr.am

And this:

Photo courtesy of thesocietypages.org

I can't be the only one who thinks these are ridiculous, right?
The Gender Ads Project is a website that exposes thousands of ads objectifying women. Click on the link to view the ads.

Many people may argue that the media’s portrayal of women is free speech as well as some people’s attitudes toward victims. Mens’ rights organizations are very outspoken about their opinions on rape. But there is a line between free speech and hate speech, which is illegal. There have been incidents where men’s rights organizations have attacked victims online and accused them of false reporting. While promoting rape culture and objectifying women in media may be free speech, it still leads to rape and victim-blaming.

What exactly is “rape culture?” It is a culture where rape is normalized or accepted, even expected. We see it in our everyday lives from fraternity orientations on college campuses, to rape jokes, to not believing victims, to aiming sexual assault prevention courses at women and teaching them how to avoid being raped rather than teaching men not to rape. Even women feeling less safe on college campuses than men are is an example of rape culture. After all, 1 in 5 women have reported being raped while 1 in 71 men have reported being raped.

Now, Blurred Lines in particular embodies all of my points. I think we can all agree that the video degrades and objectifies women, but it also suggests an implication of victim blaming when the song talks about a woman really wanting it and giving mixed signals, and promotes rape culture, as the top song is often played normalizing the message it carries. If males take the message as normal, then they will actually think no means yes. With all the spectacle around women's bodies and rape, eventually someone is going to be raped. This is shown in Project Unbreakable, which is a photo exhibit online that features pictures of rape survivors holding signs quoting their abusers. Some of the photos had lines that are said in the song like “I know you want it” and “good girl.” The majority of the pictures also had quotes from family and friends that were blaming the victim. Things like “what were you wearing?” and “what did you expect?” and “you should have known better.” This victim blaming leads to people not reporting attacks because they do not want to be blamed for the wrongdoing they had no control of. A whopping 60 percent of rapes are not reported to the police because of this. Not only has this sprung from the normalized idea that women should expect to be raped or that they were asking for it, but also it underestimates the character of men and holds low standards for men. Instead of censuring the rapist, the victim is blamed. Boys will be boys right? Wrong. We can fight this phenomenon of rape culture if we stop making excuses for the attackers and stop degrading women. So next time you are watching television and come across an ad that portrays a woman as a beer bottle, or a magazine advertisement that shows a woman being used as a table, stop and think about the message you are getting. Oh, and next time you hear the song Blurred Lines on the radio? At least try to resist singing along with the admittedly catchy tune and think about what is actually being said in the lyrics. When you pay attention to the words, the message is quite shocking and it is disappointing to think that it was the #1 pop song for 6 weeks.


Picture Perfect?

Credit: Peter Ruter via Shutterstock
It seems today's media dominates the central aspects of our lives. As we begin to use more social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat, our culture begins to morph into individuals who express our collective identities through photos of ourselves. “Selfie,” the recently crowned Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013, has reportedly increased in usage by 17,000 percent since 2012.

Notable American author Susan Sontag once wrote, “One of the tasks of photography is to disclose, and shape our sense of, the variety of the world… The camera shows us many worlds, and the point is that all the images are valid.” However, how valid is a picture if it has been altered? Experts point to selfie culture as a major factor in the rise in plastic surgery among Americans under 30 (58%). Now wait, let’s go back a step, you're probably wondering what could lead to such extreme actions. Well, one of the main culprits are selfie-help apps. In most cases, selfie-help apps have negatively affected relationships and the way people perceive themselves and others. Let’s consider these questions: Do selfie-help apps encourage unattainable perfection? Will they continue to blur the line between fact and fiction in social media?

“Cameras add additional weight to photos and when you’re taking a selfie you’re also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn’t an accurate representation of themselves,” said Susan Green, co-founder of the Phoenix-based company, Pretty Smart Women, that created the app.

I certainly believe some pictures can add a pound or two but SkinneePix, for iPhone and Android devices, can trim from 5 to 15 pounds from a head shot photo. The app was originally designed to assist overweight adults to promote a skinnier version of themselves. Robin J. Phillips, the other co-founder, claims the app can also motivate people to lose weight. “It’s a good reminder to get off the couch, turn the TV off, and go for a walk,” she said. In reality, some critics fear the $1.99 app could encourage an unhealthy body image. This refers to the social norm and stereotype of a girl’s image. Lauren Dickson, a social worker in the eating disorders and addiction clinic at the Center of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, explains the app (one in many factors) could contribute to a young adult developing an eating disorder. In the last financial year, ChildLine charity received more than 10,500 calls and online inquiries from young individuals struggling with food and weight-related anxiety. Dickson also adds that “The majority of young girls wouldn’t develop an eating disorder because of an app like this, but some might be more vulnerable and it could contribute.” As quoted from the SkinneePix app description, "SkinneePix makes your pictures look thinner. It’s not complicated. No one needs to know. It’s our little secret." Not only does the app present an unhealthy body image but it also promotes selfiers to deceive others about their true natural features.
SkinneePix Image

Skinneepix isn’t the only selfie-help app that’s been promoting an unhealthy body image. Apps like Perfect365 have been making modifications in subtle ways that don't tip off the viewer that the photo has been edited. By doing so, it further promotes an unrealistic idea of how people look in everyday life. The app allows users to whiten teeth, reduce weight, get rid of wrinkles, and to accomplish perfect skin. According to the Huffington Post, Perfect365 has been downloaded nearly 17 million times. Not only has the app been overly produced and used, but the cost went from $1.99 to $49.99 today. "Unlike the previous generation of portrait-editing apps, which left figures with the two-dimensional masks of anime characters, these apps, like the best plastic surgeon, leave few obvious marks," the Huffington Post reports. Like Photoshop, Perfect365 can be used to change human beings beyond recognition like in this video:

Triana Lavey is an example of someone who let social media control her appearance. Even when using photo-editing apps like Perfect365, she still felt self-conscious about how she looked on social media. So, what can one possibly do to make their features even more flawless? The answer’s surgery.  “I look like myself, but photoshopped,” she said. " It’s a legitimate form of promoting yourself.” She added, “Not everyone is born beautiful, and if you can get a little help from an app or a nip-tuck then more power to you.”

This begs the question how changing yourself, because you're dissatisfied with yourself, is actually promoting yourself. Much of an individual's reputation comes from media but when you change yourself beyond recognition, then who are you really? Because you're certainly not the person that was naturally brought into the world, your changed. It’s almost lying to others about your true identity because no one individual is flawless, there will always be something to fix. So finally I ask, How have we evolved into a society in which self-consciences and manipulation are so valued and even supported?

Bibliography Bibliography

conclusion updated 5/29/14
After a week of reading others post on my website, I was happy to find my topic was highly discussed. I was expecting some people to argue against my opinion, but since none did, my opinion about selfie-help apps hasn’t changed.  When I started the article, I hadn’t known much about photo filter programs. It wasn’t untill I read my second source that I discovered almost all the articles online were against the filters. That made me curious, why do people use them if so many people think they’re a negaitve influence?  As I kept digging, I soon found that even though individuals may petition against them, the vast number of consumers are attracted to them, which controls their popularity. The importance of appearance is a big problem today. People are judged and labled based on their hairut, makeup, clothes, and worst of all:  natural beauty. However, natural beauty isn’t something you can just change without a price. Now when I say price, I litterly mean thousands of dollars. It’s crazy, but more and more people are choosing to get plastic surgery in order to maintain perfect beauty. In my opinion, selfie-help apps are the fist step before surgery. In many cases, the filters create a feeling of inadequacy in their users.  The image they produce makes users question their real features vs. the “desired” facial features.  Those that support the filters, think they produce an ego boost, but is this a healthy way to percieve these tools? Honestly, I don’t think so. In conclusion, I think filters reinforce low self-esteme that has impacted our society so badly and led to eating disorders, unnecessary surgery and social mental illness.