Category Archives: Technology

Violence in the Media: Stay Away!!

Violence is everywhere in the media these days. Shows, movies, video games, and even songs are full of it. Movies contain scenes of people beating each other up. Song lyrics talk about murder and rape. Video games are based around shooting and killing the enemy. Everywhere you look, violence is shoved in your face… and, somehow, nobody thinks it’s a big deal.

Studies have proved time and time again that watching violence in the media makes teenagers more accepting of violence. I mean, think about it. How many times have you seen a character get shot in a movie, or how many times have YOU shot somebody in a video game? Probably more times than you can count. How is that okay?

Think about it this way: when you’re watching TV or playing a video game for approximately 3-4 hours a day (which most teens do, at the least), it becomes more than just a game or entertainment. It becomes your environment. You become used to it, even numb to it. It doesn’t affect you so much seeing somebody get stabbed in a game or show, because you see it all the time. Even if you don’t realize it, you are actually becoming desensitized to violence: meaning you aren’t as sensitive to it anymore.

People who watch violence or play violent games are much more likely to engage in violent behavior themselves, since they have become desensitized to it. They are more likely to think it’s okay to punch somebody who they’re angry with, or get violent with a significant other, as opposed to people who don’t watch violence.

Of course, I’m not saying that every single person who plays COD and GTA and watches rated R action movies WILL engage in violent behavior. What I’m saying is that it puts you at risk. It doesn’t really do you any good to participate in those kinds of activities, and they’re pretty awful anyway, so why do them?

Try to stay away from violent media. Also, try to cut back on media all together. Quit staying in your room playing COD all day, for hours and hours at a time, and go outside! Pick up a football or a Frisbee and play with your friends. Go to the mall, get a milkshake, and people watch. Read a book. Get some exercise. Create art. Be social. Don’t be one of those kids who stares at a screen all day.

Technology & Relationships

A lot of teenagers today are addicted to technology. It’s obvious. For those of you who have cell phones, odds are you find yourself spending a lot of your free time texting friends and checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and whatever other social media sites you have an account on.

Here are the statistics:

  • 75% of teens have a cell phone
  • 73% of teens are on a social media website like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace
  • 93% of teens spend time online
  • a typical teen sends anywhere between 50-100 texts everyday… sometimes even more

Sure, not all teens are addicted, and not all of you even have Facebook and a cell phone. But the numbers are high and they are continuing to get higher.

Texting and social media sites are great. They are quick, easy, and super convenient. Sometimes you might not have time to call your friend to see if they want to hang out later, or you aren’t sure if they’re busy at that moment and might not be able to answer the phone. It’s fun seeing pictures your friend posts of Facebook, especially the friends that moved away or you might not be able to see very often. Catching up with someone via texting can be convenient when you’re both busy and have different schedules. There’s nothing wrong with texting or social media… as long as you don’t become addicted to it.

A lot of teens today tend to rely on texting and Facebook too much instead of engaging in face-to-face conversations. Some people text friends all night long who they’ve never spoken to at school, or maybe the only thing they’ve said to each other in person is “hi” as they pass in the halls. Some people Facebook their boyfriend/girlfriend instead of going out on dates. Some people even text someone they’re sitting right next to instead of actually talking to them.

With that being said, teens are having a hard time developing social skills. Hiding behind the internet and texting is causing them to not develop communication skills they need for jobs, relationships, school, and life in general. When you need to confront somebody and have a tough conversation, it sure is easy to just text them about it, but that won’t do you any good when someday you have a disagreement with your spouse or somebody at work. Will you feel too awkward and uncomfortable talking to them about it in person?

“Texting and Facebook friendships” also usually lack depth, meaning you probably aren’t as close with that person as you think you are. You can text someone 100 times every single day, but if you can’t have a real conversation with them in person, you aren’t really friends. It’s better to have quality over quantity: more real friends that you hang out with and talk to in real life as opposed to having tons of friends text you everyday. If something happens to you and you’re upset, would you rather text someone about it, or have someone be with you who you can talk to and hug and cry with?

Another thing about texting and messaging is it’s really easy for things you say to be misconstrued. When someone’s reading a message, it’s sometimes hard to tell if their friend is teasing them or joking with them, or if they’re being serious. But in person, you can hear in the person’s voice and see in their actions whether they’re joking or not. A lot of fights can start because of messaging.

Just like drugs and alcohol, if you continue to text or go on Facebook constantly, it can become a serious addiction. Your brain can become used to using technology so much, and even want to use it more and more. So be careful to only text and go on Facebook in moderation.

Especially with Christmas is coming up, try setting your phone down for a few days (or even just a few hours) and spend some quality time with your friends and family instead of hiding behind your phone. Engage in real conversations, watch movies together, play games together, go for a walk, go to the mall, share meals together. There are plenty of ways to spend quality time with those around you!

Cyberbullying: Get Help!

Image

Now that virtually every teenager in America has a cell phone and access to the internet, “cyberbullying” is a new category of bullying that is affecting thousands of teens every single day.

Cyberbullying refers to any bullying that occurs using electronic technology, whether it be cell phones, computers, or tablets, and using things like social media sites, texting, chatting, and other websites to post or message hurtful things about somebody else. This can include saying mean things about the person, spreading rumors, embarrassing pictures or videos, or fake profiles that are used to target somebody. Whether these things are posted for the public to see or only sent to certain people, it is all considered cyberbullying.

Many people consider cyberbullying to be the worst kind of bullying, because:

  • it can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach kids wherever they are
  • messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience
  • it can be difficult/impossible to trace the source
  • deleting those messages, texts, and pictures/videos can be difficult after they’ve been posted/sent

Kids who have been cyberbullied can be effected in several ways. They could:

  • begin using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain
  • skip school to avoid bullying
  • experience in-person bullying because of the cyberbullying
  • be unwilling to attend school in fear of being bullied
  • receive poor grades due to lack of motivation
  • have lower self-esteem
  • have more health problems due to stress

If you, your child, or your friend seem to be a victim of cyberbullying, there are several things you should do. First, do NOT respond to the messages or posts, or forward them to anybody else. Responding will only create more problems. Just ignore them.

Make sure you keep the evidence: record the date and times of when the bullying occurred. Save and print emails and texts, and take screen shots of anything posted on a social media site or other website. You can use these to report cyberbullying to your web and cell phone providers, and also to the website. Make sure you block the person from being able to contact you on a social media site, and by phone.

It may also be necessary to report the bullying to law enforcement. This is appropriate when you feel there are threats of violence, sexually explicit messages/photos, stalking and hate crimes, and if the bully is taking photos/videos of someone in a place where they would expect privacy.

It is ALWAYS necessary to report cyberbullying to the school the victim attends. By law, schools are required to take some kind of action in cases of cyberbullying. Since cyberbullying can often be related to in-person bullying, the school can respond and prevent that from happening.

If you believe you are being cyberbullied, you are not alone. Studies show that about HALF of teenagers get cyberbullied at some point, and about 15% of them experience it regularly. If this is happening to you or a friend, report it and get help. Nobody should ever have to put up with any kind of bullying.

Spending too much time playing video games?

Image

 

Video games can be a great past time, whether you prefer to play single player games, online games with people from all over the world, or with a group of friends after school. But some people take it to the extreme.

While video game addiction isn’t quite considered a real disorder, it is close. There are kids who would rather play videos games than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch TV, and who spend every moment they’re not at school playing games. They shut themselves in their rooms for hours instead of interacting with the outside world. Sure, some kids just like to play every once in a while or for an hour or so everyday, but here are some ways to tell if you or a friend are addicted:

  1. Most non-school hours are spent on computer or video games
  2. falling asleep in school
  3. falling behind with assignments/dropping grades
  4. lying about video game use
  5. choosing to play games over seeing friends
  6. dropping out of sports and other social groups
  7. being irritable when not playing video games

Video game addictions can cause all kinds of problems. For one, it’ll affect your body physically. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the main nerve between the forearm and the wrist is squeezed, can be caused by playing too many video games. Addicts can also experience sleep disturbances, migraines, and backaches. They might even not make enough time to shower or eat, resulting in poor personal hygiene and eating irregularities.

Obviously, addicts will also face social consequences if they don’t make time for friends and family. They are faced with the option of choosing between the real world and the virtual world, and sadly, the real world doesn’t usually win. Video games become a priority above all else. Even if kids do still hang out with friends, oftentimes they’ll talk about video games so much that their friends won’t want to hang out with them anymore. 

Kids who play video games instead of building real relationships have a hard time developing social skills. Since they’re never around people, and don’t even have the desire hang out with friends, date, or spend time with family, they become so socially awkward that they don’t even know how to make friends, talk to girls (or boys), or just hang out and be able to enjoy other people’s company.

If you or a friend might be addicted to video games, here are some things you can do:

  1. Take a look at the symptoms listed on video-game-addiction.org. Try to determine whether or not you or your friend fit into this category.
  2. If you’re confronting a friend about his/her addiction, they WILL get upset and defensive about it. Be patient and understanding, and let them know that you’re worried.
  3. If they refuse to talk about it, talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or another adult you trust.
  4. Invite your friend to hang out with you and a couple other friends. Organize a movie night or something else low-key so they’ll feel comfortable.
  5. If you’re the one with the addiction, try to cut down your playing time to one hour a night. After a while, try to go a few whole days without playing. Ask your parents and friends to hold you accountable. Try to re-connect with friends again, or get involved in a sport or club to reach out and make new friends.

Video games aren’t bad… in fact, they can be an awesome activity to do with a group of friends! Just remember to limit how much you play, and don’t let the virtual world take priority over your real friends and family.

Stop the bullying!

ImageTechnology has many advantages, but every good thing does have a downside. As cell phone usage and online activity is increasing, it opens more doors for bullying to take place. Just because something is said online doesn’t mean it is any less hurtful to the person who’s targeted. You may think that bashing people on the internet is okay because you are just ‘stating the truth’ and it’s safer when you’re hiding behind a computer. But in fact, written words on a screen can even do more damage to someone because it will always be there for them to read and remember. Before saying something rude about someone online, think twice. Is this something you would say to their face? If not, then it’s probably best not to say it at all. If you would, then how about you talk it over with the person you have a problem with rather than putting them down through social media? Clear communication is key and to be honest, bashing through text or social networking sites will not get you anywhere in resolving a conflict. If you are unsure whether it is cyber-bullying or not, here are a few examples: Disclosing someone’s personal information on a public website, spreading rumors or lies about someone publicly, posting embarrassing pictures of someone or sending via email or text message, taking on someone else’s identity (making fake facebook profile )and saying things to cause that person harm, and lastly, sending anything rude or threatening through messaging or email. If you are doing anything of the sort, just stop. It is not worth getting in trouble and hurting other people in the process. Tearing others down is just plain wrong, whether you do it in person or on the internet. If you see someone being targeted, be the bigger man and step up for them! You can also report people if they are bullying on social networking sites. Do not let cyber-bullying go unnoticed and put an end to it! Watch what you say about others because your words really do have the power to hurt or heal.