Hello world!

•June 21, 2016 • Comments Off on Hello world!

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About Myself

•June 21, 2016 • Comments Off on About Myself

1. I’m a student at Longwood University, and I am majoring in criminal justice, and minoring in homeland security.  I remember declaring my major when I first entered the university, and I had no idea what to expect. As the semesters carried on and my experience progressed, my field of study really helped open my eyes to possible career goals.

My freshman year, I auditioned for the Camerata Singers, and became apart of the group. The organization was a terrific outlet for me, and gave me the opportunity to meet people with varying goals and interests. This singing group pushed me out of my comfort zone many times in a good way, and I was glad to continue with one of my favorite hobbies (singing) while still pursuing a different path of study. During my sophomore year I joined Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the criminal justice fraternity on campus. I enjoy that I and other members share many common interests. We discuss many issues related to criminal justice as well as participate in many events on and off campus. Being involved in this organization has helped me with future professional aspirations as well as gave me awareness to many criminal justice issues both national and local. I also study the Russian language, which I enjoy and hope to utilize in a job one day.

Now that it is my senior year at Longwood, future career plans are coming up fast. Two summers ago I worked in DC at Life Cycle Engineering, a government contracting firm as a financial analyst for the Navy. Despite being outside my field of study, I’ve acquired great office and professional and interpersonal skills that I look forward to applying to my next internship, which is working with the Fairfax County Police Department this summer. Due to the waiting periods for interviews and polygraph examinations, I have yet to begin, but I will be working with detectives and investigating cold cases, or unsolved cases.

My initial aspirations career wise was to work in homeland security or law. Now, I’m hoping to go to Officer Candidate School for the Navy and work as an intelligence officer. I can work in a huge interest of mine and utilize what I have studied in school, such as intelligence counterterrorism. I come from a Navy family, which has fueled my interest for this path. I am also a complete lover of history and traveling and spend way too much of my free time researching old civilizations or dreaming of a future backpacking trip across Europe. Different cultures fascinate me, and I love visiting places where I feel completely out of my element.

2. Online Identity Reflection

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With the emergence of social media and networking sites throughout recent years, the online world has become rapidly expansive. These social media sites instantly connect individuals and society at both an interpersonal and global level. There are many positive effects as a result of using these sites, such as keeping in touch with family and friends. However, there are also many negative aspects attributed to social media, such as possessing a false sense of connection, and larger problems such as the possibility of online predators, cyberbullying, and issues with privacy. An outstanding issue present with many users of social media sites is the portrayal of an individual’s identity on the internet. The image and perceived character of a person online can have many effects, both good and bad. Existing in a world where people are constantly connected by social media sites, it is crucial for a person to remain cautious in order not to portray negative images of their own identity online.

Since I was thirteen, I have been a user of social media sites, primarily Facebook. I also use many professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Like most people, my online identity has continued to develop over many years and created some kind of perception of me. My parents warned me in the beginning that anything I post on the Internet is permanent and will have some sort of impact on my online persona. I have always been cautious and attentive to keeping my profiles and posts appropriate for any audience, whether it is friends, employers, or strangers.

After an assessment of my social media profiles, I see there are many similarities and differences between my identity shared online and my academic identity. On my profile, there are many photos and posts on Facebook that exhibit my academic goals and activities. My Facebook profile shares many memories from my high school activities, such as basketball or the international trips I would participate in with my choir. At Longwood, I am a criminal justice major, and maintaining social media profiles such as LinkedIn is beneficial for professional networking. On campus, I’m involved in the criminal justice academic fraternity. Like many organizations, the fraternity utilizes social media and networking sites to spread news about the organization as well as keep in touch with old and new members. These sites are also beneficial for future employment opportunities as well.

Even though these factors represent my academic identity in various ways, there are a few aspects of my online identity that differ from my academic identity. For example, there are many things presented on my social media pages that don’t correspond with my academic identity, such as family trips or activities with friends. These aspects comprise my general online identity, but do not necessarily contribute to any part of my academic identity.

When I glanced back into my Facebook profile and reviewed many pictures and posts of myself, I realized perhaps I wasn’t being as careful as I thought I was. Even though it is minimal, I do have photos of myself drinking underage when I was younger. I remembered that my friends posted these photos, where I was tagged as an individual in the picture. I realize no matter how careful I may be, that I hold the responsibility of monitoring what my friends’ post of me in the future, in order to maintain a positive and appropriate image of myself online.

 Since a person can possibly have various identities due to different social media sites, it is important for a person to incorporate the realistic and appropriate aspects on their profiles, so things cannot negatively influence perceptions by others. Any negative or inappropriate posts can harm your academic and professional identity, and impact future employment opportunities. There have been a few occasions where I have witnessed friends or relatives having issues with social media interfering with their professional identities. For example, a friend of mine in the past was applying for a job, and was worried that her social media may hinder the possibility of employment because of questionable material that was once displayed on her profile. I keep things like this in mind as well, and I think these kind of stories may apply to any young adult today.

The overall assessment of my own profiles on social media has supported many statements regarding caution in reference to social media. However, there are many individual aspects that may influence audience perception positively, such as my academic and organization involvement. These factors can be beneficial to my future civic and professional identity, but the few photos that other friends have tagged of me drinking underage may not result in such a favorable consequence. However, in a world connected through social media and networking online, it can be beneficial for anyone to maintain a profile if they monitor others and themselves. In regard to the assessment of my social media profiles, I have learned it is crucial to maintain a realistic image of oneself, as well as attribute factors that may play a positive role in the development of individual academic and professional identities.

3. The Right To Be Forgotten” (Op-Ed)

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As people and a society living in a digital world, do we hold the right to be “forgotten” online? The ideal of online privacy is a challenging concept to grasp. The Internet and social media sites encourage users to share information, and most people do. Many also possess a false sense of security. People forget that companies and other third parties have the ability track their data. A search engine like Google stores extensive data and information and monitors each user in completely unobvious ways, leading to such problems. “Google is a daily resource for billions of people worldwide in part because it offers its users an individualized experience based on their location and past preferences” (Risen, 2015). However, whether this is a beneficial or adverse feature continues to be debated.

So why is privacy online so important to us? Online privacy is a relatively new notion that has developed along with the emergence of the digital world. Adam Joinson, professor of behavior change at the University of the West of England in Bristol states, “With all the focus on the legal aspects of privacy and the impact on global trade there’s been little discussion of why you want privacy and why it’s intrinsically important to you as an individual” (Murphy, 2015). A possible explanation is that perhaps there is no concurrence over what constitutes private information. This is especially true if a person discloses information into a search engine such as Google, without the deliberate intention of disclosing personal information. Opinions on the tracking and storage of this data vary across the globe.

 

Whether we like it or not, the Internet has developed into an extensive historical record over the years. There are many advantages, like availability and accessibility. The benefits of global connection walk hand in hand with privacy issues. The digital world is so extensive that we cannot expect to have the same privacy that was present decades ago before any of this began; but do we hold the right to demand a certain level of privacy? I say yes. For instance, I think it would be valuable to edit the records of Google users. A lack of privacy results in a higher risk of insecurity for citizens around the world. For example, “a year after the European Court of Justice ordered Google to remove links to outdated personal information from its search results in Europe on request, one of the company’s fiercest critics has asked the Federal Trade Commission to make Google recognize a “right to be forgotten” in the United States as well” (LA Times, Editorial Board). The prominent issue and debate in Europe has sparked the same question for Americans.

Internet users in the United States do not have the ability to erase links associated with their names, as those do in Europe. According to Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times, “Requiring companies to do something in the United States because they have to do it in Europe would set an ugly precedent that fails to recognize the continents’ different legal and cultural traditions.” I am convinced that safety and privacy should take precedent above cultural tradition, even though that is of high importance as well. It is not necessary for nations to use the same system in monitoring Google memory as to interfere with such things, but it’s important that each nation implements their own standards to work within their own unique systems. I do not see how the issue of privacy can be effectively combatted without a swift implementation of standards of regulation. As the online privacy will continue to be an issue far into the future, I hope that the United States government takes the necessary steps to incorporate the proper adjustments now, in order to restore and maintain the safety and digital privacy of citizens.

References

Editorial: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-google-right-to-be-forgotten-20150716-story.html

Other sources:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/08/25/the-illusion-of-online-privacy

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/sunday-review/we-want-privacy-but-cant-stop-sharing.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/opinion/protecting-the-privacy-of-internet-users.html?_r=0

 

4. Proposal 

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Growing up in a digital world, many young individuals such as middle school and high school students do not understand the impact certain words have on individuals when directed to them online. Online engagement has increased drastically over the last decade with the emergence of social media sites. Online sites such as Facebook and Twitter are habitats for free self-expression for individuals themselves, or towards others. These sites allow people to convey their opinions, as well as find other users who share their differences and common interests. However, with the permitted and unlimited freedom of expression arise new dilemmas that have yet to be effectively combatted, such as the issue of cyberbullying; a harmful byproduct of social media, primarily among young people. Education on the subject is key to understanding the vast digital world we reside in, and finding measures to publicly counter the problem and induce change. Middle school and high school teachers should educate students on the causes and effects of cyberbullying as well as implement administrative discipline, in order for young people to understand the harm it induces to an individual, as well as prevent future acts of bullying online.

Teenagers and many young adults today can be considered “digital natives,” meaning they were “born into a world of modern technology” (Schechter, 2011). Computers, cell phones, and any other technological devices have surrounded these individuals since birth. Schechter notes that younger people of this generation have been shaped by the Internet, Google searches, and instant messaging from day one and can’t imagine a life without technology. For a long time, most teenagers and young adults have used social media as a public forum of self-expression; however this benefit also corresponds to many online dilemmas such as cyberbullying. “Electronic communication has given rise to cyberbullying, a new way students can bully, harass, taunt, and slander each other” (Gavin, 2014). The reality of this information continues to make education on this issue more and more urgent.

Cyberbullying is one of the most significant issues with the rise of social media because it is always present in an individual’s daily life. For instance, “it used to be that hurtful interactions built up over the week and would blow up on Friday. Now when kids go back to school on Monday, they are upset because of what happened online over the weekend. There’s no longer time to calm down” (Adams, 2014). For cyberbullying victims, home is no longer a sanctuary.

Cyberbullying is such a recent issue and concept in many ways, and full understanding of the impact can prove difficult. For example, “it’s also different from traditional bullying in challenging ways. The bully can remain anonymous and unaware of the pain inflicted on the target” (Adams, 2016). In fact, a victim of cyberbullying may experience more damaging effects in comparison to a traditional bullying victim for numerous reasons. As mentioned before, there is no escape from the harassment unless the victim shuts down all their social media profiles. Comments and messages directed at an individual also serve as a visual reminder of the bullying.

Harboring a false sense of security online can very well lead to a feeling of ease when targeting another individual. It is probable that most individuals would be willing to say something over text on social media that they wouldn’t normally relay in face-to-face interactions. So, the bullying most likely continues this way, also due to a lack of fear of being discovered and foreseen consequences. The victim may feel afraid to report the online abuse for many reasons. The individual may feel that reporting the issue will not have a purpose, or they may feel embarrassed about the aspect for what they are being bullied. Some may not be aware that they even can report it.

As most know, cyberbullying can have a significantly negative effect on adolescents and young adults in today’s society. According to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death of 15-24 year olds. With this in consideration, “victims of cyberbullying are almost twice as likely to have attempted suicides compared with adolescents who were not the target of online attacks” (Ring, 2015). This is a sobering statistic, which makes implementing methods for prevention and reforms all the more top-priority.

As we very well are aware, prohibiting the use of technological devices is illogical in a world so digitally connected on a global scale. We can’t tell young people who have grown up with Internet and technology their whole lives to delete their social media profiles or simply turn off their screens. However, effective steps can be taken in order to ensure children and young adults are receiving the information they need and the education required to understand effects of online harassment, and seek help if they are being targeted. Consequences for online harassment must also be addressed. On the other hand, there are those who continue to oppose the prevention of cyberbullying by education and the regulation of online activity due to very fundamental beliefs in our society.

The impact and harm of cyberbullying on social media has been the topic of debate in recent years, and there are many who refute any laws or online regulations due to the freedoms stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Even though Americans hold the right to free speech, it is crucial to realize the impact of harm inflicted upon an individual due to words. Many would disagree and claim any online regulation of individual expression on social media is an infringement on a person’s constitutional rights. However, “courts must not allow cyberbullies to hide behind the cloak of the First Amendment and must give schools deference to curb the harmful effects of cyberbullying” (Gavin, 2014). Adhering to fundamental principles is of great importance, however aspects must be modified in an age that is so rapidly changing, and a certain degree of online censorship is necessary in order to protect users of social media. “We have constitutional values that will always need to be redefined due to changes in technology and society” (Caro, 2010). In that regard, stating that the nation cannot take appropriate measures to combat and discipline cyberbullies because it is a constitutional violation is fully misguided.

Another viewpoint surrounding the topic of cyberbullying is that cyberbullying is indeed harmful, but traditional bullying is worse. Many claim “using the latest digital tools to bully doesn’t cause as much emotional harm as what’s been taking place on schoolyards for years” (Izadi, 2015). However, there are many factors unique to cyberbullying that have not been considered. As mentioned previously, there is no escape from the torment inflicted upon a victim of cyberbullying. The words follow them wherever they may be, whether that is at home or in school.

One question keeps remaining despite the debate: how can we change this as a society? If we cannot fully rid the online world of cyberbullying, what are some methods that may be effective in combatting the problem while still keeping in mind the personal rights of individuals? Considering the circumstances, there are some solutions that the government can work to implement in schools or other public institutions.

Even though parental monitoring can be effective in some measures, it must be assumed unreliable for many reasons. For instance, there are some individuals of older generations that may be unaware of the problem of cyberbullying on social media, or those who believe it does not exists at all. Another issue is that parental monitoring cannot be regulated in any way; and because it is unorganized, there is no clear foundation for monitoring suggestions and guidelines. The issue needs to be combatted institutionally in order for a true difference to be made in the online world. Cyberbullying on social media must be addressed through means of educational programs in schools on a national level in order to achieve significant change and prevention for the future.

Yet, at what point are schools warranted to punish students for speech outside of campus? “The current split in the courts addressing off-campus student speech impedes school administrators from disciplining student’s online speech, thus significantly undermining their authority” (Gavin, 2015). In order to implement appropriate measures and programs, schools must find the proper balance between First Amendment rights and administrative discipline. It seems inconsistent that “school administrators may discipline students for minor infractions such as tardiness, but may be prevented from disciplining off-campus cyberbullying that inflicts severe emotional trauma, or even contributes to the suicide of their victim.” This fact makes action on part of the school very crucial in the prevention of cyberbullying and the help it can provide to students who are victimized by online harassment. Although, “the advent of electronic communication, such as instant messaging, text messaging, MySpace, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, and Twitter has only confounded this confusion, adding another dimension to student speech – cruel speech that occurs outside school hours and off-campus” (Gavin, 2014). New elements in accordance to the Internet, social media, and technological devices are going to continue to arise. Just as society is constantly changing, ideas and opinions on what constitutes the boundaries of free speech will alter as well. Education is crucial, and administrators in schools need to be concerned about the impacts of this online harassment on young people, and be willing to take a stance against the issue.

An U.S. Department of Education report found that about “19% of middle school administrators reported that they had to deal with cyberbullying daily or at least once per week” (Adams, 2016). Cyberbullying can interfere with a student’s ability to focus and be successful in school, not to mention it is also a general safety issue. For instance, “it’s always going to be a combination of tools, rules, and schools. The emphasis needs to be on creating a culture of responsibility online. Kids need to think about the content they create and post.” In order to develop this responsibility for activity on social media, the principles must be implemented in schools to reach out to students and change young perspectives. Teaching on the cause, effect, and overall issue of cyberbullying to students will create a moral level of understanding and accountability. The focus of these institutional programs would not be to diminish the digital world and technology, but aid students in developing themselves into responsible online citizens.

Cyberbullying is a very real issue, and any young person is or could be subjected to it. As school is the center of life for children, teenagers, and young adults, it would be the most effective basis to begin measures of prevention, aid, and discipline on campus. Actively organizing mandatory programs for young people in school and educating them on the impact of cyberbullying through the use of social media is one way to ensure most individuals receive information on the problem, if not at home. Swift action is pivotal in guaranteeing that these changes happen before the reality continues to worsen. These courses of education and discipline must be prioritized at a national level to truly make a difference and show the youth of this nation that we place significant value on their emotional health and safety.

 

References:

Adams, C. (2016). Cyberbullying: What Teachers and Schools Can Do.

Gavin, B. R. (2014). Cyberbullying and the 1st Amendment: The Need For Supreme Court Guidance In The Digital Age.

Gumbrecht, J. (2013, October 8). Are We Too Quick To Cry ‘Bully’?

Izadi, E. (2015, June 4). Cyberbullying Is Harmful. But Old-School Harassment Feels Worse, Study Finds.

North, A. (2015, March 3). An Easier Way To Fight Bullying?

Phillips, R. (2010, February 16). Facebook Gripes Protected By Free Speech, Court Ruling Says.

Ring, M. (2015, August 6). Teen Depression And How Social Media Can Help Or Hurt.

Schechter, D. (2011, October 20). How Best To Educate “Our Digital Natives.”

Short, A. (2014, July 1). Cyberbullies Get First Amendment Protection.