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Civility in the Digital Age! Can’t We Learn to Be Nice to Each Other?

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We hear about bullets that kill people. Gun control is a topic that is not going away. However there is another type of bullet that can ruin lives in a different form–and can be just as deadly. Cyber-bullets.

Sadly, hearing about online attacks by and between kids has become almost commonplace these days. But attacks against adults are an epidemic onto themselves. As someone who was a target, I know this first-hand, but it’s amazing that far too few people understand the extent to which online hostility and attacks impacts adults as well.

Andrea Weckerle, both through CiviliNation, the non-profit she founded, and her new book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People can Triumph Over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks is trying to change that. (Disclosure: I serve as an Advisor to CiviliNation.)

Her book outlines the problems we see online (the real-life examples she provides are often raw and hard-hitting), and also offers solutions in the form of best practices and techniques.

She starts by explaining why measuring and monitoring one’s online reputation is important, and breaks down how to do that. She also goes into considerable detail about what types of conflict we’re likely to encounter online (these can range from one-on-one interpersonal conflict to conflict with people who are pseudonymous or anonymous, to online lynch mobs), as well as who the most common troublemakers are (cyberbullies, online harassers and defamers, trolls, sockpuppets, and a host of difficult people). Of particular interest is the information about anger management, which includes insights into how to manage one’s own anger online and how to deal with those who are aggressively spouting off, both which are super important in the hyper-intense online environment. The chapter on conflict resolution skills and strategies get into nitty-gritty how-tos.

But it’s the chapter “30-Day Pan for better Conflict Management Online” that provides detailed information on how to put knowledge into action. Day 1, for example, explains how to start your conflict inventory and assessment, while Day 11 and Day 12 discuss choosing an online monitoring tool and setting up an online conflict tracking system, Meanwhile, Day 17, covers how to determine whether you need to bury or remove negative information about you online, and Day 29 talks about how to simulate an online conflict crisis.

“Civility in the Digital Age” is a serious book, but it’s also very hopeful. In the last chapter, Weckerle quotes serial entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken who says “If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” Weckerle writes, “Hawken’s words are relevant to the online world, where you see both the best and the worst of humanity expressed. But if you’ve read this book, it’s clear you’re not willing to turn a blind eye to the egregious behavior found online—you want to make things better!”

And don’t we all want to do that?

In my opinion, if you are online today, you need to read this book.

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Surfing The Information Highway in the 21st Century

Navigating the Informational Highway in the 21st Century - SueScheffBlog Pic 1

I accidentally looked at WHAT on the Internet?

Picture this: It’s early evening. You’re starting to make dinner when your daughter asks you what the final score was in the OSU/UO civil war game. You don’t know the answer, so you tell her to look it up online.

“No biggie,” you think. “She’s ten; she knows what to do.”

Suddenly the sounds of screaming and moaning fill the room.

You run to the computer where, right there on the screen, is a close-up video of…let’s just say a woman’s lady bits being manifestly violated. Frantically you close the window, but a dozen pop-up ads start flinging themselves on to your screen, each one with images more graphic than the next.

You shoo your daughter out of the room, telling her no, she’s not in trouble, but that you need to fix a problem with the computer and that it’s time to start her homework.

“What the heck happened here?” you think. “She’s always been trustworthy! That’s why I don’t have any of those parental blocker things! Those are for other kids who sneak around behind their parents’ backs! She never looks at anything more annoying than Justin Beiber pictures!”

After the virus checker finishes its job and deletes the dozens of files of malware your daughter accidentally downloaded, you decide to see just what she was up to. And that’s when you see it. Your daughter, curious about sports, had typed in the simplest search she could think of to get the answer she wanted:

“Beavers score.”

Unfortunately, situations like that are incredibly common, which is why those parental blocker programs exist. You don’t install them because you don’t trust your kids. You install them because you trust them but you also want to protect them until you’re certain they can handle the (mostly good but often nefarious for newbies) ways of the Internet on their own.

Just….NO!

 

Think of it this way: Even if you had the best auto insurance policy ever, you wouldn’t allow your ten-year-old daughter to simply take the keys to the car and drive herself to the mall, would you? Of course not.

When your children are young and small, they need special seats with lots of straps and harness-like apparatuses. That is your parental blocking program. As your child gets older, they grow out of those special seats and are allowed to sit in the back seat unencumbered. This is when you loosen (slightly, and however much you feel comfortable doing so) the restrictions on that blocking software.

When they’re old and big enough to move up to the passenger seat, you can take off the parental blocking software and allow them to use the Internet unrestricted, but not yet privately. When they’re old enough to drive… you get the idea. There’s no need to beat the metaphor completely to death.

The moral of the story is this: Protecting your kids against their own naïveté and those who might actually be trying to do them wrong online does not make you an annoying “helicopter” parent. It makes you a good parent. Stop beating yourself up about it!

Special contributor:

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics including this one.

Teens and Cyber Safety

Teens will explore the Internet.

The ready availability of virtually anything and the generally unrestricted access the Internet provides is an irresistible draw to any teenager looking to explore. As a parent, you need to do what you can to keep them safe. Clever teens will get around nearly any form of parental control placed on the computer. It’s better in the long run, and much easier in the short term, to teach your teens to use the Internet safely.

1: Virus Protection.

The Internet is full of threats. Viruses show up all over the place, from e-mail attachments to embedded in downloads to fake programs. It’s essential that any computer your teen uses have adequate virus protection installed and kept up to date. It won’t stop a virus from being willfully — if accidentally — installed, but it will help eliminate most threats.

2: Safety Add-Ons. 

There are a number of utilities that can help make browsing technically safer. Spybot: Search & Destroy has an excellent immunization feature that blocks known danger pages from ever loading. Adblock+ is an add-on for most browsers that removes advertisements, including those embedded with malicious code. A good firewall can also help keep threats out.

3: Safe Browsing Habits.

Even the most sophisticated protection in the world won’t stop dedicated human error. It’s best to educate your teens on some safe browsing habits. Some good lessons include “if the virus scanner stops the download, don’t download it again,” “don’t download e-mail attachments from anyone you don’t know,” “learn to recognize advertisements pretending to be legitimate content,” and more.

4: Withholding Information.

The most dangerous thing a teen can do online is give out sensitive information to someone willing to misuse it. Teach them never to give out sensitive information. This information includes passwords, full real names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers, usernames and other identity information. Anyone who has a legitimate reason to need some of that information can get it in other ways. No one will ever ask for it through e-mail unless they’re trying to steal it.

5: Complex Passwords.

Bad passwords are easy to guess, easy to brute force break and easy to steal. Good passwords are harder to remember, and people tend to write them down or set them to input automatically, which can be just as dangerous. Teach your teens to use good passwords and remember them. It doesn’t have to be a messy combination of letters, numbers and symbols. A good password might simply be a long phrase with capitalized words, a number and some punctuation. Such a password is easy to remember and hard to guess.

Accidents will happen. Everyone steps outside their boundaries at some point in their life. With some education and some safe browsing habits, your teen will learn firsthand after a major virus, and not identity theft or something more dangerous.

Special contributor: Paul Taylor

Author Bio:

Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare. They take care of all the necessary information related to “babysittingjobs.com/”. He personally thinks his blog will help finding information on all things related to a babysitter.

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How to POKE Someone Without Touching Them

Parenting teens is not easy.

Getting them to listen can be more of a challenge.

Many times you feel like shaking them and asking them if they are listening, however you know better than to touch them – but what about a ‘poke?’

If you’re trying to get someone’s attention, reaching over and giving them a good poke in the ribs is a surefire way to successfully grab it. The physical interruption of their focused train of thought works better than anything else, unless, of course, they are fully immersed in their favorite video game.

For those in the ‘video zone’, it generally takes much more than a slight physical irritation to break their concentration. But you don’t always have to make physical contact with someone to get their attention; there are several other ways to get someone’s attention, or ‘poke’ them, without actually touching them.

Here are five:

  1. Facebook – Poking has been a part of Facebook since the beginning, and new people still ask what the purpose or message is meant to be with a Facebook POKE. The big secret is: there is none. A poke on Facebook is simply an attempt to recreate the physical poke in the ribs in a virtual environment. It’s simply an annoying little blip in the middle of your world that says someone wants to get your attention, and probably for no real reason. If this has ‘disappeared’ in the latest version, it is likely that no one noticed, because it seems to have lost its appeal anyways.
  2. Text – Sending a text message to someone is probably the most common means of ‘poking’ someone in the digital age. It is silent (except for the little message notification) like the physical poke. It is quick and fairly unobtrusive. It has the added benefit of actual communication along with the ‘poke’, which replaces the previous nod of the head, pointing of the finger, or mouthing words that the other person strained to decipher from your lips; definitely an improvement in the poking arena.
  3. Tweet A tweet is similar to a text message to someone; however it is more often used as a group poke to catch the attention of any of your followers who might be paying attention to your 140 character attention grabber.
  4. Whistle – A bit old school, but this usually still works in a crowd. A good strong whistle between the fingers can break through an awful lot of chatter and catch the attention of someone who might be totally out of reach for a physical poke in the side. Not everyone has mastered this skill, but there is usually someone within a group of friends who possesses the capability to deliver this ‘poke’ through the air.
  5. Face-to-face – For the aforementioned video-gamer and others who are strongly engrossed in their own fantasy world, a face-to-face blockage of their direct line of view may be the most effective means of gaining their attention. This may require some effort on your part to keep them from trying to simply bend their view around the interference in their visual line of sight. Eventually, though, they do come to realize that the object is a person and not simply an apparition, and you may receive some response from them at this point… just don’t expect it to be polite.

There are bigger and more creative ways of getting someone’s attention, of course. Billboards along the highway, sky writing, and announcements over PA systems have also been used, but those are a bit more extreme than just a ‘poke’.

Source: Internet Service Providers

Texting: Surprising Facts About Texting and Your Kids

You probably already have a few pretty good ideas about text messaging.

For instance, you know walking while texting can be tricky, and you know texting in your college courses has a negative impact on your grades. You didn’t need a study to tell you so, but researchers went ahead and did them anyway. But not all the research done on the subject can be filed under “Obvious.”

Here are 15 scholarly facts about texting that you may not have suspected.

  1. Getting a text makes you happier: It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that receiving a text message from a close friend makes you happier, but now we have the research to confirm it. Berkeley psychologists found even sending a text message makes people feel more connected and causes an upswing in mood.
  2. Hypertexters are less healthy: Texting may make you happier, but those who do it too much seem prone to unhealthy habits. Case Western Reserve School of Medicine concluded a study in 2010 that found “hypertexting” — sending more than 120 messages a day — can “have dangerous health effects on teenagers.” Hypertexters were found to be more likely to engage in harmful behaviors like binge drinking (43% more likely) and drug use (41% more likely).
  3. Texting behind the wheel is even riskier than we thought: Few things are as distracting to a motorist as trying to read or send a text message. Researchers at Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute now say, based on their study, that texting while driving double’s a driver’s reaction time. In the test, drivers using their phones were 11 times more likely to miss a flashing traffic light than focused drivers.
  4. Texting while driving killed 16,000 in a six-year period: Exactly measuring the number of traffic deaths caused by texting is impossible, but researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center have put the number at 16,000 between 2001 and 2007. Their findings were compiled based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and were published in the American Journal of Public Health. They estimated that in 2008 alone, 5,870 people died as a result of drivers distracted by texting.
  5. Texters use fewer abbreviations than we thought: Three universities are currently partnering to determine whether it’s true that cell phone communication is really ruining the way we write. The study began in December 2011, and head researcher Christian Guilbault of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia says the research has already revealed some interesting info. It turns out people don’t resort to shorthand as often as we might think. “See you” is used four times as often as “C U,” and of 12 variations of the word “OK,” “okay” is the most common.
  6. Black people send the most text messages: The Nielsen Company looked at monthly cell phone bills of 60,000 users in the U.S. and determined that African-Americans send more texts than Hispanics, whites, and Asian-Americans. The 790 text messages they send per month, on average, is more than twice the amount sent by Asian-Americans, who send an average of 384 per month.
  7. Texting helps HIV sufferers take their meds: A study that recently appeared in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that sending HIV patients weekly text messages to remind them to take medicine and to ask them how they are doing can help them stick to their antiretroviral therapy treatment plans. Researchers at UC-San Francisco’s Global Health Sciences recommend hospitals text patients on the treatment, which has tough side effects, but is also critical to survival.
  8. Texters don’t believe that’s a word: Blame it on autocorrect. A University of Calgary student did a study of texters and word usage, expecting to find that texting encouraged “unrestrained language.” Instead, the results showed people who text more are more likely to reject new words rather than accepting them as possible words. The people who were more open to a range of new words were readers of traditional media like magazines and books.
  9. Texting makes it easier to lie: The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia recently published the results of their study that paired students playing roles of stockbroker and buyer, with the stockbroker needing to unload a stock that will soon lose 50% of its value. Deals done via texting were 31% more likely to involve lies than those by face-to-face talks. And buyers who were lied to via text proved to be much angrier than buyers lied to in person.
  10. Many people are addicted to texting: Researchers at the University of Maryland studied 200 students after 24 hours of no texting or other media. They found many of them were basically experiencing withdrawal, anxiety, and difficulty functioning. Dr. David Greenfield of the Center for Internet Behavior has compared constant texting and checking email to gambling addiction.
  11. Most people still prefer a phone call: Nearly three-fourths of American adults text. However, while 31% say they prefer to be contacted by text message, fully half of adults still prefer a good old phone call. The findings were the result of a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the first such time the group has polled Americans’ on their contact method of choice.
  12. Banning texting while driving is not the answer: At least one group of researchers is making a case against laws banning texting while driving. Researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute found that driver education is more effective than a ban, partly because people would disobey a law and partly because hands-free devices meant to replace texting as a safer alternative do not actually lower crash figures.
  13. Female teens text the most: Perhaps the only surprising thing here is that it’s older teenage girls, not pre-teen girls, who send the most texts of any group. Girls 14-17 send a median of 100 texts a day. Pew’s Internet and American Life Project also discovered that 87% of all teens in this age group have a cell phone, while only 57% of 12- and 13-year-olds have one.
  14. Texting has spawned its own injury: Texting is convenient, but it could also be a pain in the neck. Dr. Dean Fishman has trademarked the phrase “text neck” to describe an ailment he is seeing conflicting more and more patients. He even started the Text Neck Institute in Florida to treat pain in the neck, back, arms, and shoulders of frequent texters. “Forward head posture” pain, his original diagnosis, did not catch on.
  15. Predictive texting changes children’s brains: Using the built-in dictionary when texting on a cell phone makes children prone to making more mistakes. An epidemiologist from Monash University in Melbourne studied children ages 11-14 who sent 20 texts a week and found that the autocorrect technology makes children more impulsive and less accurate in their learning.

Source: Online College Courses

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Video Games: 10 Ways They Help Kids

The article last week gives you the list of reasons, or I should say a list of videos games you should avoid…. this week let’s look at the positive side of video games.

Video games get a bad rap. 

All of the experts will have you think that video games will rot the minds of our youth.  We’re being told as parents to limit our kids’ screen time to an hour a day.

Really?  Only an hour?

That amount of time is enough for one prime time show with the family or two shows on Disney.  That doesn’t include time to play with the Wii or the DS.  That doesn’t allow any time for working on the computer either.  I’m no expert, but I would say our kids would be better off if we just monitored what they are playing and watching.  Obviously no one wants their child glued to the TV or video game all day, but I don’t think 4-5 hours a day doing various things is a big deal.

Check out 10 ways video games help kids.

  1. Develop hand/eye coordination: Video games do an amazing job of developing our kids’ hand/eye coordination.  The skill that they have to figure out how far and how fast they need to jump in order to land in just the right place.  The examples are endless.  Nearly every video game works on hand/eye coordination.
  2. Problem solving: Many of the games include an element that must be figured out in order to win the game.  Not just win the game, but to progress through the various levels.  Games like Diabolical Box contain complex puzzles all throughout the game that have to be solved in order to get all of the pieces to solve the end mystery.
  3. Spatial awareness: Figuring out how to maneuver through mazes and worlds collecting coins or objects or tools is difficult.  The trick is to be aware of where you are and where you have already been because these games are timed as well.  You can’t spend all day going over and over the same landscapes.
  4. Logical thinking: Various games will require kids to figure out the logical progression of how a game works.  If I do this then I’m able to achieve higher results than if I don’t use any of the tools.  Something to that effect.
  5. Teaches strategy: Soccer on a video game is a lot like soccer in real life.  The same strategies that are used on the video game can be incorporated on the real soccer field.  Playing the game kids learn which players are the best players and who will score the best against a particular team or defender.  The more the child plays the game the more strategies they will learn.
  6. Decision making: Kids constantly have to make decisions while playing a video game.  If they make the wrong decision their character loses a life.  They have to decide which road to take and which tool to use.  They need to be able to make split decisions on the spot in order to progress in the game.
  7. Learn a foreign language: So many of the video games are created in Asian countries and many of the game’s words throughout the game are in a foreign language.  Kids learn these words.  Can they carry on a conversation in Chinese because they played a video game?  No, but learning foreign words often sheds light on your own language.
  8. Learn history:  Many games are based on real life places and things.  In SIM games or simulation games you create a civilization, an amusement park or some other setting.  Learning from places that exist in real life helps the child create a better SIM world.
  9. Improving self-esteem:  When a child beats a video game or is doing really well on a video game their self-esteem will soar.  They are so excited when they complete a level or beat an entire game.  This is something they can talk about with their peers at school and they will feel better about themselves when they are able to talk about the different things they went through in the game and how they were able to figure things out.
  10. Outlet for creativity: There are many games that are related to art and design.  Even young children can get in on the act; there is a Barbie fashion game where you can work on creating different looks for Barbie and her friends.  Then you can put together a fashion show.  The game makes this all possible for a 6 year old to do.  The kids just think it’s fun, but they are actually learning great planning and organization skills too.

Source:  Babysitter.net

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Holiday Video Games for Kids: What is and isn’t appropriate for your child

Is your teen or tween or even child asking for a video game for their holiday gift?

Video games have become a prime source of entertainment for kids and a source of anxiety for many parents. They not only worry about the amount of time their children spend playing the games, but also the content. Even though these games are merely videos and fantasy, they’ve become very realistic in their depiction of violence, blood and gore.

Kids may think its fun killing and maiming, but parents should be concerned about the affects these games could have on them. There are many video games kids love that are totally inappropriate for them to play.

  1. Grand Theft Auto – This game lets kids play the role of a criminal who commits a range of unlawful acts from auto theft to bank robbery and assassinations. Even though this game is extremely popular, Grand Theft Auto promotes a totally inappropriate role model for young children.
  2. Gears of War – This immensely popular video game has sold millions of copies and achieved awards for its detailed visuals. For just this reason, the graphic videos in this game should give parents pause. Even though the quest of the Delta Squad may be noble, the gore in Gears of War isn’t appropriate for young children.
  3. Dead Rising – Chopping up zombies is the main activity in the video game Dead Rising. Although it’s won many awards, the graphic violence glorified in this game is not something impressionable kids should be exposed to.
  4. Aliens vs. Predator – Set in a futuristic science-fiction world inhabited by aliens and predators, this violent video game is made for adults and not intended to be used by children of any ages. Unfortunately, that’s what makes it so attractive to kids.
  5. God of War – The massive blood orgies in this video game should be evident by the picture of the hero Kratos on the cover. This may be a great game for adults, but definitely not appropriate for kids.
  6. Resident Evil – Zombies abound in this survival horror video game. The blood and frightening imagery in Resident Evil may be popular with kids, but their parents may have a different opinion.
  7. Metal Gear Solid – Sneaking around slitting throats isn’t exactly a suitable activity for young impressionable kids. Parents should pass up Metal Gear Solid for their children’s Playstation game collection.
  8. Legacy of Kain – This series of video games was developed for adults and not intended for young children. Legacy of Kain depicts vampires killing each other in various settings and scenarios that are both complex and gory.
  9. Devil May Cry – This hack and slash video game may be popular, but Devil May Cry is not appropriate for kids. Playing a happy-go-lucky demon hunter gallivanting around killing all sorts of creepy-crawlies spawned from the depths of Hell isn’t the best role model for children.
  10. F.E.A.R. – Even thought the paranormal presence in this video game is a little girl, F.E.A.R. is not suitable for children. First Encounter Assault Recon uses a wide array of firearms and could give your kids nightmares.

Parents should make the ultimate decision on what video games their kids play and closely monitor them. Many of these sophisticated games are developed for adults and could have harmful affects on impressionable youngsters. Pay close attention to ratings and don’t succumb to pouting and pleading. There are plenty of games that are both fun and educational for kids to choose from.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

TV shows are no different.  Click here to read 10 good reasons to want to know the ratings of the shows your teens are watching.

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