Halloween plus social media equals a match made in heaven.
There are great apps and social-media platforms for sharing Halloween with friends. Pinterest and other apps have a lot to offer if you’re looking for pumpkin-carving tricks or recipes or cool treats for your spooktacular party.
Before social media, we relied on magazines, television and our own social groups (you know, friends and family) when we needed to find Halloween tips. We didn’t have the resources to share holiday fun with people hundreds of miles away. Now, it’s as easy as the tap of a finger to show everyone how you celebrate Halloween.
Here are my top-five picks for ways to engage other ghouls and goblins through social media:
Pinterest. I am constantly amazed by the freaky food, decorations and costumes people come up with. And the best collection of these ideas is on Pinterest. Log in, do a quick search of “Halloween,” and you’ll find Frankenstein heads made from pudding and Oreo cookies, and creepy stuff to do with food safety gloves and toilet seats (and sometimes a combination of the two).
Snapchat. Sign up for this image-based messaging system now so you’ll have all your friends following you before Halloween. While you’re out on the town (either with kids or alone), send photos and short videos for your followers to see in an instant, but that only stick around for a few seconds.
YouTube. A quick search reveals channels with spooky themed clips from your favorite television shows and movies, and an assortment of YouTube wannabe celebrities, all of which are designed to create a sense of holiday for subscribers. For example, check out my latest YouTube creation, the “Wind-up Walking Dead.” I made it with an iPad and iMovie. My daughters helped. It was a great bonding experience, and we’re able to share it with the world.
Walking Apps. OK, so it’s not the main reason someone might use these exercise apps. But isn’t that exactly what trick-or-treating is: exercise? For example, try the MapMyWalk app. You can save routes of the best neighborhoods, and share those routes with friends. Next year you’ll know where you’re going, and your friends can follow along.
Facebook. The old standby is best for sharing photos, videos and other Halloween mischief. Let’s face it, your grandma isn’t on Twitter, and has no clue what a Snapchat is. But like the rest of the world, she’s on Facebook. This is home base for most social- media users and it’s the go-to for creating and sharing your Halloween memoir.
As we grow up, Halloween takes on less meaning. As children, we like to dress up and trick-or-treat. As kids, it’s a night for mischief. As college students and young adults, it becomes a night for parties. Perhaps the greatest legacy of social media is being able to look back, years later, when your main job is turning on a light and handing out treats, to remember the fun you had.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, October 26, 2014 issue of The Vindicator.
October 12, 2012, Amanda Todd, 15, committed suicide after enduring months of cyber bullying.
An 8-minute YouTube video posted by Todd a month before her death detailed the abuse she received, and a plea for help.
The video went viral after her death and, to date, has received over 18 million views.
October is bullying awareness month in the U.S., and in Canada, Amanda Todd’s home country, November is anti-bullying month.
Although many communities and media outlets have drawn attention to cyber bullying issues, little is known about the best ways to prevent it.
One area where the research is clear has to do with why teenagers don’t seek help for cyber bullying. We now know that most teens won’t tell adults about being bullied online because they fear being cut-off from technology.
They also fear more intimidation and isolation.
Cyber bullies don’t discriminate based on race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. And there’s a small difference when it comes to gender.
According to Dr. Brett Holfeld, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria, girls are only slightly more likely to be victims of cyber bullying.
Holfeld’s recent research, published in the September 2014 issue of Computers in Human Behavior, focuses on middle school students and bullying. He suggests that kids should be taught about appropriate online behavior – starting in middle school.
“Middle school students need to understand that some individuals are negatively impacted by jokes or comments posted online even if the posts are intended as jokes,” Holfeld said. “Because you can’t directly see another student's reaction online, it may be difficult to identify when a student has been victimized.”
Holfeld believes that middle school students can help prevent cyber bullying. For example, if your children see others being bullied online, tell them to reach out to to see if their friends are okay.
It’s important that victims of cyber bullying feel like they’re not alone.
Parents with children who are beginning to venture online should prepare them in advance for navigating the virtual social world. But here’s the trick: looking over your kids shoulder while they’re online isn’t enough.
“Although parents are encouraged to monitor their child's behavior online, it’s difficult to do so with the advancements in smart phones,” Holfeld said.
And it probably won’t decrease the amount of cyber bullying they might experience. It comes down to developing open lines of communication with your children about online behaviors and netiquette, a form of online etiquette.
“In these cases, children may be more likely to tell parents about things they see online - things they’re uncomfortable with,” Holfeld said. “It’s important for children to feel like they can trust you if something happens, off or online.”
The legacy of Amanda Todd is this: The online world maybe virtual, but the pain and the people who feel the pain of cyber bullying are real.
Now more than ever, parents have the ability to empower their children with the skills and strategies for dealing with cyber bullies, while they connect to family, friends, and others online.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, October 19, 2014 issue of The Vindicator.
As I walked into a bathroom in the Kilcawley Student Center at Youngstown State University, I was welcomed by a loud booming voice coming from behind the closed door of a stall.
“Hello?” the voice said.
I didn’t recognize his voice, so I was unsure he was actually talking to me. But we were the only two people in the bathroom.
“Umm, Hi?” I said in an awkward return.
“Where you at?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure how to respond.
But before I could tell him where exactly I was, he quickly moved on to a conversation with someone else about “grabbing lunch” and a “dumb professor.”
Clearly, he wasn’t talking to me — or about me :)
My embarrassment quickly dissipated and turned to disgust as I thought about the number of pathogens likely crawling on his smartphone screen. Fears of a cholera outbreak raced through my head.
More importantly, I was curious to know why he felt it necessary to:
1. Talk on his phone while using the bathroom.
2. Connect to someone in the seemingly last private place on Earth — the bathroom (or, in this case, a semi-private stall in a public restroom).
Do we really need to be this connected?
I’m all for using social media and technology to connect, but somehow doing this while using the bathroom just seems wrong. I decided to look for answers.
How does someone so connected unplug?
“Our society is too connected to technology,” said Dr. Luis Almeida, professor of communication at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “It leads to a lack of work productivity and higher medical bills.”
Almeida studies student perceptions of technology and connectedness.
In his TEDx Talk, Almeida said people who don’t take time to disconnect from technology tend to experience feelings of frustration and exhaustion.
“There are many [side effects] to using too much technology,” Almeida said. “Heavy users suffer from a lack of productivity, anxiety, impersonality and a lack of creativity.”
Of course, based on my bathroom encounter, I’m adding a cholera outbreak to the list of potential side effects.
But how do you know if you’re too digitally connected?
Try to look out for the warning signs.
“Whenever technology takes precedence over your family and work, it is time to stop, no matter the consequences,” Almeida said.
Don’t fret. If you’re feeling like it might be time to disconnect, but fear the withdrawal, take baby steps.
“Gradually reduce your use of technology each week,” Almeida suggests. “It’s important to face the symptoms, though. Ignoring the condition can be as bad as the addiction to technology itself.”
For example, if you’re using Facebook two or three hours a day, cut it back by 10 minutes each day for a week.
Almeida would advise the bathroom caller to start by putting his phone away before stepping into the stall.
Maybe he can use this free time to pick up some disinfecting wipes and clean up his phone.
Click here to watch Almeida’s TEDx Talk, “Breaking Free From Technology.”
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, October 12, 2014 issue of The Vindicator.
Below is a blog post from my good friend Dr. Mike Sevilla. He is a long-time proponent of social media healthcare. You can view his blog at http://drmikesevilla.com/. His critical examination of Facebook's venture into healthcare is an important one, if for no other reason than it challenges Facebook to look back at past, failed attempts at social media healthcare by some well-known internet giants (e.g., Google Health).
Last week, the internet was a twitter (see what I did there) about the major health care story of ebola in the United States. However, there was also a interesting rumor announced at the end of last week, to which people should really be paying attention.
As reported by Reuters, Facebook is taking aim at health care, YOUR health care. "The company is exploring creating online 'support communities' that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new 'preventative care' applications that would help improve their lifestyles," the article states.
Six years ago in 2008, I remember when Google tried to make a big splash with their Google Health product. That is now discontinued. I also remember in 2007 when Microsoft tried to make an impact with Healthvault. Of course, this year, Apple is trying to make in roads with their Health Kit software (I've written about that in the past at this link).
Will Facebook really make this happen? I don't think they should, and here are three reasons they should not:
However, here are three reasons why Facebook will ignore me, and many other people, and absolutely make this happen:
~ Special thanks to Dr. Mike Sevilla for permission to re-post this entry. You can read more from Dr. Mike Sevilla and subscribe to his email list at http://drmikesevilla.com/.
It's been more than two weeks since Colin Burdette and his friend, Nick Wells, were injured in a four-wheeler accident.
Nick has a broken wrist and a concussion, and is recovering at home. Colin injured his spleen, broke an arm and most of the bones in his face (eye sockets, cheekbones, jaw – you get the picture).
Hours of surgery, a week in Akron Children's Hospital, and hundreds (if not thousands) of social media support posts later, Colin is home recuperating with this family.
Colin is back to doing what he loves. No, not playing soccer and football. Not running around the streets of Hubbard, Ohio. Not yet. For now, he's SnapChatting and Instagraming with close friends from the confines of his home.
Social media provides Colin, his family and friends, and the community the opportunity to connect in ways that wouldn’t have been possible just ten years ago. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms gave people instantaneous access to Colin’s support network, and the ability to send positive messages of love and support.
Colin’s mother, Molly Burdette, used her Facebook page to invite friends to the Akron Children’s website to send personal messages in the form of “get well” e-cards.
“I've been reading them to him,” Molly said. “Only one of his arms is mobile so it’s difficult for him to handle (electronic devices). He only remembers the last couple days in the hospital, so we've been re-reading all of the messages to him.”
Katie Burdette, Colin’s older sister, spent a considerable amount of time creating multiple social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #HelpColin in an effort to unite a broader social media community behind Colin.
“The hashtag campaign was mainly just to get the word out about Colin’s surgery,” Katie said. “I just wanted as many people to pray for him as possible.”
Colin’s facial surgery lasted nearly ten hours.
Her campaign grew so much attention that talk show host Montel Williams tweeted:
“Major shout out @katieburdette2 for reminding us all what being a big sister means. @ColinBurdette is lucky to have u Katie. #HelpColin”
Brendan Burdette, Colin’s older brother said, "Even the Ohio State University offensive coordinator, and actor R. J. Mitte (Breaking Bad) sent social media support messages."
"The outpouring of support was incredible," Katie said.
Katie’s campaign for Colin, and the league of people who responded to offer support, demonstrates the powerful, positive aspects to social media. While stories of the antisocial, negative uses of social media dominate the news, it’s important to remember the good social media can do.
Before the mass adoption of social media, it would take a long time for the message of a hurt child to reach a concerned community.
The Burdettes were able to get the message out in a matter of minutes. The speed of their communication activated the community, and led to rapid responses from friends who "virtually" rallied around Colin.
Some people think that it is because of social media that communities have become disconnected. Colin’s family and social media supporters proved them wrong.
~ A version of this column appeared in the "Connected" section of The Vindicator, Sunday, October 5, 2014.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.