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I was watching TV the other day when a news preview commercial came on and posed the question, “Are teens MORE distracted when driving alone, as opposed to driving with others in the car?”  Immediately I was drawn in because I think in some cases, this is absolutely true.  If you go to ABC’s site you can watch the news clip and read the article.  We obviously know that driving with other people in the car can cause an immense amount of distraction and interruptions.  But this new study is saying that teens are more likely to answer their phone, send a text message or use their GPS while they are alone in the car.  One teen was quoted saying, “When I am alone I get bored.  I am very, like, I want to answer a text message.  Or I want to look at my GPS or I want to change the radio.”  And I’d have to agree.

The new study says that 95% of young adults 16-21 admitted that they talked on their cellphones when they were alone behind the wheel.  I tend to not use my phone while I am driving unless I am completely stopped for my own reasons besides the fact that I don’t even think I’m capable of multitasking like that without crashing my car.  But I know if I am in the car with someone it is easier to just say “oh can you text for me,” or “put the address in my gps.” It surprised me that many people even admitted to reading emails while they are driving.  What is possibly so important that you need to vigorously read and answer an email while you are driving?  I don’t get it.

A Drivers Ed teacher talks about how kids are more likely if they are in the car with their friend to ask them for assistance in handling their texts or phone calls.  But he says that parents also bear responsibility.  He goes on to say that a lot of the time kids may be compelled to answer their phones when their parents are continuously asking where they are and when they will be home.  He says they contribute in the fact that they need to stop calling or texting their kids when they know they might be on the road and that a lot of the time teens may learn their distracted driving habits from their parents.  I know my Dad is a repeat offender of this and his excuse is that he’s been driving his whole life and I only have like five years of experience.  All in all, I don’t think ANYONE should be on their phone while driving.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I know we’ve been talking since the beginning of the semester about how social networking has been slowly but surely taking over our lives.  Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin or so on; they have become an integral part of most of our daily lives.  It is a never ending cycle of being obsessed with one social networking site and then the next year when a new one is released you can’t stop from signing in.  It was like when MySpace was created, then Facebook was the new thing and now Twittter and Instagram are popular among most.  This article called “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” talks about going from this quick obsession to wanting to call it quits.. kind of like some relationships!  One part even quotes, “But trying to end your relationship with some prominent online services can be like breaking up with an overly attached romantic parter — they make it pretty hard to say goodbye.”

 

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For a lot of the sites even if you get the guts to delete your account, it’s pretty difficult and most of your information will never be suspended or deleted.  I know it was a big deal earlier this year when their were big talks about how Facebook will forever have hold of your content.. pretty scary idea!  But sites like Reddit claim that if their users want to delete their account they should be able to do so just as easily as they signed up.  For them, one of the founders says, “It puts the onus on us to keep delivering a great product, and not retaining users simply because they can’t find the exit.”

One of the most popular addictive sites of our time is obviously Facebook.  Because most people usually don’t stick to their guns Facebook offers a 14 day trial period to start up your account before it is permanently deleted and an option to “deactivate” your account so that you can come crawling back once you realize you can’t leave without it.  Before you call it quits with Facebook you have to give a reason ranging from not knowing how to understand how to use the site, or I spend too much time using it.  I am definitely prone to the latter.  I’ve thought of deleting my account several times but I can admit I never really went through with it.  I know it is a big distraction but I don’t think I am as addicted as I can be.  Then again, it does serve as a huge distraction.  My roommates and I used to change each other’s passwords during midterms and finals so that we could focus and wouldn’t be tempted to have a wandering eye.  It’s kinda crazy how addictive these sites can be and how we are the ones who feed into it!

 

Boston

Everybody I’m sure has been keeping up with the news the last week or so regarding the Boston Marathon bombings.  It is all completely crazy and I still can’t believe it happened.  It brought me right back to that feeling when we were younger when 9/11 occurred and that sense of the fear of the unknown.  It all kind of just reminds me of a crazy movie.  The news has been flooded across television, radio, newspapers and social networking sites.  While I was looking online, I came across this article that features Tim Jones, who is the chief executive of Buzzient who not only runs this social media management company but is also an explosives expert, which I found kind of interesting.

When the bombs went off in Boston on Monday, almost every single person rushed to help instead of turning away to save themselves.  Besides all of these good samaritans, law enforcement and medical personnel a Boston area social media management start up also wanted to come to rescue.  Jones, the chief executive offered the services of his company and their ability to search internet histories, forums, comments and social media focusing on certain topics, ie. explosives.  Following the events this company put out a tweak in his company’s searches to target any talk about the bombings, or explosives.  I know personally, I found out about everything that was going on because someone made a Facebook status and the news was all over Twitter.  People are constantly talking about these events and these kind of programs helped to filter out any future threats or moves made by the suspects.  I was glued to my TV watching all of the coverage when it happened and then all day Saturday when things came to light.  It is crazy how much technology contributed to and is essentially the way they were able to capture the two men. In the beginning of the article it was just talking about how so quickly everyone just wanted to help.  Amongst all the evil in the world, it is so nice to see the good in most.

Have you done your reading?

As I was scrolling through the New York Times this morning, this article caught my eye.  It talks about a program called CourseSmart, which I have used here at Rutgers and at one of my previous schools.  CourseSmart is a testing technology that is used to track students’ progress throughout the semester in using their textbook and other resources.  The technology can show the teacher which students are skipping pages, not bothering to take notes or even in some cases not even opening the book at all.  It measures your “engagement index” which allows the teacher monitor your progress.  

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Its the complete opposite from the old days, and some of my other classes where we simply have a quiz the day after there was some reading for homework.  Although it’s kind of scary how advanced the digital age is getting, in my opinion I don’t find a problem with this.  It’s just like in our class and several others where our activity is monitored.  If I know someone is looking at my work, or tracking my progress it kind of motivates me to do better.  Even for students who aren’t doing well, it could catch you ahead of time so that you can boost your grade and avoid a failure.  I know some students would have the opposite opinion and think it’s an invasion of their privacy and that they should be able to do their work on their own, but for some of my psych classes it’s actually helpful.

New Age of Etiquette

I was looking through the NYT website when I stumbled upon this blog post.  Just reading the title of it, “Etiquette Redefined in the Digital Age” I thought I was about to read an article basically complaining about how the younger generations or us college kids don’t know how to write an email, etc.  But he really is talking about unnecessary uses of communication.  He talks about how he doesn’t find it necessary to send a “thank you” message or leave someone a voicemail when you call them.  Another point he is making that it’s so much easier to just ask google a question rather than a real person, like if you were asking for directions to a certain place.  This plays a lot into what we’ve talked about in class when it comes to the question.. are we relying too much on the internet?  It’s like when we go on break during class everyone’s first instinct is to grab for their phone and check it.  If you take a look outside on the streets, 95% of the people aren’t even paying attention to whats going on around them because their eyes are glued to their phones.

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He also interviewed quite a few people and one of them was quoted saying, “I have decreasing amounts of tolerance for unnecessary communication because it is a burden and a cost.”  The main point he makes is that you need to choose your audience carefully.  If I were emailing an adult counterpart I would definitely use a more formal approach whereas if I were conversing with a peer I would have a completely different one.  It reminded me of teachers I’ve who on the first day of class actually talk about email etiquette and say please do not email me and say “yo teacher i need help.”  I think there is definitely a certain etiquette amongst college students and their professors in order to be professional and courteous towards one another.  I guess I kind of see the author’s point, but I don’t think that there’s any harm in being polite and sending a quick “thank you.”

Online Shopping is Too Easy

So as I was reading through the blog, a fellow student’s article on the power of retail therapy.  I too, am a firm believer of thinking that if I buy a new pair of shoes, a few sweaters and some jewelry all my life problems will be solved.  Until I look at my bank account… I completely agree that online shopping makes it SO much easier.  I can sit on my computer while in class, or on my phone on the bus and spend every dollar left to my name in just one click.  And now, there are websites and apps that make this even simpler.

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This article explains to you a new website (and app) Wanelo, that is a new and upcoming online shopping business.  I’ve had the app now for a few months and have probably spent way too much time and money scrolling through the pages.  Basically Wanelo (comes from the phrase, Want Need Love) allows you to share items like articles of clothing, home furnishings, beauty and make-up products and accessories.  In a sense, it is sort of like a Pinterest page but the difference is that when you click on a product, it leads you directly to the page of where it can be purchased.  It lets you share items so that your friends and followers can see them, and share them as well.  A lot more brand names are being featured on the page such as Anthropologie, REI and TOMS among many others.

You can scroll through tumblr or lookbook or a lot of blog sites that feature these products but with no source of where they can be purchased.  I think it’s a really cool idea to have somewhere that pools all of these ideas together.  Why not be able to sit at your computer in the comfort of your own home to do some shopping.. and avoid all of those crowded malls and long lines at stores?  Online shopping, makes it so easy for us to get what we want at one click of the mouse.  It’s even easier nowadays with the technology of cellphones.  The majority of retail stores have their own apps where you can access online databases and things of that nature.  Even Amazon, eBay and these types of sites have options to “buy with one click.”  While this is all extremely convenient, sometimes nothing beats going to the mall and shopping through endless racks of clothes that you can see, try on and buy for yourself!

“A Modest Proposal on Gun Violence in Our Schools”

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While I am completely aware that there is a growing problem with gun violence striking across our country in past years, after reading the article, “A Modest Proposal on Gun Violence in Our Schools,” I was completely shocked and confused.  Is this guy seriously proposing to hand out weapons to small children?  Is this completely fictional?  Or am I missing something.. It makes me wonder if this was all just supposed to be comical or something of that sort; or if it was to get a rise out of people and bring up a debate.  In my opinion it is a completely ludicrous idea to think that a child as young as a kindergartener has the mental capacity, maturity and developmental skills to learn how to use a gun never mind safely or correctly and what they would do if they were put in a situation where they would actually have to use it to defend themselves.

Through out the article, the author proposes that like we require testing in various subjects and vaccines to attend school, a student would have to learn a set of specific skills in firearms in order to go on to the next grade.  I’ve been shooting numerous times, and it took me awhile to get the hang of everything.  To think that kind of responsibility could be put in the hands of a child is crazy.  One thing I thought of during this article was how there are millions upon millions of people that do studies on how violent video games, unrestricted internet access and things of that nature lead to violent behavior.  How does this man think that giving a kid a gun will help in any of that?

One idea I do slightly agree with on some levels is the proposal to have teachers armed.  My mom is a teacher so I know the background checks and interviewing process she had to through, but it would have to be a million times stricter with firearms on the table.  Maybe an idea would to be have trained, armed police officers on site at the schools.  I know in the wake of the last school shooting in Newtown, there were several stories featured across the country where fathers of students who were military officers, police or had law enforcement background stood guard in front of the schools.  When they were asked why they were doing it, they all replied that they were doing it to make the kids feel safe again.  To such a young mind that can’t comprehend such a tragedy, our job is not to place such responsibility in their hands as giving them a firearm, but by figuring out a way to give them a safe and healthy learning environment.