Attention future employers: Most young adults would prefer you not judge them based on their social media posts.
Please ignore their keg-stand-selfies when making hiring decisions. Oh, and disregard those sexually explicit tweets and status updates.
Instead they ask that you focus on their resumes, tidy dress clothes, manners and communication skills.
Regardless of how many times people have been warned about the potential pitfalls with posting questionable content on social media, new stories emerge about someone being fired (or not hired) because of a social media post.
For example, a recent tweet by @Cellla_ who posted “Ew, I start this f*** a** job tomorrow” ended her job before it even started.
Her employer, @RobertWaple, tweeted back “And...no you don’t start that FA job today! I just fired you! Good luck with your no money, no job life!” Waple rarely used Twitter until he heard about @Cellla_’s tweet. Both tweets have been deleted, and @Cellla_ tweeted an apology.
A recent study in Computers in Human Behavior by Michelle Drouin and her colleagues at Indiana University-Purdue University suggests many young adults don’t support the use of social media when screening job applicants.
They found that students who reported low self-control and high levels of “openness” didn’t like the idea of employers reviewing social media posts. These same students don’t think employers should make decisions based on a couple offensive posts.
Additionally, most young adults in the study expressed liberal views about what is acceptable to post online.
Most employers probably don’t care what young adults think about the use of social media to assess job candidates, and this study only confirms the intentions of employers who are screening candidates for position using social media.
According to a study reported by CareerBuilder.com in 2014, employers passed on candidates who posted provocative pictures, messages about drinking or using drugs, criticism of a previous employer, poor communication skills and more. But some of these same employers said they found other content that made them want to hire candidates. Candidates with creative social media posts, background information that supported professional qualifications and professional images impressed employers.
Of course, candidates who demonstrated great communication skills on their social media profiles were viewed favorably.
This is clear evidence that parents, educators and others need to continue to make young adults aware of long-term effects of posting inappropriate content to social media.
And we need to encourage kids that some creative social media content could be beneficial in the job search. Being positive and upbeat on social media is easy to do, and very attractive to potential employers.
One day, young adults like @Cellla_ will be managers, responsible for employment decisions. One day, @Cellla_ will be using social media to scrutinize the next generation just as we scrutinize her generation today.
~ A version of the column appeared in the Sunday, February 22, 2015 "Connected" section of the The Vindicator newspaper.
Being single in today’s modern technological environment is hard. Dating is complicated. Social media was supposed to make it simpler.
Some people meet through mutual friends on Facebook or Instagram. Others focus on dating-specific sites (these exist for those who are looking for long-term love and even one-night stands).
The risks of potential heartache are expected when you’re looking for a love match, but new data suggest that there are new threats to your personal data.
Last week, Neil Jones, an IT security specialist and “security intelligence” blogger for IBM, posted a report detailing the potential threats to using popular mobile dating apps.
For those using OkCupid, Tinder and Match.com apps (some of the most popular dating apps), IBM reported that their parent company, IAC wasn’t included in the study (IAC was quick to point this out in the wake of IBM’s findings).
IBM analyzed 41 dating apps using their new AppScan Mobile Analyzer. Results showed that 60 percent of mobile dating apps on the Android mobile platform were vulnerable to potential cyberattacks that could put personal user information at risk.
And it’s not just personal user information that is vulnerable. Because the popularity of mobile devices has caused a more fluid home/work environment, many employees have sensitive business data on their phones and devices. The study found that 50 percent of those apps left personal and professional data exposed.
It’s important to understand how criminals can use these apps to expose your vulnerabilities.
According to Jones, these cybercriminals can use GPS data to track your movements. This allows them to find out where you live, work and play. They can gain access to your device’s camera and microphone, even when you aren’t using a dating app, and listen in on important conversations, business meetings, and view sensitive documents.
If that’s not bad enough, cybercriminals can change your dating profile, impersonate you, and communicate with other users.
This may seem like a pretty gloomy Valentines Day column, but dating and meeting new people has always come with risks. It’s important to develop new strategies for dealing with them. Jones gives a lot of solid advice, but here are the highlights:
First, he reminds users to trust their instincts. Anyone who may seem to be a little too perfect on paper should be the subject of increased scrutiny.
Next, “keep your profile lean,” by giving only very basic information.
Dating is hard, and technology can make it easier. While we’ve been trained for years to take precautions in the real world, it’s time we start to think about how to be cautious in the cyberworld.
~ A version of the column appeared in the Sunday, February 15, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
Children are comforted by repetition.
I've read "Go Dogs Go" to my 2-year-old son every night for the last month. My older kids are obsessed with "Minecraft" and repeatedly watch YouTube videos of other kids playing the game.
So it was no surprise when I downloaded the new Vine Kids app that my kids would approve.
Vine Kids is a collection of short, looping videos based on the popular Vine app. The original Vine app lets users take 6-second videos, edit and upload them for the world to view and share.
"Young children love repetition," said Dr. Jessica Horst, psychology professor at the University of Sussex, England. "When children encounter something new, they first develop a familiarity and prefer watching the same thing over and over."
I often post my Vines on Facebook and Twitter. However, when I first started using the Vine app, it was clear that some of videos were not appropriate for my kids.
Some Vine videos play on adult situations, use crude humor and would take more time to explain to my kids than it would to watch multiple loops of the 6-second clips.
With the original Vine app, I couldn't find a way to censor the inappropriate stuff.
Vine Kids fixed that.
The interface is simple: Swipe your finger across the screen to move to the next video. There’s no menu, only a few quirky sounds when you touch the screen and a bunch of videos.
Horst and her colleagues regularly study repetitive reading activities. Her most recent research, published in Acta Psychologica in 2014, found that children learned through repetition, in part, because the material was predictable.
This is probably true then for apps like Vine Kids that offer the same videos in predictable fashion.
According to Horst, my kids are not only comforted by the Vine Kids app, they're probably learning, too.
"You can sometimes see this in preschool children’s repeated requests to read the same story or in babies' desires to continuously press buttons on a toy to watch how it reacts over and over again," Horst said.
Horst suggests that as children encounter the same shows and books, they notice more subtle pieces of information each time.
This desire to learn by watching the same content repeatedly probably doesn't wane with age. And it's probably why I'm captivated by videos posted to the grown-up version of Vine.
"Consider if you have ever watched a thriller or mystery a second time," Horst said. "The general plot and characters are somewhat familiar, so it’s easier to notice the clues that had been there all along.
"Similarly, when children watch a show or hear a story again they can focus on the exact words, some of which they didn’t know, or the fine gestures and reactions made by the characters," Horst added.
Remember that apps such as Vine Kids are great for entertainment and learning, but they should only be used as a supplement to your child’s education.
Vine Kids is available on the iOS platform.
~ A version of the column appeared in the Sunday, February 8, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
The Super Bowl is the epitome of event television.
It’s probably the only televised event for which we gather with family and friends, as we have for decades, consuming abnormal amounts of wings and pizza, cookies and cake, beer and pop.
We gather at homes and restaurants and sports bars to watch a game that, quite frankly, many of us don’t really care about.
Try this. If you’re watching the game, ask the guy sitting next to you if he heard Richard Sherman’s remarks about Roger Goodell and the NFL earlier this week.
You’ll likely be met with a blank stare. He’ll probably take out his smartphone and do a quick “Who is Roger Goodell” search.
So why do we gather to watch this game? (Hint: It’s not just about the commercials.)
We join friends and family to watch because this event is the first form of social media.
The “social” part is all of us getting together, talking and laughing, sharing the experience (and lots of food).
The “media” part is that 70-inch screen in the middle of the room.
Sure, it’s not the new definition of “social media.” We may not be using mobile devices to access Facebook or logging on to Twitter to rave about great play. But we are “social” in the traditional sense, and it’s all because of a traditional form of media: television.
We’re watching with other people because we want to experience this event together. It’s a good reason to have a party, and it’s one of the few televised programs for which we have viewing parties.
This is not to suggest we abandon all new social media while watching the big game.
According to Twitter, more than 24.9 million tweets were posted during Super Bowl XLVIII last year, up slightly from the year before. For those of you unable to recall the outcome of last year’s big game, Seattle defeated Denver 43-8. Many of those tweets about the Super Bowl were probably posted out of sheer boredom.
Of course, many of the tweets during last year’s game weren’t even about the game itself, but about the halftime show with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Super Bowl halftime show has become this mini-rock concert set within the biggest show on earth.
So it should be no surprise that viewers with little to no interest in the outcome of the game were posting status updates about things other than the game, but still using the Super Bowl twitter handle: @SuperBowl.
But what if this year’s event is closer? What if the Patriots-Seahawks game is a nail biter? Will people go to their mobile devices to share the experience with distant others just as they are with people in the same room?
I hope not. My hope is that we put down our mobile devices for a few minutes and enjoy this old school form of social media: the Super Bowl.
~ A version of this column appeared in the Sunday, February 1, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.