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Friday, August 07, 2009

Bystanders can help when bullying happens

If your children are neither bullies nor victims, there's still a strong possibility they can help reduce bullying at school. A well-reported article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it's a myth that bullying involves only the bully and the victim. The fact is that "the active involvement of bystanders frequently determines the nature, extent and outcome" of bullying behavior and incidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics says so. "In an updated policy published in the July issue of its journal, Pediatrics, the AAP ... said a European program that emphasizes the role of bystanders in preventing bullying in schools is a good model for US prevention efforts." It's referring to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which "teaches children that bullies are kids with problems and bystanders can protect victims." Patti Agatston, a school counselor in the Atlanta area and co-author of cyberbullying prevention curricula for grades 3-5 and grades 6-12, told the Journal-Constitution that 21 Atlanta-area schools have used the Olweus training, which also demonstrates how t get parents and the community involved. I think we can put a serious dent in psychological, physical, and digital bullying (digital just being another medium for the psychological kind) if we give them "permission" to be bystanders who contribute to solutions – encourage them to be kind and help out peers who they can tell are in trouble. [For another holistic program that has been tested in the US and UK, see this about CAPSULE (for "Creating a Peaceful Learning Environment."]

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Student ordered to pay $675k for file-sharing

Though illegal file-sharing seems to have eased (see this), a story out of Boston this past week certainly underscores that the legal risks haven't. Admitting in court that he had downloaded and distributed 30 songs, Boston University graduate student Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to pay $22,500 for each song to four recording companies, the Washington Post reports. "Under federal law, the recording companies were entitled to $750 to $30,000 per infringement. But the law allows as much as $150,000 per track if the jury finds the infringements were willful." Tenenbaum's lawyer said he would appeal the decision because he wasn't allowed to argue the case based on fair use. Tenenbaum said he'd file for bankruptcy if the decision stands, but nearly 100 people have already offered to help pay his legal fees if his appeal fails.

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How a police officer uses Facebook

Constable Scott Mills, a community youth officer in Toronto, says "police officers must be where the people are, and these days, the people are on Facebook." He uses his Facebook account, as well as Groups and Events, not just to send out information and get tipped off to threats and crimes very fast to and from a lot of residents, but to "build a stronger, more meaningful connection with the community we serve," he says as a guest writer in the Facebook blog. This is participatory law enforcement, Mills says, getting the community involved in preventing and solving crime. Facebook users have helped him "sniff out threats against local schools, bring much needed help to people at risk of committing suicide, warn the public about criminals on the loose and even locate missing persons," he writes. And his program, Toronto Crime Stoppers, is not alone in this. He points to social policing programs in Boston, Vancouver, and Brunswick, Maine, as well. And speaking of policing, Facebook is doing a little of its own - making sure advertisers on its service comply with its new guidelines and blocking them if they don't, Advertising Age reports (please see Ad Age for specifics).

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

India's digital natives

Nearly 10% of the world's under-25 population live in India, and they "are shifting their career aspirations and social life to the digital world," India's Economic Times reports. The study, by Tata Consultancy Services, surveyed 14,000 high school students in 12 cities and found that over 93% of respondents "were aware of social networking sites and used it in some way in their daily life. Bangalore students are "leading the pack, as 66% of them said they were active on blogs and social networking sites, compared with 39% nationally." Nine percent of them use Second Life and MySpace and do podcasting. "Among social networking sites, [Google's] Orkut was most preferred, followed by Facebook, while Google continued to be the most preferred source of information." Careers that top their list are the ever-popular IT and engineering, but "other fields like travel and tourism, media & entertainment are emerging as professional choices." The US and UK are the top picks for overseas university study (40% want to go to the US), but Singapore and Dubai "are preferred by one in five students in Chennai and Cochin, respectively, as top choice for overseas education."

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sensible new home filtering option

Filtering software has long been a useful tool in family Net-safety toolboxes, especially in households with young kids. But in these times of proliferating Net-connected devices, filtering that's only on computers has an ever smaller footprint on kids' online lives. One solution, then, is filtering on the router - that gateway between the Internet and all the devices on a family's network, from consoles connected to Xbox Live to iPod Touches to laptops. Within about a month, parents will be able to buy Netgear routers with filtering, reports Larry Magid of CBS/CNET. "Like other filtering products, parents have control over the type of content blocked and have the ability to turn it off so that it doesn't prevent Mom or Dad from visiting any sites. There is also a 'white list' feature that allows parents to exclude any site from the blocked list," Larry writes, adding: "Because the blocking lists are 'in the cloud' [instead of on any particular device], parents can configure the filter from anywhere." If you already have a Netgear router, depending on the model, you might be able to upgrade it with the filtering starting August 10 – check with Netgear. But you know there are no parental panacea's where Net safety's concerned, right? This doesn't work with smart phones with Web browsers that connect via cellular networks. For that, you need to see what parental controls your cellphone company offers.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Archbishop down on social networking

I found a little pastiche of negative headlines about social networking in my in-box yesterday, including one tying obesity to it. (I continue to be mystified by these indicators that people view social media as a "thing" all by itself, somehow separate from life, socializing, behavior, culture, etc., when life online is really just a mirror of all of human life). But the most widely picked up SN story was: "Facebook and MySpace could lead teens to suicide, warns Archbishop Nichols." Even though the Vatican has a Facebook profile and YouTube channel, and the Pope told youth to use the Internet responsibly a couple of months ago, the Archbishop of Westminster said social sites "are leading teenagers to build 'transient relationships,' which leave them unable to cope when their social networks collapse," UK-based reports, adding that "he said the Internet and mobile phones were 'dehumanizing' community life." Teenagers the BBC spoke with had a different view, however, though some understood where he was coming from, since negative stuff does happen in social sites (and that's what turns up in the news), though also on phones and other places where people socialize. The main point they made, in the BBC piece, was that social networking is "just a different way of socializing." Here's a commentary on the archbishop's view in The Telegraph, which broke the story.

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