ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Tag: cyberbullying

Pranks that started mean but had a happy ending

If you keep up with what’s trending, you’ll see that internet and face-to-face mean-spirited pranks are backfiring. It appears that 4chan and Reddit members got together and nominated The Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as a participant in a free music contest.  The school with the most Facebook votes would win a free concert by Taylor Swift.  The principal commented that his students enjoy live music but still withdrew their name from the contest.    The end result?  Swift donated $10,000 to the school as did the Chegg textbook company, Papa John’s, American Greetings and Cover Girl (all sponsors of the contest).  To top it off, VH1’s Save the Music donated $10,000 in instruments!

Another prank that backfired was one that involved 16 year-old Whitney Kropp who was apparently nominated for homecoming queen as a joke.  Not only has she received national support, but local businesses donated her dress and the crowd wore t-shirts that read, "It's not cool to be cruel."  The icing on the cake was when Katie Couric announced that she’s sending Whitney to Disney.

Large groups of people who stand up and stop cruel behavior.  Now that’s a trend we can all like!

“The Web is What You Make of It”

This is Google Chrome’s new motto. While bullying has and always will exist, our obsession with technology has created a mutant form of this abuse… The H1N1 virus of harassment, if you will: cyber bullying. Cyber bullying occurs when modern communication technology is used to perpetuate a pattern of intentional, hostile behavior, aimed to hurt an individual or a group. With the widespread availability of technology as well as the abundance of social networking that we do, the act of bullying becomes easier and therefore, more widespread. As much as we love Facebook and Twitter, these social feeds create a distance between the bully and the bullied. Any interactions that happen through these venues eliminate person-to-person contact, which makes it easier to say things that we normally wouldn’t- especially not in person. You may have heard, “If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.” It’s important for all of us to be wary of this idea because we’re becoming numb. It’s no longer always clear what will be perceived as hurtful.  And even worse when it is clear what is hurtful, we don’t care. We say it anyway because the Internet makes it easy for us to do so.

But don’t be discouraged. There is hope! Dan Savage, an author, gay rights activist, and c0-parent, has created what’s called the “It Gets Better” campaign.  It Gets Better is a breath of fresh air amidst this bullying culture, and is aimed at a specific audience of victims of homophobic and anti-gay bullying.  While it does not offer concrete resources and tools to effectively deal with bullies (in cyberspace or otherwise), it offers love and support by promoting a positive outlook on life and hope for the future: it DOES get better if you get out there and live the life that makes you happy.  This Google Chrome commercial is uplifting because it not only promotes Savage’s worthwhile message, from which we can all learn, but also provides a way to harness the positive influence of the Internet.  You and I and we all have the power to use the Internet as we please, but do everyone a favor: Have the courage to do something decent. Just one click of that “post” button can hurt one person or it can help a million people. The web is what YOU make of it. So please… make it something good!

Netiquette Tips

With all the worry about online bullying and harassment, it can be good to go through a mental checklist before you send an e-mail, hit the "post" button, or add your voice to the mix of a discussion board.  Re-read what you were going to send and ask yourself:

  1. Are you sending it to the right person?
  2. Is it worth sending?  Don't waste peoples' time with junk or false rumors.
  3. Check for any mistakes or anything that could be misunderstood.  Does it say what you want it to say?  Is it clear?  If something could be misunderstood, or understood two different ways, re-write it or use an emoticon to clear up what you mean.  Be especially careful with sarcasm.  It can easily be misinterpreted in writing.
  4. Don't insult others.  When in doubt, avoid controversial issues.  Don't use all capital letters.  Be careful about bad language.
  5. If you've hurt someone's feelings, find out how and why...and apologize.
  6. If someone attacks you, before you attack back, figure out what's going on.
  7. Don't forward people's e-mails or forward their personal information without permission.
  8. Don't write when you are angry!  Give yourself time to cool off.  If someone's trying to insult you or make you mad, don't give them the satisfaction of an angry reply!  They're just looking for a reaction.
  9. Let an authority figure know if you receive threatening or hateful cybercommunications.
  10. Consider: How private is the message you're sending?  Are you willing to have others read or see it and forward it on to others without your permission?  If no, don't click "send."

These tips and others can be found at Ms. Parry's guide to correct online etiquette.