Monthly Archives: April 2015

One Bad Tweet Can Ruin Your Whole Day

“Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship,” tweeted Brandon Chambers, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Marymount (VA) University. Three years earlier, a potential basketball scholarship athlete had his recruitment brutally terminated because of his Twitter activity, which the coaches said “did not represent what the university was about.” (USA Today, Jan. 5, 2015) More and more, colleges (and businesses) are requiring applicants to provide social media IDs to better screen who would be the best “fit” and to evaluate character. Woe be to him or her who posts inappropriate material, whether offensive language, derogatory comments, or incriminating photos. “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences”, says David Petroff, director of athletic communications at Edgewood (Wis.) College.Teens need to realize and take responsibility for their online actions just as carefully as physical ones.

Many college and university athletic directors are using social media to check out the integrity of their potential athletes. It’s important to remember that once you put something out in the Twitterverse or on Instagram, it’s out there, it’s public. There are plenty of examples of celebrities tweeting something rash, only to have to retract it after public outcry. In the collegiate athletic world, you don’t even get that chance. (Pro football player rants abound, however–go figure.)

I have a moderate to low social media presence by choice. I have a Facebook page, Twitter (rarely use), Instagram (even more rarely), a blog, and a LinkedIn account that I haven’t updated in years. I post only those things that I could shout in church, and I’m constantly reminding my students to think before they send anything out onto the interwebs. If one bad tweet can ruin an athlete’s career (or any career for that matter), it behooves all of us to remind our teens of the calamitous effect of posting without reflection. (Of course, the whole “think before you speak/act” phrase has been around for ages…)

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Print books vs. digital — vindication!

I’ve long been a proponent of “real” books vis à vis digital editions, and I often feel like a dinosaur clinging to life as the earth crumbles around me. Print books are easy to hold, you can go back to a previous page easily, and they don’t require batteries, but e-books weigh less, take up less space in an airplane carry-on, and are easier to read at night without disturbing a partner. My husband bought me a Kindle Fire tablet, and while I have indeed read a book or two on it I mostly use it to access the Internet or play Angry Birds. (There’s a video on YouTube about how paper has a strong future, and it makes me laugh every time I watch it.) And in many of the journals I read (in print!) it’s all about one-to-one programs, more access to e-books, and increasing access to online sources. But now there comes a book that has found that young people, even those considered “digital natives,” prefer books over tablets. The book, by Naomi S. Baron, is titled “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World,” which is profiled in an article by Cory Doctorow, on the website “Boing, boing.” The book is an analysis of how we read and how reading is affected both in print or onscreen. E-reading, Baron argues, does not encourage the kind of in-depth reading that a print book does. Furthermore, e-reading lends itself to distraction and skimming, and multi-tasking becomes rampant. Baron “reaches past the hype of both sides of the discussion” in presenting what can be gained from e-reading and what may be lost by no longer reaching for a printed book. (Amazon.com, 2015)

Another article reviewing the same book is written by a reporter from the Washington Post, Michael S. Rosenwald. The article, titled “Why Digital Natives Prefer Print – Yes, You Read That Right,” touches on some of Baron’s insights on the surveys she conducted for her research. Interestingly, “building a physical map in my mind of where things are,” a reason given by one student as to why he prefers print, squared with Baron’s findings. (Rosenwald, 2015) Others mentioned the fact that it’s easier to find your place in a print book, and print allows for greater absorption of material.

So, to my great delight, paper books aren’t going away anytime soon, and the evidence is mounting that paper and digital books can co-exist side-by-side. This mirrors what I see in my library, as students vastly prefer reading print books over digital. They may have e-readers on their phones and iPads, but not a single one has ever come up to me and asked to add an e-book to the collection. My personal preference will always be print, even though I have been known to reach for a “classic” novel on my Kindle; the major reason I prefer print is, however, the fact that I like to re-read certain passages from the beginning of a novel when I’m almost finished with it. I will continue to monitor my students’ preferences and I’m open to purchasing e-books in the future, but for now, the printed word vigorously survives.

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Teens & Distracted Driving — It’s Worse Than We Think

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the problem of teens driving while distracted, either from passengers or from electronic devices, is bigger than previously thought. The study, culled from analyzing the six seconds before collision in almost 1,700 videos of teen drivers, used voluntary in-vehicle event recorders to capture the information. The Foundation discovered that nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe vehicle crashes involving teens was due to distraction of some sort, almost four times the estimate from police reports. (AAA, 2015) The ability to analyze film in the moments leading up to a crash was cited as being very helpful in understanding what happened directly before impact, something that was impossible before having the videos. Another finding: teenagers, on average, had their eyes off the road for 4.1 seconds of the 6 seconds before impact. Good grief.

I’ve ranted about this before; adults talking or texting on their cell phones while driving irritates me no end. Teenagers on cell phones are even worse. The AAA study suggests that parents create a parent-teen driving agreement before allowing young drivers to get behind the wheel. It may also be worth it to invest in an app that monitors or even disables teen cell phone use while the vehicle is moving. Also, it would behoove adults in general to set a better example of not using cell phones while driving. Additionally, I would love to see legislation passed that outlawed all cell phone use in cars, hands-free included. But as someone pointed out to me, politicians are some of the worst offenders in talking on their phones when driving, so don’t look for any change in the laws anytime soon.

Am I being too cynical? Am I asking too much? I’ve been on the road countless times behind someone not going the speed limit and swerving in their lane, knowing they were on their phone and having it confirmed when I was finally able to pass. I consider myself a decent driver–I’m not perfect, and I struggle every day not to tailgate, but otherwise I’m pretty safe. I would never ask anyone to do anything that I myself am not willing to do; hence, you will never find me on my phone while I’m driving. I will keep ranting to my students about driving/texting/being on the phone and the importance of paying attention while behind the wheel. Maybe, someday, some of it will stick.

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