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What Did You See? Really…

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Poor Little Pluto

Life can be confusing. People sometimes struggle with the idea of who they are and where they belong in the grand scheme of things. If Pluto had feelings, imagine what it has gone through in its 87 years. When first discovered in 1930, the small mass orbiting the sun at the edge of the solar system was called “Planet X.”

It wasn’t named until an 11 year-old girl suggested calling it “Pluto,” after the mythological Roman god of the underworld.

At that time, Pluto had the title of being the furthest object ever found that rotated around the sun. It was our solar system’s outermost planet, the deep dark member of Earth’s immediate family.

For decades, scientists, astronomers and students learned about the lonely planet Pluto.  Then, in 1979, Pluto got its first humiliation. Because the orbits of planets are not perfect, Neptune swung further out in the sky, making Pluto only the “second” furthest. It lost its title.

Things got worse for Pluto in 2006. At that time, the astronomers who oversee how objects in space are classified reviewed their rules. Under their new rules, Pluto was too small to be a planet. It was removed from the official list of solar system planets. Pluto was just another “mass” whirling through space.

But Pluto has fans. Many scientists who grew up looking at Pluto as the great distant planet were upset. They thought that Pluto’s history should give it special consideration. Because of their concern, the International Astronomical Union sat down and again looked at how they defined a planet.

Many hoped that a new definition would return Pluto to its previous glory. After all, it had moons and was a significant body at the very edge of our solar system. Still, Pluto is smaller than our moon and has very , very weak gravity.

The astronomers sat down and played with their numbers. Over the last few months, they created a new definition of what makes a body in space “a planet.” This new definition would again make Pluto one of the planets in our solar system.

But now Pluto has another problem. The new definition would mean that another 109 celestial objects (like asteroids) would also now be “planets.”

Poor Pluto. This mass orbiting the sun in space has gone from being the great edge of our solar system—named after the mythological god of the underworld–to a simple “mass.”

If any object in space could be considered an underdog, it would be this small, lonely body over 3 and a half billion miles from the sun.

Life can be confusing. People sometimes struggle with the idea of who they are and where they belong in the grand scheme of things. If Pluto had feelings, imagine what it has gone through in its 87 years. When first discovered in 1930, the small mass orbiting the sun at the edge of the solar system was called “Planet X.”

It wasn’t named until an 11 year-old girl suggested calling it “Pluto,” after the mythological Roman god of the underworld.

At that time, Pluto had the title of being the furthest object ever found that rotated around the sun. It was our solar system’s outermost planet, the deep dark member of Earth’s immediate family.

For decades, scientists, astronomers and students learned about the lonely planet Pluto.  Then, in 1979, Pluto got its first humiliation. Because the orbits of planets are not perfect, Neptune swung further out in the sky, making Pluto only the “second” furthest. It lost its title.

Things got worse for Pluto in 2006. At that time, the astronomers who oversee how objects in space are classified reviewed their rules. Under their new rules, Pluto was too small to be a planet. It was removed from the official list of solar system planets. Pluto was just another “mass” whirling through space.

But Pluto has fans. Many scientists who grew up looking at Pluto as the great distant planet were upset. They thought that Pluto’s history should give it special consideration. Because of their concern, the International Astronomical Union sat down and again looked at how they defined a planet.

Many hoped that a new definition would return Pluto to its previous glory. After all, it had moons and was a significant body at the very edge of our solar system. Still, Pluto is smaller than our moon and has very , very weak gravity.

The astronomers sat down and played with their numbers. Over the last few months, they created a new definition of what makes a body in space “a planet.” This new definition would again make Pluto one of the planets in our solar system.

But now Pluto has another problem. The new definition would mean that another 109 celestial objects (like asteroids) would also now be “planets.”

Poor Pluto. This mass orbiting the sun in space has gone from being the great edge of our solar system—named after the mythological god of the underworld–to a simple “mass.”

If any object in space could be considered an underdog, it would be this small, lonely body over 3 and a half billion miles from the sun.

Are you a Cyberbystander?

cyberbystander for online bullies

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

Facebook Privacy Settings: Like Signs on Your Door!

New technology is incredibly exciting and fun. It’s amazing when you think that what you type on your computer in your room can be seen all around the world by anybody with a computer.
But should it be seen by anyone with a computer?

Should the kid who’s been insulting you at the park know that you go there every Saturday morning to play basketball?

Should the girl who calls you ugly get to see the new dress you bought?

Probably not.

That’s why in this exciting time in human history, you need to think about your life as a valuable gift. You should think about that before every story you post.

One easy way to make sure your life is shared only with those who like or love you is to use your social media privacy settings.

Like most people, you probably have a Facebook page. You probably know how to post, edit posts, change your profile picture and message friends.

But do you know how to block strangers from looking you up on Facebook? If someone has started insulting you online, do you know how to block that person from posting on your page?

You can even block that person from sending you a private message or looking up your email address.

Another smart setting is to only accept friend requests from friends of friends. This helps limit who sees your profile.

Of course, there is a problem with this. You should talk with your friends about their settings. Better still, sit down with your friends (in real time, in real life) and play with the security settings. Show each other how the settings work and which ones you need to use.

When all of you keep control over who can see what you post online, all of you are safer.

All major social media sites have safety and privacy settings. One fast way to learn about them is to Google the social platform’s name and “how to set privacy.”

Remember, talk to your friends and family about their settings. When everyone you share with has the same secure settings, all of you is safer.

For decades, kids have stuck signs on their doors that read: “Keep Out” and “Please Knock” and “Trespassers will be yelled at.” Think about your social media settings as signs on your online door. Don’t let just anyone walk in.

New technology is incredibly exciting and fun. It’s amazing when you think that what you type on your computer in your room can be seen all around the world by anybody with a computer.
But should it be seen by anyone with a computer?

Should the kid who’s been insulting you at the park know that you go there every Saturday morning to play basketball?

Should the girl who calls you ugly get to see the new dress you bought?

Probably not.

That’s why in this exciting time in human history, you need to think about your life as a valuable gift. You should think about that before every story you post.

One easy way to make sure your life is shared only with those who like or love you is to use your social media privacy settings.

Like most people, you probably have a Facebook page. You probably know how to post, edit posts, change your profile picture and message friends.

But do you know how to block strangers from looking you up on Facebook? If someone has started insulting you online, do you know how to block that person from posting on your page?

You can even block that person from sending you a private message or looking up your email address.

Another smart setting is to only accept friend requests from friends of friends. This helps limit who sees your profile.

Of course, there is a problem with this. You should talk with your friends about their settings. Better still, sit down with your friends (in real time, in real life) and play with the security settings. Show each other how the settings work and which ones you need to use.

When all of you keep control over who can see what you post online, all of you are safer.

All major social media sites have safety and privacy settings. One fast way to learn about them is to Google the social platform’s name and “how to set privacy.”

Remember, talk to your friends and family about their settings. When everyone you share with has the same secure settings, all of you is safer.

For decades, kids have stuck signs on their doors that read: “Keep Out” and “Please Knock” and “Trespassers will be yelled at.” Think about your social media settings as signs on your online door. Don’t let just anyone walk in.

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