posted by on Digital Parenting, Uncategorized

Texting Trivia

While we are all living in this new normal, it seems our devices are our main source of communication. This is an an oldie but goodie post that I think is very interesting — especially now as we are all attached to our phones.

You probably already have a few pretty good ideas about text messaging and how they can impact our lives – the good and not so good ways.

For instance, you know walking while texting can be tricky, and distracted driving (whether it’s texting or reading your messages while driving) can be deadly. 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.”

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.

posted by on Online reputation, Online resume, Online Safety, Uncategorized

Finding Your Teen’s Passion

Does your teen love writing, film, arts, graphics, creativity?

It’s been a difficult past six months, especially for teenagers. From boredom, to anxiety and even depression, young people are emotionally struggling with this new normal.

Now they are facing the new classroom. Online and distance learning can be challenging, so if you can find something that they are interested in — it can help motivate and inspire them.

You can’t simply take a traditional class and put it online and expect students to just adapt, it’s not happening. But I believe if you can get them interested (excited) in one area, it makes it much easier to excite them in other areas, as well.

The Expert

Bonnie Garvin, with decades of experience as a writer, producer and professor – understands that storytelling is the key to understanding the world we live in–whether it’s understanding how to tell a story, interpret as story or write one.

She has spent thousands of hours teaching thousands of students, from college students to adults, she knows what’s required to attain, hold and sustain attention. Now she is expanding her new classroom to younger students starting at 16 years old.

Bonnie has created a six week, wholly unique course offering a multimedia approach to storytelling that spans the disciplines. It teaches a range of skills applicable to multiple fields of study.

This course is not only FUN and intellectually stimulating it has an added bonus: inspiring and enhancing communication within the family. 

The Storytelling Lab

How it works

Using film, graphic novel, and documentary storytelling, students will learn to translate what they’re watching into a broader life experience. Each class will encompass topics such as theme, metaphor, character development, and interpersonal relationships.

Each story will be examined through a broader lens to include history, culture, art, gender, race, music, etc.  Students will be challenged to form and express their ideas and opinions through writing assignments and verbal weekly “debates.”

The lab will be a cohort model, consisting of only six students. The intimacy enables students to form a cohesive group where everyone can contribute, and no one hides or gets lost. The atmosphere promotes a safe environment to express thoughts and ideas. 

Having been marooned together at the dinner table, the class will have to encourage meaningful table talk. Students will receive a weekly suggested topic relating to the broader issues addressed in the film.

This course is recommended for ages 16 years-old and up.

Attain New Skills

Your teen and young adult will have the opportunity to:

  • Analyze and deconstruct the elements of storytelling
  • Enhance and hone writing skills 
  • Build confidence and ability 
  • Expand and improve verbal communication
  • Learn how to contextualize and express ideas
  • Promote cultural awareness and understanding
  • Open new intellectual pathways 
  • Stimulate imagination and creativity
  • Understand and appreciate film in a broader context

Contact Bonnie at [email protected] for more information and visit STORYTELLING LAB.

posted by on Privacy

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The New Classroom

Credit: Pexels, Julia M. Cameron

Imagine it is fall and your child is smiling away in in her new Zoom classroom, hair a mess, pajama shirt still on. From the corner of your eye, you notice another parent in another child’s square hold up her iPhone, poised to take a picture of the class.

Would you be surprised?

Upset?

Angry?

Chances are that your reaction would likely vary based on your own comfort level with sharing pictures of you children with others. While there has been much discussion about tech privacy features in the age of COVID-19, most have focused on “Zoom bombing,” data collection, and what teachers share about kids, not on what other parents share about other kids online.

Any while iPhone pictures of Zoom classrooms are becoming as popular as back to school pictures in front of homes, there is one big difference – many of the parents in your child’s Zoom classroom may not view privacy in the same way that you do.

Laws surrounding children’s privacy in the online classroom focus on common occurrences in a pre-pandemic world. In those instances, administrators were more likely to have taken the time to check for FERPA compliance and to analyze potential risks before setting up the technology in virtual classroom settings.

But in a world where everything from student government to sports are taking place in online settings, perhaps we need to think not only about how the technology itself poses dangers to student privacy, but also to consider whether we should be more concerned with how others in the virtual classroom are able to use information about our children.

I have been researching children’s privacy on social media for the past five years, and my work on sharenting found its genesis in self-reflection. I did not realize I was oversharing until I found myself doing it regularly, and I had to take a step back and try to do better. Even now, as my book Growing Up Shared makes its way into the world, I still rethink, analyze, and talk to other parents to refine how I can best keep my family safe in a no-privacy world. These steps can help parents get started as they start to prepare for our students to return to their online classrooms.

  1. Know the school’s privacy policies. Ask administrators for clear guidance before logging your child onto online platforms. Many have had the summer to think through these issues, and its important that parents insist on school districts “showing their work” when it comes to establishing systems that protect their children’s information online.
  • Talk to other parents. Many parents are slowly considering how online learning could impact our children’s digital footprints. Can schools publicly share your child’s grades? Can they share their class rosters? What about your child’s group art project without asking first? When we think about these questions in the context of brick and mortar classrooms, we can logically reason how they might be answered online. But answers may differ based on local interpretations of norms, policies, and laws.
  • Set Expectations. If the situation mentioned in the first paragraph gives you uncomfortable chills, speak up and share your concerns with teachers before the situation arises. Teachers have so much on their plate right now, and they might appreciate you raising the issue early in the school year, so that when there is a potential concern, it is already on their radar.
  • Talk to Your Kids. For many of us, we will be working on our own laptops as our kids plug away at schoolwork in the other room. Help your kids understand how classroom rules in their traditional school apply in their new online classroom. Many of us are starting to think more about the backgrounds in our own Zoom meetings. Can you see a bed? A personal document? A sibling? Kids may want to take control of their virtual background, and as we plan out our school supplies, we can help them think about their virtual spaces. Parents can also have conversations about appropriate clothing and other hygiene basics to consider for when they virtually “show up” in class.

There are excellent scholars and attorneys already looking at issues surrounding student data collection and privacy, and their work is critical to these conversations. More work is needed in this area, as opportunities for student data exploitation will likely only continue to grow as we continue to move our children’s academic interactions online. As policy makers work to integrate the research into our new COVID realities, parents can start thinking through these issues as well, helping to keep their kids safe in the virtual classrooms they may sit in next month.

Order on Amazon today.

Stacey Steinberg is a legal-skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and the author of the new book, Growing Up Shared.

posted by on Digital Parenting, Online Safety, Parenting, Uncategorized

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Ten reasons kids should be online at an early age

Credit: Pixabay, Jason ONeill

Much has been made of the potentially hazardous landscape for children that is the internet, and rightly so. Parents do need to be concerned about how their children make use of this valuable tool, and a valuable tool it surely is.

No longer a luxury but a basic necessity that each person will need to familiarize himself with in order to function in our society. That’s why it’s important that new generations become tech savvy at as early an age as is practical.

Let’s look at ten reasons kids should be online at an early age:

  1. Research Tool – For school studies, projects or as a general educational aid, there is just no substitute for the worldwide web. It’s the primary means by which information is disseminated in the 21st century. Kids need to know how to use it as soon as possible.
  2. Social Networking – Like it or not, more of a child’s socializing will occur online with each passing year. It should never fully subjugate personal interaction, of course, but we cannot ignore the significance of the internet in today’s society, especially as it applies to young people.
  3. Getting Acquainted – Like anything else a kid is expected to master, navigating the internet safely should be something that a parent and child can work on together. If a child becomes acclimated to the internet early on under supervision, she will have less chance of stumbling into trouble later out of ignorance or naiveté.
  4. Interest Groups – Your child can benefit from involvement with the right kind of crowds when he meets other kids with similar interests in forums or on websites where they gather and share information.
  5. It Will Demystify the Web – The sooner a child is inducted into cyberspace, the better equipped she will be to incorporate it into her life later as she matures and needs to rely on it more.
  6. It’s a perfect Vehicle For a Child to Discover Interests – and possibly a lifelong vocation. Prior generations could go years without ever having heard about fields of study or interests that might appeal to them. It can be done in a matter of days, if not hours, online.
  7. Education – Beyond its functionality as a study aid, the internet can be an instructional tool for itself as well. That is, children can learn the protocols and hazards related to its use, both in formal training at school and at home with their parents.
  8. Balanced Perspective – The alternative to addressing an area of concern early on – as in the case of sex ed or drugs –  is for a child to learn on his own, via his peers, or at best, through an education that comes too late to avert the consequences of his ignorance. A child with an early introduction to the internet at least starts off with some frame of reference with which to work later.
  9. Cyberbullying – The unfortunate reality is that a lot of cruelty and mean-spirited behavior is prevalent online. It stands to reason that children who learn to use the internet for social networking at an early age can better identify, with the help of parents and teachers, the situations they should avoid.
  10. E-commerce – Kids will be growing up in a world where conducting business of every kind, from paying utility bills to buying groceries, will be done on the web. They need to learn the ropes as soon as possible.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook, Facebook safety, Online Life, Online reputation, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

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7 ways to help your teen avoid bad habits on social media.

You had to have seen this one coming: kids are picking up bad habits from their extensive use of social media. This can’t come as too big of a surprise though, because it stands to reason that something so popular and fun would be bound to have some ill effects.

Not that we’re condemning social media, mind you, but there are a few potential pitfalls to watch out for regarding your child’s usage.

The following are seven bad habits that teens pick up from social media platforms:

  1. TMI – To be honest, many of us are already guilty of grossly over-sharing our personal lives on social media. When you have a place to update your status 24/7, though, it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that eventually one’s entire personal life is right there for anyone and everyone to read on their profile.
  2. Inappropriate Friending – It tends to be an automatic reaction for some to “friend” someone after they’ve added you, accompanied by the friend confirmation request, whether this person is someone you know well or not. While they may not like the idea of saying ‘no’, safety should have a higher priority than popularity. Keep in mind, most platforms don’t inform people when you decline their request. Remind your child, it’s about quality over quantity.
  3. Posting Inappropriate Photos – Inappropriate photographs always seem to find their way onto people’s social pages. For that matter, taking such photos in the first place is ill-advised, to say the least. Coupled with the prospect of being friended by stalkers and strangers, not to mention being available for any potential employers or school officials, this makes for a very dangerous mix.
  4. Poor Time Management – It’s very easy to lose track of one’s time while socializing on many networks, and hours at a time can be lost without even realizing it, often at the expense of more important things like homework, chores, etc. It may be wise to install a filter software that can monitor use and block certain sites during specified time periods to ensure that your kids don’t spend too much time on the website.
  5. Indiscriminate Downloading – Many social sites are notorious for third party apps that seek to gain access to personal data and the friend lists of members who use them. There’s a large risk associated with accepting gifts via some of these app, unfortunately, that could end up compromising your personal information.
  6. Poor Grammar – As with chat rooms, IM’s, and text messaging, all of which came prior to social media, posts (comments) can tend toward cyber shorthand, whether it’s in the interest of brevity or simply born out of sheer laziness. Although it’s acceptable – even necessary in some cases – to limit character usage, it’s very easy for this habit to leak over to your child’s more formal writing and correspondence. Never forget, your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.
  7. Not Safeguarding Personal Info – Social platforms provides varying levels of privacy settings for its users. Members can share everything with anyone, or limit access to their profile to just friends and/or family. Kids today have become ok and even lax with the safeguarding of their personal information, and identity theft, stalking or harassment can end up being one of the penalties for your child being too open with his or her personal information. Encourage your kids to review their privacy settings on all the apps they are engaged on. This should be repeated monthly – since many networks update their technology frequently and we have seen loopholes happen.

Finally, don’t forget it’s important to set boundaries on screen-time. As a matter of fact, studies has proven the majority of children want their parent’s to give them limits.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Online activity, Online Life, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Online Shaming, Oversharing, Reputation Management

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Online Reputation: A reflection of your character both online and offline.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay: Mohammad Hassan

As we are witnessing unemployment rise, people are becoming more and more anxious and stressed about their future. This is all completely understandable — the unknown can be scary especially when it concerns money, jobs and careers.

More time online

During this quarantine life, we’re not only seeing more kids online, adults (parents) are also finding social media as a place to communicate with friends and family.

What everyone (teens and adults alike) need to realize, is what you post today, can potentially affect your future. Especially if you are someone that will be searching for a job or applying to colleges, it’s imperative that you are mindful with not only your online behavior (during this COVID19 health crisis) but also offline.

You don’t want to be someone that is caught on video breaching your state orders, treating someone unkindly at a store or harassing people online. We all have to remember, we’re all a click away from digital disgrace. Your online reputation, today, it typically the first impression someone will have of you.

Pause…. before you post

As social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences. In a 2018 CareerBuilders survey, some of the primary reasons that employers didn’t hire job candidates after an internet search was the following:

  • 40% Posted inappropriate photographs, videos or information
  • 36% Posted information about them drinking or using drugs
  • 31% Had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 30% Was linked to criminal behavior
  • 27% Had poor communication skills
  • 25% Bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
  • 22% Screen name was unprofessional
  • 20% shared confidential information from previous employers

It’s important to note, if you were laid-off, be very careful not to disparage your previous employer or co-workers, or share their information. No one wins. You won’t score any brownie points, as your potential employer will realize if you are doing this to them, there’s a good possibility if things don’t work out with a new company, that same behavior would happen again.

Bye, bye to silly emails names. Especially for young people out there, or even adults that haven’t retired their old email addresses, such as chillinbeanz[at]aol.com – it’s time to implement your name as your email account. If it’s already taken, find a professional variation.

Online behavior

As I said, it’s not only more kids online, there are more people in general online. This means more business owners, college admissions and others that could potentially be part of your future.

The way you behave online is a reflection of not only your character (online and offline), it truly is the first impression people will have of you.

5 Ways to improve our digital behavior:

  1. Become an up-stander when you witness cyber-hate.
  2. Think twice, post once. 15 minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation. There’s a difference between clever and cruel – especially online.
  3. Guidelines for safe sharing online.
  4. Be constructive with your comments, not combative. (Hate can perpetuates hate, click out if you can’t control yourself). Anger is temporary, the internet is forever.
  5. Report, flag and talk about harassment. (Make sure your kids know these features too).

We many not be mingling much in person, but there’s no doubt social media is getting a lot of traction. Be sure you’re putting your best digital footprint forward. Online reputation is everything today.

posted by on Depression, Digital Parenting, Internet Addiction, Online bullying, Online Life, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Struggling Teens, Summer Camps, Teen Depression, Teen Help

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Internet addiction, is it real? YES!

Teens on a beach, yet immersed in their digital life.
Image: Pexels

Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Warning signs

-An obsession with being online
-Frustration, anxiety, and irritability when not able to get online
-Abandoning friends (family) or hobbies in order to stay digitally connected
-Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as failing grades, deteriorating relationships, and even health issues)

Have you tried:

  • Phone contracts
  • Removing their devices
  • Local therapy
  • Digital detox plans

But find your teen still falling back into their old obsessive patterns?

Getting help

With summer around the corner, Reset Summer Camp could be a great option for your family.

Reset Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy.

Both affordable and effective, Reset offers a 4 week programs for teens (13-17) and 2 week programs for kids (8-12). Visit www.resetsummercamp.com for more information. They also offer financial assistance.

Residential therapy

Maybe your teen has escalated to a point where he needs more than 4 weeks? In some situations the teen is struggling both emotionally and physically to a point that they need more intense care and attention.

This is where Parent Universal Resources can help you find safe and quality options.

Keep in mind, this is not about removing technology from your child’s life. It’s about giving them the tools to have a healthy relationship with their digital world.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Online Life, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Peer Cruelty

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Social distancing shouldn’t be cruel.

Photo: Pixabay, Geralt

We are living in an extremely stressful and unusual times with the corona virus outbreak (COVID-19).

With the majority of schools, restaurants, bars, retail stores, small businesses, etc…. closing – this means people are not only facing financial hardships, the emotional well-being of individuals is at risk too.

Unfortunately we’re also witnessing the ugly side of people, as they scour to get the last of the toilet paper, or treat cashiers with rudeness blaming them when a store is out of items they need.

I’ve seen all this happening and it’s really disturbing. One patron at our local grocery store literally called a girl that was bagging his food a retard!

Does he get a pass for being stressed out in this trying time? Absolutely not! This young girl is special needs and has been working in our local store for almost a year – she’s very proud of the work she does.

She didn’t let him phase her, but later told one of our neighbors how hurtful it was. This crisis is not an excuse for cruel and mean behavior.

An important lesson we all must be mindful of is our kids, as well as many that are now out of school, are watching how adults are behaving. As that man insulted a special needs person doing her job, what message did that send out to young people that may have witnessed it?

Especially during this time of uncertainty – we all need to be conscious of how we treat others, there are many young eyes that are impressionable. Never doubt, you are your child’s biggest influence.

Social awareness – not social shaming

If you are someone who is quick to judge others for their behavior—maybe they are in a bar or any public area where you believe they shouldn’t be, and you are going to publicly shame them digitally—take the time to reconsider. Maybe they have a reason to be there or maybe it’s none of your business.

Please remember when things go viral, it can impact a person’s future. Their ability to get a job could be jeopardized or the job they have could be at risk. 

It’s not about condoning bad behavior, it’s about being compassionate and empathetic  to other people’s needs, and understanding what they might be going through, especially if we don’t know them or the reason they are doing what you deem is wrong.

The aim and shame society

Maybe a person is in public place such as a bar (though people are being told to stay home) waiting to pick up food? Maybe they are delivering supplies to the establishment. Could someone have been hired to fix a broken pipe? A person doing a good deed could potentially be cyber-shamed because someone was quick to make a rash judgment, thinking they were saving the world.

This was actually posted on a comment section of a recent article:

I will show up and video them and post it online and shame them and destroy their reputations forever. The internet never forgives and the internet never forgets.

Like people who need to buy larger quantities at stores, let’s be slow to judge and take time to consider before we use our keypads as weapons.

Begin NextDoor

Social distancing can also bring out kindness. This was posted on our local NextDoor app. Instead of finding ways to hurt or harm others, find ways to help them during these uncertain times.

Original copy in Psychology Today.

posted by on Civility, Kindness Counts

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National Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17th but do we need a day to remind us to be nice to each other? Being kind starts with us and should be everyday.

Random Acts of Kindness Day is great time to emphasize the importance of humanity towards each other. At the same time, it’s a bit sad that we have to remind people to simply be nice to one another.

In my book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate we recognize that although we are living in a time of incivility both offline and especially online, it’s important to give you resources that are making a positive impact on communities all over the globe.

The Ripple Kindness Project

Founder Lisa Currie developed this Australian-based curriculum for the very youngest of students in elementary schools. “From what I could see, traditional antibullying programs were very negative and short-lived and really didn’t leave kids with any resources for improving their thoughts, feelings, or behavior,” she says. “Our aim is to infuse children with goodness by teaching them about their emotions, having them participate in acts of kindness, and experiencing the good feelings that are produced when they do good for others. When children learn to be givers, their whole world can change.”

Here are some of Ripple Kindness’s suggested activities to
get you started:

• Give blood.
• Leave a chocolate for the cashier.
• Bake a cake for someone.
• Feed an expired parking meter.
• Pay for someone’s meal.
• Give a compliment.
• Listen to and play with children.
• Clean someone’s home.
• Clean someone’s car.
• Buy coffee for the person behind you.
• Visit someone in a nursing home.
• Take some food or clothing to a homeless person.
• Leave a note in a lunch box.
• Don’t charge someone for some work you do for them.
• Become an organ donor.
• Ask an elderly neighbor if she needs any assistance
around her home.
• Hand make cheer-up
cards and deliver them to a hospital
for patients.
• Let someone go in front of you at a checkout.
• Babysit for someone.
• If you’re an employer, allow your staff to leave an hour
early one day.

#NiceItForward

“Who is the most awesome person today?” asks the Facebook page “Greenwich Compliments.” And every day, it answers, peppering those who live in this posh Connecticut town with a daily hip-hip-hooray for their beautiful voice, sense of style, or willingness to lend a hand.

The idea was sparked after a 2013 suicide of a bullied teen on his first day of his sophomore year shook the entire community. Looking for a way to turn things around, the Facebook page solicits compliments about Greenwich residents, receiving up to thirty submissions daily. 

“It only takes a few seconds, but by submitting, you are making a conscious decision to make someone else’s day better,” says the woman behind the site, a Greenwich High School graduate who chooses to remain anonymous. 

“People ask if I am a police officer or a teacher. I am neither. I am just a person who grew up in Greenwich and who knows how tough life can be sometimes and who knows how awesome it is to receive a compliment and how rewarding it is to give one.”

“Privacy and anonymity are very frequently used negatively on the Internet, unfortunately,” she explains. “I like to think that Greenwich Compliments is different.”

These types of #NiceItForward accounts have popped up across the nation, some created by students themselves and others by adults. One Twitter account, @OsseoNiceThings, was created in 2012 by Kevin Curwick, then a popular high school senior at Minnesota’s Osseo High School, who began anonymously tweeting shout-outs to his classmates.

The media attention sparked similar accounts all over the state and beyond, such as @ERHSnicewords, created by a student at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota, and titled “The End to Bullying,” which now has more than forty thousand followers.

Down in Charlotte, North Carolina, one father of two had had enough with comments on Twitter bashing a sports media star he follows, so he decided to create the moniker Supportive Guy and put positivity out there. “I wondered what the counterpoint of this kind of online behavior would be,” he explains. “And I created the account [@SupportiveDude] that moment on a whim.”

Since then, he has grown his following to more than fifteen hundred fans, tweeting kind remarks, and has even started the SupportiveGuy minute-long podcast.

All I’m trying to do is give people a safe haven and an online friend they can always tweet and get a response [from], maybe even a laugh. And maybe, people can see that you can get attention online without being negative. The reality is that you have a right to be on social media whenever you want to, without [the] risk of being verbally attacked.”

For more of these inspiring stories, organizations and people making a difference, order Shame Nation book today from your favorite bookstore.

Helping make kindness trend starts with you.

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Depression, Online harassment, Parenting, Teen Depression, Teen Help

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According to new research, cyberbullying can worsen symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young people.

Photo courtesy: Keenan Constance (Pexels)

It’s not only about online bullying and harassment, social media use and screen time can lead to an increase in depression and anxiety among teens and adolescents.

Sticks and stones may break your bones – but words, they can last wound you for a long-time.

Especially when cruel comments, mean memes or even distorted images go viral, a young person isn’t emotionally prepared for the ramifications of how this can affect their mental health.

Teens, depression and cyberbullying

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study examined adolescent psychiatric inpatients ages 13 to 17 and their prevalence of cyberbullying and related it to social media usage, current levels of symptoms and histories of adverse early life experience.

“Cyberbullying is possibly more pernicious than other forms of bullying because of its reach,” said Phillip Harvey, the study co-author, in a university news release. “The bullying can be viral and persistent. To really be bullying, it has to be personal — a directly negative comment attempting to make the person feel bad.”

The study also uncovered other facts about cyberbullying:

  • Time spent online is not a determining factor in who is cyberbullied.
  • People from all economic and ethnic backgrounds are vulnerable.
  • Those who have previously been bullied are at a higher risk of being bullied again.

As we read more about online harassment climbing and teen sadness on the rise, we have to note in 2019 a University of Buffalo study revealed that teens are suffering sleep disruption patterns – due to cyberbullying and social media usage. This is causing anger, persistent irritability, as well as anxiety in young people.

3 Ways to help your teen reduce cyberbullying

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize if your teen is struggling online, there are reasons they don’t want to tell someone (especially a parent).

  1. Fear of consequences.
  2. Humiliation and embarrass.
  3. Fear of making it worse.

Being proactive starts offline with regular chats about their online life. It’s imperative your teen (or tween) understands that online bullying is unacceptable. They also need to know that, sadly, it is part of the digital world.

  1. Flag, block and report. For every social platform your child signs up for (including text messages), be sure they know the features to report abusive content. Also take the time to read the terms of service as it pertains to harassment and abuse. It will give them a better understanding of what constitutes cyberbullying and hate speech.
  2. Critical thinking. The importance of their online reputation and how it will impact their future from college admission to potential jobs. Help them think through what they are about to post or text. It’s more about pause — than think. Yes, think about it, but literally stop (pause) before you hit that send. What’s going to be the long-term consequences of that comment, image or meme? If you are forwarding something – be sure it’s a truthful comment or post. We have seen people suffer with tweets and posts that have come back to haunt them.
  3. Encourage your teen to socialize more in person with their friends. Did you know that according to a Screen Education survey, 69% of teens prefer to be with their peers in-real-life rather than online? This same survey shared that 26% of teens wished parents would impose screen time limits. Help your teen curb their device time with these tips.

Remember, socializing in real-life helps us develop empathy for others….. isn’t that what the goal is?