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Category: Social Media Safety

How a Town Made A Monster—True Story

Once upon a time, a mom and dad drove their little girl to school. Mom got out to walk the girl to the school door.  Before they got there, Dad remembered something he had forgotten to ask the little girl. He rushed out and ran to the girl and Mom. Mom was upset. She said that they could talk about the question after school.

Dad disagreed and the two had a small argument on the school steps, which was very bad manners. The little girl started walking away. Her dad grabbed her arm and she quickly answered his question before running off to class.

Meanwhile, a woman in the parking lot saw the argument on the steps. She saw the dad grab his daughter’s arm. She went on social media and made a post: “I saw a man grab a little girl today at school. Watch out for your kids.”

Another parent saw the post and shared the post with his friends. They shared the post with their friends. Soon, everyone in the small town was thinking that a man was trying to kidnap their dear children.

Thinking that some evil man lurked near the school, people started seeing monsters everywhere! If a man stopped to drop off a sandwich for his son at recess, people would go online to post: “I saw a man try to grab a little boy.”

When another man ran up to his girl to give her the sweater she had left at home, people would post: “I saw the bad guy.” And all those posts bounced from cell phone to cell phone.

Before long, people went to the police and reported that a man was trying to steal kids from school. The story reached news reporters. A major television station reported that a man was stalking school kids. The stern announcer warned thousands of people to be on the lookout for this monster.

The police immediately started investigating. They interviewed many of the people who posted sightings of the evil man. The police talked to kids and their parents.

Then they made an official announcement: Nothing had happened. No one was trying to snatch children.

Hundreds of posts and reposts warned of a bad man, but none of the reports were true. No evil monster was trying to grab children from school. The monster was made up by too many people posting false details on social media.

Soon, the panic faded. People forgot about the evil man—and they did not seem to understand that they were the ones who made the monster.

This event really happened in Alberta, Canada, June, 2011.

Once upon a time, a mom and dad drove their little girl to school. Mom got out to walk the girl to the school door.  Before they got there, Dad remembered something he had forgotten to ask the little girl. He rushed out and ran to the girl and Mom. Mom was upset. She said that they could talk about the question after school.

Dad disagreed and the two had a small argument on the school steps, which was very bad manners. The little girl started walking away. Her dad grabbed her arm and she quickly answered his question before running off to class.

Meanwhile, a woman in the parking lot saw the argument on the steps. She saw the dad grab his daughter’s arm. She went on social media and made a post: “I saw a man grab a little girl today at school. Watch out for your kids.”

Another parent saw the post and shared the post with his friends. They shared the post with their friends. Soon, everyone in the small town was thinking that a man was trying to kidnap their dear children.

Thinking that some evil man lurked near the school, people started seeing monsters everywhere! If a man stopped to drop off a sandwich for his son at recess, people would go online to post: “I saw a man try to grab a little boy.”

When another man ran up to his girl to give her the sweater she had left at home, people would post: “I saw the bad guy.” And all those posts bounced from cell phone to cell phone.

Before long, people went to the police and reported that a man was trying to steal kids from school. The story reached news reporters. A major television station reported that a man was stalking school kids. The stern announcer warned thousands of people to be on the lookout for this monster.

The police immediately started investigating. They interviewed many of the people who posted sightings of the evil man. The police talked to kids and their parents.

Then they made an official announcement: Nothing had happened. No one was trying to snatch children.

Hundreds of posts and reposts warned of a bad man, but none of the reports were true. No evil monster was trying to grab children from school. The monster was made up by too many people posting false details on social media.

Soon, the panic faded. People forgot about the evil man—and they did not seem to understand that they were the ones who made the monster.

This event really happened in Alberta, Canada, June, 2011.

Can Social Media Make You Sad?

Can Social Media Make Kids Sad?

Are you feeling sad? Lonely? Even though you have hordes of friends on social media do you feel alone? The problem might be your social media. A study in the United Kingdom learned something you should think about.

Just one hour a day on your social media can make you feel worse about your life.

That wasn’t the only study. The University of Michigan found that the more young people use social media, the sadder they were. The Brown University of Public Health had the same findings. Other studies litter the Internet.

Why does time on social media make kids sad? No one knows for sure, but there are a few ideas:

1) Cyberbullying.

Not all kids are bullied online, but when they are the damage can be deep.

2) Thinking that everyone else has a better life.

Some people believe that when you see friends with exciting pictures and posts, you will think that they have more fun than you do. You’ll then feel bad about yourself. Jealousy is a tricky emotion, but it’s even more complicated when you think about online posts.

Remember, people upload posts that make them look good. They do not post pictures that show them looking bad. You could be jealous of a life that isn’t how it looks online.

3) Time spent online gives you less time in the real world.

The real world makes you move your body, which makes you feel better. That is partly because of “happy” chemicals your brain kicks out when you exercise.

Also, people feel an incredible amount of satisfaction when they reach a goal in the physical world (like making a lay-away or sitting with a friend who needs a buddy or discovering a great new view after hiking to the top of a hill or experiencing the thrill of sledding down that hill).

When you spend >online, you miss out on all the benefits of living in the real world. That can make you feel sad.

Before you say that these studies are just another way adults try to control what kids do, think about this: everything bad that happens to children because they spend time on social media happens to adults, too. You could be a positive role model to your parents. When your dad seems bummed out after a hard day on the job or your mom has problems with a project she’s working on, get them to take a break.

Let’s be honest here. When you are old and crouched over and rolling your eyes over what your grandchildren are doing, there will still be studies about why you are sad. Some of those studies will blame computers and whatever new technology is in your hands. One hundred years from now, the best advice will still be the same: Put down your phone and go tell someone.

Are you feeling sad? Lonely? Even though you have hordes of friends on social media do you feel alone? The problem might be your social media. A study in the United Kingdom learned something you should think about.

Just one hour a day on your social media can make you feel worse about your life.

That wasn’t the only study. The University of Michigan found that the more young people use social media, the sadder they were. The Brown University of Public Health had the same findings. Other studies litter the Internet.

Why does time on social media make kids sad? No one knows for sure, but there are a few ideas:

1) Cyberbullying.

Not all kids are bullied online, but when they are the damage can be deep.

2) Thinking that everyone else has a better life.

Some people believe that when you see friends with exciting pictures and posts, you will think that they have more fun than you do. You’ll then feel bad about yourself. Jealousy is a tricky emotion, but it’s even more complicated when you think about online posts.

Remember, people upload posts that make them look good. They do not post pictures that show them looking bad. You could be jealous of a life that isn’t how it looks online.

3) Time spent online gives you less time in the real world.

The real world makes you move your body, which makes you feel better. That is partly because of “happy” chemicals your brain kicks out when you exercise.

Also, people feel an incredible amount of satisfaction when they reach a goal in the physical world (like making a lay-away or sitting with a friend who needs a buddy or discovering a great new view after hiking to the top of a hill or experiencing the thrill of sledding down that hill).

When you spend >online, you miss out on all the benefits of living in the real world. That can make you feel sad.

Before you say that these studies are just another way adults try to control what kids do, think about this: everything bad that happens to children because they spend time on social media happens to adults, too. You could be a positive role model to your parents. When your dad seems bummed out after a hard day on the job or your mom has problems with a project she’s working on, get them to take a break.

Let’s be honest here. When you are old and crouched over and rolling your eyes over what your grandchildren are doing, there will still be studies about why you are sad. Some of those studies will blame computers and whatever new technology is in your hands. One hundred years from now, the best advice will still be the same: Put down your phone and go tell someone.

Why Do People Post Fake News?

The world is buzzing with false media. Trolls are being investigated by police in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada—in fact pretty much any country that has social media platforms. Britain has seen a wide variety of “missing kids” posts that receive lots of re-tweets and posts but turn out to be false.

The stress, panic and damage such posts cause to families and individuals can even be handled as a criminal matter. Why do people post false news?

Think about yourself. Suppose that you see two friends walking down the street. One girl–say, Linda–suddenly waves to a car that swerves over to let her in before swerving and speeding away. Later you hear that Linda didn’t show up at an after-school group. Nor has she posted anything on social media for hours. You start texting with a friend and after a few minutes you start to think Linda may have been kidnapped. You upload a post describing the last time you saw Linda and for a headline you type: Was Linda Kidnapped?

The headline is so striking, everyone clicks on it to read about Linda. Everybody who knows Linda shares the story and likes your post. You’ve never had so many hits on your page.

Studies have shown that likes and shares are the main reasons people post false or misleading news—they enjoy seeing the numbers climb higher than they’ve ever had before.

Meanwhile, Linda’s parents are freaking out. They try to call Linda and find her cell isn’t on. Only later, after frantic calls to the police who start a search and show up at your home to interview you, does Linda call home—she’d been at a swimming hole with her cousin and for three hours and didn’t have cell service.

This little story isn’t that far-fetched. People of all ages—not just kids—post stories not because they are true, but because the grim details get likes and shares. Major news sources do it because when more people click on their stories they can charge more for advertising. People do it to get more attention on social media.

How does this matter to you? Think about this: In some situations, people have been jailed for posting fake news. Some have been jailed simply for sharing fake news.  Worst of all, people have had to struggle through heart-ache and pain because someone posted fake information about their homes being burnt, about loved ones missing and killed.

More personally, if you are caught posting fake news, you will never be viewed as a real source ever again. People will read what you say and down-vote it. If you’ve been linked to false news, people will not believe what you post.

In these days of false news, multi-million dollar news outlets, from newspapers to globally-televised broadcast stations to top-rated website, all suffer when they report stories that fudge or play with facts. Don’t let that happen to you.

The world is buzzing with false media. Trolls are being investigated by police in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada—in fact pretty much any country that has social media platforms. Britain has seen a wide variety of “missing kids” posts that receive lots of re-tweets and posts but turn out to be false.

The stress, panic and damage such posts cause to families and individuals can even be handled as a criminal matter. Why do people post false news?

Think about yourself. Suppose that you see two friends walking down the street. One girl–say, Linda–suddenly waves to a car that swerves over to let her in before swerving and speeding away. Later you hear that Linda didn’t show up at an after-school group. Nor has she posted anything on social media for hours. You start texting with a friend and after a few minutes you start to think Linda may have been kidnapped. You upload a post describing the last time you saw Linda and for a headline you type: Was Linda Kidnapped?

The headline is so striking, everyone clicks on it to read about Linda. Everybody who knows Linda shares the story and likes your post. You’ve never had so many hits on your page.

Studies have shown that likes and shares are the main reasons people post false or misleading news—they enjoy seeing the numbers climb higher than they’ve ever had before.

Meanwhile, Linda’s parents are freaking out. They try to call Linda and find her cell isn’t on. Only later, after frantic calls to the police who start a search and show up at your home to interview you, does Linda call home—she’d been at a swimming hole with her cousin and for three hours and didn’t have cell service.

This little story isn’t that far-fetched. People of all ages—not just kids—post stories not because they are true, but because the grim details get likes and shares. Major news sources do it because when more people click on their stories they can charge more for advertising. People do it to get more attention on social media.

How does this matter to you? Think about this: In some situations, people have been jailed for posting fake news. Some have been jailed simply for sharing fake news.  Worst of all, people have had to struggle through heart-ache and pain because someone posted fake information about their homes being burnt, about loved ones missing and killed.

More personally, if you are caught posting fake news, you will never be viewed as a real source ever again. People will read what you say and down-vote it. If you’ve been linked to false news, people will not believe what you post.

In these days of false news, multi-million dollar news outlets, from newspapers to globally-televised broadcast stations to top-rated website, all suffer when they report stories that fudge or play with facts. Don’t let that happen to you.

The Back to School List just for Kids

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class. This list is different. This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard? Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose. For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class. This list is different. This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard? Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose. For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.