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Pictures Almost Never Lie

teen-selfies

Pictures say a thousand words, or so the saying goes. And pictures never lie. News stories on television and the Internet are not complete without an image and personal profiles seem empty without a selfie. People trust a picture. But should they?

You can get a better understanding of how editors and website managers pick images by performing a simple experiment. Take out your phone and turn on the camera. Set it to record a selfie video. Then take a moment, prepare, suck in a breath and record yourself singing the national anthem. Put your heart into it. Sing with strength and feeling. Then save the video and take a bow.

Now sit down. Pick an emotion: anger, love, envy, shock, happiness, sadness. With the emotion you decided on in mind, watch the video. When you see an image of yourself that matches the emotion you picked, pause the video. If you were making a post on your social media page about your emotion, you could use that picture to show how you felt. But you know that the picture is simply one note sung from the national anthem.

Again, thinking about your social media page, go through the video, imagining which screen capture you would use as a profile picture. Some images show you with your eyes half-closed. Some show you with your mouth open like a fish. If you were being mean to yourself, you would post the ones that make you look like you just woke up.

That happens every day in editorial offices. Public figures like your favorite singers, movie stars and government officials are always being photographed or caught on video. If an editor wants to show that singer, star or official looking funny or heroic or attractive or strange, all he or she has to do—is pick the right picture. Like you singing the national anthem, every person in the public eye can be seen with eyes half-closed or looking angry or strange.

Some editors use photo shopping software to make people appear the way the editors want them to look. Editors of fashion and celebrity magazines are notorious for changing faces, slimming down figures or smoothing rough spots on the celebrities they like. There are many famous people you probably wouldn’t know if you met them on the street because all of the pictures you’ve seen of them have been changed.

Pictures never lie? Maybe the photographs don’t lie, but sometimes the people who pick the photos do.

Pictures say a thousand words, or so the saying goes. And pictures never lie. News stories on television and the Internet are not complete without an image and personal profiles seem empty without a selfie. People trust a picture. But should they?

You can get a better understanding of how editors and website managers pick images by performing a simple experiment. Take out your phone and turn on the camera. Set it to record a selfie video. Then take a moment, prepare, suck in a breath and record yourself singing the national anthem. Put your heart into it. Sing with strength and feeling. Then save the video and take a bow.

Now sit down. Pick an emotion: anger, love, envy, shock, happiness, sadness. With the emotion you decided on in mind, watch the video. When you see an image of yourself that matches the emotion you picked, pause the video. If you were making a post on your social media page about your emotion, you could use that picture to show how you felt. But you know that the picture is simply one note sung from the national anthem.

Again, thinking about your social media page, go through the video, imagining which screen capture you would use as a profile picture. Some images show you with your eyes half-closed. Some show you with your mouth open like a fish. If you were being mean to yourself, you would post the ones that make you look like you just woke up.

That happens every day in editorial offices. Public figures like your favorite singers, movie stars and government officials are always being photographed or caught on video. If an editor wants to show that singer, star or official looking funny or heroic or attractive or strange, all he or she has to do—is pick the right picture. Like you singing the national anthem, every person in the public eye can be seen with eyes half-closed or looking angry or strange.

Some editors use photo shopping software to make people appear the way the editors want them to look. Editors of fashion and celebrity magazines are notorious for changing faces, slimming down figures or smoothing rough spots on the celebrities they like. There are many famous people you probably wouldn’t know if you met them on the street because all of the pictures you’ve seen of them have been changed.

Pictures never lie? Maybe the photographs don’t lie, but sometimes the people who pick the photos do.

Online Safety While Playing Pokémon GO?

kids-safety-playing-pokemon-outdoors

Even just a few months ago, who would have guessed we would be talking about online safety related to outdoor activity? Well, as new technologies and trends continue to emerge we should know by now not to rule anything out.

Pokémon GO is all the rage and it’s brought kids, teens and adult game lovers outside to play, and exercise, all because of a simple and fun app on their smart phones. This is a good thing. At the very least those playing the game are putting in a lot of extra steps walking while breathing in fresh air. Others are running as their virtual reality leads them into the great outdoors.

Now, here’s where the discussion of safety comes in. There have been reports of minor injuries due to users not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game. It can be as simple spraining an ankle while loosing your footing off a curb, or falling and landing on your elbow. There is a verified news story about two young men who fell off a small cliff and had to be rescued. To be clear, they climbed a fence to access an area not open to the public which led them into harms way.

Now, I will say it again! The fact that people are venturing outside and getting some exercise is a very good thing. Sitting on your couch and doing nothing over a lifetime will quite frankly – shorten your life. Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of a healthy active lifestyle. But I would also say that when caution and care is put into the equation, there are fewer broken bones.

We’ve mentioned walking and running, and we can take that to the next level for hikers, but what about biking? Yes, it’s something I saw last week in my own neighborhood. A young boy was playing Pokémon GO while riding his bike. Parents are diligent in telling their teens not to text and drive, now you’ll also need to warn them about the dangers of riding their bike one handed while searching for Pokémon on their phone with the other. And yes, NO driving while playing Pokémon GO either.

Reviews of the game include comments that it’s very easy to get lost in the game to the point where kids, teens and adults alike, pay less and less attention to the ‘real’ world around them.

The moral of the story? Get outdoors, YES! Have fun, YES! Anything that encourages any member of society to ‘get active’ is indeed a positive thing, much like Wii Fit a few years ago. But when you go outside, don’t leave common sense at the door.

Staying Safe While Playing Pokémon GO

Even just a few months ago, who would have guessed we would be talking about online safety related to outdoor activity? Well, as new technologies and trends continue to emerge we should know by now not to rule anything out.

Pokémon GO is all the rage and it’s brought kids, teens and adult game lovers outside to play, and exercise, all because of a simple and fun app on their smart phones. This is a good thing. At the very least those playing the game are putting in a lot of extra steps walking while breathing in fresh air. Others are running as their virtual reality leads them into the great outdoors.

Now, here’s where the discussion of safety comes in. There have been reports of minor injuries due to users not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game. It can be as simple spraining an ankle while loosing your footing off a curb, or falling and landing on your elbow. There is a verified news story about two young men who fell off a small cliff and had to be rescued. To be clear, they climbed a fence to access an area not open to the public which led them into harms way.

Now, I will say it again! The fact that people are venturing outside and getting some exercise is a very good thing. Sitting on your couch and doing nothing over a lifetime will quite frankly – shorten your life. Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of a healthy active lifestyle. But I would also say that when caution and care is put into the equation, there are fewer broken bones.

We’ve mentioned walking and running, and we can take that to the next level for hikers, but what about biking? Yes, it’s something I saw last week in my own neighborhood. A young boy was playing Pokémon GO while riding his bike. Parents are diligent in telling their teens not to text and drive, now you’ll also need to warn them about the dangers of riding their bike one handed while searching for Pokémon on their phone with the other. And yes, NO driving while playing Pokémon GO either.

Reviews of the game include comments that it’s very easy to get lost in the game to the point where kids, teens and adults alike, pay less and less attention to the ‘real’ world around them.

The moral of the story? Get outdoors, YES! Have fun, YES! Anything that encourages any member of society to ‘get active’ is indeed a positive thing, much like Wii Fit a few years ago. But when you go outside, don’t leave common sense at the door.

Staying Safe While Playing Pokémon GO

Before and After

kids-at-the-mall

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying. Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day. Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her. He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl. He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions.

I wonder if I should tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin?

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying. Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day. Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her. He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl. He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions.

I wonder if I should tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin?

The Life of a 13 Year Old Girl in the Social Media Jungle

teens-social-media

Her alarm goes off – much too early. She was up texting with her girlfriends into the early hours of the morning, stifling her giggles so mom and dad wouldn’t hear. She didn’t want to miss a single confession or inside joke, not to mention the late night activity on Twitter and Snapchat.

There are just as many posts after bedtime as there are during school hours, and she would feel pretty stupid at school if she missed out on something big from the night before. Drama actually happens pretty frequently online and over text when she’s burrowed under the covers with only the light of her cell phone – whether it’s an ugly feud between best friends, a rude meme about someone at school, or a nasty breakup with insults flying.

After snoozing once or twice, finally rolling out of bed at the angry threat of her mother, she stumbles through her morning routine, slowing only to double and triple check her appearance in the mirror. She needs to look cute enough to be popular and desired by the boys; she can’t break the school’s dress code, and she also can’t look like she’s trying too hard or looking too promiscuous or else she’ll risk being called a slut. She knows what her friends say about other girl’s outfits behind their back.

She splits her attention between her teacher’s lessons and the constant stream of texts and snaps she hides under her desk. When she passes up the worksheets at the end of science class she hears stifled laughter from the punk boys behind her. They’re always cheating off her papers and getting her in trouble. She looks down at the stack of papers in her hands to see that they also handed up a scrap of paper with a very giant and detailed drawing of private parts. She feels sick but just rolls her eyes at them, crumpling the paper into the trash can down the aisle as she leaves.

On the bus ride home from school she sits next to her next door neighbor, Summer, and they pass the time by showing each other Instagram accounts of cute boys at neighboring schools. They talk about the ones they know from church or sports groups, the ones they’ve talked to through direct messages or texting, and the ones they follow but don’t actually know at all. She’s surprised to hear that some of these boys have also asked Summer for nude photos – she’s had a few of those requests of her own.

“Did you send them?” she asks nervously.

“Well… no. I was too scared.” Summer replies sheepishly.

She feels relief that her friend also turned down the not-so-polite request from these teen boys. She frequently wondered if any of her friends had delivered on the request.

Charging her nearly-dead phone upon getting home, she has an hour or so of uninterrupted homework before a phone-free dinner – her parent’s rule.

“How was your day today sweetie? School good?” her dad asks between mouthfuls of peas.

“It was good. Just a regular day.”

It’s critical to talk to your teen girls – and not just about their homework. Social media has turned their world into something most parents wouldn’t recognize. Talk to your daughter about her friends, social media, boys, drugs, and even the taboo subject of her body. You won’t regret the extra effort, even if it feels awkward. She needs you, and those conversations, to keep her rooted in a world of confusing values and social media.


Tyler Jacobson is a husband, father, freelance writer and outreach specialist with experience with organizations that help troubled teens and parents. His areas of focus include: parenting, social media, addiction, mental illness, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

Her alarm goes off – much too early. She was up texting with her girlfriends into the early hours of the morning, stifling her giggles so mom and dad wouldn’t hear. She didn’t want to miss a single confession or inside joke, not to mention the late night activity on Twitter and Snapchat.

There are just as many posts after bedtime as there are during school hours, and she would feel pretty stupid at school if she missed out on something big from the night before. Drama actually happens pretty frequently online and over text when she’s burrowed under the covers with only the light of her cell phone – whether it’s an ugly feud between best friends, a rude meme about someone at school, or a nasty breakup with insults flying.

After snoozing once or twice, finally rolling out of bed at the angry threat of her mother, she stumbles through her morning routine, slowing only to double and triple check her appearance in the mirror. She needs to look cute enough to be popular and desired by the boys; she can’t break the school’s dress code, and she also can’t look like she’s trying too hard or looking too promiscuous or else she’ll risk being called a slut. She knows what her friends say about other girl’s outfits behind their back.

She splits her attention between her teacher’s lessons and the constant stream of texts and snaps she hides under her desk. When she passes up the worksheets at the end of science class she hears stifled laughter from the punk boys behind her. They’re always cheating off her papers and getting her in trouble. She looks down at the stack of papers in her hands to see that they also handed up a scrap of paper with a very giant and detailed drawing of private parts. She feels sick but just rolls her eyes at them, crumpling the paper into the trash can down the aisle as she leaves.

On the bus ride home from school she sits next to her next door neighbor, Summer, and they pass the time by showing each other Instagram accounts of cute boys at neighboring schools. They talk about the ones they know from church or sports groups, the ones they’ve talked to through direct messages or texting, and the ones they follow but don’t actually know at all. She’s surprised to hear that some of these boys have also asked Summer for nude photos – she’s had a few of those requests of her own.

“Did you send them?” she asks nervously.

“Well… no. I was too scared.” Summer replies sheepishly.

She feels relief that her friend also turned down the not-so-polite request from these teen boys. She frequently wondered if any of her friends had delivered on the request.

Charging her nearly-dead phone upon getting home, she has an hour or so of uninterrupted homework before a phone-free dinner – her parent’s rule.

“How was your day today sweetie? School good?” her dad asks between mouthfuls of peas.

“It was good. Just a regular day.”

It’s critical to talk to your teen girls – and not just about their homework. Social media has turned their world into something most parents wouldn’t recognize. Talk to your daughter about her friends, social media, boys, drugs, and even the taboo subject of her body. You won’t regret the extra effort, even if it feels awkward. She needs you, and those conversations, to keep her rooted in a world of confusing values and social media.


Tyler Jacobson is a husband, father, freelance writer and outreach specialist with experience with organizations that help troubled teens and parents. His areas of focus include: parenting, social media, addiction, mental illness, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

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