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07/31/2013
Think Before You Post I have a good friend who's a hiring manager for a local Cadillac dealership. They were recently looking for someone to fill the cashier position in the front office.... More >>

Tags: InternetInternet-MediaMorals/Ethics/ValuesMySpaceSocial MediaValues
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05/13/2010
IconI am very happy to tell you about my hero, Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey.' He recently sent the following email to all parents of children attending his school: Dear BF Community:When I arrived in Ridgewood, Facebook did not exist, YouTube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence.' Formspring (one of the newest Internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn't even in someone's mind. In 2010, social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent. It is time for every single member of the BF community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!' None. 5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account.' Every single one of the students had an account. 3 students yesterday told a guidance counselor that their parents told them to close their accounts when the parents learned they had an account.' All three students told their parents it was closed.' All three students still had an account after telling their parents it was closed. Most students are part of more than one social networking site. Please do the following:' sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site.' Today! Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online!'' You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider. Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend.' Don't install it behind their back, but install it! Over 90% of homework does not require the Internet, or even a computer.' Do not allow them to have a computer in their room.' There is no need. Know that they can text others even if their phone doesn't have texting capability, either through the computer or through their iPod Touch. Have a central "docking system," preferably in your bedroom, where all electronics in the home get charged each night, especially anything with a cell or with wi-fi capability (remember when you were in high school and you would sneak the phone into your bedroom at Midnight to talk to your girlfriend or boyfriend all night - now imagine what they can do with the technology in their rooms). If your son or daughter is attacked through one of these sites or through texting, immediately go to the police!' Insist that they investigate every situation.' Also, contact the site and report the attack to the site - they have an obligation to suspend accounts, or they are liable for what is written. We as a school can offer guidance and try to build up any student who has been injured by the social networking scourge, but please insist the authorities get involved. For online gaming, do not allow them to have the interactive communication devices.' If they want to play Call of Duty online with someone from Seattle, fine.' They don't need to talk to the person. The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging. It is not hyperbole for me to write that the pain caused by social networking sites is beyond significant.' It is psychologically detrimental and we will find out it will have significant long-term effects, as well as all the horrible social effects it already creates. I will be more than happy to take the blame off you as a parent if it is too difficult to have the students close their accounts, but it is time they all get closed and the texts always get checked. I want to be clear - this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students.' They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don't want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced. Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live. I disagree.' It is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others. Learn as a family about cyber safety together at www.wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.' It is a great site.' But then do everything I asked in this email - because there really is no reason a child needs to have one of these accounts. Please take action in your own home today. Sincerely, Anthony OrsiniPrincipal, BFMS Now Principal Orsini is MY kind of principal, and my kind of leader in the community.' This should go nationwide.'The sites have become a tool for children to do psychological harm to each other; it has become a menace to children.' Much of what guidance counselors have to deal with these days regards social networking issues.' It is time for you parents to ACT. More >>

Tags: EducationFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMySpaceParentingSchoolSocial NetworkingTwitter
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05/13/2010
IconFacebook and MySpace and other social networking sites have become a means of not only communicating with so-called "friends," but they also allow for showing off and "going wild" in ways that often come back to bite...even when you think your site is private.According to the Arizona Daily Star , Ashley Payne, a teacher in an Arizona school said that she was forced to resign after photos and a comment posted on her Facebook page were forwarded to the superintendent of schools in her county.' And she said she had the highest level of privacy controls on her site.' The photos in question showed her in pubs and beer gardens while on summer vacation.' In a comment on her Facebook page, she announced that she was headed to play a game called "Crazy Bitch Bingo."According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the bottom line is that "the state code addresses on and off-campus behavior, including inappropriate relationships with students and anything that violates the mores of the community."I'm good with that, because teachers have a profound influence on young minds, and being role models seems an obvious obligation.' Not enough teachers think about the consequences of their conduct, not just in terms of their own employment, but in terms of the well-being of the children for whom they are responsible.' Posting extremely inappropriate sexual content and nudity on the web as well as posting photos of teachers yucking it up with booze is a breach of professional conduct.For teachers, this is obvious.' However, each and every one of you must understand that anybody with knowledge can hack into your private site and edit as well as download and reproduce material elsewhere.' Don't write or post pictures you would not want to see on the front page of The New York Times , unless, of course, you're into being infamous.' The word "friend" is simply a term for someone with access to your site.' Don't imagine that they necessarily have the honor of a real-life friend.' Anything you write or post might be used against you.Now that this is all said, how about your just inviting real friends over for dinner and meaningful conversation? More >>

Tags: Character, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceChildrenCommon SenseInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMorals, Ethics, ValuesMySpaceParentingSocial IssuesSocial NetworkingValues
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05/13/2010
Icon"Technology is the Evil Empire, Bent On Destroying Family Intimacy!" That's the headline I'd like to put on this post, but guns don't shoot people - people shoot people - so technology is not destroying families. People are destroying their own families.The technology I'm talking about is texting, video gaming, Facebook, email, Twitter, MySpace and more. Remember when the only complaint about lack of communication in families was when family members were all in separate rooms watching different television programs? Well, now, family members can all be in the same room, totally ignoring each other for the sake of fake friends and useless information, instead of for family conversations. Some family members even text each other from different parts of the same home, rather than walk the 15 feet, hug, and talk to each other.I remember the not-so-recent TV ads that promoted a family eating dinner together. Now, if you showed an ad with a family at the dinner table, there'd have to be a sign nearby that said "No Wireless Zone." I wonder what depth of interaction is being missed because one is getting superficial "quickies" from texting or emailing or Facebooking?' On the other hand, I already know that we're less able to engage in reasoned, significant discourse and profound intimacies these days, because, from the age of 4 or 5, we're geared toward the superficial, faceless exchange of comments on each other's web pages.Parents, you must get yourselves into gear and limit the amount of time per day donated to the wireless world outside of work. Otherwise, over time, there'll be no need for lips and vocal cords and eye contact, and we'll evolve into "thumbs only" beings who just peck away with a false sense of actually participating in the real world. More >>

Tags: DivorceFamilyFamily/Relationships - FamilyInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMySpaceRelationshipsRelativesSocial IssuesSocial NetworkingTwitter
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05/13/2010
IconEither directly (e.g., sadness about not having a relationship with a parent or sibling) or indirectly (e.g., having trouble being intimate), more and more callers to my radio program report a sad sort of alienation from close, loving relationships. Yet the numbers of people deeply invested in "virtual" relationships via Internet "friending" social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, is growing exponentially. We are involved more in frivolous levels of intimacy and less invested in warm, caring, loving, involved relationships.The pseudo meaningfulness we imagine as we add our names and faces to someone's Internet site is addictive, yet ultimately vacuous. There isn't really anyone out there who cares enough to hold your hand when you are in pain. The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of California reported last week that 28% of Americans interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with family members. That's nearly triple from the numbers in 2006. In the old days when television was young, families watched together in one room. Now there are TVs in every room of the home, with 500 or more channels, and the family is dispersed, with each "doing their own thing." The Internet is a one-on-one, non-family experience also - breaking down the cohesiveness of family dynamics, parenting, sharing, and plain old caring. The problem is that people are, by nature, gregarious. That means we need company. When we spend our time with the technology that minimizes the intimacy of company, we forever alter the ability of individuals to actually experience pure intimacy in a positive, ultimately satisfying manner. And the experience of having lots of so-called "friends" on the Internet is beguiling, but empty -- -in effect, a distorted form of solitude. There is no wonder that so many people have a deep problem with being able to love - they mostly want to be satisfied by flattery, freedom from reciprocal responsibility and the reality of obligations and responsibilities, much less sacrifice for the general good or the benefit of another. Technological advances in "communication" have actually increased the number of people you can interact with, but have more importantly diluted out the meaningfulness of those same interactions.Think of families together at dinner, and a whole town helping rebuild your barn. Compare that to what you have now in your life. Which is better for quality of life? More >>

Tags: Internet-MediaInternet/MediaMySpaceSocial NetworkingTwitter
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05/13/2010
IconA recent essay in the New York Times (December 2, 2007) talked about the growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and others where the word "friends" is used to describe email relationships with folks we barely know.' Humans are gregarious creatures and fare better belonging to networks of family, community, spiritual groups, clubs, and so forth - all of which are sustained through face-to-face contact.The bottom line is that the more time we spend online, the less time we spend having true relationships complete with challenges, vulnerability, risks and profundity.' These are not real-world relationships with depth.' These on-line relationships are shadows and facsimiles which ultimately amount to little more than casual, superficial experiences.One mother, Jene, who listens regularly to my radio program, sent me this letter her 21 year-old son wrote to Facebook.' I suggest you show this to all your children and read it twice yourself if you are hooked to on-line pseudo-friendships: "As a mother of two young adults, I've witnessed their obsessive involvement with the many electronic forms of communication that are all the rage in recent years...email, instant messaging, texting, and the several web-based social networks like Facebook and MySpace.' All are useful communication tools, but often counterproductive in really getting to know people. It came to my attention that my 21 year-old son took a bold step recently and closed down his Facebook account by writing a breaking-up letter and posting it as a good-bye.' When he shared it with me, I was touched, relieved, and very proud of his stand.' I asked him if I might share this with you.' His grin, soft laugh and nod of his head spoke volumes: 'Facebook, we need to have a DTR (defining the relationship) talk...It's not all your fault, it's mostly mine...This is the end of you and me, Facebook.' I'm leaving you because I have spent more time browsing your pages than I have been spending in the pages of The Good Book.' And I can't live like that anymore.' I've let you become a monster...you've taken too much of my time and my thoughts.' Maybe it's just my lack of self-control or discipline, but you're addictive to me.' I'm ashamed of the number of times I check you daily.' If I were able to grasp how much time I have spent swimming though your endless ocean of profiles, I would be able to bear the guilt. Here's why: because of your profiles, I've become lazy.' Because of you I found myself talking with person after person, asking them questions that I already knew the answers to.' On many levels I've substituted and even avoided personal interactions with people because of your artificial and superficial means of communication.' You have diluted my perception of true social interaction. You've made me a coward.' There's a difference between a Facebook friend and an actual friend.' Everyone knows the difference, but when one tries to reach across the barrier from Facebook friends to actual friends it just isn't the same. Facebook, you're not all bad.' You have your benefits.' I must admit, you allow me to network and keep in touch with people with whom I normally wouldn't have been able to...but at what cost?' Wasting time Facebooking people I'll never meet has distracted me from meeting the person sitting next to me in class, or has kept me from calling up and hanging out with an old friend because Facebooking is just as good?' I beg to differ. In some form or another, you've hindered my investment in the relationships with those genuine people hiding behind the idealistic profiles they've made of themselves.' Let's face it, I don't perceive myself in the same way someone else perceives me.' From now on, I only want to know people for whom they truly are; not for what you (Facebook) says they are.' I just can't trust you. 'This might seem radical, but I have to make up for lost time.' This hurts me just as much as it hurts you, but I have to take a stand.'Logging out for good, Kyle.'" I am so very impressed with Kyle's maturity and good sense. More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreExerciseHealthInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMySpaceSocial Networking
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