Parents Raise Zombies, Not iPads…

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The debate on technology and toddlers is heated.

Parents live in constant doubt. Always questioning if what we are doing is helping or hindering our children. Technology does not help our struggle in ensuring we are doing what is best. On one hand, we want our children to navigate expertly through this digital land in which we live; but on the other hand, we fear that too much exposure will leave them defenseless in terms of interpersonal and communication skills. We fear that we are raising zombies, and that is the last thing a parent wishes for.

As a parent to a toddler, I am in favor of technology.

The role of the parent is much more influential than technology itself.

My biggest argument in relation to this topic is the fact that parents need to set the example for their children. Toddlers imitate what they see. They are naturally curious and are incredibly intelligent. It is in their make-up to copy what their parents are doing. This is why it is imperative for parents to practice what they preach. If we want to avoid raising zombies, then we (the parents) have to avoid becoming one. A study from Stirling University’s School of Education, found the most influential factor towards a child’s interest in technology is their parents.

“The technology did not dominate or drive the children’s experiences; rather their desires and their family culture shaped their form of engagement.”

If a toddler sees their parents in front of a screen all day, they are going to mimic that behavior. It is easy to place the blame on the technology itself, but ultimately it is the parent who holds the responsibility.

My husband and I allow our daughter to use the iPad and our iPhones. Most of the apps we have for her encourage the learning of letters and numbers. She has some that are puzzles, which are her favorite, as she loves to put things together. She also has flashcards, which help her practice putting words to pictures. With that being said, we are also very involved in her development. We read to her constantly, encourage interactive and imaginative play, and spend most of our days incorporating many different ways to help her learn. Like most things in life, finding balance is the key. She is also two-and-a-half, so her attention span lasts about ten minutes. As a digital native, she will never know life without technology. As her parent, it is my responsibility to manage her consumption.

In defense of tablet use, Helen Moylett, president of Early Education states,

“They can be really helpful and interesting tools if used in the right place to help us learn-and not all the time, or instead of other things.”

We live in a world that teaches the importance and the need for technology. As adults we are consumed by our phones and computers, so why do we think it will be any different for our children? With technology being such an integral part of our lives, it is impossible to deny our children the opportunity to embrace all it has to offer. Every new medium has been condemned as a threat to young children, yet we all managed to survive and become well-adjusted and functioning adults (for the most part!). We were told television would fry our brains, music was the devil, and now technology is creating zombies.

I will continue to allow my daughter to use the iPad, along with all the other activities we encourage such as: finger-painting, reading, coloring, endless games of hide and seek, jumping in the leaves and trips to the park. She doesn’t seem to be turning into a zombie thus far, so I suppose we are doing a pretty good job.

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Sources

Roxby, Phillipa. “Does Technology Hinder or Help Toddlers Learning?” BBC Health. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

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#BeMoreHeroic

When I began my research for this blog, I was overwhelmed by the many social media outlets that exist to help people who are struggling with bullying. Bullying has always existed; from the playground, to the classroom, to the workplace, to the inside of homes. Social media has given a new face to bullying, but there are also many ways in which social media is reaching out and trying to help those who feel lost and alone. Social media faces a large amount of blame when it comes to bullying, but it is important to see the other side.

When I was in elementary and high school, I didn’t know bullying like the youth of today. I know it existed, but I think the way in which it was handled was much different. In my opinion, when I was in elementary school, twenty years ago, these instances were dealt with quietly and quickly. Bullying was often swept under the rug, in hopes that it would just go away. Nowadays, people talk about bullying openly and honestly. Social media isn’t allowing for bullying and mental health issues to go unnoticed, and as a parent I am grateful.

October is bullying prevention month. Merilee Allred wanted to start a campaign to help encourage youth. She came up with an idea called the Awkward Years Project. She is asking people to post a before (from the dreaded awkward stage) and an after (a recent) picture online.  Allred wants to,

“Raise awareness with it, and maybe, hopefully help kids…to let them know that life does get better.”[1]

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She is hoping kids who are being bullied will be able to see these posts and realize this is just a small moment in their life. They have an entire future ahead of them, filled with possibility.

A non-profit movement, To Write Love on Her Arms (twloha), offers hope and help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. For many, asking for help is the hardest step. No matter what the struggle, twloha offers anonymity and makes the first step a little easier to make.

“All of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.”[2]

They emphasize that “people need other people.” Twloha offers a branch, and even if just one person reaches for it, they have already made a difference.

I then discovered this amazing non-profit anti bullying campaign, Be More Heroic. They are using social media to fight bullying. They have teamed up with Dubbler, a social media site. Dubbler is a free app which allows users to record 60 seconds of customized audio called “dubs.” Be More Heroic aims to create a platform for youth which is safe and allows them the opportunity to share their stories, or reach out for help; all while staying anonymous. They can be found using the #BeMoreHeroic, #PassitOn, and #SayNotoBullying hashtags. Their goal: to create action among youth and communities…

“We Invite individuals to redefine heroism by sharing actions that show great determination in advocating against bullying and social change.”[3]

Be More Heroic debuted less than five months ago, and Dubbler already has more than 500, 000 users.

I encourage you to take a look at their website, http://www.bemoreheroic.com. I love what they are doing for schools, parents, youth, and educators. By traveling to schools from elementary to university level, they are helping communities become more educated and encouraging action to help end bullying.

I am encouraged by the many ways people are using social media to better lives and transform the world for future generations. Social media has the ability to make positive changes, and these stories help illustrate change is possible.

I wish I could say that my daughter will never know the word bullying, but that is unrealistic. Instead, I will hope social media continues to inspire people to create platforms which will educate and inform so we are better equipped to empower those who feel powerless.


[1] “Embracing Your #AkwardYears with @merileeloo.” Retrieved from http://blog.instagram.com/post/63085315603/awkwardyears. October 10, 2013.

[2] Retrieved from http://www.twloha.com. October 10, 2013.

[3] Retrieved from http://www.bemoreheroic.org. October 10, 2013.

Do People Talk to Eachother Anymore?

Remember the days when, if people needed to talk, they met and sat across from each other…face to face?! It seems like those days are a thing of the past.  Face to face conversations have been replaced with emails, text messages and social media.  Most people would rather communicate over a device.  We don’t seem to appreciate the once highly valued need for human interaction.  In a sense, “we sacrifice conversation for mere connection.”[1]  This led me to the question, what are we missing out on when we don’t communicate face to face?

A survey by the social site, Badoo found,

“39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person.”[2]

Part of the appeal of communicating online is the ability to present ourselves in a way in which we can control.  Social media erases the human response we receive when interacting face to face.  The following infographic[3], found on the website Mashable, helps illustrate the pros and cons of social media.

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Social media, texting and emails have become a very effective way to communicate, but they should not take the place of good old fashioned conversation.  Meeting face to face allows the opportunity to build inter-personal skills.  People learn the importance of reading body language and tone of voice; it teaches that words cause an immediate response.  The use of texting and social media dismisses these very important attributes of communication.

One of the main concerns is that of our youth.  Many developmental psychologists fear that with the overwhelming use of social media and texting, younger generations aren’t developing inter-personal skills.  So much of their communication takes place online or through text messages, that when it comes to real life communication, they are socially incompetent.  Psychologist, Sherry Turkle, believes without face to face communication,

“the complexity and messiness of human interaction gets short changed…those things are what lead to better relationships.”[4]

A great example is confrontation.  It is much easier to confront someone over a text or social media.  However, do people really learn from these virtual confrontations?  If we had to confront every person face to face we may choose to behave, respond and communicate differently.  Without a screen to hide behind, face to face communication holds people accountable.


Sources

[1]Sherry Turkle. “The Flight from Conversation.” The New York Times. April 21,2012.

[2] Dan Schawbel. “Why Face to Face Networking Still Trumps Social Networking.” Time Magazine. April 27, 2012.

[3]Sam Laird.  “Is Social Media Destroying Real-World Relationships.” www.mashable.com.  Online September 17, 2013.

[4] Jeffrey Kluger. “We Never Talk Anymore: The Problem with Text Messaging.” Time Magazine. August 16, 2012.

Twitter Alerts: A Reliable Source In Times of Uncertainty

Last week, Twitter announced a new emergency alert system.

Twitter Alerts is a system which allows users to receive notifications from specific and credible organizations in the event of a natural disaster or public emergency. This new system continues to show the power and influence social media has during times of need; providing a community of support, as well an outlet for information. As we all know, Twitter allows for real time and unfiltered updates. This has proven to be both positive and negative during disaster and emergency situations. Twitter Alerts will establish a credible way to inform the public, ensuring tweets are reliable. Gaby Pena, Twitter Product Manager, stated that Twitter Alerts are,

“A new feature that brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies…when other communication services aren’t accessible.”[1]

The Twitter Alerts program will allow approved organizations to send out tweets in the case of an emergency or disaster. Some of the organizations that have signed up include; the American Red Cross, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the New York City Fire Department.[2] To see a full list check out the following link:

https://about.twitter.com/alerts/participating-organizations.

Users are able to log into their existing Twitter account and select the organizations they wish to receive notifications from. If you are willing to disclose your cell phone number, users can also receive an SMS update.

Twitter Alerts are also available in Canada. The City of Edmonton has already jumped on board, ensuring the city stays informed in the event of an emergency or disaster.

We continue to see the impact Twitter has during times of crisis and it is time users were offered a credible source to receive such information. In order to prevent misinformation, which was the case during Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings, this new alert system is essential. The potential Twitter Alerts offers for aid and support during emergencies is endless. This is another example of how cemented social media is in our lives. The need for instant, credible and accessible communication is something that people crave. When contact is limited, it is comforting to know we have an outlet available to keep us updated, to help locate loved ones and to provide support.

I am pleased to see the steps Twitter is taking to become more responsible and accountable for the information being tweeted, especially during a crisis. We all want the ability to speak our thoughts and opinions, but in times like natural disasters and emergencies, most of us want reliable facts we can trust.


[1] “Twitter Launches Alert System for Emergencies, Disasters.” CTV News. Online. Sept 26, 2013.

[2] Joanna Stern. “Twitter Launches Alerts to Keep You Updated During Emergencies.” ABC News. Online. Sept 25, 2013.

Tweet Your Way to Your #dreamjob

TweetMYJobsWe have been learning the importance of branding ourselves in this class. As I have become more active on Twitter, I feel like I was missing out on all the action! Why did I wait so long to take advantage of this great social platform? Social media sites offer many opportunities to those of us just starting our career journey. Building our personal now will help us immensely in the future.

Some of us are just starting our degree, while others are nearing the finish line. No matter where you stand, I think we are all thinking the same thing…What am I going to do when I graduate? Twitter is a great way for employers to find employees, but it also serves as a great tool for those of us in search of a job.

Here are some quick tips from Forbes on how to use Twitter to help land your dream job!

1)      Create a Twitter account that showcases your professional profile

Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, suggests

“Putting together your Twitter account as though it were your online business card.”

Future employers are going to find us online. Make sure you are showcasing your best self and sell yourself to your future boss. Don’t be afraid to showcase your blogs, highlight your skills, and emphasize your experience.

2)      Start following people and institutions

Think about what you want to do and look for people who are part of that network. We have the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. Reach out and follow those who share the same goals as your do. Follow people who are already doing the job you want. We have the ability to gain insight and advice from those who already in the field. See what is working for others, and follow their lead.

3)      Create content

Tweet on topics that are of interest to you. Also, share links to other people’s work which you find entertaining or helpful. Show interest in others and they will hopefully reciprocate with a re-tweet or follow.

“The more interesting and relevant your tweets, the more likely you are to attract followers.”

4)      Send Private notes to potential mentors

Yikes! This pointer gives me the most anxiety, but also makes the most sense! Take the opportunity to reach out to organizations you are interested in working for. This requires confidence; but there is no shame in saying you respect what a company does, and you would love the opportunity to work with them.

Twitter gives new meaning to job hunting. Many of these pointers discussed in this article, reiterate Laura’s encouragement on how important it is to build our personal brand. Twitter gives students like us a way to showcase our talents, our personality, and our passions. We give potential employers the opportunity to get to know us, and whether or not we would mesh well with their company. Twitter also enables us to reach out to organizations and people anywhere, meaning we can reach out to those who would be otherwise inaccessible.

The world is our oyster people, take advantage of these great platforms and tweet your way to your dream job.

world globe in an oyster shell

Sources

Adams, Susan. “4 Ways to use Twitter to Find a Job.” Forbes. Web. October 16, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/11/30/4-ways-to-use-twitter-to-find-a-job/