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Smart Phone Addiction: The Need to be Connected

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Smart phone (and tablet, cell phone, computer ) addiction is something that has become such a problem that it has been listed in the newest version of the DSM.  All one has to do is Google "cell phone addiction" and a multitude of scholarly and non-scholarly articles will appear.  I read through a number of these articles to prepare for this post and found one I related to very well.  If anyone is interested in reading it, it can be found here:

This woman's observations of how people are completely unaware of their surroundings struck me in a very real way.  I too am guilty of a lot of the behaviors she discusses in her article.  I have a definite smart phone addiction and I hate it.  I check my phone sometimes in the middle of the night when I get up to go to the bathroom.  What could have possibly happened between 11pm and 2am?  Nothing, but I still have to compulsively check.

I am not even part of the current generation of teens and twenty-somethings who are the poster children for electronic device abuse.  I am 39 years old and vividly remember what life was like before the Internet, cell phones, and even computers.  I have still fallen prey to the need to be constantly connected, however.  

Back to the article link I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I conducted a small study in my Introduction to Social Psychology class that mirrored the author's experience with the kid crossing the street with his headphones on.  I traveled to downtown Pittsburgh (where I live) and observed whether people looked both ways before crossing the street at four intersections in a busy area of downtown at lunchtime.  The results were astounding and not limited to high school or college-age people.  So many people did not bother to look at all when crossing the street.  They'd be looking at their phones, or on the phone, or listening to music.  The phenomenon held true even when people walked in a group or with another person.  All too often two people walking together would not even be speaking as they walked.  Both people would be looking at cell phones.

There is no question that smart phones and technology in general have changed the way the world interacts with one another.  Researchers will continue to study the long and short-term effects of this new way humans communicate; however, in my opinion there needs to be a movement to get offline and back to communication on a person to person level!


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Without a doubt, it is easy to turn on the television and see the media's unrealistic portrayal of what women should look like. For some women and girls, this is just not enough; they want to see more. Specifically, women and girls with eating disorders may engage in surfing YouTube for "thinspiration" or "thinspo." These terms refer to a category of videos, mostly made by other women and girls with eating disorders, that serve as inspiration to become more symptomatic in one's own eating disorder.

I will not post any links to specific YouTube videos, because I fear that anyone else with an eating disorder might be triggered by such a video. Additionally, I have not watched thinspo in almost two years, and I do not want to start again now and risk triggering myself to use my own eating disorder symptoms.

The point I wish to make is that parents need to educate daughters on what is realistic and what is not. Even more than that, daughters need to be educated on the importance of health. Good health needs to be elevated above "good looks" in importance in our society if we are ever to reduce the number of women dying from eating disorders. It is estimated that anorexia alone has a mortality rate of 20%. Half of these women die from complications of anorexia; the other half die from suicide.

Despite the glamorous portrayal of eating disorders in such venues as thinspiration, they are not pretty, and they are not fun. For so many young girls, it is already too late to be inoculated against the sway of the media. The eating disorder clinic I go to in Hershey, Pennsylvania actually has a child program. There, I have seen girls no older than six who are emaciated and continuing to struggle in the name of thinness. The emphasis on being sickly thin needs to stop. What is important is that women maintain health. The people who post thinspiration videos are themselves tormented and sick individuals. In a clearer, better nourished state of mind, it is obvious that thinspiration is an unhealthy obsession. I invite every woman suffering from an eating disorder; please, join me on the other side.

"There is only one you."

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My husband and I have two daughters.  One is four years old and the other one is six.  The other day, my six year old came to me and asked if I wanted to get some running shoes.  Immediately I knew that this was deeper than just her wondering about a pair of shoes.  I told her that I already had running shoes, but also asked why she wanted me to have running shoes?  She responded, "so you can get skinny."  I asked her why she wanted me to be skinny and proceeded to ask her if my body size bothered her?  She looked down at the ground and said, "no," but I could tell that something was bothering her.  She later told me that she was embarrassed of me.

While I am not at an ideal weight (5' 1" and 140 pounds) my husband and I have worked really hard to instill in our girls the importance of being happy with oneself.  We have not introduced Barbies into our home and never will.  We allow them to freely be whoever they want to be and we have never talked about dieting with them or around them.  As there is no conclusive ending to this story, I would like to know where she has gotten this idea from.  Are girls at school already talking about this at this age?  I suppose that it is not that shocking, but in my idealistic mind I guess I would like to believe that it is not an issue at for girls at this age. 

We will still follow up with her when the time is appropriate, but with this, I was slapped right in the face with reality.  Our kids are socialized in a world that puts so much emphasis on image.  The outcome for our future generations will be a paradoxical one in that as society emphasizes body perfectionism, the negative health effects that serve as a consequence of the goal (perfectionism) will deliver contradicting results.

Below is a link to a YouTube news clip that speaks about a new study that has come out suggesting that somewhat overweight people are more likely better off staying the way that they are than introducing a diet that may take someone on the rollercoaster ride of dieting, ultimately having an adverse health effect.  While I side with both sides of the controversy, it is difficult for many to know which advice to take when so many different concepts are being introduced by the media.  While scholarly studies are more accurate than people's unfounded philosophies, they too pose enough error to confuse the individual.

So, as I strive to diligently protect my daughters from the plague of the media's false portrayals directly, I will be challenged by the indirect effect that the media instills in their friends.  Cultivation Theory tells us that the more that we are exposed to the portrayals of television, the more that we will begin to incorporate such a mentality into our personal lives.  Ultimately it is our responsibility as parents and adults to monitor television viewing while keeping it to a minimum (Shneider et al., 2012, p. 147).


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology (2nd

ed.). USA:SAGE Publications, Inc.weight.png

Are Women Progressing Backward?

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It is no secret that women are constantly objectified in magazines, on television, in movies, on advertisements, and in the media in general. Usually young, pretty, and THIN women are the ones chosen for these roles. They are usually dressed in the latest fashions, or in most cases they are barely dressed at all. The people behind the media also use tools such as Photoshop to adjust "problem areas" as needed; make their eyes look bluer, their thighs thinner, or their lips bigger, etc. It pains me to be subjected to such objectification knowing so many important women fought for the rights we have today. This brings me to the question, are women moving backwards instead of pushing forward?

Over 150 years ago the first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, NY. Twenty-one years later, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (Imbornoni, 2007). Their goal was to achieve voting rights for women and despite the difficulties these women faced they achieved that right. These two women paved the way for more equal rights for women in the future.

Although women have come a long way with equality, there is still a long road ahead for more improvement. Everyday women are subjecting themselves by just being objects to be looked at or ogled. Society witnesses it every day on billboards, TV commercials, calendars and magazines. For example, Playboy claims to be "celebrating women's beauty (Frank, 2008)." However, nothing about their magazine shouts "women's beauty." They are not displaying women. Women come in all different, shapes, sizes, and races. The women they are displaying make up a very minuscule portion of our population. They are usually very young models who have often gone through plastic surgery to appeal to the male gender. And even the most attractive of women are still de-emphasized with Photoshop and airbrushing (Frank, 2008).

Unfortunately women are choosing and allowing themselves to be objectified. Think back to that very first women's rights convention. Is this what our former female suffrages had in mind for our future? This is not the example that should be set for the next generation of women. Women's rights activists, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were willing to risk everything they had to achieve equal rights. So why aren't women willing to do the same today? Instead we are posed anonymously in photographs, selected to sell products and attract attention and ultimately to please male viewers (Frank, 2008).


Frank, Phyllis B. "Objectification Of Women." NOMAS. NOMAS, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.

Imbornoni, Ann-Marie. "Women's Rights Movement in the U.S." Infoplease. Information Please, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.

Every time I turn on my TV, go to work, go shopping, or turn on my computer I am bombarded by unrealistically tiny women modeling on commercials or on the front of a magazine. Frankly it's depressing. The media has been shown to effect individuals. Studies done by Bardone-Cone & Cass (2007) showed that when college aged women viewed "pro-ana" sites or pro anorexia sites they were more likely to be unhappy with their body. We are seeing these "pro-ana" photos more than we realize. We live in a society where we crave media that in turn makes us hate our bodies. Young women are particularly susceptible to what the media promotes due to the struggle to find themselves. Unfortunately because our society has become so dependent on the media we feel we are expected to try to compete with what it presents to us. Young women obsess with the 1 pound that they gained and develop eating disorders in order to look more like the models that we are compared to. Young men expect this too. Men are shown these women who are believed to be beautiful and real women are expected to compete with them.

The models that we see in the media on average meet the criteria for anorexia. While anorexia is very serious it is not something to strive for or is in anyway appealing. The criteria for anorexia includes a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, as well as many health issues. Today a plus size model ranges between a size 6 and size 14. The average size of the American woman reported by the CDC is 37.5 inches around the waist which is approximately a size 10-12. There are a few magazines that campaigning for average size or plus size women. One is the PLUS MODEL MAGAZINE which the picture above came from. The women in this magazine are beautiful average women that set a realistic example of women. These are the women our society and media should promote!

 I am an average American Woman, I am not thin and may not be model material but I am BEAUTIFUL and YOU ARE TOO! :)


Media isn't always bad

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I feel like day in and day out, we are constantly being submerged with information about the negative effects of media in today's society. Yes, I do believe that the media can be harmful to some individual's personal well-being, health, and influence their habits. However, I feel that media and social media also offers substantial benefits to people who use them correctly.
         First of all, the news is a major resource that is not always readily available to individuals in impoverished countries. Here in America we can click a button and watch television channels solely devoted to news. We can get the news in our country, other countries, our region, and check the weather at all times. This is definitely useful in keeping updated on current events, as well as deciding what outfit to wear on any given day.
          Next, the Internet is a powerful learning tool, when an individual learns to weed out relevant information. The Internet can provide people with virtually anything that they would like to know. Personally, as a thinker, I am addicted to Google. Anytime that I think of a question that I do not know the answer to, I google it. This helps me to educate myself. For a better example on the benefits of the Internet, think about why you are taking this course? Does it make your life more convenient? Online schooling is definitely an advantage for me, because I am able to participate in my regular daily activities, as well as get the education that I desire.
         Third, social media is a great way for people to keep in touch. In a recent conversation with a co-worker, we discovered that school reunions have probably changed a lot over the years. Because of sites like Facebook, people are able to constantly be aware and updated on the changes in other people's lives. In the past, people may have gone to school reunions and not recognized each other, had no knowledge about each other's current lives, or maybe had even struggled to keep in contact. Social media now allows people to stay connected, and makes it easier to keep people close.
           Finally, programs such as Skype are very useful for individuals who may not live close to one another. After living in England for six months, I have many friends who I wish to keep in contact with on a regular basis. Phone bills are pricey, but Skype allows me to have a face-to-face conversation for free. I am able to see my friends' faces and expressions. It is much more convenient than texting because I am able to talk. Without Skype it would be a lot harder for me to keep in contact with these people. Additionally, I know of many people who have been interviewed via Skype for jobs. This is just another example of how media can be important to life today. Instead of traveling for a job interview, people are able to speak in the comfort of their own home. 
    In conclusion, social media is not a totally negative thing. It offers many benefits to enrich our daily lives when used in a productive manner. We are able to keep in contact with our peers, learn about what we desire, and stay updated on current events.

Media and its effects

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The media continues today to play a vital role to inform the public on many events worldwide.  What is interesting is how the media can hone in on a certain aspect of a critical news event and make it seem increasingly negative, positive, or even downplay the whole aspect.  This is known as agenda setting.  Agenda setting is not the media influencing what people think, but rather it is the way that the media coverage is influencing what people are thinking about. (Iyengar & Kindar, 1987, McCombs & Reynolds 2009).

My example of this goes back to when I was a teenager.  The time was March 28, 1979.  For those of you who don't know what that date is, I will tell you. On March 28, 1979, I was in ninth grade and it was about 11 am and they gathered us all in the gymnasium to prepare us for the announcement about TMI(Three Mile Island). Of course, I want you to know that I am not downplaying that it was a critical time and could have been worse than what it was.  I remember being scared but not completely understanding what the turn of events would be.  My point is that there were precautions taken, evacuations occurring within a twenty-mile radius. I remember hearing sirens and of course the radio was broadcasting the same information over and over as was TV.  While the intent of the media is to inform the public, what occurred was the only thing the public could think about was the TMI meltdown.  I can remember finally getting home to my mother and she was a nervous wreck.  I couldn't leave her site. She was glued to the TV and listening to them talk about the rumor of an explosion and how we would all be affected.  As for me, I didn't worry too much.  I think I was more upset because I had to stay inside and not do the things I normally did.

Of course, the end result was that it wasn't a complete meltdown. All the talk of radioactive gases that were released supposedly would cause cancer and affect millions is not the case at all.  In fact for almost 20 years, there was a registry involving only 30,000 people within a 5 mile radius and none were linked to cancer causing agents.  This registry was finally discontinued in 1997. (

So you see, people were worked up for many years revolving around this accident.  It wasn't just presenting the facts as the media should.  The media took those facts and produced it in a view that affected the public's opinion and thinking for many years after the real-life event took place.



Iyengar & Kendar, 1987; McCombs & Reynolds,2009.

Negative Effects of Social Media

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Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to find and connect with just about anyone, from old high school friends to co-workers and neighbors.  Participating in social media sites such as these can make you feel more connected, but such an easy, casual connection in an electronic environment can also have its downside.

First of all sites like Facebook promote sharing details of our lives with one another.  Posts can range from a simple update on what shows someone is watching, cooking for dinner, or pictures of you and your friends having drinks and doing shots at a local bar.  Where this becomes a problem is when people begin to bypass the filters they normally would use in person and post more personal things that can be incriminating.  Something as simple as a picture of your friends doing shots may not appear harmless to you, but to a future employer this does not look very good.

Another issue that social media presents is that it allows for cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying has become a major issue for teenagers in more recent years, as it allows its victim's "friends" to post things in front of their peers. Cyber bullying can also take other forms such as email, text, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras.  Those who cyber bully someone also have the ability to pose as someone else, or even create false identity to terrorize their victims. National Children's Home study in Britain found that one in four children reported being bullied on the Internet.  This issue can and has left teenagers with deep mental scars, and has even lead to teen suicides (Campbell, 2005).

Along with the issues previously mentioned, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can also create a false sense of connection.  People begin focusing so much of their time on their relationships on social media networks that is become difficult to distinguish between our real life relationships. In doing this our more important relationships with our loved ones will suffer because we are putting more time and effort into social media.


Campbell, Marilyn, A. (2005). Cyberbullying: An Old Problem in a New Guise?. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling. 15 (1) :68-76. Retrieved from

Media for Better or for Worse

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Applied Social Psychology and the Media

The impact of media on our everyday lives and on a global scale has had both positive and negative influences.  On an individual level we can now see relatives and friends all over the world.  On a global level it has enabled people who have been oppressed rally movements to change those in government who have all the power.  The use of social media enables people to unite toward a common goal.  With the use of social media large masses of people can gather at a designated spot quickly.  According to the (Chiluwa) study, "The biggest mass pro-election protests in Iran in 2009, which resulted in members of parliament asking for the execution of the opposition leader, and the fierce uprisings in Yemen that called for the ousting of the authoritarian president, were attributed to the 'social media revolution'."  (2012)  The success was then seen on social media sites and gave others in similar situations that need a united front to make changes the courage and a blueprint of way to may changes for themselves.  As with any form of communication it can be used towards helping or hurting people.

On an individual level many people have become practically addicted to theses social media forms.  They feel a need to constantly check their Facebook, MySpace, twitter, email and other forms that keep them connected to others at all times.  There was recently a woman who blogged about how her need to check her email when she had just put her three year old daughter in the bathtub.  She stepped out of the bathroom to tell her son that he needed to take his shower and instead of immediately going back to attend to her three-year-old daughter in the tub she heard the ping of a new email and was compelled to stop to read it.  She stated, (JennM, 2013) "There was zero urgency about responding but inexplicably I felt the need to, right then and there."  Thankfully, she read only the one and didn't continue to the next because when she returned to her daughter she was asleep in the tub.  She could have lost her daughter because of an email, but luckily her head was resting on the side of the tub and she hadn't slipped under the water.  When she blogged about her experience and that she feels we need to put aside these type of social media distractions to give our full attention it received mixed reaction.  Some people said they felt they were guilty of the same kind of distracted parenting because of multitasking and the need to stay connected to different forms of social media.  There were others that said she was a bad parent for being distracted and not giving her daughter her full attention.   She claimed that this was her wake up call and she is now going to put aside those distractions such as the iPad that compelled her to stop and read the email.  However, I do find it is ironic that she took to social media to blog to tell her story.  Hopefully, it was really an epiphany and that her blog helped others see that that our families and friends need and deserve our fully attention.  Sometimes we need to disconnect from social media and live in the moment. 


Chiluwa, Innocent (2012); Social media networks and the discourse of

resistance: A sociolinguistic CDA of Biafra online discourses;

Covenant University, Nigeria; Department of Languages, Covenant

University, Ota, Nigeria; doi: 1177/095792651143347810.

Discourse Society; vol. 23 no. 3, p. 217-244


Jennifer Meer, (2013) Distracted Living;



Cheese and Whine

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            Originally designed as a simple virtual meeting place for emerging adults, which are described as individuals from 18 to 24 years of age (Manago, Graham, Greenfield and Salimkhan. 2008), Facebook has evolved into the world leader in social media networking. As of June 2013, Facebook had over 1.15 billion monthly active accounts (Facebook. 2013), representing individuals of all ages and persuasions, as well as animal and non-human accounts. What has come along with such an aggressive following, however, is the overgrowth of the need to make an impression or feel acceptance from fellow members of the popular social media site. What has resulted is an often annoying play by play of otherwise dull and drab everyday life occurrences, such that social media has become less about interpersonal communication and more about addictive, habitually cheesy commenting, and witless whining to win over the emotion and favor of one's friends.

Cheese and Whine.jpg

            Manago, et al (2008), regard emerging adults as those who are ripe with eagerness to explore their potential, especially as to garnering the positive and overwhelmingly acceptable opinions of others. The goal of such is to help facilitate a positive image of self, through self-presentation. In essence, the best public view, or stories of accomplishments elicit the most favorable reactions. Early on, the most popular form of self-expression was flattering pictures or status updates centering on grand accomplishments. As these accolades continued to pour in, however, the recipient of such praise began to transform into an obsessional creature of habit.

             Use of the internet and bad habits have become a marriage of addictive proportions in recent years. Much like the appeal of popular shock jocks, the average Facebook user will log on to see what everyone is saying. What follows, is a seemingly endless litany of kissing up. In an effort to keep active the connections felt to be most beneficial to one's psyche, an individual will constantly "like" and comment with the majority opinion on statuses, sometimes without even taking the requisite time to understand what the topic actually means. Cultural values (i.e. moral adeptness) have also begun to fly south with the birds.

            Social media was once a safe haven for general, often peaceful connections, as our cultural values dictate that we all do what is necessary to keep up with positive appearances. Now, instead of sweet pictures and endearing life stories, as once was common, we are subject more frequently to the unusual need of an individual to update the virtual universe with complaints about personal functions, such as what she is doing or how he is feeling (a task that also became annoying on instant feed sites such as Twitter). One extreme case, during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, had many folks supplying regular updates that they were still out of power, and had a lack of housing heat and refrigeration (the irony of this was apparently lost on many), despite the known fact that millions suffered similar fates. Then, of course, with power restored, these same individuals posted that they were now fully functional, with lack of consideration to the sensibilities of others. The overall level of self-efficacy is masked in a foolishness that appears to be ceiling-free.

            The power of social media, as a unit of measure, is infinite, as it can influence people and events the world over. In order to harness such capabilities, recognition of true self-presentation is crucial, in the form of restricted content display and absorption, instead making valiant efforts towards comprehendible contributions to virtual society and for all to take the time to understand the material presented to us for our own future benefit and sanity.



Manago, A., Graham, M., Greenfield, P., Salimkhan, G. (2008).  Self-presentation and gender on MySpace. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Volume 29, Issue 6. November-December 2008. Pages 446-458. Retrieved from


Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at:

"Cheese and Whine" image retrieved from

Vicarious Learning and Family Guy

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Family Guy is an entertaining animated television show for adults but it's not appropriate for children (Gildemeister, 2011).  Ratings keep children safe from inappropriate content and violence that may have an effect on their behavior in the future. Nowadays a person can't watch television without there being some kind of physical violence being aired (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Television shows such as Family Guy show children how to imitate violence because of potential rewards according to the vicarious learning theory.

People observe behaviors being rewarded then imitate those behaviors for an increased chance of being rewarded themselves. If a child observes Stewie threatening and verbally abusing Lois than there is increased likelihood that the child will do the same to their mother. However, the social cognitive theory suggests that people go through stages to achieve vicarious learning.  The four processes according to Bandura's social cognitive theory are attention, representational process, behavioral production, and the motivational process (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

Attention focuses on how attractive the behavior is to the person and media violence can be exciting which is attractive. During any episode of Family Guy, anyone can see the violence Stewie has for his mother such as chasing her around with a lazor gun in an attempt to do away with her. The representational stage is when a person remembers the modeled behavior while rehearsing it in their heads. A child might chase mom around with a pretend gun and she might not make the connection that he may have seen Stewie practice this behavior while watching Family Guy. The behavior production process which is the third stage that focuses on how the behavior is learned. For example, Stewie hits Brian (the family dog) in an episode and a child might observe the behavior then start hitting their peers in school. The final stage is the motivational process that describes people performing acts they are motivated by. Stewie acting violently might be funny to a child so they are motivated to perform that behavior because they think it's funny or believe that someone else might think it's funny.

The social cognitive theory describes the processes that lead to vicarious learning. Television violence can induce vicariously learning in children. How can we counter the effects of violence in television shows? Society and parents can counter violence learned from television shows by teaching their children that performing certain behaviors is not rewarded (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Also, sensitization towards violence should be taught to children so they don't become desensitized to the violence.


Gildemeister, Christopher.2011. Parents Television Council.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology (2nd

ed.). USA:SAGE Publications, Inc.

Applied Social Psychology and the Media

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Many credible and valid studies have been performed which prove media violence increases violent behavior long-term. Homicide rates in a country are positively associated with the amount of violence in that country's media. Clearly, it has a very real effect on its audience. Despite these studies, some people believe media violence actually has a cathartic effect on viewers meaning that it helps reduce violent feelings by providing a way for people to express their own stresses and impulses as they watch it. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

Alfred Bandura's social cognitive theory of social communication asserts that people learn to imitate violence from media sources via vicarious learning. Vicarious learning occurs when a person performs a behavior because he or she observes that behavior being rewarded. Bandura identified four processes which must occur in order for violence to be imitated via vicarious learning. First, a person must pay attention to the media violence that is being modeled. As media violence is often exciting and action-packed, it is likely to catch a person's attention. Next, a person has to go through the representational process where he or she remembers the modeled violence. In this step, the individual would just mentally rehearse the observed behavior. The third process is known as the behavioral production process. In this process, a person would focus on how people learn to perform the violent behavior they saw. Last, a person has to go through the motivational process meaning they must feel a reason to perform the violent behaviors (Schneider, et al., 2012).

An infamous crime which has been associated with media violence is the Columbine high school shootings in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 students, a teacher, and themselves in addition to injuring 21 other people (Toppo, 2009). Both Harris and Klebold reportedly played violent video games which included murder (Toppo, 2009). They were also fans of violent movies.  These facts were seen as factors which encouraged the violent behavior the boys displayed in the Columbine shootings.

It is relevant to consider that although evidence that media violence increases violent behavior long-term, it is also possible that people who watch violence in the media are more likely to be violent themselves. One cannot prove that Harris and Klebold's participation in media violence contributed to their rampage. It is possible that they were more violent people to begin with and were drawn to these mediums as a result.


Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding

           and addressing social and practical problems. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Toppo, G. (April 14, 2009). 10 years later, the real story behind Columbine. USA Today.





Cultivation...Farming? or Media?

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Loud noises in the middle of the night wake Melissa and cause her to cower by the side of the bed. She always has a difficult time sleeping when her husband is out of town! I am sure that this has happened to all of us at some point in our lives. While much debate over violence on television tends to look at the effects of imitation of aggressive acts, the late George Gerbner has a different view known as the cultivation theory. 

When thinking  of the term 'cultivation', most people may immediately think of it in relation to farming or planting of crops. The definition of cultivation means: "preparing/using for raising crops, improving/care/ studying, and foster growth," according to, This definition is important to keep in mind because it can be applied when looking at the cultivation theory. The cultivation theory states that "TV is where people learn about their world and their culture." (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) With this in mind, consider what perception of the world that our children are learning.

The cultivation theory was used to present the findings of research that showed how heavy TV viewing actually changes people's perceptions of reality and their surroundings. (Griffin, 2012)  For example,  people that watch TV with a highly violent content are more likely to think that they, themselves, are more likely to be personally victimized. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012)This fear can be 'cultivated' into a belief that the world is a scarier place than it actually is and may limit people's desire to go places and/ or try new things.

Another consideration with the cultivation theory is that TV assists people in making determinations about people of ethnic distinctions other than our own. The media may play a part in increasing American's fear of Muslim people after the terrorist attacks of  9-11, by portraying Muslims as violent in all movies and news broadcasts. After seeing negatives images of Muslim people in the media, crossing paths with a person that is Muslim may instill fear in some people. This may be based on the "availability heuristic" which states that "people make judgments based on how easy it is to recall instances of something from memory." (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012)

While violence and racism may continue to be prominent themes in the media, we as consumers can take a stand against continuing to be victims. The takeaway message is that we must begin to think critically about what we are allowing to be embedded in our minds and cultivating our realities. Additionally, do not fall victim to the availability heuristic in new situations, but rather take the time to use controlled thinking and weigh out your concerns. Investigate the world through your own eyes, instead of through the opinions of the media.


Griffin, E. (2012). A First Look at Communication Theory. Eighth Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Diversity. In Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

The Science Behind the Art of Advertising

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For those who follow the epic television series, Mad Men, you may recall the episode when Don did the campaign for the Kodak Carousel slide machine. As he flipped through the images of his family; the still shots of he and his wife, Betty; snapshots of the kids as babies; vignettes of what was his life - it evoked all sorts of nostalgia - a sort of mourning for that which he had missed out on, and a renewed sense of gratitude for all that which he still had. Of course, it also landed him Kodak as a new client, and cemented his credentials as an advertising virtuoso. The pitch Don gave was pure artistic genius.

And, as it turns out, there is plenty of science behind it as well.

The "experiential processing" view emphasizes mental imagery and emotional responses for persuasion (which is the process of changing attitudes by presenting information about another attitude) (Hirschmann and Holbrook, 1982; Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). This is contrasted with the "discursive processing" view which emphasizes instead, verbal encoding/decoding (or, the transmission of information and the subsequent interpretation of said information) and rational/analytical cognitive responses (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). When this experiential processing strategy operates, judgments based on sensations or feelings are prompted by the very act of processing, as opposed to thoughts or cognitions (Hirschmann and Holbrook, 1982). Basically: experiential processing means we're thinking with our 'hearts' (or emotions), while discursive processing means we're using our 'noodle' (or, our cognitive abilities).

Advertisers use these insights about how we react to messages to develop campaigns that compel consumers to buy a product or service. Understanding the underlying concepts that affect human psychology can help a company better sell their product, or alternatively, can help a consumer anticipate about how well (the consumption of) a particular product will serve to satisfy his or her emotional desires (Hirschmann and Holbrook, 1982). Once activated, the emotions related to the imagery (e.g. a commercial, a billboard, etc.) are in turn, associated with "resilient" emotions and affective responses to the ad and the brand (Hirschmann and Holbrook, 1982). Similar tactics are used in political advertising.


"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." -Don Draper (Weiner, 2009)


Through the use of priming, agenda setting and framing, political strategists can tailor their candidate's campaign to influence voter opinion. Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1991) suggest that "negative" advertisements such as personal attacks or comparisons of candidates' positions carry more weight in evaluative thinking than "positive" information, as "negatively stimulated voters are more likely than their satisfied peers to turn out on Election Day". Also, fear, which can be a result of negative ads, has the ability to "short-circuit cognitive processing" (Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1991). When this occurs, the "availability heuristic", or how we access easily retrievable information (e.g. that which contains strong emotional content), can go into overdrive and influence (or altogether impair) our ability to rationally evaluate messages. Advertisers count on these emotionally-driven responses to influence voters, and ultimately, to affect election outcomes.

So how does one guard against the effects of such advertising strategies, and the psychology behind them? The foremost effective defense is to understand the messages within an advertisement (Christ & Potter, 1998). Christ and Potter (1998) suggest that advertising literacy, or "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a variety of forms" (p. 7) is a primary component to individual empowerment, ideological demystification, and social change. For this to take place, we (as consumers and voters!) must engage in consistent rational, critical thinking in response to ad campaigns. Identifying and understanding the ways in which we are susceptible to advertisements is imperative for us to take full responsibility for our own decision-making. And this will be hard work...because, you know, that Don Draper is a pretty talented guy...



   Ansolabehere, S., & Iyengar, S. (1997). Going negative: How political advertisements shrink and polarize the electorate. New York: Free Press.

   Azjen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Predicting and Understanding Consumer Behavior: Attitude-Behavior Correspondence. In Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior (pp. 148-172). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

   Christ, W. G., & Potter, W. J. (1998). Media literacy, media education, and the academy. Journal of Communication, 48, 5-15.

   Holbrook, M. B., & Hirschman, E. C. (1982). The experiential aspects of consumption: Consumer fantasies, feelings, and fun. Journal of Consumer Research, 9(September), 132-140. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from

   Weiner, M. (Writer). (2009). Season 3, Episode 2 "Love among the ruins" [Television series episode]. In Mad Men. AMC.


Violent Video Games and Aggression

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           The effects of violence in video games and how it relates to aggression in adolescents and young adults has been the topic of debate for many years. Similar to violence depicted or included in movies, television shows, and music, violence in video games has been linked to aggression, and particular cause for concern arises due to the player actually simulating violence in a fictional environment. Violent video games have often been cited as potential risk factors when discussing the motives of school shooters such as Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, and Eric Harris.  

Adam Lanza

           Aggressive behavior is overdetermined which means there are many different causes (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2012). There are many factors that can contribute to aggressive behavior such as gender, environmental factors, personality, and general temperament (Schneider et al., 2012). Playing violent video games has been shown through research to have just as many negative effects as viewing violent television shows and movies (Schneider et al., 2012). The effects of watching violent television shows include desensitization, acceptance of violence, and increase in aggressive behavior (Schneider et al., 2012). Of course the counter argument in support of violent video games is the cathartic effect which argues that indulging in violent media and video games can relieve stress and violent impulses (Schneider et al., 2012). Given this evidence how damaging-- if at all--are violent video games?
          The search for answers regarding violent video games has been researched since the 1980s (Casey, 2013). Studies have shown that young adults playing violent video games can show more aggression in the short-term, but events such as school shootings and other massacres are so far and few between that it is difficult to actually determine the long-term effects of violent video games (Casey, 2013). It has been shown that the increased sale of violent video games from 1996 till now does not coincide with the lower numbers of youth offenders (Casey, 2013).
          In the end, studies seem to find contrary evidence. There are some in favor of the idea that violent video games actually help to decrease crime by alleviating stress and allowing people to blow off steam. On the other hand just the fact that violent video games even temporarily increase aggression can cause concern for young adults who play for hours on end and suffer socially. Overall, I feel that there are many risk factors that determine if someone will actually follow through with a violent act. Violence in the media such as in movies, television, and video games are not the sole cause of crime and mental illness; however, I believe when the conditions are right violent media is capable of becoming a risk factor in some cases.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2nd ed.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oak: Sage.

Carey, B. (2013, Feb 11). Shooting in the dark. The New York Times. Retrieved from

[Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Media Violence

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Media is a broad term that brings thoughts of "I Love Lucy" to " The Howard Stern Show" to mind. You would be right, all of these are examples of what media is. Media can be anything from the local news to your favorite radio station. In modern America media is a almost constant stream and source in every household, that has both good and bad consequences.

Violence has affected our society since the beginning of time, but in this modernized day and age, we are trying to keep our society from bursting with it and most importantly, protecting our children from it. However with increasing technology that brings media to our very fingertips that has become increasingly harder and harder.

Violence in television has always been a problem but the percentage of violence in shows has been increasing in recent years. Studies have show that "58% of all TV programs during the 1994-1995 season contained some type of physical violence or a credible threat of physical violence. If you are watching premium channels such as HBO and Showtime, an astonishing 85% of the shows contained violence" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012)

With these numbers in mind, there have been many theories of how to decrease the violence in children. Thankfully there are proven methods that are in use. One is the use of Bandura's social cognitive theory that states in order to decrease violence in children is to decrease the reward value in violence. It has been found that "educators and parents should talk with children about the feeling s of victims of violence as well as about the feelings of the victims' families. In other words, we need to increase children's sensitization to violence."  (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) This is the only way to help decrease violent attitudes in children.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2nd ed.) (2012). Applied Social 

The Negative Effects of the Media on Body Image

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With the ever increasing size and influence of the mass media in our daily lives, we are seeing more and more individuals suffer negative effects of being constantly exposed to images of "ideal" bodies in the media. This can cause a negative perception of one's body image, and contribute to developing eating disorders. We have to focus on developing effective interventions that will decrease the negative effects of the media on body image.

There have been numerous studies that have shown us how the media can lead to a negative perception of a person's body image (Ashikali & Dittmar, 2012; Ata, Thompson & Small, 2013; Hausenblas et al., 2013). The movie and music industries, as well as advertisements constantly portray an ideal and beautiful body for women as one that is thin (in many cases, extremely and/or unhealthily thin). When people see these images and then look at their own bodies, which are often times different from what is portrayed as ideal in the media, they begin to think that they aren't beautiful, are too fat, too pale, too whatever. This dissatisfaction with one's body image can lead to low self-esteem, and even depression (Hausenblas et al., 2013).

Having a negative body image can also lead to developing eating disorders. There are websites devoted to eating disorders, such as anorexia, encouraging people to engage in health-harming behaviors in order to be thin. Studies have shown that just visiting these websites can lead to a more negative self-image and increase the desire to be thinner (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2007). Also, many of the celebrities and models that women and men look up to as having the ideal body have admitted to suffering from eating disorders. Having these people as body role-models encourages this dangerous behavior and increase the risk of developing an eating disorder (Hausenblas et al., 2013). If the media would focus on "normal" or average-sized models and celebrities, maybe people wouldn't go to such lengths to be thin because the ideal would be a healthy body, not a thin one.

Although the media can have a very negative effect on an individual's body image, I believe the media's standards of beauty and the thin ideal are improving, slowly but surely. There are many campaigns against airbrushing now that didn't exist a few years ago. One that comes to mind is with Dove. They released a video to show just how much makeup and post-processing it takes to make a model look cover-ready (Duncan, 2006). They did this in order to show some truth in advertising, to show how ridiculous the media's standards of beauty are, and also to help improve the self-esteem of girls and women who strive to look like the false image of cover models they see. Dove actually has self-esteem workshops for adolescent girls as well (Dove, n.d.). Also, there's an emerging movement to have the modeling industry use regular-sized models. In Israel, it's illegal to use models with an unhealthy BMI in runways and ads (Hadid & Cheslow, 2012). Although, sadly, the United States has yet to adopt these regulations, I believe the time of dangerously thin models dominating the runways is coming to an end. There are now plus-size only fashion shows, which I think is a wonderful step in overcoming the thin ideal. These are all steps in the right direction to help overcome the negative effects of the media on body image.


Ashikali, E., & Dittmar, H. (2012). The effect of priming materialism on women's responses to thin‐ideal media. British Journal of Social Psychology, 51(4), 514-533. doi:

Ata, R. N., Thompson, J. K., & Small, B. J. (2013). Effects of exposure to thin-ideal media images on body dissatisfaction: Testing the inclusion of a disclaimer versus warning label. Body Image, doi:

Bardone-Cone, A.M., & Cass, K.M. (2007). What does viewing pro-anorexia websites do? An experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects. International Journal of Eating Disorders 40(6), 537-548.

Dove. (n.d.) The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Retrieved from

Duncan. (October 21, 2006). Dove Evolution in Campaign for Real Beauty. Retrieved from

Hadid, D. & Cheslow, D. (March 20, 2012). New Israeli Law Band Underweight Models in Ads, Undisclosed Airbrushing. Retrieved from

Hausenblas, H. A., Campbell, A., Menzel, J. E., Doughty, J., Levine, M., & Thompson, J. K. (2013). Media effects of experimental presentation of the ideal physique on eating disorder symptoms: A meta-analysis of laboratory studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(1), 168-181. Retrieved from

Social Networks

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There are many types of different social networking systems that people have access to all over the world.
As can be seen in this map, there are 640+ million users of facebook followed by QZone (a social networking system made by the Chinese).

First, I would like to address the use of facebook. According to facebook, there are about 655 million users who log into facebook since March 21, 2013 and some 751 monthly users of facebook application on mobile.  Just looking at these numbers, any one can see how much facebook is spread out. In the social networking system map, facebook is used in almost all the Western countries. I know that it is also used in China and South America (which isn't indicated on the map) because I have friends there who keep in touch with me through facebook. However, even so, just looking at the map shows how much facebook has taken over the world. It is a great way to interact with people all over the world and advertise or state almost anything anyone wishes. However, it can also create some problems. I believe that facebook has become so commonly used that many have forgotten their surroundings.  I do not mean this in the literal sense. I mean to point out that people are pointlessly on facebook without any reason.  Especially in college, I find this to be the more truer sense.
college.jpg As can be seen in this picture, many college students can probably agree with this and relate to the picture.  As for myself, it is also sadly true.  Before college I used facebook maybe once in four months. However, I started using facebook on a daily basis after going to college.  Though I do not know what the relation may be, I know this to be true for many out there or reading this post. Probably 80% or more of college students can relate to this picture or know what is being implied and why. Though facebook is a great median in communicating (espeically across the globe), too much can become harmful.  Many need to start loggin off facebook and spending time offline.  College students need to notice things around them not only online but offline as well.  I want to point this out because I found a new world after deleting the facebook application on my phone. I decided to delete facebook application because I felt that I was over using facebook.  Once I deleted the application I noticed some things that I never did on the bus or waiting for a friend. It was refreshing to see these new images and learn a bit more about people around me (physically) and the nature. I know that people cannot live without media or social neworking but sometimes going away from those and having a time without these sites and applications can calm and relax in a way we have forgotten.

Secondly, there are many social networking systems that are rising as a counter to facebook. Though there hasn't been one that has gained more popularity than facebook, we know that there are so many different types.  I did not know something called  QZone existed until I saw the social networking map. There are also things like Kakao talk (in Korea) as a means of social network.  Though many have not heard of these or used these medians before, it just shows that there are many that are arising and how much people are dependent on these to communicate with each other. I do not see much reason why there are so many but it is developing as technology develops.

These social networks are created competitively but these creators do not think about the impacts. It is not only these types but gaming and other forms can also become social networks. These social networks are good in communications but are also affecting the social behaviors of people.  People on social network can create a second identitiy or a life they have dreamed of. In such cases many may find dissatisfaction from their own real life and withdraw into the online life or reinforce their life to make it like the life they have online. It can have a positive or negative effect depending on the situation and people but this is only a start. Being spread out and reaching so many people, things like facebook can cause many people to come together to cause a change or riot. People who were once social off line may become more immersed in online communications. Such social changes have to be looked out for and accounted for.  Many do not realize these social changes consiously but it is happening.  People should try to, therefore, act a little more off line because my generation tends to spend a lot of time online and know the important affect these are having on our behaviors and life.

Overall, the social networking system is large and has a vast amount of influence on people everywhere.  There are rarely any one who has not heard of facebook. However, the abuse of these communicative tools can affect our social behaviors.  One such would be withdrawal from real life because of disatisfaction (about self or environment) and spending almost all of the 24hours a day online in addition to other behaviors that may come about. The way people interact are changing and the form we use to communicate are developing but one must not forget the importance of having a face to face meeting and conversation.  These networking systems are good but one must always be careful not to loose oneself in it.  


Wee, Willis, Tech In Asia. (2011). Social Networks int the East and the West [INFOGRAPHIC]. Retrieved online at:

Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at:

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.).

Sad News?

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Funny TV Ecard: Thanks, Network News, for always making scared and confused.

Feel depressed after watching the news?  You would not be the first to feel or think this way.  Many people feel that the media only focuses in negative and depressing topics.  War, violence, terrible storms and wildfires have all been the media lately, and looking back over time, this genre does not change much.  Researchers believe that viewing violence and discouraging news stories produce negative feelings in children and adults (Unz, Schwab & Winterhoff-Spurk, 2008).  In a study conducted by Unz et al (2008), the researchers examined emotional response and facial expressions during and after watching negative news stories.  The results found that there was a significant relationship between negative media and feelings of depression and sadness.   

Six months ago when the Sandy Hook shooting happened, it was impossible to watch news coverage of the shooting and not be in tears.  It was unbearable to see what had happened in that school and to the small town.   Media agenda such as the coverage of Sandy Hook produces strong emotional feelings in a person.  When the coverage is constantly negative, the emotional feelings produced from a viewer are going to be constantly negative as well.    This can be especially damaging to children whom have not learned to properly censor themselves (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).  Children are very impressionable and a violent image on the news, or hearing a reporter talk about shootings or murder could be confusing and scary.  The National Crime Prevention Council (hereafter NCPC) states that parents and caregivers should limit a child's exposure to news coverage because of its violent nature.  Violence is also seen in video games, cartoons, and even during commercial breaks, so it is best that the adult be mindful of what is on certain channels at certain times.  If a child is exposed to television violence, the NCPC suggests talking with your child about what was seen, answering the child's questions honestly, and emphasizing the importance of patience and peace.

The news is affecting more than just the emotions of a viewer when they watch.  Unz et al (2008) concludes in their research that by shaping our emotion and making us feel down, in the long term is going to produce corresponding worldviews and ideas about our society.    If all we see is violence and negativity, this is how we will start to view the world around us.  Availability heuristic is when a person makes a judgment based on recent examples they have seen or heard (Schneider et al, 2012).   If a child or an adult are constantly seeing murder, war, arguments and other negative things on the news, this is the first thing they will reference when making decisions about a certain issue.  Inevitability these viewers will start to allow these negative feelings to shape their outlook on life and on our society.

Limiting news coverage and focusing on other happier more light hearted entertainment can lessen the effects of violence in the media.  There are many wonderful and inspiring things that happen in the world every day and while these things are often reported on the news, they are overshadowed by more popular stories about depressing issues.   You just need to dig for them  (here's a fun one ) If the news has got you are feeling down, just turn it off.  It will always be on again tomorrow. 




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Unz, D., Schwab, F., & Winterhoff-Spurk, P. (2008). Tv news- the daily horror. Journal of Media Psychology, 20(4), 141-155.

National Crime Prevention Council (2013). Violence in the news.

Cat Runs for Mayor

Social Networking Addiction

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I am going to take a guess that probably 90% of the people who will read this have some form of Social Network page. A good amount of you belong to multiple sites. I still have a MySpace. I tried deleting it but i found sentimental reasons to keep it up. On top of that I have a Facebook, three twitter accounts, two tumblr pages, a Google+ page, and a few more. I mainly use my facebook and twitter from time to time. I have been online since probably around 2001. I originally spent my time finding new game sites and going on with questions. I would hardly spend an hour or two spread out over a day online. Eight years ago I found out about MySpace and made one. Iinstantly added kids I rarely to never talked to in school and friends of friends I had met occasionally. These people meant little to nothing to me until overnight we were posting, commenting, and replying to each other. Out of nowhere, we suddenly cared about people's inner thought plastered all over the web. We were interesting. Not long after, Myspace was replaced by Facebook, Twitter, and everything else.

I mainly use the sites to make my close friends laugh with anything I post. I don't get the same satisfaction some of my older family members have when using facebook. They seems to be on Day and Night Posting and commenting and sending game invites to me in endless droves in which I will never accept. I think It's gaining more traction with middle aged people because theyre interested to find people they havent seen in decades. Whereas my generation is talking to people they literally just saw. It gives me a bad taste in my mouth seeing people constantly updating at all times. It's useless depressing information.

Although it has lasted a while, I think Facebook will be replaced by something soon. The site claims about 750 Million people are facebookers. More and more people are deactivating their accounts due to faulty undesirable format changes. When the changes were made, the people on the internet turned into a type of Mob mentality of the incident. It's a heavy addiction to some. The only way to help get yourself out of excessive social networking is by making it difficult to use the sites on mobile. Delete the app on your phone. It gives you a lot of free time that youve realized youve wasted looking down at your phone.

Social Networking Addiction

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I am going to take a guess that probably 90% of the people who will read this have some form of Social Network page. A good amount of you belong to multiple sites. I still have a MySpace. I tried deleting it but i found sentimental reasons to keep it up. On top of that I have a Facebook, three twitter accounts, two tumblr pages, a Google+ page, and a few more. I mainly use my facebook and twitter from time to time. I have been online since probably around 2001. I originally spent my time finding new game sites and going on with questions. I would hardly spend an hour or two spread out over a day online. Eight years ago I found out about MySpace and made one. Iinstantly added kids I rarely to never talked to in school and friends of friends I had met occasionally. These people meant little to nothing to me until overnight we were posting, commenting, and replying to each other. Out of nowhere, we suddenly cared about people's inner thought plastered all over the web. We were interesting. Not long after, Myspace was replaced by Facebook, Twitter, and everything else.

I mainly use the sites to make my close friends laugh with anything I post. I don't get the same satisfaction some of my older family members have when using facebook. They seems to be on Day and Night Posting and commenting and sending game invites to me in endless droves in which I will never accept. I think It's gaining more traction with middle aged people because theyre interested to find people they havent seen in decades. Whereas my generation is talking to people they literally just saw. It gives me a bad taste in my mouth seeing people constantly updating at all times. It's useless depressing information.

Although it has lasted a while, I think Facebook will be replaced by something soon. The site claims about 750 Million people are facebookers. More and more people are deactivating their accounts due to faulty undesirable format changes. When the changes were made, the people on the internet turned into a type of Mob mentality of the incident. It's a heavy addiction to some. The only way to successfully get out of social networking is making it difficult to use the sites on mobile. Delete the app on your phone. It gives you a lot of free time that youve realized youve wasted looking down at your phone.

Anorexia on the Web

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Anorexia is an eating disorder where starvation and restriction take full force. According to Oxford Dictionaries,  Anorexia is an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat (Oxford Dictionaries, 2013). Struggling and battling with Anorexia is never easy. It takes strength, and support to overcome the evils of Ana. However, with the introduction of social media, it is becoming so much harder to recover from Anorexia. 

I battled Anorexia from the ages of 14-20. When my eating disorder began, the internet and social media sites like Facebook and Myspace were becoming more and more popular.  I feel that these websites helped encourage my eating disorder rather than help aid in my recovery. I remember joining chat rooms where people logged on to talk about how fat they were and how they were dying for thinness. There I learned tips and ideas that I probably would not have known about. I also would go on pro anorexia websites all the time. To some, Anorexia is a lifestyle choice, not a serious mental illness. Whenever I wanted to eat a cheesy, greasy piece of pizza or a banana split, I look in my journal of "Thinspiration", and I would decline that craving instantly. These pro ana websites provide loads of "Thinspiration" such as pictures of very thin people, or the calorie count for any food you crave. People also share way to burn more calories.

With this new way of sharing information through the media, especially with social networking, it has taken its toll on people suffering with serious issues like eating disorders.  Yes in theory, social media seems like a wonderful thing. People can stay connected with friends and family from all over the world. 
 Unfortunately used that advantage to help myself stay connected with the friends I made in rehab. We had this weird relationship. We wanted to see each other happy and healthy, but we did not want it for ourselves. We would continue to share our tips about tricking the scale and sneaking in workouts, but we would still encourage each other to seek out recovery. I felt so compelled to talk to my friends everyday. I knew I wanted them to be happy, but I felt so jealous of them if they were loosing weight when I had to gain. This jealously and rage was not healthy. I knew I had to stop talking to these "friends". I had to delete and unfriend them. I also had to removed my pro ana websites from my favorite section on my internet homepage. In order to have recovery, I had to remove myself from those forms of media. I also had to stop watching shows like "America's Next Top Model" because I could not handle seeing all those thin, beautiful women. 

Its funny what the media can do for a person. I have met so many people who told me they would not have found recovery from their eating disorder without Facebook or the media in general. They would tell me how they found all these great support sites and how the social networking made it easier to reach out to family or friends when in need of someone to talk to instead of reacting to their eating disorder. I think they of lying, or it could just be me. 
According to social identity theory, Social identity is a person's sense of who they are based on their group membership (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, p.340). For the longest time I identified myself as the person with anorexia. I wanted approve from my friends battling anorexia. I wanted the people from these chat rooms to like me because of my disorder. I find it silly how the media helped me develop this identity in a sense. At least I can say I am recovered. I hope that to anyone out there suffering, try not to let yourself get pulled into the vicious cycle and being dependent on people who are 't really there to support you. Stay away from negative websites and chat rooms. Remember that recovery is possible if you truly want it. 

Definition of anorexia in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English). (n.d.). Oxford Dictionaries Online. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

The Cost of Constant Connectivity

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Communication technologies--the radio, telephone, television, and Internet; as well as iPads, cell phones (especially Smart Phones), and Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram--have created advances in the way we interact with others and our environment, and has changed the way we work and participate in leisure. It has also, however, taken away much of our privacy, harmed our ability to communicate with others and hindered our grammatical skills, increased our susceptibility to danger, and is making us lonely.

The Internet has been a wonderful asset in the sense that it allows us to be connected to whomever whenever we want to be. It is possible to look up things one does not know or understand, find directions when lost, and shop online when trying to avoid the stores. The Internet has also taken away much of our privacy. People are much easier to track than before; just take Facebook for example. Many people post where they are, what they are doing, and with whom, displaying both the time and location.

Information that identifies individual Internet users, their surfing habits, and even their passwords can be gleaned from a variety of sources, including the records of Web sites they have visited that are stored on their own computers and the information they leave behind at the Web sites they visit. This information may be recorded by those Web sites they visit, by third parties that are accessing their machines from remote locations, or simply by sitting down at their computers when they are not present (Levitt & Rosch, 2002, p. 1).

This is why you see West Elm ads to the side of your screen while on the Best Buy web site after having just left West Elm's site). Smart Phone cameras also often track the location of the photograph, and games that must connect to the Internet make attempts to connect with friends on Facebook or other social media sites.

Communication technology has also harmed our ability to communicate with others all while hindering our ability to use correct grammar. It is not hard to notice how often we see individuals "connected" by their phones or iPads, but they are with other people who are also focused on their phones. Spending time together has now become sitting in close proximity, but with little or no real-world interaction. Take a walk down the street and you will notice people with headphones plugged into their ears, or talking on the cell phone, or playing a videogame even when they are "interacting" with friends or family.

It is almost impossible not to interact with communication technology, but in doing so we also have hindered the proper use of language. With shortcut words like "LOL," "TTYL," "LMAO," and "BRB," people have become professionals at the non-use of English. In addition, people, especially younger generations, do not bother with correct spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Sentences in text messages and emails are run-on, lack capitalization or proper subject-noun placements, and their knowledge of spelling is hurt by the constant use of Spell Check. As one teacher states

I am dismayed by students' growing ignorance regarding sentence structure and other simple grammatical principles. This ignorance is most apparent in their writing, which abounds with fragments, dangling participles, pronoun-antecedent disagreement, and verb tense confusion, to highlight a few" (La Vista, 2003, p. 9), and there seems to be little improvement.

Constant connectivity has also increased or susceptibility to danger. It is now much easier for people to steal one's identity or personal account information (shopping online, online banking), for people to know where one lives and where he or she frequents with friends, family, or alone, and for lovers (or ex-lovers) to keep tabs on and harass their partners (called cyberstalking).


Cyberstalking is engaging in stalking behaviors using electronic communication devices (OVC, 2002; United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), 1999; USDOJ, Violence Against Women Office, 2001). Cyberstalkers employ various methods, including monitoring victim's e-mail, sending threatening e-mails or text messages, seeking victims' personal information on the Internet to use for harassment, and monitoring the victim's behaviors with electronic devices such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) (D'Ovidio & Doyle, 2003; Finn & Banach, 2000; Gregorie, 2001; Ogilvie, 2000a, 2000b; Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002)" (Truman, 2007, pp. 15-16).


Facebook photos also give away where we have been, and tweets tell people where we are going. Photographs show the world what we look like, what our friends look like, and display our parents and siblings. People can easily take our photos and information and share it without our consent (consider Catfish on MTV). Criminals and vengeful people have a much easier time finding out about who we are, where we live, and how to reach us, and we continue to make this easy for them.


Lastly, as connected as many people are, they often experience loneliness and the anxiety of feeling like everyone's life is more active and exciting than their own. This creates depression and anxiety, especially among young people, who frequent social media sites and the Internet, being affected by the people they see who are rich, "pretty," skinny, happy, and who look like life is great and that they have tons of friends. In reality, the grass is still often greener on the other side, but our virtual lives have become so integral to our daily lives and the ways in which we define ourselves, that it is nearly impossible to think rationally about what we see.

In the end, communication technologies make our lives better and also make our lives worse, but we must learn how to work with the changes so that we can stay better protected, happier, and smarter individuals.


La Vista, V. M. (May, 2003). "The Power of Imagination." The English Journal, 92(5), pp. 9-10.

Levitt, C. and Rosch, M. (2002, Nov 1). "Protecting your privacy on the Internet". Los Angeles lawyer (0162-2900), 25 (8), p. 75.

Truman, J. L. (2010). Examining intimate partner stalking and use of technology in stalking victimization. (3415052, University of Central Florida). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 242-n/a.

Social Media: Are Our Friends Making us Miserable?

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We've all been there.  We had a rough day (maybe two) and have nothing to do, so we sit down with a snack or a drink and login to Facebook to see what our friends are up to.  Todd went to Cancun.  Emma posted pictures of the kids at Disney World.  Your old roommate got a promotion.  James just finished his PhD.  Haley and Matt just bought a new house that looks like it was featured in Better Homes and Gardens.  You take a look down at your sweatpants, scan the mess in the living room, and I the least interesting and successful person I know?

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and interact with one another.  Just a couple decades ago, we looked at pictures in photo albums and shared the details of our lives in letters or conversations, but social networking sites like Facebook have allowed us to share more information about our lives, to more people, instantaneously...and we're doing it in droves.  Recent data shows 1.1 Billion Facebook users are active monthly and 665 million users are on Facebook every single day (Constine, 2013).  Most research has focused on how Facebook use affects adolescents, and with good reason.  However, little research has focused on how Facebook use affects adults.  Does social networking make us feel more connected to our friends, more fulfilled, or make us miserable?

Recent research suggests social networking might be doing us more harm than good.  Among the findings was the revelation that the longer users were on the Facebook, the more likely they were to believe others were happier and had better lives than them (Chou & Edge, 2012).  This effect was even stronger in correlation with the number of "friends" a user accumulated who they don't know very well.  So why is Facebook making some of us miserable?  There are a number of potential contributing factors working against us. 

First, young adults entering the world face the challenge of figuring out what success and happiness really mean.  In high school or college, for example, we may base these ideas on athletic accomplishments, popularity, GPA, or the school we attend, but what does a happy, successful young adult look like (Jay, 2012)?  How much money should they make?  Should they be married?  What kind of house should they live in?  In the absence of concrete ideas about concepts like this, we typically use social comparison to determine where we stand relative to others (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  This obviously isn't a new phenomenon, but it's possible social media exacerbates the already challenging prospects we face with satisfaction and deprivation during upward social comparison (Collins, 1996).  Why?  First, Facebook allows us to carefully craft the image and lifestyle we portray to others.  We can pick the very best moments of our lives, the best pictures, the best vacations, and use them to define who we are.  As observers of this information, we're presented with the very best they have to offer.  Second, Facebook subjects us to countless opportunities for upward social comparison in just a few minutes, whereas it may have taken weeks, months, or years to gather and process that much information before social media.  Third, due to fundamental attribution error, we tend to translate the positive images, stories, and news about our friends into internal attributions in the individual.  In effect, a new house, promotion, or vacation are processed as "happiness" in the person we're observing (Chou & Edge, 2012).  Fourth, and perhaps most interesting, the less we know about some of our "friends", the more likely we are to perceive their lives as happier or better.  This effect may be explained by the idea that we get a more balanced view of people we know well and interact with (Chou & Edge, 2012).  We may know they are struggling with a health issue, having difficulties in their marriage, or generally understand that their lives are imperfect, just like ours.  When we compare ourselves to "friends" on Facebook we don't know very well or interact with regularly, we're left with only the salient information...their amazing, happy, successful life.  With all these elements working against us (and more), it's not hard to imagine how we can become envious or even depressed with extended exposure.

Clearly, research on how social networking impacts the moods, attitudes, and behaviors of adults will be a growing trend in the coming years.  There are so many variables to consider that it's impossible to determine how sites like Facebook truly impact people of all ages and walks of life.  In fact, at least one study disputes the Facebook Envy/Depression findings among a group of 18-23 year olds (Merideth, 2012).  Still, we know the effect is present in at least some people.  Meg Jay- a therapist who works primarily with emerging and young adults- recently compared herself to a "priest who hears Facebook confessions" (2012).  I'm certainly not qualified to offer any advice on the matter, but the potential phenomenon of "Facebook Depression" will be a truly intriguing subject to follow as more research is completed.  In the interim, if you're feeling the effects of Facebook envy, know that you're not alone.  Most of us are just sitting around in our sweatpants wondering why our lives can't be as interesting as yours.



Chou, H. G., & Edge, N. (2012). ''They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am'': The Impact of Using Facebook on Perceptions of Others' Lives.Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 15(2), 117-121.

Collins, R. L. (1996). For Better Or Worse: The Impact Of Upward Social Comparison On Self-evaluations..Psychological Bulletin119(1), 51-69.

Constine, J. (2013, May 17). Facebook's Growth Since IPO In 12 Big Numbers | TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from

Jay, M. (2012, March 30). Just Say No to Facebook Social Comparisons!.Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from

Meredith, L. (2012, July 10). 'Facebook depression' is disputed by study - Health - Mental health | NBC News. NBC News. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems(2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

The Impact of Social Media Abroad

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It's obvious that some of the biggest changes occurring in technology have to do with computers and the exchange of information through the Internet.  As we look at the advent of social media--and especially the role that social media has played in inciting revolutions all over the globe (especially in the Middle East)--we can no longer ignore this medium of communication as a mere trivial "chat" client.  In watching the rise to prominence of social media entities, we get to see their newfound prominence as a result of taking advantage of the seemingly limitless possibilities provided by the World Wide Web.  As these advents in technology proliferate, they have the advantage of making lives easier and connecting people in ways that had not been possible before.  Probably most important is the ability to share information and data across vast distances and cultures in order to optimize content and information exchange for a variety of users.  

However, with this added information comes the threat of misuse by nefarious users, or simply agents of change in areas of the world controlled by entities that do not wish to see change happen.  As we saw in Egypt, when a group of people becomes educated and aware of the bigger picture in the world, they no longer are accepting of the perceived oppression by their governments.  As a result, revolutions occur, and unfortunately lives are lost in the name of freedom.  As the world becomes more technologically proficient, globalization becomes more of a household term.  Thus, we find that we are no longer isolated from events in the far reaches of the world--what happens there will eventually affect us here.  It then presents us with a unique challenge that must be met head-on by leaders who are able and willing to embrace and become proficient in these new technologies and forms of communication.  This has the trickle-down effect, then, of requiring the user to possess new skills not commonly asked of personnel in the past, such as better attunement to cultural diversity issues, language training, and tolerance of religious and political beliefs.  

Social media can play a vital role in agenda setting, which is the process that determines the issues we think are important (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012).  It can sometime seems as though Americans are quite xenophobic an apathetic toward the events taking place in countries outside of the world.  Some think that non-Americans are somehow inferior, while others feel as though what happens in other countries can never affect us.  Of course, we have seen obvious evidence that this is not true.  Terrorist attacks--which have been commonplace in many areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan--have made their way to American soil, and as such, it would be imprudent to ignore the forces and events that shape the attitudes of foreign nationals concerning the Western world.  

In many less-developed nations around the world, social media has risen to a more pertinent platform.  Granted, the same exists in small pockets in the United States and other such nations, but in many countries, there are individuals--those who once didn't have much of a voice--who are now able to express their views to a much wider audience much more quickly.  Freire (1968) points out the role that literacy and intellectual enlightenment can play in opening the eyes of individuals to the oppression that they are victim of, but in order to truly bring about change, change agents need a voice and a stage.  We saw evidence of this in the uprisings in Egypt, and we actually see a stark contrast in Syria.  The Syrian government has instituted a country-wide Internet blackout that has effectively silenced the voices of the many citizens stricken by the conflict there.  As a result, many back in the Western world--chillin' in our ivory towers and sipping lattes and smoothies--could care less about the atrocities taking place there and the thousands dead and dying in the streets.  Moreover, those not in the loop are left to conjecture why we (the U.S.) have such an interest in the happenings over there.  Evidently, the opinion is that we should turn a blind eye and let things happen as they may, with no care as to the second- or third-order effects that will eventually hit home.  

Freire, P. (1968). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum Books.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.  


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We live in a society that is fueled by the media.  Our children are so immersed in what they see, on either television or the internet, that we forget that there is a whole outside world.  From new technology, to new toys, we are inundated with ads.  Ads are everywhere.  Even if you do not have a television, which in the United States is almost unbelievable, you are still subjected to radio ads, internet ads and even billboards hawking the latest, newest, bigger thing. 

There is something called cultivation theory.  It says that heavy exposure to television and media causes us to become less able to socialize with the world.  (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2013).

I believe that this is a problem with children today.

I have children and I don't even hear their pleas of I Want That any longer.  It's become background noise to me.  If it's something that they really truly want, and then I'm sure that I will get several requests, but when a commercial comes on advertising the newest, latest craze, I tune them out.   It's not that I don't want my children to have new things, it's not that the money to buy said things is not there, it's the fact that children now a days don't know how to truly play.  They have lost the art of pretend and make believe.  They have lost the ability to make up a game that has no pieces or to play with something that has no batteries.  The effects of media are so far reaching that we as a progressive society needs to allow our children to be just that, children.  Take the television and internet away for a day.  Take the batteries out of the battery operated toys.  Take your children for a walk in nature.  Allow them to see the beauty of a life that is unconnected.  Teach yourselves to go without media for a day, you might just find out that you don't want that after all, or that you just don't need it.

Schneider, Frank W. Gruman, Jamie A. Coutts, Larry M. Applied Social Psychology Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems Second Edition Sage Publishing 2013 

Medias Effect on Body Image

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Media can be very helpful and useful in society today. It can be used anywhere whether it is for personal use or even business use and due to its fast spread it can be very influential. Media can help inspire new things such as fashion, education, and even religion. The main thing that media influence in today's society is body image, the question is how far due they go to push their beliefs onto others.

Going back in history body image was consider beautiful when people were more than 100 pounds, full figured women were consider to be beauty. Looking at society now, that is not the case, beauty now is 100 pounds or less. I cannot say that media does not acknowledge its impact on society because they do, they know that using certain people can influence society in their decision in what is expected from them. If we take a look at what young adults look up too can help us figure out why media has impact society in a negative way. 

There are many website out there that promotes eating disorders and there are role models that have been through or going through it at this very moment. knowing that young adults are looking up to these role models, media uses these strategies to make money off of these young adults. Young adults are trying to find a way to fit into society at all times and believe that perfection exist, but what they do not realize is that even the people that are being portrayed as perfect consider themselves not to be.  

A way that media can help change the perspective of these young adults is by doing what the dove commercial do, which is to show that the beauty that is portrayed on a daily basis is actually all make-up and Photoshop. Let celebrities talk about how they feel in there own skin and explain what beauty to them is, so that they can show the world that beauty is within not out. I believe that with this strategy it can help young adults see that perfection is non existing and that even those who are consider to be perfection believe they are not. 


After watching the commercial for Crest 3D whitening strips for the first time, my then 6 year old turned to me and said, "Mom, my teeth are yellowing.  I need those strips."  Two things immediately crossed my mind.  First thing was, holy cow! The marketing campaign for Crest is amazing.  They convinced my 6 year old to want to use whitening strips.  And second thing was, holy cow!  The marketing campaign for Crest has convinced my 6 year old that he needs to whiten his teeth.  After those thoughts came and went; I, like any other mom, asked my son why on earth he felt like he needed whitening strips since he was only 6 years old.  His answer was short, sweet and to the point: because the commercial said it was a 'fact' that his teeth were yellowing if he did not whiten them.  Talk about media influence!   Agenda setting is defined as "the idea that the media can shape what issues we think about or what issues we think are important" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 157).  Apparently agenda setting doesn't discriminate on age either.

So this little dilemma got me thinking.  If a television commercial can convince my 6 year old that he needed to whiten his teeth; then what else are television commercials convincing children in general?  In other words, Crest's marketing department purposely took a very specific part of the human body (the smile), which some people are really insecure about in the first place and put even more emphasis on its color (yellow or white teeth).  This may make that person even more insecure unless they purchase the whitening strips to achieve "normal" white colored teeth.  Goal of Crest marketing accomplished- create insecurity in a person's color of their teeth to lead to more sales.  We all know that when meeting someone for the first time you notice first either a person's eyes or their smile, it's called the primacy effect- "a tendency to be especially influenced by information that is presented to you first" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 256).  We look at a person's face to convey non-verbal communications, such as a smile.

This commercial bothers me and still does.  Every time a teeth whitening commercial comes on, I still have to reassure my son that his teeth are a beautiful shade of natural white.  Not something that I ever thought I would have to do...



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Los Angelos: Sage Publications, Inc.

Media Monopoly

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When you're at home, flipping through the channels and trying to find something to watch on television, you may feel like there are TOO MANY options and too many channels to watch. ABC, FX, HBO, CNN, FOX, NBC. So many different channels, right? Wrong. Six major media conglomerates own every form of visual media we are exposed to here in the United States.  Some tie this into the idea of 'the illusion of choice'. Who are these major corporations to whom everything belongs? GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS. Companies like Pixar, ABC, Miramax, Marvel are all owned by Disney. You may have been under the impression that these were all their own companies, but most media companies are pegs in the ultimate six-tiered umbrella of mass media.

What does this mean for us? Iyengar's explanation of framing posits that stories are presented at particular angles by the media to portray facts a certain way (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). If we are only exposed to certain outlets of media, are we only exposed to that particular framing of stories? Are we obtaining the proper facts to make decisions about what is going on around us? What about the stories we don't hear about.

Specifically speaking, news outlets can portray politicians however they see fit. Reporters have been known to utilize a strategy called issue framing - focusing on the issues that are 'important' to the election for a politician, or strategy framing, where the focus is on the motivations behind the positions (Schneider, et al., 2012). Does the media portray a negative outlook on the government? Or do we get the watered down version of information? Whichever the news outlet prefers to deliver is in the information we receive.

What we can do to realign the information we are handed is by doing our own research and keeping up to date on events that the media may choose to ignore, such as drone strikes and bombings in the Middle East.

Here are some links!

Schneider, F. W., Coutts, L. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2013). Applied social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (pp. 25-40). Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage Publications, Inc.

Are We Being Consumed by Media?

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For another psychology course, an assignment required that the class interviews three different participants of distinctly varying age groups. One of the topics with which we discussed was media and the use of media in our adolescence. I was stunned to see the complete transition that we and adolescents have taken in the utilization of media. Not only the various types of most-used media applies to the changes, but the frequency and availability of media has changed drastically since the 1920s (the oldest participant in the interview was born in 1927).

Music styles have changed significantly, from sweet love songs to promotion of drugs and promiscuity, over the years. How does this affect us in our adolescence? Yes, Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory and its ties to modeling of violent behavior is pertinent to the situation, but what about a generalization of this theory? How has this shift in the messages delivered by our music, television, magazines, galore affected our behavior as a society?

Albert Bandura's Social Cognitive theory posits that there are four distinct steps through we go as a means of learning through modeling behaviors. First, those involved with the media of choice must be paying attention and engaged in the behavior that is being modeled. Then, the representational process, we must remember the modeled behavior. After retaining the information, we move onto the behavioral production process in which we formulate the performance of the behavior that has been observed. Finally, and most importantly, the motivational process mandates whether or not we perform these modeled behaviors, based upon our motivations (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

The shift in the types of media we absorb and retain mirrors the shift in behavior choices and societal norms we face today. For example, in the 1930s, the standards were to remain abstinent until marriage, to treat a lady like a princess, and to remain faithful to our partners. Now, some types of music (genres) have aimed to discuss and glorify extreme violence, promiscuity, copious amounts of drugs, and illicit means of making money. Not only does violent television affect our behaviors, but music, magazines, and the people the media depicts as people up to whom we aspire.

Here are some links to further investigate the effect of media on behaviors other than violent ones:;jsessionid=FFC54EDE9F4C72DCA306E33D059B4808.d04t02

Schneider, F. W., Coutts, L. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2013). Applied social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (pp. 25-40). Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage Publications, Inc.


Image retrieved from:

"It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" was a popular question that was used in a public service announcement during the 60's all the way through the 80's that was usually asked around 10:00 p.m., a time that was in tandem with the local youth curfew.  The motive was to create awareness for a TV savvy audience of what their children were doing because it was assumed that they weren't being watched.

Since that time, media has come a long way.  Today, children can access programming through gaming consoles, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and even on their own electronic devices.  The concern is no longer just over where your children are, but what they are watching.

We consume a lot of media information.  In 2008, Americans consumed about 1.3 trillion hours of information outside of work.  That's around 12 hours, 100,500 words, and 34 gigabytes for the average person on an average day (Bohn & Short, 2012).  Researchers posit that the byproducts of technology (the hours, words, and gigabytes consumed by the average person) become a culture's tools and that these tools are internalized by that culture and become a part of the development of intellectual skills (Manago, Graham, Greenfield, & Salimkhan, 2008). 

Through the media, and due to its portability and almost inexhaustible accessibility, every person from 9 to 90 is exposed to violence, pornography, propaganda, unrealistic thin-ideal body type promulgation, and agenda-pushing information that affects us psychologically, socially, and biologically.  Exposure to this type of information becomes part of the development of the intellectual skills of our young people.

Programming for children is particularly violent.  A 1995 study learned that cartoons aimed at a younger viewing audience contain 20-25 violent acts per hour, about 6 times as many as prime time programs (American Association of Pediatrics Committee on Communications, 1995).  That was almost twenty years ago.  Another study from 2001 determined that a child would witness more than 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on network TV alone before reaching adulthood (Ewoldsen & Roskos, 2012).  Just because the violence is inflicted on cartoon characters doesn't mean that it "doesn't hurt anything."


In one of the most famous psychology experiments ever conducted, Albert Bandura (1961) was able to show that children will model behavior from adults simply by watching.  After watching an adult model kick, punch, and yell at a Bobo doll, children exhibited similar behaviors when left alone with the same doll in another room.   This, despite the fact that it was "just a toy".  (Image retrieved from:

Ewoldsen and Roskos (2010) posited that cultivation theory (the concept that TV operates as the primary socializing agent to today's culture) explains how young people actually begin to see the world as the media portrays it.  (Like the children watching the adults with the Bobo doll.)  For example, media violence portrays a world that is more dangerous and more "mean" than it actually is and that "in fact, heavy viewers of TV do perceive the world as a more dangerous and hostile place than do light viewers"; children who are frightened by media may experience nightmares and sleeplessness, high degrees of stress, and depression (Cantor, 2009); adolescents who watch more TV violence are more likely to practice unsafe sex, drive at very dangerous speeds, not wear seatbelts, use illegal drugs, and other types of risky behavior (Krcmar & Greene (2000); and several studies have found a relationship between media exposure and levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in women (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2007). 

Researchers suggest that these effects are a result of vicarious learning (Ewoldsen and Roskos, 2010).  Vicarious learning suggests that we perform behaviors because we observe that type of behavior as being rewarded.  One of the key processes that must occur for vicarious learning to take place is motivation.  As already stated, we are motivated when we observe that a behavior is rewarded but we are also motivated when the behavior is justified and when we become desensitized to the dangers of the behavior.    This is very important because it is the key to understanding how media (including the internet) can negatively affect young people's health. 

Desensitization can also cause young people to act out destructive behaviors, even when they know it is wrong, because prolonged exposure will decrease their motivation to not engage in risky behaviors such as fighting, irresponsible driving, unprotected sex, and improper eating habits.  Barry Schwartz (2004) said it this way, "when making choices among alternatives that involve a certain amount of risk or uncertainty, we prefer a small, sure gain to a larger, uncertain one."   Media influence can cause young people to believe that an unrealistic thin-ideal body type, casual unprotected sex, and violent behaviors will produce small, sure gains such as social acceptance, love, and power.

In addition to desensitization to behaviors that run contrary to our values, we can be persuaded by media to believe that the world we see is the world we live in.  As mentioned above, heavy viewers of television perceive the world as a more dangerous and hostile place.  Researchers have defined a phenomenon called political priming that suggests that the media can control what information you see to influence your judgment of the president, his administration, and other politicians (Ewoldsen and Roskos, 2010). Exposure to pornography has been shown to cause participants to feel less sexually satisfied, more accepting of risky behavior, and place less importance on family, intimacy and fidelity (Zillman, 1994).  Also, viewing unrealistic thin-ideal body type media, especially websites that promulgate the myth that anorexia can be a life choice (dubbed "pro-ani" websites) can have a very broad reach.  Their influence is felt by all women, not just those who are particularly vulnerable (low self-esteem, poor self-image, etc.) (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2007).

So, I ask you again, do you know what your children are watching?



American Association of Pediatrics Committee on Communications. (1995). Media Violence. Pediatrics 95, pp. 949-951.

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through the imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, pp. 575-582.

Bardone-Cone, A. M. & Cass, K. M. (2007). What does viewing a pro-anorexia website do? an experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 40, 537-548.

Bohn, R., & Short, J. (2012). Measuring Consumer Information. International Journal of Communication, 6, 980-1000.

Cantor, J. (2009). Fright reactions to the mass media.  In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 287-303). New York: Routledge.

Ewoldsen, D. R., Roskos, B. (2010). Applying Social Psychology to the Media.  In F. W. Schneider, J. A.  Gruman, L. M. Coutts (Eds.), Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed., pp. 135-163). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Krcmar, M., & Greene, K. (2000). Connections between violent television exposure and adolescent risk taking. Media Psychology, 2, 195-217.

Manago, A. M., Graham, M. B., Greenfield, P. M., Salimkhan, G. (2008). Self-presentation and gender on MySpace. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 446-458.

Schwartz, B. (2004). The Power of Choice. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Zillman, D. (1994). Erotica and family values.  In D. Zillman, J. Bryant, & A. C. Huston (Eds.), Media, children, and the family: Social scientific, psychodynamic, and clinical perspectives (pp. 199-213).  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Media, Globalization, and Young Adults

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    In another class I have taken, I learned about how media promotes globalization, particularly when looking at young adults. The globalization of adolescents is reflected by the increasing amount of similarities in how young people from around the world use media. This is probably because they are watching many of the same TV shows, movies, and music (Taillon, 2004). As adolescents are forming their identity, their sense of self, and their place within the world, they often look to the media for information and directive (Meade, 1970). This is especially true when young adults realize that the world they will live in as an adult is very different from their parents' or grandparents' world (Goode, 1999).
    Davis and Davis (1989, 1995, 2007) studied adolescents in Morocco to demonstrate how media stimulates globalization, with reference to gender roles. The traditional Moroccan culture had stringent gender roles; arranged marriages were commonplace, and females were expected to remain virgins until marriage, while males were not.
    This difference in standards for boys and girls in the Moroccan culture is still evident today (Davis & Davis, 2007). When looking at adolescents' use of media, you can see that young men have much more freedom to access media, such as going to the movies. Davis and Davis (1995) reported that 80% of boys went to the movies on occasion or more, but it would be disgraceful for a young woman to ever go to the movies. Nevertheless, adolescents in Morocco, both males and females, get a glimpse of gender roles that are quite different from those of their own culture. They can watch TV shows and movies, or listen to songs, that alter their views of gender roles. Through these forms of media, the young people might see two people marrying for love, or a young woman with a professional job. The adolescents take in all of this new information, and create their own ideas about how they should behave as a man or woman (Obermeyer, 2000).
    To sum it up, media is "used by adolescents in a period of rapid social change to re-imagine many aspects of their lives, including a desire for more autonomy, for more variety in sexual interactions, and for more choice of a job and of a mate (Davis & Davis, 1995). This research shows how media can play an important role in an adolescent's socialization and development of personal identity. They may decide who they want to be, and what their roles are, based not only on their own culture, but on other cultures as well.


Davis, S. S., & Davis, D. A. (1989). Adolescence in a Moroccan town. New Brunswick:    Rutgers.

Davis, S. S., & Davis, D. A. (1995). "The mosque and the satellite": Media and adolescence in a Moroccan town. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 24, 577-594.

Davis, S. S., & Davis, D. A. (2007). Morocco. In J.J. Arnett, R. Ahmed, B. Nsamenang, T.S.     Saraswathi, & R. Silbereisen (Eds.), International encyclopedia of adolescence. New York: Routlege.

Goode, E. (1999, May 20). Study finds TV trims Fiji girls' body image and eating habits. New     York Times, p. A1.

Meade, M. (1970). Culture and commitment: A study of the generation gap. Garden City:     Doubleday.

Obermeyer, C. M. (2000). Sexuality in Morocco: Changing context and contested domain.     Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 2, 239-254.

Taillon, G. (2004). Remote control wars: The media battle for the minds and hearts of our youth. Frederick: Publish American Baltimore.

"R U there yet?": Texting and Driving

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The use of cell phones has helped many people when in a difficult situation, such as an emergency or navigation when lost.  But what happens when theses forms of communication are the things causing the emergencies?  Texting while driving is becoming one of the most common distraction to drivers.  The number of people killed from a texting and driving accident is rapidly increasing.  

"The National Highway Safety Administration reported that in 2010 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes - with 3,092 people killed - and crashes resulting in an injury - with 416,000 people wounded" (FCC, 2011).

People are not only risking their own lives by choosing to text while driving, but they are also putting everyone else around them in danger too, which is the scary part.  One of my good friends was involved in an accident involving texting and driving.  Luckily it took place during traffic, leaving the damage less severe, but nonetheless, a man became distracted by his phone and swerved over in her lane and totaling her car.

Because of the dangers that texting and driving causes, many states have taken action and implemented laws prohibiting the use of a cell phone while driving. According to NBC News, "The CDC says 33 states and the District of Columbia have laws restricting at least some teens or new drivers from using cell phones while driving" (Fox, 2013).  Just in case these laws are not enough to stop texting and driving, cell phone manufacturers are creating a feature that acts as a parental control and locks the device when traveling over a certain speed (Wilms 2012).  This feature allows parents to be in control of their children while driving without even being with them. 

Cell phone can be very helpful in most situations, allowing a person to keep in contact with others on the go.  But lately it seems as if these little computers are causing more harm then help.  According to Forbes Magazine, "texting causes 25% of all accidents, totally 1.6M per year (Nat'l Safety Council) and causes 330,000 injuries per year (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study)" (Wilms, 2012).  Any sort of distraction is extremely dangerous when it takes the concentration off the road, but people have just become so consumed in their cell phones they take the risk everyday.  Taking steps to ensure you are a safe driver is vital, but it now has to go beyond that by being aware of everyone else around you.  Who knows, that car driving 65 mph on the other side of the highway may be driven by a person texting, causing them to lose control and end up smashed into your car.  Safety is most important and making the decision to not text and drive is the best.


Federal Communications Commission (2011, 05 24). The dangers of texting while driving. Retrieved from

Fox, M. (2013, 03 14). When it comes to texting and driving, us is no. 1. Retrieved from

Wims, T. (2012, 09 18). It is time for a 'parental control, no texting while driving' phone. Forbes , Retrieved from

Sexting and Social Media amongst Adolescent

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teens.jpgIn today's society social media is a part of everyone life's if you have a twitter, facebook, instagram, cell phone, computer and the list goes on. For teenagers social media is a part of their everyday lives, especially the usage of cell phones.  One thing that seems to be very prevalent with adolescents today is "Sexting".  "Sexting means sending sexually explicit photos, images, text messages, or emails by using a cell phone or other mobile device." (

According to Inderscience Publishers (2013 ) "When sexting is no longer confined to two people in a romantic relationship, to be vulnerable to sexting implies that sex messages may end up in the hands of predators and have a long-term harm on a teen sexter's future." Sexting is believed to be between two people that are in a relationship. But sexting has been very widely spread, if these two people happen to break up and the nude text message are saved one party might take the picture that was sent and publicize the photo on a social network. Once a sex message is sent the receiver can take the picture and post it on instragram, facebook etc, and then the picture is no longer personal and the sender is being viewed by everyone that has access to a social network.

            Studies have shown that teen girls have a high percentage rate of sending sex message. Girls will send messages like this to a significant other, or that they might have felt pressured by a guy that they liked to send the picture, or that they were sending these pictures to be flirtatious. In some other cases girls have sent sex messages as a joke or event just to feel sexy. Once these pictures are sent they are more than likely to be shares with the receivers' friends or posted on social media. According to Schneider, Gruman, Coutts (2012) "Women in particular are degraded and demeaned." (p.149)  Young ladies that are sending these picture are degrading themselves once sending these pictures and once they are share with social media the person posting them are demeaning these young ladies even more.

The state of New Jersey took stride to try and stop sexting. There has been a bill passed stating that any teens that are caught sexting will be sent to a program to inform them on how dangerous sexting is. If these teens are caught sex messaging (sending or receiving) after they have went to the program they can be in some serious trouble. According to  Demarco (2011) "Legislators say sending or receiving nude or semi-nude images is potentially dangerous because teenagers who engage in sexting may not realize they're violating child pornography laws. It also encourages bullying, they say: a photo sent to one other person meant to be kept private could easily be shared with others." Sexting is more serious than adolescence think. People that are victims of their pictures getting spread across the web are being abused, bullied, and humiliated. The people that are sending the text are also promoting child pornography, and cause humiliation to them because they don't know who those pictures are being spread to until it's too late.  

Social media is a network that all teens take part in. Adolescents sending a sex message think that this picture is only being share with the person that received the message. Regardless if they the message is being sent to a significant other, or as a joke the sender should be mindful of whom else will have access to this picture before they make the decision to actually press "send". I believe that the State of New Jersey have taken the right precautions to how they have punishments for those who are caught sexing, because these adolescences taking part in sexing don't realize severity in what they are doing.         


Schneider, F.W. , Gruman, J.A. , Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, INC


Teenage Sexting Statistics. (March 18, 2013) from  PCs N Dreams Web site:


Inderscience Publishers (2013, March 14). Teen sexting, the gender gap. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 18, 2013, from


Demarco, M. (2011, March 15). N.J. lawmarkers approve education program for teens caught 'sexting'. Advacne ditigal. Retrieved March 18, 2013 from New Jersey Real-Time News

The Hidden Dangers of Mass Media

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The Hidden Dangers of Mass Media

            Violence and aggression in America has been a topic of discussion for a long time now.    The increase in communication technology has forever changed how people socialize and live their lives.  Mass media, such as television programs, newspapers, magazines, movies, video games, Internet, social networking sites, etc., has increased accessibility of information and content that was previously not available unless witnessed personally.  Many individuals are at risk for the effects of media exposure, especially the youth.  There have been many studies conducted that have shown that media exposure can increase aggression (Gentile & Bushman, 2012; Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012), especially with youth, and I believe the negative outcomes can be related to Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory and his social learning theory, but could be reduced by the risk and resilience approach.        

            Watching the news can be depressing with all the horrible stories, such as school shootings and bullying incidents, and has created people to question what is causing such tragedies.  Many people are at risk for the negative consequences mass media can have on one's psychological well-being and overall quality of life.  According to Gentile & Bushman's (2012) research study, continuous or repeated exposure to violent media can result in perceptual changes, such as perceiving ambiguous events as hostile, cognitive change, such as "belief that aggression is normal," and emotional responses, such as anger (p. 139).  Today, mass media sources portray images of violence and sex that is readily available for young minds to experience, which can be dangerous due to what can be learned. Explained by Albert Bandura's social learning theory, children can learn to imitate their parents' behaviors, such as watching television shows, movies, and even music that has violent or sexual content.  Furthermore, children can learn vicariously from mass media exposure, as explained in Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory.  

            Many parents may watch the latest trending criminal law television programs, local news programs, action or horror movies, and so forth that may influence the children in the home.  For example, my husband and I go to the drive-in movie theater during the summer and when a good Disney movie, or similar, is playing we take our 10 year old son and a friend.  The reason why we usually can't take our son to the drive-in is due to the way the movies are shown. Two movies are shown in an evening and we have learned that can be dangerous, especially if you do not know what the other movie is going to be about.  Actually, we are not even sure what the movie we may be going to see is fully about, so either way we take a risk to do something as a family.

            I can remember one occasion when we went to see the latest Madagascar movie and the kids wanted to stay for the next movie, which I think was a new-age Snow White.  Unfortunately, my husband and I were interested in the beginning of the movie and thought it could be good, but the violent and mild sexual images were not appropriate for the kids.  The kids seemed mesmerized by all the fighting in the war scene and after a few minutes we decided it was best to leave.  In comparison, there were occasions when my husband and I had a night out and we went to the drive-ins to see PG-13 or R movie that, we think, had strong content for younger audiences, but there were many youths there, mostly with their parents or their friend's parents.  According to Albert Bandura's social learning theory, parents could be taking a risk of teaching their children to enjoy entertainment with embedded violent and embedded sexual material that could lead to them imitating the behaviors, especially if they meet the four requirements of Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory. 

            According to Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory, the first process for a child to vicariously learn, such as in the drive-in scenario above would be for the movie to be attractive enough to gain their attention, similar to the war scene that gained my son and his friend's undivided attention.  Second, the representational process that takes place when the behavior is remembered.  For example, when my husband and I were at the drive-in one evening, and saw an action film, during the intermission children were able to buy glow-in-the-dark swords to play with, which already showed that they remembered the movie because they were already imitating the action scenes.  Imitating the fighting scenes with their peers or siblings is an example of the third process of the social cognitive theory, known as the behavioral process.  Finally, the forth process, the motivational process, involves whether or not the child was motivated to imitate the behavior, such as sword fighting.  Applying Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory the motivation could be that the characters of the movie seemed powerful, or like heroes, so the children imitated being superheroes, or villains. Hence, learning and imitating violent behaviors and desensitizing them to violent content.  (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) 

            Due to constitutional rights, there is not much that can be done to reduce or eliminate mass media's violent and sexual content, but there are personal choices we can make as adults and parents to help minimize the negative effects mass media can cause.  According to Gentile & Bushman (2012), "Violent behavior is extremely complex, and no single factor can predict it." (p. 138), but aggression has been shown in multiple studies, including: correlational, experimental, field, and longitudinal to increase when exposed to violent media (p. 141).  Gentile & Bushman (2012) explored the risk and resilience theoretical approach to discover if protective factors, such as parental monitoring could help reduce risk factors, such as increased violence and other risky behaviors.  According to Gentile & Bushman's (2012) study, "exposure to media violence is associated with increased risk of later aggression, that parental monitoring of media can decrease the risk, and that the greatest risk occurs when multiple risk factors are present" (p. 145).  Overall, multiple studies show that media can affect our children and the best protection we can give our children is to monitor their media exposure, eliminate or decrease media exposure, and talk to our children about what they are being exposed to.               


Gentile, D. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2012). Reassessing media violence effects using a risk and resilience approach to understanding aggression. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1(3), 138-151. doi:

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A. & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:            Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.  Thousand Oaks, CA:     Sage Publications.








Who is Minding the Children?

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cyber bully girl.png  

We have all heard of cyber-bullying by now.  It's a form of continual harassment conducted via text message, email or social media.  One study shows that more than twenty percent of children between the ages of ten and eighteen years have been bullied this way at least once in their lifetime (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).  Its effects can have destructive psychological, emotional, social and even lethal consequences.  Children who experience cyber-bullying are nearly two times more likely to attempt suicide than those that have not been bullied (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).  The chart below indicates the prevalence of different forms of cyber-bullying as a result of Hindaju's and Patchin's research (2010).

cyber bully stats.jpg 

            How can cyber-bullying be effectively reduced?  Sure, parents could remove cell phones and computers from the reach of children, but that is an unrealistic solution.  Not only that, but taking those items from a cyber-bullying victim essentially punishes the victim for the bully's offense.  The best method is to deter kids from becoming cyber-bullies.  Making cyber-bullying a punishable offense would certainly help deter kids, but that alone is not enough.  Who is going to examine the myriad of technological communications children are utilizing?  Only parents have that ability.  Therefore, the first step in creating a program must target parents.  Social norms within communities must be changed to increase parental responsibility and accountability in the daily communications of their children.

            The intervention hypothesis would be that if parents are held accountable for cyber-bullying committed by their children then cyber-bullying can be stopped immediately and may even be prevented.  Most parents probably agree that cyber-bullying is wrong, but many parents object to reading through children's text messages, emails or social media posts either for reasons of privacy or sheer lack of desire to do so.  The goal of the program would be to get hold parents accountable to community government if their child is found to be cyber-bullying.

            According to the steps of an intervention, this goal should be met by first creating objectives met through specific activities (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012, p. 64).  One group activity that would be useful would be to have parents role play how they would approach their child if he were both a bully and a victim.  The objective would be to (over time and through the role playing of multiple sets of parents) increase the norm of anti-bullying attitudes in the community.  Anther activity could be showing parents how to examine their children's digital footprints in order to detect activity that their child might be hiding from them.  This would help meet the objective of investigating children's communications, thereby meeting the goal of parental responsibility.  Further, punishments should be determined (as accepted by the local government) regarding how offenders and their parents will be punished for cyber-bullying offenses.  Community-wide discussions should be held after the social norms of anti-bullying attitudes have been adopted to ensure community commitment.  Punishments may include community service, suspension from community activities or fines.

            I do not suggest this would be an easy solution; it requires a great deal of cooperation between many people and could not be implemented in one stage.  It requires that the community share social norms rebuking cyber-bullying behavior.  It then requires local governments to create a system of punishment for offenders based on community needs.  However, if it were implemented it could be effective.  Anonymous surveys of all children ages 10-17 attending public and private schools within the community regarding how often they have been a bully or felt bullied online before and a year after the intervention could serve as a method for evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

            Of course, changing social norms is difficult.  Getting parents to readily agree to accept responsibility for the behavior of their children is not a sure-fire way to end the problem.  The cost of such a large strategy could also be too great for some communities.  Therefore, another strategy might be to target kids at school. 

Statistics showed that while up to 43% of teens have been cyber-bullied only 11% of those had told their parents (National Crime prevention Council, 2013).  Yet 34% of victims told friends what was happening (NCPC, 2013).  If friends of cyber-bullying victims are willing to report the bullying to an adult then victims can receive help and support.  This does not necessarily prevent the problem, but it may prevent some of the most threatening consequences from coming to fruition.  An educational course in schools, perhaps as young as fourth grade, could reduce the overall effects of cyber-bullying by addressing it sooner rather than later, if at all.  Creating a sense of duty to protect one's friends from a bully could get victims the help they need and offenders the punishment they deserve.  Students could participate in hands on activities that include helping them differentiate what is bullying from what it not.  This could be achieved through role playing or simply rating statements on a piece of paper as kind, neutral or cruel.  Students could be asked whether a particular statement should be reported to an adult.  The same survey based evaluation method could be used in this type of intervention.


Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2010). Bullying, Cyberbullying and Suicide. Archives of Suicide Research 14, 206-221. doi:10.1080/13811118.2010.494133

National Crime Prevention Council. (2013). Stop Cyberbullying Before it Starts. Retrieved from

Scnheider, F.W., Gruman, J.A. & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Media Influence: stop it or use it

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Media has been shown to have the ability to tremendously impact our lives and our perceptions ever since its creation. Whether it's audio, video, or text, media can change the way that we think about the world (Ewolden & Roskos, 2012). A myriad of aspects ranging from body image (Knauss, Paxton, & Alsaker, 2008), to increased aggression (Anderson & Bushman, 2002), to how we view athletes (Knight & Giuliano, 2001), to who we trust our children with (Hodgetts & Rua, 2008) are all influenced by the media that we are exposed to. The question then becomes, how can this influence be limited?


(Image courtesy of Don Addis)

Sarah Grogan (2010) looked at a number of different articles relating to the variables that influence body image and possible ways to mediate them.  She found that satisfaction with body image is related to the internalization of the ideal body figure as displayed in media and social comparison with those ideals (Grogan, 2010). She suggests that psycho-social interventions be used to reduce this internalization and make the social comparisons more realistic but notes that these are only short-term solutions. According to Grogan,  more research needs to be done to develop interventions that combat negative body image that are more long-term (2010).

In regards to aggression, Nathanson and Cantor (2000) looked at whether an active mediation strategy in which children were asked to consider the feelings of the victim in a violent cartoon would limit the resulting aggression. They found that for boys, this new perspective resulted in less aggressive tendencies than those who received no mediation (Nathanson & Cantor, 2000). Similar to the concepts of pre-briefing, these critical viewing skills reduced the impact that media has on shaping our behaviors (Ewolden & Roskos, 2012, pp. 153-154). It's clear from these studies that there are ways to reduce the influence that media has on our perceptions and behaviors, but could this influence be used in a positive way?

Owen looked at whether media could be used to change misconceptions about schizophrenia in her 2007 study. She found that video segments contrasting accurate and inaccurate from popular movies and documentaries could be used to improve knowledge about these groups, and even found that video education was more effective than lectures in this regard (Owen, 2007). The implications of this study are that media influence can be used to correct misinformation, not only to create it.

Although this is only a brief snapshot of the influence that media can have on the way we see the world, it is clear from these few studies that it can be a powerful force both for accurate and inaccurate information. Despite the negative influence, it is possible to develop interventions to counter any inaccurate or negative cognitions resulting from media. In fact, media may actually provide the means to do this! Until these interventions have been developed though, the development of critical viewing skills may be the best manner to ensure that media isn't leading people astray.

 critical thinking.jpg

(image courtesy of


Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). The Effects of Media Violence on Society. Science, 295(5564), 2377-2379.

Ewolden, D. R., & Roskos, B. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to the Media. In F. W. Schneider, J. A. Gruman, & L. M. Coutts (Eds.), Applied Social Psychology (2 ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Grogan, S. (2010). Promoting Positive Body Image in Males and Females: Contemporary Issues and Future Directions. Sex Roles, 63 (9-10), 757-765.

Hodgetts, D., & Rua, M. (2008). Media and community anxieties about men's interactions with children. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 18(6), 527-542.

Knauss, C., Paxton, S. J., & Alsaker, F. D. (2008). Body Dissatisfaction in Adolescent Boys and Girls: Objectified Body Consciousness, Internalization of the Media Body Ideal and Perceived Pressure from Media. Sex Roles, 59(9-10), 633-643.

Knight, J. L., & Giuliano, T. A. (2001). He's a Laker; She's a "Looker": The Consequences of Gender-Stereotypical Portrayals of Male and Female Athletes by the Print Media. Sex Roles, 45(3-4), 217-229.

Nathanson, A. I., & Cantor, J. (2000). Reducing the aggression-promoting effect of violent cartoons by increasing children's fictional involvement with the victim: A study of active mediation. Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, 44(1), 125-142.

Owen, P. (2007). Dispelling Myths About Schizophrenia Using Film. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(1), 60-75.



The Message and The Media

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Last fall I took two courses related to learning, one covered the pedagogy of distance education and the other was about e-learning: the use of electronic media for teaching. Both courses explored methods of teaching outside of a brick and mortar classroom and what I took from both is that ultimately it is not the media which teaches us, but the message the media delivers.

All forms of media have their own advantages and disadvantages, the written word, although seemingly the most static can entice the reader to create entire worlds within their own imagination. Video on the other hand is incredibly dynamic, and does much of the heavy lifting in the creation of that imaginary world, a world which viewers can enter and exit with a click of their remote. But it is still the message which we learn from, and too often the message gets lost behind a desire to be entertained. Violence in movies and on television has been the subject of a great deal of research, and this research has demonstrated exposure has a desensitizing effect on the viewer, lowering their threshold for engaging in aggressive behavior (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2005).

Many people who have watched the Game of Thrones series on HBO are aware of how violent the subject matter is. I personally have only seen one episode of the series but I have read the books the series is based on and violence pervades the entire series. Recently I found myself wondering why there seems to be less public discussion on violence in books as opposed to film and television? All of the books in the series "A Song of Ice and Fire" have been top sellers, as have the books in The Hunger Games trilogy which is also known to be highly violent. So, shouldn't red flags be raised about the potentially harmful impact of reading these books, especially since a considerable portion of their audience are teens and young adults? Perhaps it is because these particular series are solidly entrenched in the fantasy genre that books have merited less scrutiny than their movie and television counterparts. Maybe it is the broader appeal, and easier consumption of the moving media that draws more attention and concern. Despite the violence, I am eagerly awaiting the sixth and seventh books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, both of which may not be on shelves for several more years. This should give me plenty of time to consider the message.


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.A. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Seriously, Another Ad?

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                Four years have passed and the time has come for another Presidential election.  With the election comes the influx of political ads telling us why each candidate (or concerned organization) feels the other candidate is a bad choice.  If you're like me, you keep yourself informed of what is going on and what a candidate's stance is on specific topics.  You have an idea, or at least a reasonable idea, of why you plan to vote for a particular individual.  However, by the beginning of November I can no longer stand to see another ad grace my television.  Ads begin to blur together and I am left with the urge to set myself on fire the next time I see one (or at least run screaming from the room).  So why the constant barrage of repetitious information (true or not)?

                In many ads, candidates appear to have forgotten what they may have said before or attempt to clarify their previous statements.  This is a demonstration of the availability heuristic, which tells us that people make decisions based on what information they can recall (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).  By constantly updating and introducing new ads closer to the date of an election, candidates are better able to control what information the public has readily available for recollection when entering their polling place.  Of course, the opposing team is aware of this and offers their own counter ads reminding citizens of what the other candidate has failed to mention in the latest ad.

                Politicians are well aware of the availability heuristic and what it can do for them.  The heuristic-systematic model indicates that individuals use one of two processes for making a decision: heuristic, which indicates simple generalizations are used that people feel are indicative of another's attitude; and systematic, which is more detailed oriented (Forehand, Gastil & Smith, 2006).  An individual could easily use either method in making his or her decision on who to vote for in an election.  Depending on how invested the individual is in the election and how much information is available.

                Typically, decisions based on heuristics are less accurate than those using the systematic model (Forehand et al., 2006).  However, it is easier for one to make a quick judgment based solely on heuristics.  Heck, we do it every day when we generalize strangers or situations based solely on what we "know" about the stranger by appearance or the situation from experience.  This doesn't make the decision accurate, but it does make it easy.  We simply decide based on what comes to mind first (Schneider et al., 2012). 

                The fact that we make snap decisions based on heuristics is something that politicians can rely on as an election approaches and more and more ads appear.  Individuals often make decisions based on what it most important to them and can often be easily swayed by an influx of advertisements that present them with "facts" related to those concerns.  Other ads and information often fall to the side since it has less value.  Politicians have come to rely on presenting less of an accurate message and more of a skewed message to court individuals.  By recognizing the importance of heuristics, they are often able to present themselves in a light that may not be accurate, but may be enough to win an election.






Forehand, Mark, Gastil, John & Smith, Mark A. (2006). Endorsements as Voting Cues: Heuristic and

Systematic Processing in Initiative Elections.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(11), pp 2215-2231.

Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., & Coutts, Larry M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology:

Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd edition). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.  Pp. 136-163.

Fear Reactions and the Media

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          The media has become and integral part of today's society. Everywhere we turn we see magazines, newspaper headlines, and breaking news. Whether we are in our cars listening to the radio or in the comfort of our own homes trying to wind down and watch our favorite TV programs, the media is there to lure us in. The impact that the media has on our response to fear has shown to be especially powerful. According to cultivation theory, our exposure to TV is how we learn about the world and is also responsible for how we perceive the world (Schneider, Coutts, & Gruman, 2012, p 147). This seems logical due to the fact that we perceive the majority of what is revealed to us as being true. However, the scary, horrifying aspects that the media portrays at times can have negative effects on a person's emotions and beliefs. The coping strategies to deal with the effects of scary media tend to differ with age. According to Schneider, Coutts, & Gruman, (2012) young children are more predisposed to use behavioral coping strategies while older children are prone to using more cognitive coping strategies. What about adults? We too get scared or frightened by a gruesome and suspenseful movie. With the majority of research concerning this topic being in children one cannot help but wonder what effects fear may have on the adult population.
        For example, as a child, my sisters and I were always watching things that we knew were off limits. We would sneak over to the next door neighbors house (our uncle) and watch everything from Freddy Krueger, to Jason, Michael Myers, to Killer Clowns from Outer space. As we grew older my oldest sister developed a phobia of clowns while my youngest sister now refuses to watch anything in the dark related to horror. I myself am still addicted to the gore and macabre of these fictional films. After reading the influences that media has on cultivating fear in children, I can not help but assume that the long standing effects may follow us into adulthood. Also in regards to coping strategies, I see that we as adults have intertwined the behavioral and cognitive aspects. When watching a scary movie or a thriller, most of us continue to peek through our fingers or hunker down underneath our blankets (behavioral) to reduce the intensity of the fear response. We also use the cognitive aspect of coping with the fear by reminding ourselves that what we are seeing is not real. However, this usually does not relieve the anxiety that lingers for hours or days afterward. The fear continues to persist and shows in our actions (i.e. pulling the covers over your head when you think you hear a noise, not hanging your foot off the bed because it might get eaten off, cutting off the light and then doing a nose dive into your bed in fear that someone will grab you from underneath the mattress). As concluded by Cantor, negative emotions and feelings experienced from media induced fear can in fact persist for years, even into adulthood.



Cantor, J. Fright reactions to mass media. Bryant, Jennings (Ed); Zillmann, Dolf (Ed), (2002). Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed.).LEA's communication series., (pp. 287-306). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, x, 634 pp.


Schneider, F. W., Coutts, L. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2013). Applied social psychology,  understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Sage Publications, Inc.


Media Induced Fear

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Yesterday, I was reading an article on the Microsoft Network (MSN) news website. On the front page, a shooting was being covered that involved multiple casualties. After reading the article, I began thinking about how violent our society has become and the fear it produces. To explain the perception that I had about how violent our society has become, I will discuss heuristics used in decision making process, public agenda, and cultivation theory. In addition, I will discuss the implications of fear produced by media and examine the possibility of interventions to reduce fear.

According to Stanley Milgram's environmental overload theory, we filter out information or stimuli, disregard low priority inputs, and rely on others to absorb excessive inputs (Amato, 1993). Environmental overload theory explains how our brains are incapable of processing all the information we are exposed to. Our brain's method of coping with all of this information is to create heuristics or cognitive shortcuts that allow us to access information quickly (Schneider, Coutts, & Gruman, 2013). These heuristics are very helpful in daily life but are subject to biases and other errors that result in poor decision making.  

Availability heuristics can help explain why I had the perception that there is more violence today than in the past.  Availability heuristics proposes that we make decisions or judgments based on how easy it is to recall instances from memory (Schneider et al., 2013). I made the decision that violence has increased as a result of public agenda. Public agenda refers to an issue that will be heavily covered in the media because it seen as important to the public (Schneider et al., 2013). The large number of news stories involving acts of violence increased the saliency of the issue, which allowed me to quickly recall these instances. The accessibility of the information created my perception that there are more acts of violence today than in the past.

My conclusion that there are more violent acts today can also be explained with the cultivation theory. The cultivation theory proposes that television is a primary socializing agent which allows individuals to learn about the world and their culture (Schneider et al., 2013). Since televised news covers a large amount of violent acts, I used this source to create my perception and understanding of our culture to be violent. This effect applies beyond me in that correlations have been found between heavy television exposure and the perception that the world is dangerous and hostile (Schneider et al., 2013).

The fear that media can induce has serious implications. Fear produced varies by age, with older adults being more fearful if the violence involves realistic situations. In addition, news reports about violent acts rely on emotions and fail to mention the rarity of the situation (i.e. school violence), which ultimately induce fear (Kupchik & Bracy, 2009). In addition, the fear produced can cause social isolation and anxiety, which both have a negative impact on the mental well-being of individuals.  The fear of being a victim of a crime can be translated into social anxiety and isolation in that these individuals withdraw from social contacts and the social world.

I researched the effects that media violence has on a variety of age groups and its outcome on fear. The relatively new focus on the effects of media violence has just started to bring a comprehensive understanding of the factors associated with exposure. The new focus has resulted in extensive development of interventions to reduce violence and aggression among viewers rather than reducing fear.  The lack of interventions allows an opportunity to suggest a possible solution to reduce the amount of fear produced from violent media exposures. I propose targeting those most at risk for viewing violent television (i.e. socially isolated) through educational measures. The measures would provide an understanding of how their decisions about society produce fear. In addition, the measures used in the intervention would expose these individuals to social events and provide an overview of violence in society.

In conclusion, we use heuristics as mental shortcuts to allow us to access information quickly. The availability heuristic contributed to my perception that our society has become more violent. The cultivation theory also explains my perception in that television is a learning source about our world and culture. The fear produced by media violence can result in anxiety, isolation, and fear of victimization. Interventions have been focused on reducing violence and aggression on media viewers but have failed to address fear resulting from media exposure. Educating at risk individuals about the processes that produce their fear is a possible intervention.  


Amato, P. R. (1993). Urban-rural differences in helping friends and family members.

           American Sociological Association, 56(4), 249-262. Retrieved from  


Kupchik, A., & Bracy, N. L. (2009). The news media on school crime and violence:

           Constructing dangerousness and fueing fear. Youth Violence and Juvenille

           Justice, 7(2), 136-155. Retrieved from  


Schneider, F. W., Coutts, L. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2013). Applied social psychology,

             understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (2nd ed., pp. 

             61-81). Sage Publications, Inc.

Society issues of new media. (2010, March 03). Retrieved from



Additional information:

Using heuristics to make inferences:

Murder projection rates:



Presidential media

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Until Barack Obama ran for president, I war largely uninterested in politics.  This could be due to the fact that I was young, hardly watched TV, and was very busy.  It could also be due to the fact that my peers were also largely uninterested in politics.  Either way, politics meant very little to me in the past.  More recently however, I have become increasingly interested in presidential elections, debates, and campaigns.  In turn, this has broadened my interest in politics as a whole.  The reason I was able to learn as much as I have about candidates is because of media.  Without the Internet, television, radio and social media websites, it is highly unlikely that I would not be as educated on political topics as I am.  The media may have a significant amount to do with my interest in political topics and what topics I am actually interested in.  The media is everywhere.  The more people utilize media outlets, the more they may become influenced, educated, and engrossed in what is presented.

            Because the media is where I get the majority of my knowledge on political topics, it could be true that the media is actually influencing my thoughts (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  Agenda setting refers to the idea that the media can decide what issues people think about through what they decide to broadcast (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  I am confident that many others are in the same situation that I am in.  It would be unlikely that many individuals would be able to go to remote locations and objectively learn about issues that they are interested in.  Because it is nearly impossible for most people to live that type of lifestyle, we are forced to consume the media that is presented to us if we choose to consume media at all.  Although we are inundated with media sources today, that was not the case years ago.  Before the Internet and television, there was radio.  Before the radio, there was the telegraph.   

            With the coming presidential election, the media agenda is largely focused on the president and his opponent.  Nearly every news channel is covering a story on either or both of them.  This is true for the television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.  The movement towards social media is becoming more evident than ever before.  Many special events on TV show tweets from twitter accounts about what is occurring on the screen.  This was true during the presidential debates on certain channels.  This may help individuals feel a sense of unity with others in similar situations (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  Loneliness can decrease and individuals may start to feel as if their opinion counts.  After all, who wouldn't want their opinion broadcasted to millions of viewers during a presidential debate?  With all of the coverage of the president and his opponent, I found it difficult to ignore.  After forming my own opinions on the matter, I decided to weigh in and become more involved.  Of course, I found that the TV and Internet were my best sources of current and up-to-date information on these topics. 

            Overall, I feel that popular media significantly influenced my interest in politics.  The information was easy to both access and follow.  Media may potentially influence many of those who take part in it (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  In today's society, it is difficult to avoid it.  From the TV and radio to the Internet and smartphones, media is everywhere.  As people become more involved in media, it will be interested to see where and how it ends up.  Will individuals become even more engrossed in sharing their personal journey with others or will they eventually crave privacy and get burnt out? 




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

The Downside of Technology

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Part of human nature is to strive to provide an easier life, a safer and more controlled environment at our finger tips; thus the invention of technology. What started with a simple pulley and lever systems has evolved into Nano technology and near artificial intelligent robots. Technology has been seamlessly worked into all areas of our lives. So much so in fact that people will look for retreats away from technology. While the introduction of technology has shown many benefits and certainly is here to stay, some adverse effects have begun to surface. Deskilling is known as the weeding out of special skills in people due to the ease of technology. For example, master tailors are no longer in high demand because of massive clothing manufacturers. Even in the medical field, surgeons do not need to rely on their hands as much with the invention of the Da Vinci Machine (a surgical system run from a computer). Most notably however is the effect technology has taken on our youngest generations, decreasing spelling and grammar skills because of the ever so useful "spell check".

One article, "Poor spelling of 'auto-correct generation' revealed" from BBC announced the startling results of a spelling survey. The survey showed that out of 2,000 adults nearly 33% could not spell the word "definitely", and 66% chose the wrong spelling for "necessary" ("Poor spelling of," 2012).

Another article, "Is 'text-speak' partly to blame for the bad spelling?" discusses one London's school stance against phones being used in school. In order to encourage the use of proper English and reduce distractions in the classroom the school has begun a policy that says, students will lose their cell phone until the end of the term if they are using it in class. While this school is receiving a lot of backlash or the harsh stance they are taking, their intentions are good (Jew, 2012).

There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to the use of technology. While many believe that our world cannot run without (at least without some huge catastrophe occurring), the negative effects of the "easy life" should not be over looked. Of course auto correctors and spell checking software can be useful but it certainly should not replace basic knowledge and understanding of one's own language.



Poor spelling of 'auto-correct generation' revealed. (2012, May 22). BBC News. Retrieved from


Jew, L. (2012, May 17). Is 'text-speak' partly to blame for the bad spelling?. Retrieved from

Media Violence

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Media can have a profound effect on its audience. The War of the Worlds serves a classic example of how media can influence the audience to behave in a certain way. However, the topic has media violence has been a hot topic lately. The story of Aurora, Colorado shooting at the movie theatre provides an example of how media violence can be misunderstood and may be taken too seriously once in a while.

It has been suggested that TV shows and movies with violence actually serve to reduce the violent nature by letting people relieve their stress and impulses. This is known as the cathartic effect. (Schneider 2012) The shooting at the movie theatre was perhaps someone attempting to relieve his stress. Unfortunately, he took one step further and murdered many innocent people.

There has been much said about imitation of violence. An individual learns to imitate violence through social cognitive theory. (Schneider 2012) First, an individual must go through the stage of attention. Because violence is adrenal pumping and exciting, the murderer may have been well absorbed into violent media before committing his act. Next, he must go through a representational process. This is simply the mental rehearsal and does not involve any physical play. Firearms are a commonly used in violent movies, and it is rather easy to recall. The next stage is behavioral production process. The individual must be able to learn to practice the behavior observed from previous stage. Buying a gun and practicing it must not have been difficult for him. Finally, the individual must go through a motivational process. The specific reason for his act are not unclear, but it is possible that he sees his life coming to an meaningless end and decided to take out his frustration in public settings.

Despite the apparent relationship of the murder and media violence, individual that watches violent movies and videos may be violent in nature. While studies have proven that violent people were no more likely to watch violent TV programs than nonviolent people (Huesmann et al. 2003) However it should be noted that violent people may be more likely to imitate violent behaviors and carry out violent acts than nonviolent individuals. Regardless, the influence of media violence should not be solely responsible for one individual's course of action.

Media violence has often been tied to violent acts. The shooting at the movie theatre may have lighted fire for those that support the theory. However, it is important to examine the perpetrator before making a generalization for the entire population because there may be other factors involved that led to the horrific shooting. Exposure to media violence should nevertheless be limited to children at young age; at least until they are capable of distinguishing between what is on TV and what is in reality. There are still future studies to be done but I think examining the relationship between violent people and their likelihood to imitate violent behavior may be a nod in the right direction.


Huesmann, L. R., Moise-Titus, J., Poldolski, C. L., & Eron, L. D. (2003) Longitudinal relation between children's exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977-1992. Developmental Psychology, 39, 201-221

Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, (2012). Applied Social Psychology Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, 2nd  edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.


A Divided Nation

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America is a country that was founded on the principles of democracy. The founding fathers designed the constitution to provide people with freedom and the ability to have a say in the laws by which they needed to abide. One item of particular importance to the founders was giving people the ability to elect the country's leaders. By giving people the opportunity to vote, people were able to express their opinions and able to have an impact on the manner by which the country was run. What the founding fathers did not want, however, was the development of political parties. They feared that political parties would only lead to conflicts due to their tendency of drawing ideological lines between people.


Unfortunately, shortly after the drafting of the constitution, came the rise of two major political parties. Today, the country still operates using this two party system and, just as feared by the founding fathers, the parties have given rise to a significant amount of division between Americans. But, what is it that has caused the rift between the two parties and their followers to grow so large? The media is largely to blame, especially since most of the 'news' sources have (not so quietly) pledged their allegiance to one of the parties. According to Schneider, et al., (2012), 'confirmation bias is a process in which people tend to seek out information that confirms their initial hunches and to ignore relevant information that disconfirms their initial hunches." Since most people grow up in homes where politics makes at least an occasional appearance in conversation, families are often the source of these 'initial hunches'. So, as this theory suggests, these people will grow up seeking compliant information. This often means choosing a news source that caters to these beliefs. But, as we've all seen and heard, some of these sources provide nothing that even resembles accurate news. Instead ostentatious news announcers will fill their programs with overzealous statements and can find a way to blame just about anything on the other political party. The problem is that after exposing one's self to one of these news sources, the line between political propaganda and accurate news blurs and a person's attitudes and beliefs can begin to narrow, causing the person to become rather parochial. 


In excellent way to observe this ideological divide in action comes every four years. The story is the same as it comes time for the country to select the president that will serve the country for the next four years. After an overly drawn out primary, one person is chosen to represent the democrats and one is chosen to represent the republicans as each party attempts to gain entry into the oval office. The months leading up to the November election are filled with ads released by both parties that vilify the other party's candidate in an attempt to discourage people from voting for that candidate. However, these ads might be a bit too good at discouraging votes. According to Schneider, et al., (2012), when both of the parties broadcast negative campaign ads attacking the other party's candidate, people view casting a vote as a lose-lose situation because neither of the candidates appears desirable. This lose-lose situation discourages votes and is a likely cause of the low voter turnout seen in recent elections.


It is important that any consumer of news media actively work to reduce the negative effects of the confirmation bias and to avoid falling for any of the attack ads. By seeking multiple sources of news, people have the ability to get a well-rounded understanding of the issues at hand from which they can form their own opinions and avoid media agenda setting.


For a reliable source of nonpartisan political news, click here



Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, (2012). AppliedSocial Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Big Brother

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             The media plays a huge role in our lives. It seems to always be there, to show us the news, entertain us, scare us, provide stress relief, etc. The media comes in all shapes and sizes, and is everywhere we turn. In this day and age, we have to accept that the media is here, and that its impact is permanent. Not all aspects of the media are positive, however.

            Media violence over the years has increased tenfold. From the coverage of news events, to movies and television, and realistic video games, violence is everywhere. And often, this becomes a sad case of life imitating art, if you will. During this lesson we have learned a lot about violence in the media, and saw examples of studies and cases where violence has or could possibly be attributed to things in the media.

            Most recently, we have all heard about the tragic mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. In the media it was reported that some of the antics of the alleged shooter have stemmed from his love for the character of The Joker in the films. This is one of many stories that have emerged over the years. My best friend lives in Denver, and I remember her telling me that she went out the night after the shooting for dinner with a friend, and no one was out. She said that the city seemed dead. And while people all over the country and world were discussing it, these issues become very serious for those near it or involved in it.

            It is important to discuss what is real and what is not with our children. Children are our future, and it is our job to raise them right. First, we should be monitoring how much television our children are watching, what they are watching, and what the content of their music and video games are. As children get older, it is appropriate to discuss sensitive topics like sex and violence with them, but it is more important that they know the consequences of acting out things that they see in the media. I think sometimes there is a disconnect between reality and entertainment, and that is the line that we need to better define as a human population.

Twitter covers the Olympics

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NBC has taken a great deal of criticism regarding their coverage of the Olympics being held in London.  NBC is not airing many events live, such as Michael Phelps obliterating every swimming and Olympics achievement records, the United States women's gymnastics teams win all around gold, and Usain Bolt breaking another Olympic  record in the 100 meters.  

NBC is not showing these events, the ones that get the highest TV ratings, live because they want to show them in prime time when the number of people watching TV is the highest.  They only problem is that by the time NBC airs the major events they have already been over for at least five hours.  The gold medal races or rounds take place in prime time in London which is five hours ahead of the East coast of the United States.  

The outrage of sports fans not seeing events live happening only six hour flight aways, and at the same time seeing live images from Mars, comes from social media.  Almost every reporter over in London covering the Olympics is on Twitter.  There job is to report the news and results of what is happening; not making sure no one knows what happens before NBC decides to air it.  During the last summer Olympics in Beijing, there were only 200,000 active Twitter users (Arrington, 2008).  Thats not nearly enough people to cause the complaints that have arisen this summer.  As of the first of July there are 517 million accounts with over 140 million accounts held by users in the United States (Lunden, 2012).

News spreads so quickly and it is impossible not to know the results of events seconds after they finish.  NBC needs to figure out how to air events live and still get the ratings at night they want by the time the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia kick off in 2014.  


Arrington, M. (2008, April 29). End Of Speculation: The Real Twitter Usage Numbers. Tech Crunch. Retrieved August 6, 2012, from

Lunden, I. (2012, July 30). Analyst: Twitter Passed 500M Users In June 2012, 140M Of Them In US; Jakarta 'Biggest Tweeting' City. Tech Crunch. Retrieved August 6, 2012, from


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media literacy.jpg

I am one of the people in the world that thinks that media plays an instrumental role on our culture, as well as our development. I think that children spend far too much time watching cartoons on television and I think teenagers spend way too much time on social networking sites. Perhaps it is an old fashioned view, but I really think that technology is hindering our ability to interact socially. I remember when I got my first cell phone that was capable of texting, I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and so I texted non-stop, familiarizing myself with a vast amount of texting lingo and key functions, until I realized I never actually had a phone conversation and would even sometimes end up texting people in my household, rather than just walking out of my room to talk to them. The same concept could be applied to my brother and video games. He was so engrossed in the game that he rarely would come out of his room to interact with anyone. It didn't even help if you walked into his room. He would not recognize that you were there. The game on the screen had become his reality, and in order to talk to him, you would have to enter that reality by plugging into the game and becoming a character. Once you had the headset on and were talking to him in the game, you had his attention. I find that this picture has become the American family. It is portrayed this way in numerous television shows, and sometimes I wonder if it is an attempt to poke fun at the ridiculous way that we interact, or if the media painting a picture of this family has only served to increase its likelihood, as it has been painted as the social norm.

Media in general has to be one of the most influential tools as far as convincing the general public of something. This can either work for the good, or work for the bad. I know that when I have watched healthy cooking shows on TV all day, or seen billboard after billboard for gyms and different dieting techniques, or after I have read numerous cover stories on magazines about getting in shape and being healthy, the last thing that I want to do is to run to McDonald's and eat a cheeseburger.

In March, when my Bible Study was planning a Tent Revival, we understood the power of media and when we were trying to get the word out, we took to Facebook like an army. The sheer amount of hours that people spend on Facebook alone was something we knew would work to our advantage. After seeing the name Tent for Teens splattered everywhere, and all of their friends talking about it, eventually people would become curious and check out our page, sometimes even deciding that attending the revival was something that they were interested in. People that I never would've imagined being interested showed up at the revival, and I am not so naïve to think that the popularity of the event on a major social networking site did not influence that decision. They saw that all of their friends were doing it, and therefore, it must be cool.

The same is true for the things that we watch on television and reading magazines. This inclination to spend more than four hours at a TV and soak up all of the information it is throwing at you about your culture and the social norms in your region is referred to as the Cultivation Theory. The longer the person sits in front of the TV, the more they adopt the views of the material they are watching. I know living in the North, this was proven true with the MTV show Jersey Shore. People in that area, who were constantly being exposed to that type of culture started to model it, until it became a normal way of life.

Overall, the influence of Media is extreme. It influences the way we think, talk, act, dress, interact, etc. I feel that it would be beneficial to limit media exposure, especially during key developmental ages, so that the influence will be less, and to also limit our media exposure in general for that very reason. 

Social Networking

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Being a 90's child, and coming from a younger, new generation technology has always been a part of my life.  Since I was twelve years old I have owned a cell phone, and computer access.  When I turned fifteen I got my first laptop.  My mom, who is now turning forty-nine has recently married an older man around sixty.  Seeing all the different ages, and generations, you really start to notice how much technology has changed.  Even speaking with my grandfather, who is now eighty years old, you can tell how much things have changed.  I recently had to teach him how to turn on his cell phone.  In our day and age, technology is so advanced and is only advancing that if you don't use technology it is almost impossible for you to get things done.  In schools, it is required that you have internet access which involves you either having a computer or lap top available.  When I start to look at the kinds of toys that I played with as a child, to the ones that children have now growing up, even they are more technologically advanced.

The scariest thing to me about technology is peoples privacy.  To get a job, you employer will most likely perform a background check.  In today's society all they really have to do is turn to social networking such as; Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter.  In my generation and age, these social networking sites are very popular.  "As of August 2011, there are 750 million active users of Facebook, the largest of the social media websites with roughly 50% of those users logging in on any particular day (Facebook, 2011)." (Lesson 9: Media/Communications Technology).  On Facebook people share all kinds of information about themselves, where they live, pictures, etc.  The only issue with this is privacy is not protected very well.  If someone searches my name in google, the first thing that appears is my Facebook.  You can see my "Profile Picture" and where I attend school.  I have made sure to "block" certain things from anyone who is not my friend on Facebook.

I use social networking because it helps me keep it touch with my family and friends, and helps me reconnect with people who I haven't seen in a while or speak to on a daily basis, but I do not agree with some of the privacy settings.


Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at:

The Identity of Millennial Teens

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Media Influence(1).jpg

The nature of our world is changing; we no longer live in a time where a person's environment is restricted by geography or economic standing. Technology is opening up new venues for communication, and allowing for a greater diversity of interaction between people. With these advances we are seeing our youth exposed to a greater array of media influences than ever before, which brings up a very important question: just how are these influences changing the way children and adolescents develop? To answer this question we must look into the theories which have formed our views of development and contrast these against new models which integrate an understanding of how media influence shapes identity formation.

            The development of any individual is largely shaped by the environment; this environment can be divided into three categories: the microsystem, the mesosystem, and the macro system (Lloyd, 2002). We know from research that any change in any one of these systems has the capacity to influence the other- either positively or negatively (Lloyd, 2002). The nature of today's media is influencing the dynamic between these systems in ways that will necessitate a change in the way psychologists view development (Lloyd, 2002). The boundaries between these systems no longer apply as they once did because individuals have whole new domains in cyberspace through which to communicate with other people (Lloyd, 2002). This is especially important when considering issues of how individuals integrate messages from media influences with their cultural and family values (Lloyd, 2002). So much of how humans developed in the past was related to the internalization of symbols and images from their immediate environment, but with the vast reach of media influences that exist, people will now be exposed to messages that are inconsistent with these values (Lloyd, 2002). It is incumbent on researchers to develop methods of examination which account for this factor.

            Such as a system has begun to develop; this model has been labeled AIMSS: An integrated framework for examining identity and socio-cognitive schema (Lloyd, 2002). This system creates a method by which we can examine the links between mass communication and the identity formation process (Lloyd, 2002). Under this model, therefore, it is possible for the content of a music video to affect the social competence and identity of an individual (Lloyd, 2002). An adolescent in this scenario would internalize images from the video, apply these images to his/her concept of self, and anticipate how others might respond to this image (Lloyd, 2002). The adolescent, has thus, used the video as a means to experiment with different types of identities in a way that does not result in peer rejection (Lloyd, 2002).

So what does this mean for the future of our children? Just from our own personal experience we can see there is an abundance of media influences that have the potential to be detrimental if received by the wrong audience. How far should government go in advocating for strict censorship of media? This question is not a simple one; we may not reach agreement as a society on this question any time soon, but we can start exploring exactly how the influence of mass media can be negative and under what conditions these destructive outcomes would arise. We know from the AIMMS model that there are two possible ways in which adolescents use media images to construct their identity: one is a proactive approach and the other is reactive (Lloyd, 2002). Adolescents who use a pro-active approach incorporate media images in an attempt to improve their social competence with peers and to develop healthy social habits (Lloyd, 2002).  Those who use a reactive approach to integrating media images seek out violent and unhealthy images that reinforce their perceptions of their environment (Lloyd, 2002). Thus, we can see from this model that media in itself does not possess the power to influence individuals in a certain direction unless they already possess that desire or tendency. Under this framework environmental stressors would elicit the use of maladaptive schemas incorporated from media images, but the individuals who would act upon them would already have to be developing pathologically.  So while today's generation does have to face new obstacles during the process of identity formation, the fundamental principles which guide healthy development still remain the same, with the caveat being that interventionists and mental health professionals need to be all the more conscious about the array of new macrosystem factors that could deter healthy social growth.


Lloyd, B. T. N. (2002). A conceptual framework for examining adolescent identity, media influence, and social development. Review of General Psychology, 6(1), 73-91. 

Big Brother

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George Orwell's novel 1984 is a book I read decades ago that still enters my mind when I think about the media's effect on society. It's a chilling story about a society tyrannized by a totalitarian ideology. In the story, society is under constant surveillance by the controlling party which is represented by Big Brother. The ruling party dictates what the citizens are to believe is true. It gets to the point where history and the present day are what the party says it is regardless of its accuracy. A favorite party  slogan is, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." The Oceanic society in the novel have been conditioned to accept and follow whatever "Big  Brother" says.  Through the use of the telescreen the people are told what and how to think.  All individualism and independent thought is persecuted. It's a scary time that Orwell describs in his novel and one that I hope never becomes a reality. 

But,.I can't help but wonder, how accurate is the information we receive from the media today? How much of what we are told is dictated by the framing of the story? No longer is a story simply told with the basics of who, what, when, where and why. The story teller determines what slant they want the story to take which causes the story to be subjective."How a story is framed is important because it will make certain some aspects are salient while other elements are deemphasized." (Tyengar, 1991) The framing of the story influences what we are exposed to. The story teller is telling us what they consider important rather than giving us only the facts and letting us determine what is important. 

So often after I watch a breaking news story video I click off the channel. I prefer not to watch the hours of analysis done by commentaries who seem intent on only proving their own point of view. It seems that we as a society rely to heavily on what these "experts" think. Granted others may know more about a certain topic, and their views should be taken into consideration but thinking independently first might help us to make our opinion truly our own and not just a regurgitation of what others said. 

When Orwell wrote his novel in 1949 the technology we have today didn't exist. There was no instant news footage to view current events. I found a quote from Orwell I found interesting,

"indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be doubt about the most enormous events... .The calamities that are constantly being reported -- battles, massacres, famines, revolutions -- tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. Probably the truth is undiscoverable but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion ..." 

We now have the technology to visually see, with our own eyes, what is happening around the world as it happens. We are able to see the facts.  Unfortunately there are soo many different ways for the media to frame and interpret the facts that it is hard to form an independent opinion after watching their input. My suggestion would be to watch the video, think about it, form your own opinion then watch the commentaries for additional information. Thankfully, unlike the Oceanic society, our society encourages individualism and independent thought. 


Orwell's 1984: Was Orwell Right?                                             purpose of this article is to summarize 

Scheinder, F. W. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.Scheinder, F. W. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

The New Kind of Bully

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cyber bully.jpg

    Remember the good old days when you had to have the guts to talk down or talk trash to someones face?  Well at the risk of dating myself horribly I do.  Adolescence isn't easy for anyone no matter what clique or group you are apart of.  The challenges that we all faced during school are still the same today but just like everything in the world the environment changes just enough.  I remember the bully as someone that didn't care what anyone thought and picked on other kids to make themselves feel more adequate.  While I guess I can consider myself lucky bullying never took on a physical or violent form at my school but instead was more of a mental psychological mind game.
    While the mind games today are the same, of that I am sure it is the method of delivery that is very different.  We see the headlines on the news and in the papers that some unfortunate student was driven to hurt themselves based on the new creation known as cyber-bullying.  With the advancements in technology adolescents can keep constant contact with everyone they have ever met via social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.  These forms of open social conversation allow the bullies of today to speak freely about whomever they wish and affect the social status and overall mental state of their intended targets.
    These forms of social media also have allowed the adolescents to create all new kinds of bullies.  No longer does a bully have to be gutsy enough to confront someone face to face but can freely comment about people to large audiences through the easy act of typing out one's thoughts.  It has however been found that those that participate in traditional bullying are the most likely to participate in cyber bullying (Wang, Iannotti, Luk 2012). Since these social sites are not monitored by any form of adult supervision we see the worst come out is some adolescents that seem to enjoy and relish the pain they cause others. Patterns have been indicated that cyber bullying is the most indicative way to determine if students are participating in other forms of bullying.
    Since cyber bullying is not as easy to identify for teachers and other adults it makes it even more important that there is education and involvement regardless of the signs that may present themselves.  If a student is being bullied in class it is easy to see (Agatston, Kowalski, & Limber 2007).  If a student is being tormented online and is being mentally and socially bullied the signs are much harder to identify.  The affects of cyber bullying are however visible in the students behavioral and performance changes which only emphasizes the need for involvement by the educational system.  This may become apparent if a student begins to self-handicap themselves because of the external forces of cyber bullying.  This is where the student begins to believe that what is being said is true and begins to act in ways that support their beliefs (Scheinder 2012).  This type of reaction can ultimately create long term detrimental effects to their academic career.    
    Students that have been surveyed disclosed that cyber bullying was not something that was covered at school (Agatston, Kowalski, & Limber 2007).  While most of the student population knew of instances of cyber bullying occurring they were reluctant to report or engage in cyber-bullying for fear of retaliation by peers and adults alike.  While cyber bullying is seen more often between females it does present a population to both genders of students.  Of the students that were surveyed they reported that they would like to have educational guidance to help not only prevent cyber bullying but teach students how to cope with it.  The most common request was to have a safe way for bystanders to become involved and report incidences without risking their own security.
    I think that the most important part of taking cyber bullying seriously is that we acknowledge that the problem will only get worse if we don't start to take actions now to educate students and parents alike of the potential dangers.  Asking students to not utilize social media is not an option but teaching them the best ways to interact on social media sites is a step in the right direction.  Everything starts with education and with the advancements in technology we are just finding ourselves with new things that we have to be prepared to educate on.


Agatston, P., Kowalski, R., & Limber, S. (2007). Students' perspectives on cyber     bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health. 41. S59-S60.

Scheinder, F. W. (2012). Applied social psychology;Understanding and addressing     social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

Wang, J., Iannotti, R., & Luk, J. (2012). Patterns of adolescent bullying behaviors:     Physical, verbal, exclusion, rumor, and cyber. Journal of School Psychology. 50     (4). 521-534

What is Your Cell Phone to you?

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  group cell phone.jpg

  There are times that I believe I am they only person left on the planet that waits to get a new cell phone when their two year contract is up.  While I use my cell phone as my primary phone I have never felt the strong connection to it that some of the people I know do.  The connection I mention is the droning need to constantly check for texts, missed calls, or facebook updates.  I however recently found myself at a crossroads with the decision to continue my path with a "cell phone" or was it time to cross over into the dark side and get a "smart phone".
     I have to admit that even to me the flat, shiny  touch screens were appealing and would allow me to do whatever I wanted.  Who doesn't think having a mini computer in their pocket would be cool.  My greatest fear however was that I didn't want to become one of "those" people.  I know many of my friends and family that could barely be separated from their phones long enough to have a real conversation. It concerned me that the temptation might just be too great to play with the technology and that I too would be lost to my phone.
    The advancements that we see in technology are an amazing development that we are living in the midst of.  This technology while great does like anything else come at a cost. While texting allows people a form of easy communication it can also create an environment for over-dependence in friendships (Hall & Baym 2011).   We are beginning to see these costs of having this type of communication through its affects on face to face personal relationships.
    The need and expectation that comes out of answering every text at all times wears on the friendship itself.  This expectation between friends surpasses the healthy stage of dependence in a friendship and becomes an over-dependence (Hall & Baym 2011).  The over-dependence can be seen when people check their phone constantly to assure that they have not "missed" anything.  It this excess of dependence between friends continues it will progress to entrapment to the cell phone itself.  While having some dependence in any relationship is healthy and will actually increase friendship satisfaction the cross over into over-dependence and entrapment quickly leads to friendship dissatisfaction.
    The psychological pull to be socially included is a basis for where the dependence on cell phone technology stems from.  Adolescents in particular look to cell phones to fill the need for interpersonal connectedness among each other (Blair & Fletcher 2011).  Since the adolescent stage it is so important to be forging peer relationships it only makes sense that the cell phone technology offers the most developed way of staying connected at all times.  The question that begs to be answered however is how much connection is too much connection?  In the world of adolescents and adults alike the need for face to face communication is becoming less and less required.
    After much deliberation I did finally decide to take a step into this century and get a "smart phone".  Whether that is a smart decision however is yet to be determined.  I do have to admit that ability to do everything in the palm of my hand is very neat and I am just trying to be very aware that technology does not take the place of the great relationships I already have.  If I ever find myself texting someone in the same room I will know that I have lost my vision.

Blair, B. & Fletcher, A. (2011) "The only 13-year-old on planet earth without a cell     phone": Meanings of cell phones in early adolescents' everyday lives. Journal of     Adolescent Research. 26(2). 155-177

Hall, J. & Baym, N., (2011), Calling and texting (too much): Mobile maintenance     expectations, (over)dependence, entrapment, and friendship satisfaction. new     media & society. 14(2). 316-331

Facebook Can Wait Until After Dinner

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          Our entire lives seem to be revolved around technology. How we view our news, complete our schoolwork, finish our shopping, keep in contact with friends, and even how we meet new people - possibly potential spouses. What is this saying about our society nowadays? It seems as though it has gotten to a point where we cannot go a day without technology and social media.

          I remember watching a popular Toyota commercial, about a girl getting her parents a Facebook - while they are biking through a mountainous area with friends. She considers "living" as having over six hundred friends and just sitting on the computer watching her news feed instead of enjoying quality time with friends. As my friends and I laughed to this commercial, it was sad to say that it is so true. Technology and social media today is consuming us to the point where we allow it to run our whole lives in almost every aspect - like having a proper meal with the family.

         In an article written by Dr. Gary Small, for Psychology Today (2009), he stated that because of our technology-driven world, few and few families are having proper family meals. "Having fewer family dinners were more likely to exhibit high-risk behaviors, including substance abuse, sexual activity, suicide attempts, violence, and academic problems." (Small, 2009) We are allowing our children to live in such a face paced lifestyle and we don't get them away from the stress through a traditional family meal.

          However, is technology to blame for that lack of a family dinner? To Gary Small it is. He explains how instant messaging, television shows, emails, and more get in the way of having a relaxing, unwinding time with the household to just talk about ones day. Having a proper meal with the family even allows children to learn how to gain face-to-face interaction skills. Small indicated that, "the opportunities for developing the brain's neural networks that control our face-to-face social skills - what many define as our humanity - are being lost or at least compromised, as families become more fractured." (Small, 2009)

          With technology and social networking becoming more and more advanced, and family dinners are being reduced with the progressing generations - we are losing basic skills that we as humans need. I am very thankful that my parents made family dinners very important. My brother and I would have to walk away from our computers, keep our phones in our rooms, and the television was turned off. Then for an hour or so, we would just sit and talk - we kept our family bond strong and let everything in our minds be expressed. I truly believe that a proper meal with ones family helps children in multiple areas. We live in a society where we need to be outgoing, well rounded, yet very technologically handy. At the dinner table is where all the essential mannerisms begin. Facebook can wait until after dinner.  


Small, G. (2009, June 19). Psychology today. Retrieved from

Toyota Commercial -->

Texting and Driving - A New Problem for Teenagers

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Texting and driving

Texting and driving do not go hand in hand, although many feel it does. I think perhaps many of us have been guilty of the act, at least reading a text message while driving or perhaps even sending them. I used to justify doing so while waiting in traffic until one time I was sitting at a red light and the light changed, I started moving and quickly the person in front of me stopped. That fender bender taught me that it only takes a split second for something bad to happen; thankfully I was not on the phone in any way shape or form. Actually distracted driving is not a new problem, there is just one more element added to the causes of distracted driving, cell phones. I grew up in the age before cell phone, but I must admit it is hard to remember life without them, the convenience is great. I like being able to be in touch with people where ever I am, but I think the one place we should put our phones down is in the car.


In the news over the last few months I have read about two different teenagers being charged with vehicular manslaughter because of text messaging.  One involves a Kansas City 16 year old girl who while texting and driving caused an accident that killed a 70 year old woman (Rizzo, 2012). Another case is of a 17 year old boy who was texting while driving and caused a crash that killed a 55 year old man.

 This young man was found guilty and is to serve a two year prison term and lose his license for 15 years. These cases are so unfortunate, because one, the kids are young and this can ruin their lives and the lives of others, and two, it is so preventable.  The articles indicate that these cases are likely to serve as deterrents for young people, but I think people of all ages are guilty of the act. One type of intervention that could be investigated, is why not some sort of scrambler in automobiles that when a car is running, your phone is disabled. If you need to send an important message, pull off the road and do it! We are likely to see more of these cases and some sort of intervention needs to be addressed before the problem occurs, not after the damage is done!



Rizzo, T. 2012, Northland teen charged with texting while driving in fatal crash. The Kansas City Star 4/19/12 retrieved at

Davis, L. (2012) ABC News retrieved at

My spouse and I are friends with another couple who hold opposing political views from us.  When the four of us talk politics the conversations become increasingly polarized and hostile.  In fact this phenomenon is talking place all over the country; America is becoming deeply divided between red and blue views and beliefs (Abramowitz & Saunders, 2005).  I believe that the increasingly hostile divide between Democrats and Republicans can be attributed, in part, to our modern media environment.

If there is one thing modern media, such as print media, television and internet, offers is the ability to find support for almost any viewpoint or argument.  In fact, so many media niches exist that it becomes easiest to read magazines and visit websites that resonate with one's world view rather than to seek out opposing opinions.  More than ever these media outlets cater to their constituencies by featuring the stories their readers and viewers want to see.  Therefore, through a process known as agenda setting, both Democrats and Republicans are influenced by the media regarding the issues they think about or consider important (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).  In fact research has shown that the amount of coverage allotted by the media to a particular issue can cause the public to become alarmed about the issue even if the problem may actually have waned, or decreased in importance.  This tendency can be attributed to the availability heuristic, the process of judging something based on how readily it is recollected from memory (Schneider, et al., 2012).

Of course when the media broadcasts updates on a specific issue in thirty-minute increments during a twenty-four hour news cycle, it's usually often on the public's mind.  Thus, through the media outlets' choices, the media agenda influences the public's agenda, the issues that the public considers important enough to be addressed by government (Schneider, et al., 2012).  The effect of media driving public agenda is the partisan focus on a few "hot" issues, such as taxes or health care without taking into account the bigger picture, or related issues facing Americans.  More importantly the media outlets, acting from their political leanings, create frenzies of opposing public opinions on particular topics.  This leads to hostile exchanges between red and blue politicians, as well as the public.  Thus the political divide becomes deeper and compromise less attainable.

One consequence of the political hyperpartisanship avidly promoted by the media is a decrease in the public's trust of the media.  CNN notes that the polarization of politics may increase media ratings in the short term, but it is detrimental for the future of American politics (Avlon, 2010).  We are losing the ability to discuss and debate politics in a reasonable and civilized manner regardless of our individual political views.  In an effort to reestablish the public's trust in the media, and the political process, John Avlon (2010) of CNN calls for "reasserting reasonable standards of independence" in media coverage.  Whether holding media outlets to a higher standard of impartial reporting will be possible, or effective, remains to be seen.  In the meantime, making an effort to look at all sides of an issue may reduce deeply polarized and hostile viewpoints.


Abramowitz, A., Saunders, K.,L. (2005). Why Can't We All Just Get Along? The Reality of a Polarized America. The Berkeley Electronic Press.

Avlon, J.P. (2010). Political Parties: Olbermann and the dangers of partisan media. November 07, 2010.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Media Effects

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Modern media has created a world, as an adult, I cannot imagine growing up in. Adolescents have access to so much more information than when I grew up. The advances in technology are astounding and extremely helpful, but what happens when media is not monitored or censored for the children.

 Violence is a frequent occurrence in television and two thirds of children's shows contain violent images (Scheinder, 2012). Children are more opt to be influenced by graphic displays and repeat actions. Repeated exposure to violent acts can desensitize children and adults. Desensitizing means they no longer view the violent act as wrong (Scheinder, 2012). Desensitizing by means of continual observation in that the behavior is mimicked is similar to Bandura's observational learning theory (Bandura, 1986). This learning theory has a few elements: attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation. Simply put children watch repeated amounts of violence, retain the information and repeat when the opportunity presents itself. I run a childcare business and I once had two brothers that wouldn't stop wrestling. They participated in the sport and watched WWE every week with Dad. The behavior became so disruptive that I had to have a meeting with the parents. They decided to no longer allow them to watch the show, but kept them participating in the sport. After about a week, the behavior declined and within a couple weeks the wrestling was nonexistent. It is interesting to see how taking away the viewing of the sport stopped the behavior but they could still participate in the sport and not wrestle outside of it. In my personal opinion a four year old and 7 year old should not be allowed to watch WWE as it is for an older audience and it is on rather late on school nights.

Sexuality is another common theme on television that all ages are exposed to. Much research has been done to study the affect viewing sexual material has on the wellbeing of our youth. Women are repeatedly sexually objectified in music videos and this phenomenon has negative effects on our female youth (Grabe, 2009). Young girls begin to view themselves substandard in comparison to the women they see on television. The young women develop low self esteem, poor body images and depression. Their negative attitudes can lead health issues such eating disorders.  According to social learning theory the viewers will observe the behaviors then internalize them hence believing that as women we are in fact sexual object (Grabe, 2009). I would then assume the same would hold true when young men view sexual objectifying videos or shows. Wouldn't this message be internalized and then those young men treat women as such?

Knowledge on any subject is literally at your finger tips. Technology has brought us chat rooms for companionship and cell phones to feel less lonely, but how is this entire media affecting our youth? Cultivation theory is when the viewed media becomes a social reality (Scheinder, 2012). So, I suppose I am to believe that the Jersey Shore characters exemplify young adults realities? It is scary to think that our youth watch the poor role modeling and internalize those messages as a reality. In my home it is a battle about what one child can watch and another cannot watch. Of course, my husband and I do not see eye to eye on this subject either. There are four years between each of my three children. Being as such we know their brains are at different developmental stages (Arnett, 2010). I know my seventeen year old can differentiate between reality and acting, but my thirteen year old still needs more monitoring. I have my nine year old son to be the most difficult to ban from certain shows. His reaction to my limitations are consistent with psychological reactance which makes him desire the shows more because they are forbidden (Scheinder, 2012).

The monitoring of media exposure really falls in the laps of parents. I feel there really is a lack of knowledge amoung many adults on this subject. It is ignorance of statistics and developmental effects that keep parents from preventing their children to view whatever they want. I have a friend who is truly a strict mom in many ways. Yet she allows her eleven year old daughter to watch Jersey Shore and R rated movies. Our society needs to educate parents on the possible effects too much information too soon can have on young minds.

Arnett, J. (2010). Adolescence and emerging adulthood. Upper saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Grabe, S. H. (2009). Body objectification, mtv, and psychological outcomes among female adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2840-2858.

Scheinder, F. W. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

"Who's Clues? Blue's Clues"

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              I have recently added Netflix to my Blu-ray player and was immediately immersed into the world of instant televisions shows.  I flew through seasons of Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.  However, being that I'm not the only one home during the day at my house, there were some colorful cartoons thrown in the mix as well.  My daughter seemed to love "Blue's Clues."  We would sit together watching the show, as I explained what scadooing was and sang along with the mail song (quite catchy if you ask me).  I was very impressed with the educational value I observed in every episode.  I had not noticed this previously when I was a kid watching for entertainment.  So I wondered to myself, how much is she actually learning?

                "All television is educational. The only question is:  what does it teach?" (Nicholas Johnson, FCC Commissioner, quoted in Anderson, Bryant, Wilder, Santomero, Williams and Crawley, 2000, pp. 180).  "Blue's Clues" captured my daughter's heart as well as millions of other children's, but is it really helping them develop?  In short, the answer is yes.  Anderson et al. (2000) conducted a study on the behavior and viewing effects of children watching "Blue's Clues" (pp. 179).  The study found many positive impacts associated with watching the show over time.  Children who watched "Blue's Clues" over time showed an increase in abilities to solve riddles, abilities to perceive patterns, overall vocabulary, abilities to put stimulus and response  pictures together, flexible thinking, problem solving skills, and social behaviors (Anderson et al., 2000 pp. 189-192).  Interestingly, it was even found that children paid more attention to the educational aspects of the show than to the entertainment aspects (Anderson et al., 2000 pp. 184). 

                Vicarious learning is "the performing of a behavior because one observes it being rewarded" (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts 2012 pp. 142).  Schneider et al. (2012) associates this behavior with Bandura's experiment in which children watched a bobo doll being beaten and then imitated the behavior (pp. 142).  But is vicarious learning always a bad thing?  Apparently not.  Vicarious learning can be beneficial to the audience depending on the programming.  In the case of "Blue's Clues", the kids watch and participate in the solving of the mystery and learn along the way.  They hear the exciting "We just solved 'Blue's Clue's'" song played in the end, and can feel the reward for their hard work.  This excitement encourages them to continue displaying the problem-solving skills.

                Although "58 percent of all TV programs during the 1994-1995 season contained some type of physical violence or a credible threat of physical violence (Wilson et al., 1997, quoted in Schneider et al., 2012 pp. 137), it is possible to get a positive influence from television.  We must simply censor what our children as well as ourselves are watching.  We need to watch more educational and healthy television rather than the violence and gore on the other channels.  When in doubt "Blue's Clues" is always pretty entertaining.   

Link to "Blue's Clues" Television Shows and Games

 Full Episodes of "Blue's Clues"

"Blue's Clues" Games


Anderson, D. R., Bryant, J., Wilder, A., Santomero, A., Williams, M., & Crawley, A. M. (2000). Researching 'Blue's Clues': viewing behavior and impact. Media Psychology, 2, 179-194. Retrieved from

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (Second Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.

The Secret Truth

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What would you say if I told you I could make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, that you can have the car you always wanted, the career you dreamt about, the house that you always thought was out of your reach? What if I told you I knew The Secret? Not just any secret I am talking about The Secret written by Rhonda Byrne and a New York Times best seller self-help books in 2006 selling close to twenty million copies.(Coming soon: Sequel, 2010)

 The book explains that people can control the outcome of their lives by staying positive and focusing on what they truly want in life.  The Secret is said to be based on a universal Law of Attraction that states whatever you experience in life is a direct result of your thoughts. If you think about being fat, you will become fat. If you think about being muscular, you will become more muscular. If you go to the mailbox expecting to see a bill, then you will have a bill waiting for you. Likewise if you focus on receiving money then you will obtain checks instead of bills. The Secret claims that your thoughts and beliefs have magnetized frequencies that actually vibrate out into the universe and thereby attracting events, which share those same frequencies, back at you. If you truly believe that you are entitled to your wish the universe will grant that wish. Likewise, if your wish goes unanswered then The Secret offers these explanations as to why: you truly don't believe you deserve your wish, you failed to listen to the universe's answers to your wishes or you have not waited long enough for your wishes to be fulfilled by the universe.  

I learned about The Secret from a co-worker who is a diehard believer of the Law of Attraction and urged me to give it a try. I decided to put it to the test. For one week I forced myself to believe that each and every day I would receive a bill or some other type of request for money, and sure enough each day I received a number of requests asking for money. Three out of five days I received the run of the mill bills: electric, gas and cell phone. The other two days I received solicitations for money either to sign up for additional services or to donate to a cause.  I was amazed by the outcome. Could it really be that someone can create their own reality? I decided to continue my experiment and for the following week I forced myself to believe I was only going to get good news in the mail. Over the course of five days I received two wedding invitations, a new magazine and a refund from my health insurance company. I was stunned, how could this possibly be true? I sat down pouring over the slew of mail I received for two weeks until it dawned on me. There was no change in pattern of mail I received; in fact both weeks I received the same amount of requests for money as I did in positive mail. I had an equal amount of "good" mail and "bad" mail for each week. So why did I suddenly believe I was receiving certain messages because I "attracted" them into my mailbox? After a few quick searches on Google I was able to find my answer; which are self-fulfilling prophecies.

            Self-fulfilling prophecies is the way you imagine your future to be will lead you to behave in a manner that causes the future to become true. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, p382). Action or inaction follows the belief or disbelief (Schneider et al., 2012, p382).In other words you imagined your future a certain way, and you alter your actions so the future is accurately predicted. If you feel you are going to be late for work, you may move a bit slower, take a longer shower, or take more time in picking out an outfit. Recall what I said earlier about the book explaining that people can control the outcome of their life by staying positive and focusing on what they truly want in life, well that is the basic premise of self-fulfilling prophecies.

Needless to say the claims made by The Secret have been highly controversial. For example, in 2007 an author and social critic by the name of Barbara Ehrenreich criticized the book's weight control tips when it advised to "not observe them (overweight and obese people), but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it."(Ehrenreich, 2007). In addition, Byrne received additional criticism when she claimed that the victims in the 2006 tsunami in Thailand could have spared themselves since natural disasters strike those who are "on the same frequency as the event" (Goldberg, 2009). In other words, they attracted the disastrous fate to their front doors.

The Secret, regardless if you believe in its power or not, does make note of some sound psychological methods that help people lead a more enriched life. One lesson that the book touches upon is that people should look to be more optimistic. Optimists are people who more often expect good things to happen and see the good in the present (Schneider et al., 2012, 381). Several psychological constructs shows that optimism accounts for 5-10% of the variation in the likelihood of developing some health conditions with correlation coefficients between .20 and .30 (Peterson, Bossio, 2001) Optimists have also been credited with living healthier lifestyles and are seen to smoke less, be more physically active, consume more fruits and vegetables, and moderate their consumption of alcohol (Giltay,Geleijnse,Zitman,Buijsse,Kromhout,2007). In addition to the health benefits, optimists have been noted to enjoy a number of advantages including more successful and satisfying social lives, marriages, careers and grater enjoyment over life in general ( PSU, 2012 ). Looking for the good in people, and in yourself, not only helps you to attract likeminded people it will also have a tendency to keep you focused on the goals of what you really want to achieve.  

            Unfortunately, The Secret is not solely focused on being optimistic and lends itself to be criticized more as a pseudoscience than actual sound principles. Psychology, by definition, is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychology uses science to back up theories through empirical evidence and is subjected to peer-review falsifiable evidence. This is where The Secret fails to be considered a sound theory. Byrne doesn't allow for any empirical testing and doesn't allow the claims to be refuted. Byrne argues that if someone did not achieve what they wanted in the world they did not truly want it. In science terms, there is no way to prove or disprove her claims.

Beyond not being able to refute the power of The Secret, the fundamental attribution error can be found at the heart of its teaching. It suggests that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people and whatever the outcome may be, the person affected is responsible. This mind set can be very destructive. Optimistic thoughts by themselves do not magically make good events happen (PSU, 2012). The belief that images in your mind directly create events in the physical world was coined magical thinking by the developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, and primary process thinking by Sigmund Freud (PSU, 2012).  Magical or primary process thinking represents a failure to separate mental images from outer reality and self from non-self (PSU, 2012). There are real dangers in believing that thoughts alone create reality, and this belief can lead to passivity and daydreaming without accomplishing anything, which eventually leads to disappointment and disillusion (PSU, 2012).  It can also lead to blaming innocent victims for their misfortunes (PSU, 2012). 

The fact is The Secret is nothing more than snake oil bathed in some blanket of truth. When you are receptive to experiences and see things in a positive light, you allow yourself to open up to a variety of opportunities. By being optimistic you allow yourself new experiences with a "can do" attitude and that alone will yield positive results. Conversely you cannot just think of a wish and watch it come true. If that was the case I would have graduated with my degree a long time ago.  Writing down what your goals are helps you to focus on it and positive imagery helps to engender a mental state of relaxed openness and lightheartedness (PSU, 2012).  Some people who experience failures in achieving what they want over-generalize from the experience and begin to believe that they have absolutely no ability to create the life they want. The proper term for this is called Learned Helplessness Theory and is the view that clinical depression, and other related mental illnesses, may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation (Seligman, 1975).

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that people are happiest and most creative when working in a lighthearted way, not because they are determined to succeed, but because they enjoy the activity itself (PSU, 2012) this is where The Secret succeeds and may be the reason why so many people have flocked to its teachings. I just hope that it doesn't cause an adverse effect for those who only believed they could achieve their wish without ever trying to. 

Perception of Professional Athletes

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Today, our world is filled with social media. From television to Facebook and twitter, many people stay connected with their friends and in many cases, star professional athletes. Recently, twitting have been a common theme among the world of sports. Players will tweet before, after, and even during a game to keep their fans entertained. This all sounds great, but is this necessarily good for the image of professional athletes?

Social media has become part of our lives. But it can be taken to the extreme in some situations. Remember back in the day where only the coach would speak to the media in press conference? That tradition is long gone and has been replaced by players tweeting about what they are doing and how they feel about the upcoming game. Many tweets are aimed to demoralize players on the other team. This creates more tension for sports team, but great entertainment value for the fans. The unintended consequence of this kind of action I feel, has caused fans to no longer respect their favorite athletes like they used to. People used to love Michael Jordan and the bulls, now they seem to find flaw in every athlete that are under the spotlight

The Miami Heat basketball team assembled a roster filled with big names and all stars. When Lebron James announced he was joining the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, he was scrutinized for almost two years until he finally won a championship with the Heat in 2012. From a basketball standpoint, this is pure entertainment as three all star players team up a mission to acquire a NBA championship. But people hated Lebron because he seemed spoiled and arrogant. People made fun of him for not being able to perform in the fourth quarter, and watched many Miami Heat games in hopes of Lebron losing. It seems like we are getting to the point where sports is more about hating someone and wanting to see that person lose rather than enjoying the game and the jaw dropping action it brings.

Media certainly plays a factor. People criticizing Lebron on ESPN certainly did not help the cause. Fans, believe it or not, can be influenced by what goes on in the media. Back in the old days, fans have their own and independent judgement of sports athlete. Nowadays, what is put on twitter and Facebook can easily sway people's opinions.

What people need to realize is that sports athlete are human beings. They are not flawless, and have emotions just like the rest of us. While I agree that what goes on behind closed doors should not be revealed in public, the fans however should understand that these athletes worked their butt off to be in the position they are in today, The humble nature of sports have certainly decreased, but the entertainment value is same if not better than few decades ago. As fans, we should enjoy the sports, and not obsess with the little mistakes athletes make.

Mass Paranoia

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Mass chaos

                Recently the media has been exploiting the situation of the naked man on bath salts who was shot dead after eating another man's face off.  There are now stories popping up everywhere, we are hearing about stories from a man eating his roommate to a woman eating her three week old son. Jokes are being made from bath salts to Hannibal Lecter references from "Silence of the Lambs". But all jokes put aside some are calling this the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.  One story, managed to put fear into the world after the first story ran. The media manages to take stories, specifically horrific attention grabbing stories and make it sound worse than it really is. This has been going on for the longest time.

The media has a big effect on how people are treating each other because of the fear being put into the society. There has been examples of this since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If one is identified as being Muslim or of Arab decent in America they were discriminated and put into a category where they were seen as dangerous. The innocent have been put on the mind of many other races as a threat causing fear around the world especially for Americans.

                A study was done with Israeli college students:

" A sample of 203 university students in Israel, 41 men (20%) and 162 women (80%), aged 23.9 years on average, completed questionnaires on media exposure during terror attacks, post-traumatic and distress symptoms, coping styles, and personal resources of mastery and dispositional optimism. The main results showed that higher media exposure during terror attacks was related positively to higher levels of distress and post-traumatic symptoms. Higher resource levels were related to lower levels of post-traumatic symptoms, whereas greater use of avoidance coping was related to higher distress's (Ben-Zur, H, 2012)."

                The results of this signify that there is a correlation between the media and the mass paranoia that is being perceived. There are some variables that have to be taken into consideration such as location. This is true when some areas are known to have a high crime rate based on their size. But for those that aren't susceptible to these conditions have reason to believe the world they are living in is worse than it really is. With that being said, this causes people to go into panic mode resulting in violence.

                This is a tough topic to decide a proper solution because society goes for the attention grabbing stories over the safe friendly stories. One solution may be to even out the story selection and damper down the traumatic stories. This way the level of paranoia caused by the mass media will be lower, while still having the necessary information to produce a newsworthy story.



Ben-Zur, H., Gil, S., & Shamshins, Y. (2012). The relationship between exposure to terror through the media, coping strategies and resources, and distress and secondary traumatization. International Journal of Stress Management, 19(2), 132-150. doi:10.1037/a0027864

Half way through my sophomore year I changed my major from communications to crime, law, and justice. The only thing I wanted in the world was to be a detective of the Special Victims Unit, yes, I was highly influenced by Law and Order SVU. We don't realize how television has strong subconscious effect on the way we think and perceive things around us.

            We rely on the television as entertainment to such an extent that we leave it on even though we may be cooking, cleaning, or doing something else. Media plays an important role in shaping and molding us into who we are. Television influences the way we think and behave to a great extent. Even commercials that don't last for more than a few seconds have an impact on us because of the copious airtime, which subconsciously or consciously makes us take notice.


As we all know, advertisements are based on a target audience, but for some reason, I don't know if it is just me or its true, I feel that advertisements lately are catering to a more younger crowd, especially teenagers and young adults. This could be due to the fact that they get influenced the most. People during this age care excessively about their presentation and social identity. Media through television helps them by providing them with the social norms needed to fit a positive identity, and keeping them updated with the currant styles. Advertisements take advantage of social norms and try to present us products in a way that would make us believe that it would help us fit more positively into society.

Television can create a lot of psychological problems; for example, people who are said to play violent video games tend to become more violent, eating disorders, drug abuse, etc.. This occurs because by nature we try to adapt to society and when we are constantly exposed to a certain characteristic we tend to subconsciously believe that it is accepted and occurs is normal societal life. The level to which we humans are influenced by media shows us the effect it has on our minds. The media's power and influence keeps increasing as we keep molding towards it.


The evolution of our physical self, our behavior, our thinking is a result of progression in media and thus we need to make certain changes to restrict ourselves and the ones we love from such negative influence. The media should have certain guidelines that should be followed, especially when it comes to those aspects of the media that is viewed by children and infants (cartoons, videogames, etc). More shows that spread knowledge mixed with entertainment (like Southpark's episodes are based on true news stories which even encourage us to know about what is going on in order to understand and enjoy the humor to the show) should be aired more rather than reality shows that set stereotypes or start certain trends. People, mostly teenagers and early adults need to be educated through school, newspapers, articles, etc. on the negative effects media has on us in order to block it's influence. This would be a starting point to break out from the spell that media has on us.

We hear the phrase "It's scientifically proven!" all the time. You see it on television, you read it in news articles, as well as hear it on the radio and in conversations and other sources. Usually it is being used to convince you of the veracity of some idea or usefulness of some product. Well, as Sheldon Cooper would say "that's hokum".

There are several reasons that phrase is hokum. I'll start with the underlying idea and then come back to a more practical. So first and foremost, science doesn't prove anything. Say what? I'll say that again, science doesn't prove anything. To prove means that there is absolutely no doubt about something. In other words, the theory being discussed is completely and utterly true.

In the scientific method, while truth is the absolute goal, we can always improve our theories (e.g. explanations of the world), therefore perfect certainty cannot be known. More and more evidence can be collected to demonstrate the theory and create more confidence in it. That's why scientists calculate statistics, to gauge that confidence in their findings and support for the theory. But the possibility always exists that new evidence will emerge and modify the theory. So a good scientist will say something along the lines of "the evidence supports the theory that ..." but will never say "my theory is proven, look at this data."

Related to that point, one set of data (or a study) in particular never is enough to say "it's scientifically proven!" The main reason is as stated before that new evidence can occur and one study in particular can very easily be refuted by the one study. Similar to the way one opinion is easily refuted by another opinion. One study or set of data can have flaws. This isn't intentional bias, it is just the nature of collecting data in a particular location at a particular time by a particular researcher with the limitations placed on the research by all those conditions. But by the law of averages such systematic error is washed out as many scientists collect data in a variety of research settings (Carpi & Egger, 2012). So after lots of evidence is collected, then someone can say prove, but it's still not fully accurate.

I'll interject an analogy here from physics to demonstrate why "proven" does not exist. Absolute zero is a theoretical concept in physics where all matter stops moving (Department of Physics; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2012). Moving matter creates heat. However, it has never been achieved and quite possibly never will simply because matter is always moving and there is always going to be some error in an experiment. So while scientists have achieved near absolute zero, they have reduced the error in their experiments to half a billionth of a Kelvin degree. But technically even though they are 99.999999999% close, they actually haven't observed absolutely zero which would be necessary to say it is "proven".

Returning to the practical reason why the phrase "scientifically proven" is hokum is that it is typically used as weasel words. Weasel words is a term popularized by Wikipedia to describe unsupported attributions. It is a claim without evidence to back it. In many cases when someone is using "scientifically proven" they are using it in place of actual evidence. Look closely at the fine print on the bottom of the screen for weight loss television commercials. Even though the spokesperson is saying that the diet or pill is "scientifically proven to be effective", the fine print usually says something like "results not typical" which is the actual facts. Luckily the government started making them include that summary of their actual evidence.

So to sum up: dig deeper and avoid shucksters. When someone someone tells you "it's scientifically proven!" ask for their actual evidence. If they can't provide it or it is presented in a way that makes analyzing it difficult, they are trying to scam you.


Carpi, A., & Egger, A.E. (2012). Data: Uncertainty, Error, and Confidence. Retrieved at:

Department of Physics; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012). Why can't we go below absolute zero? Retrieved at:

uni4dfx. (2009, February 10). Sheldon Cooper on Social Sciences. Retrieved at:

Unsupported attributions. (2012, April 22). Retrieved May 17, 2012 from Wikipedia:

Can't Live Without Technology

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Technology has built a bridge of global communication for business purposes, and keeping in contact with family and friends. The development of cell phones and Internet services has created a new community of it's own. I know in my day-to-day activities for business and personal use the cell phone and Internet has become a significant part of interpersonal relationships and my social life. With the establishment of new social websites such as Facebook and Myspace, according to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), the Internet has created a new community that doesn't required face-to-face contact, but it's a virtual and electronic community that has numerous advantages (p.281).

Advantages of having the Internet are: it provides valuable information on research and educational topics, provides social and emotional support via connection to worldwide support groups, it gives individuals the sense of belonging to a membership, and most importantly, it can influence social change not just within one's own community or neighborhood but on a global level.

Most of us are familiar with the positive aspects of the Internet and the cell phone, but let's keep in mind the negative aspects that we should also pay attention to. Because anyone can become a member of the Internet community it can pose danger to those that are not cognizant of the people who have harmful intentions on children, friends, and family members. In addition, people sometimes improperly use the social networking websites for bullying, and spreading harmful and negative rumors. The Internet can also be used to influence negative promotion and participation of hatred and bias views.

Overall, the Internet can be a resourceful tool if utilized in the proper way.  The Internet has great social influences and strategies that can help break social barriers through open communication and dialogue within various groups, cultures, and social class of people. It also has a social influence on how we view politics, and social issues that affect our country as well as others.  I think the creation of the Internet and cell phones has been one of the greatest interventions to date, as it is a useful source for all people, ages, race, cultures etc. The textbook, Applied Social Psychology, simply defines the Internet as a source of help (p.282).


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology:Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


Commercials - Are they informative or influential?

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Are you feeling hungry for McDonalds?  Wendy's? Red Lobster?  Do you want to take a vacation to Disney world? Buy Insurance? Or watch the next episode of Housewives of Orange County?  Could it be that you are watching lots of television?  For the most part, I never think about fast food until I watch about 2 hours of television during the day.  If I see one of those Red Lobster commercials, I immediately want to go even though I hate Red Lobster.  I know the food looks nothing like it does on the commercial, but I still want it.  The availability heuristic, which suggests that people make judgments based on how easy it is to recall instances of something from memory (Schneider, 2005), is how I choose to eat at Red Lobster when I am out shopping and I'm hungry.  I am reminded of those commercials when I see the logo at the shopping center. 


The biggest thing commercials are selling is normalcy though.  According to a video on youtube, ads cause us to frame how we view the world.  Merchants couldn't sell products by having overweight, ugly , models.  We as a society are primed with what is beautiful and desirable and then we spend our time going after it.  For the 2008, election cycle, I remember how they remade Sarah Palin, when they brought her to the national stage.  She had the features of a beauty pageant contestant, but the closet of a peasant woman or soccer mom, as they were selling her.  Before they presented her to the nation, they went out and packaged her nicely to influence what we thought.  Sarah Palin had to get a makeover to make it easy for us to focus on her message- Why we should vote for her ticket vs. the democrats? 


As we enter into another election cycle for president, the number of negative political advertising will inevitably increase.  We will start to see the negative ads appear regularly to sway voters towards their camp, which is the reason all of the distrust with the US government.  Authors like Paul Begala's mocking believe it's a good thing, but they sway allegiants to the cause because of the framing of the story. 




Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.


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I'm floored by what is going on in the youth culture in our country. Young people are taking their own lives in record numbers, and in many instances, it is the result of the persistent mistreatment they are receiving at the hands of peers and adults--key groups from which these kids should be able to connect with someone they should be able to trust. Because of the constant barrage of personal and physical attacks that are being administered, these kids are searching for ways to get out of their own lives. And when I say kids, I mean it.  The most alarming aspect of the suicide epidemic amongst young people is that the victims who are taking their own lives are getting younger and younger. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIH NIMH), as of 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 - 24 (NIH, 2012). That data was current as of five years ago, and given the notoriety some youth suicide cases have gained in recent years, it is hard to imagine that the state of this situation is improving.


young bully.jpg


The gravity of this situation is horrifying. That is honestly how I feel about it. It is sickening to think that there are children that are being tormented by other children. The new motion picture, Bully, was released to a nationwide audience as of Friday, April 13th.  I haven't seen the movie as of yet, but the trailer alone breaks my heart:




An 11 year old boy took his life because he could no longer deal with the misery that was imposed on him every day. Could the decision he made to commit suicide be a reflection of Seligman's psychological theory of the learned helplessness model of depression?  The premise of which is that certain life experiences can teach people to give up in their attempts to cope with the circumstances around them (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 94).  Is this the reason why this child ended his life?  Unfortunately, we will never know for sure because his voice is silenced.  He never got the chance to grow into an adult because the ugliness of the behavior he was subjected to led to the decision he ultimately made.


And what about the adults that are depicted in the Bully trailer that are a part of the school system?


"I've been on that bus. They are just as good as gold."


--Bully movie trailer, 2012


bully movie.bus.jpg


"That bus" is one of the most hostile places I've seen.  The bullying victim is in the proverbial lion's den, and there is no way out for him. What kind of moral climate would that school administrator say that bus had?  These kids' believed that the aggression they were dishing out on this poor boy was completely acceptable; otherwise I'd hasten to think that one of those little bullying bastards would have eventually stopped or been stopped by other students. Moral climate encompasses children's beliefs about the appropriateness of aggression that are derived specifically from others in the classroom (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 213).  The kind of climate that existed on that bus was pretty evident.


Another reason that bullying violence has proliferated has to do with the profound nature of the bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility. The bystander effect posits that people are less likely to help in an emergency when other people (bystanders) are present, because of the diminished sense of responsibility that occurs with this phenomenon (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 247). This often goes hand in hand with the diffusion of responsibility, or feeling as if someone else (whoever that may be) will do something about what is going on.  There was a lot of that on that bus.  Some of those kids were undoubtedly just as appalled and disturbed by what they were seeing happening to that boy--but if they did not step in or at the very least tell an adult to intervene, then they, too, were part of the bullying problem.


What is encouraging is that since bullying is now a media agenda item, the coverage has brought widespread awareness to the seriousness of what is going on. Change is starting to be seen in the emergence of bullying prevention programs, self-esteem sessions, and diversity awareness for kids, to name a few. The momentum needs to keep building. And hopefully it truly is starting to.




Bully (Movie), Official trailer. (2012). Retrieved from:


NIH NIMH. (2012). Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention. Retrieved from:


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M.,(2012) (Eds.)Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.



Images Source:


Young bully.


Bully movie bus.

How Far Reaching Can It Be?

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HANDSTOUCHINGS-33.jpgAccording to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, (2012), human beings are social creatures with an inner need to belong and have relationships.  This is particularly tough for single individuals today as they tread the waters, trying to glide atop the choppy surf filled with rapidly changing social media.  In my opinion, the typical factors involved in developing relationships, such as familiarity and proximity are not applicable to the same degree that social psychologists have understood and relied upon considering the ever-evolving ways to meet people today.  Pre-cell phones and other forms of social media that exist today, being near someone was paramount to notice them, take note of things that interested you about them and to provoke you to invest in a relationship.  Physical proximity is simply being close to someone in settings such as, work, school, church, athletics, neighborhoods, etc. where individuals are in settings that they can see one another face-to-face and get to know more about each other which perpetuates a relationship.  These individuals know when they will be in the company of the other parties again within the respective settings.  The proximity effect comes to the forefront; as familiarity grows, interpersonal liking increases, and a relationship can form (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

Today, teens and adults alike, utilize various forms of social media to meet others.  Proximity no longer has to mean face-to-face. Familiarity is built from online sites frequented by other individuals.  Relationships are formed right online.  The difference then and now is that people used to know who they were talking to when face-to-face, first-time meetings were the norm.  Today, individuals can go online covertly in their homes, at bookstores, restaurants or even in a parking lot and create who they want to be.  This identity may be their real gender identity, or not.  Their self-description may be true, or not.  Pictures may be edited to portray the individual that they wish they were or just what they think others want to see.  The best foot forward or created fantasy can be presented and readers may have no idea.  Interestingly, even in the absence of pheromones, relationships are developed, people meet and sometimes lifetime commitments are made.

Pitfalls with this entire media craze are long-lasting, often permanent with life-altering consequences.  In some instances, grown-ups do not get the job (Du, 2007); they cannot even get the interview because of some insignificant posting that they have made on one of these mediums.  Teens are in relationships and have poor impulse control evidenced by sending a quick, nude picture text to their boyfriend or girlfriend, someone they trust and actually see off-line.  Sadly, when these relationships end, the receiving party may be bitter and acting out of vengeance, they press the send button forwarding that quick picture text to their entire contact list (Celizic, 2009).  Guaranteed, the send button is hit over and over again, all the way to the college admissions board and even to attorneys' offices.  This results in tragic outcomes.  Teens are prosecuted for distributing pornography, registered as sex offenders and can serve prison time, all with a lifetime record (CBSNews, 2010)!  The flip side of this act is the effects that sexting can have on the original sender.  Attached is the story of a young lady who was strong enough to go onto national news for an anonymous interview before meeting her demise (Celizic, 2009).  Please take time to hear Jesse's story on the link below.

To sum it up, it's pretty far reaching!jessie-swing_grid-4x2.jpg


CBSNews. (2010, July 07). "Sexting" Leads to Child Porn Charges for Teens. CBSNews. Retrieved from

Celizic, M. (2009, March 6). Her teen committed suicide over 'sexting'. Retrieved from

Du, W., & (2007, August 14). Job candidates getting tripped up by Facebook. Retrieved from

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.  

Does it really matter what our kids watch on television?

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Absolutely! Our children are so important to us. We make sure they have the right kinds of foods to eat, they go to bed at a certain time, they have a curfew, there are rules about having a clean room and getting good grades, what kinds of friends they should hang out with, and even rules about brushing their teeth. So why would parents slack on setting rules about the types of television programs that our children view? Some parents just do not realize the impact that violence and risky behaviors in television shows have on our youth.

violence from Our ladyroses.gif

  Violence on television has many negative effects on children. First and foremost, exposure to violence on TV increases violent behavior. This is not an opinion it has been proven in many studies. It also causes increased fear, desensitization to violence, and also a greater acceptance of violence. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 139)

            When children are exposed to risky behaviors they are also more likely to try and repeat them in real life. For example, children may try to imitate things such as riding down the middle of the street sitting on a skateboard since it has appeared in many movies. There have also been instances of children hanging themselves after seeing it on television. They cannot always separate what is fact and what is fiction. People on television many times walk away from an attempted suicide whereas children at home may not be so lucky. Keep in mind that "by the time they reach age 18, American children will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence"(American Psychological Association, 1998).

            Children's exposure to media violence needs to be recognized by parents and other adults such as doctors and nurses in order to intervene. "Pediatric nurses are in key positions to minimize the impact of media violence. In primary care settings, as well as community and hospital settings, nurses often engage children in discussions to assess the child's physical and psychosocial health"(Muscari, 2002). They can ask questions about their exposure to media violence and help with an intervention to address the problem of watching media violence at a young age. The nurses can talk with the parents and children to educate them on the negative effects and help implement a plan that will reduce the amount of violence that the youth are viewing. This can be a good starting point in getting the word out about the effects of media violence. Medical professionals and parents should work hand in hand to put a stop to children watching violence.


Muscari, M. (2002). Media violence: Advice for parents. Pediatric Nursing, 28(6), Retrieved        from

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oak Ca: Sage Publications, Inc

Photo from :

Angelina Jolie- The participatory researcher

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Have you ever cared so much for a social issue that you did what you could to involve yourself  to help better it?  Whether it is a concern about a much needed stop sign in a dangerous intersection in your town, pollution in your city's water, or the starving children in Africa.  To actively participate is what Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2005) call participatory research (p.360).  "It requires the involvement of people from the group or community of interest in some or all of the stages of research" (p.360).  If you have been involved in such a social situation what have you done to bring awareness to the issue?  Perhaps you tried word-of-mouth or flyers; which can be effective for some but may not really grab the public's attention and entice them to care enough to help.  The point I am getting to and focusing on is the magical affect celebrities have in the media. 

Over the years companies have loved using celebrities, whether it is a movie star, pop sensation, athlete, or socialite, as their spokesperson for their brand.  Nike used Tiger Woods, Sketchers used Kim Kardashian, Jennie Craig has used multiple celebrities to market their weight-loss product, Madonna modeled for Louis Vuitton, and I could go on and on and on.  But most of these examples don't involve the celebrities actually having a natural and pure interest in the brand; I can only assume it is for air time and a fat pay check.  But there are celebrities who use their fame for good.  The person who comes to mind is Angelina Jolie.

Angelina Jolie became a UNHCR Goodwill ambassador to bring light to multiple global issues.  She "uses her status as a superstar to generate media coverage about the plight of refugees and the conditions under which they live; [places such as] Tanzania, Namibia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Ecuador" (  She participates by going to these places and speaks with the people to get to know them and understand exactly what they are going through.  Angelina encourages media outlets to document her visits to get the issue at hand out to the national public. 

 Magazines document the media photos from her visits, news outlets report on her visits to the various countries, and she also creates her own blogs to report on these types of subjects.  Angelina Jolie is a great example of a participatory researcher.  She infiltrates these communities in need and does what she can to help the situation and that is by getting the word out.  


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2005).  Applied social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oak Ca: Sage Publications, Inc.

UN Works: What's Going On? Angelina Jolie's Story.

Social Media

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social-media-marketing.jpgIn recent years, the phenomenon of social networking has taken the world by storm. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube enable users to broadcast details from their life, flaunt professional experience, highlight recent adventures with photo or video streams, and build or maintain relationships with friends or strangers across the globe. With the ability to connect with millions of people with just the click of a few buttons, it is no surprise that sites like Facebook can boast 750 million active monthly users (Bergen, 2011). The dramatic rise in the popularity and usage of social media to connect with users across the globe for various reasons is undeniable and almost entirely unavoidable.

As human beings, we are social creatures. The very definition of social psychology suggests this fact - it is a field designed to examine and understand how the environment and people influence an individual or group in daily life (PSU World Campus, 2012). As with any environment, the electronic world of social media serves to influence and mold individuals - status updates, messages, photos, and videos from a member's friend group work together to subtly impact their current state, beliefs, and even behaviors. Just as the opinions or actions of our co-workers or classmates can open our eyes to new beliefs or pressure us into behaviors we would not normally exhibit, social media also helps shape us into the people we present to the world. As social media allows for connections across the globe, one has to wonder what type of influence the youth of the world might be exposed to, and if the more dynamic social groups yield a positive or negative influence. 

Results from The Digital Youth Project, conducted by twenty-eight collective researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley, clearly showed that social media and networking has undeniable benefits for children. Specifically, the study showed that forms of new media like Facebook or Twitter help teach current youth how to socialize, explore interests, develop skills, and fosters independence (Goldberg Goff, 2009). Additionally, a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics also provides support validating the benefits of social media for children and adolescents. The research provides evidence that social media outlets enable individuals to improve communication, learn how to connect with others, and develop useful technical skills (O'Keefe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011).

facebook-depression2.pngUnfortunately, every story has two sides and in the case of social media negative impacts are abundant. The same study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that children already suffering with low-self esteem may struggle and feel that their lives cannot compete with their happy friends (O'Keefe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). Constantly reminded of their own supposed inadequacies, at-risk individuals could develop 'Facebook depression' a result of seeing a biased view of others lives. Additionally, a recent study by Litt and Stock (2011) revealed that social norms for social media sites have a powerful influence on the behaviors of children and adolescents. In particular, the research showed that descriptive norms for alcohol use as portrayed in user profiles significantly impacts the willingness of individuals to participate in alcohol usage (Litt & Stock, 2011). Further, CNN reported that studies show social media usage can negatively impact the grades of middle school, high school, and college level students, and over usage can even effect the health and well-being of individuals (Caruso, 2011).

Social media is obviously a phenomenon that is here to stay - it is practically unavoidable and downright addictive for most users. Despite the benefits described above, the negatives associated with constant use of social media in everyday life should be enough to get parents attention. Do you know what your children are doing online? Do you have access to view their social media profiles?  According to Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, parents should set a good example for children on how to balance personal and digital lives - building a healthy relationship with technology is absolutely essential for children and teens who are risk for cyber bullying or Facebook depression (Caruso, 2011). Helping children develop smart habits for social media use will help promote participation in digital in-groups with a positive influence. Technology is here to stay - it is our responsibility to encourage healthy and supportive social group development in online environments. 



Bergen, J. (2011, June 24). Facebook Reaches 750 Million Users Worldwide. Retrieved from

Caruso, G. (2011, August 6). Kids and Social Networking: Pros and Cons. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from

Goldberg Goff, K. (2009, January 29). Social Networking Benefits Validated. Retrieved 2012, from Washington Times:

Litt, D. M., & Stock, M. L. (2011). Adolescent alcohol-related risk conditions: the roles of social norms and social networking sites. Psychology of Additive Behaviors , 25 (4), 708-713.

Pennsylvania State University: World Campus (2012). Applied Social Psychology (PSYCH 424): Lesson 1: Introduction to Applied Social Psychology. Retrieved from:

Schurgin O'Keefe, G., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Pediatrics , 127 (4), 800-804.

Image References:




Lack of evidence poses a threat to the public.

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One recent headline labeled "Can this everyday item be worse than cigarettes" really caught my attention (Mercola, 2010).  It was literally a must read for me, and I swear that that this article spoke directly to me, changing my thought process immediately.  Believe it or not, the big concern is of health and safety of the public, especially children, are the electromagnetic fields (EMF) being released from common, everyday use of electronic devices (Mercola, 2010).  The World Health Organization defines EMF's as electric fields that are measured by the amount of voltage a device gives off, the higher the voltage the more radiation it gives off (WHO, 2012).  In short, there are microwaves running through walls, and the air, which are being emitted from any device that is powered by electricity, exposing you to the electromagnetic field.  This concerns me for a number of reasons.  For one, EMFs are present EVERYWHERE and we will never see them.  Another concern of mine is with the rise of the use of electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, more people are being put at risk for the detrimental effects that EMF exposure is thought to be linked to.  Cancer. Tumors. Birth Defects. Autism. Lethargy. Headaches. These are a few effects thought to be caused by exposure to EMF's, which is very close to being labeled a carcinogen (Mercola, 2010).   I can provide you with a quick overview of what you can do in your own house to keep you and your family away from harmful EMF's.  Please turn off your wireless modem before bed each night and also when you're not using it.  Unplug as many electrical items as you can each night, because these appliances are still emitting EMFs although they are turned off, due in part to the current that is traveling through the cables.  Revert back to utilizing a prehistoric (okay, 20th century) alarm clock, as the new fancy pants LED light up digital clocks release a ton of EMFs while you sleep, possibly even playing a part in the disturbance of your sleep cycle (Dunlop, 2011).   Turn off your television!  We all know that you will get a much more restful night of sleep if you sleep in the dark and quiet, so kick the habit of falling asleep to the noise of the television (Dunlop, 2011)!  Last but not least (trust me, this one is a dandy), limit or eliminate the use of cell phones for non-emergencies (Dunlop,2011).  Even using a blue tooth is dangerous, as it directly sends the EMFS straight into the head.  If you must use your cell phone, attempt to utilize the speakerphone option as much as possible (Dunlop, 2011)!  Okay, I know what you're thinking, and trust me, I was also a skeptic at first.  A million thoughts were running through my head, but one question remained: can you trust the national health organizations and the FDA to look out for the health and safety of its consumers?  I answered with a resounding no, and completed some more research.  A very interesting article, which made me obsessed with the fear of EMFs, which caused me to religiously unplug everything not in use, and yes, I even started using a ridiculously annoying wind up alarm clock, was the article by my favorite natural health expert Dr. Mercola. Mercola (2011), titled the article Up to 30 Times the Cancer Risk - From This 'Indispensable' Daily Tool which speaks of a controversy between a man whose wife died of a brain tumor (at 33 years old) vs. the Florida court system.  Since there was little or insufficient evidence backing up his claim that cell phone use triggered the rapid growth of his wives tumor, the case was dismissed (Mercola, 2011).  The scariest part is that although the case was dismissed, the truth of the matter is that we aren't exactly sure how cell phones do impact our brains. I had given suggestions about alternatives and how to possibly avoid EMF radiation as much as possible.  This requires little effort which in turn will make a big difference. I advise educating yourself about this growing risk as it most likely will affect you or a loved one at some point.  Please be aware, and do not believe just because electronics are legal, they are safe.  After all of this information digests, tell me, what changes are you going to implement to keep you and your family healthy by reducing the amount of EMF's that they are exposed to? 



Dunlop, A. 2011. EMF- The Other Side of Technology. Retrieved from

Dr. Mercola. 2010. New Study Confirms Electrical Pollution From Cell Phones and WIFI is Hazardous. Retrieved from

Dr. Mercola. 2011. Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer? Retrieved from

Penn State. 2012. Media. Lesson 9 online content. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. 2012. What are electromagnetic fields? Retrieved from


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Just say No to drama

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Caller ID is a wonderful thing.

Any time there's a really terrible story on the news (abused children and animals being especially terrible in this context) or Lifetime is airing some ghastly biopic, it's a sure bet that my phone will soon be ringing. It's my sister, and she wants to make sure I'm as immersed in the horror as she is.
She knows I avoid stuff like this, and she even knows why. But apparently it just isn't as much fun for her to be miserable if she can't spread it around some.

I have a confession to make: Once, I was one of them.

That's right, in a former life, I was a journalist. Even worse, a reporter.
In my defense, it happened almost completely by accident, and I was very young. Like, 12 or so. It took me more than a decade to figure out why I was so consistently unhappy during this time in my life, but once I did, I got out quick and clean.

It happened one night (it really did) when I was the pm reporter and a desk editor picked up a traffic fatality on the scanner. Here in Corn Country, this is a pretty big deal. I was promptly dispatched to the scene of the accident, where I found some really shook up teenagers, several shrieking women, an ambulance and a lot of blood. The ambulance departed, the PD made off with the teenagers, and the shrieking women told me what happened. Turns out the blood was nearly all that was left of a very small five-year-old boy who had been hit by the teenagers' 1978 Gremlin.

I got a couple of quotes, went downtown and got the official version of events from the shift commmander at the PD, and made my way back to my desk to write the story -- just a breakout, I figured. Editors figure differently than me, though.
See, the little boy was black. The teenagers were white. Editors like this sort of thing; they get all red-eyed and drooly over it. redeye2.jpg

"Did you talk to the parents?" Managing Editor Lucifer asks me.
"There's only a mom," I say. "She went in the ambulance right after I got there."
"Then she must be home by now. See if she's in the phone book."
"Why?" says I, really not understanding, but he's already leafing. "Damn," says he. "You better go back up there. If she doesn't answer the door, try the neighbors."
Now I'm starting to understand, and not liking it.
"Look, Lucifer," I say in most reasonable tones, "This woman has just lost a child in a horrible accident. You really don't expect me to ask her how she's feeling about that, do you?"
But he did.

He also wanted neighbors to tell me how the White Man was killing their race off one by one, and how those teenagers had never even hit their brakes (they had, and hard; the child was so small, the driver so young, the car so old, and it was dark. Just a horrible, horrible accident). He wanted anger and hatred and shaking fists; he wanted, in a nutshell, the same thing my sister wants: drama.
And because I realized in that moment that I do NOT want drama, I grabbed my bag and went straight to a bar, where I spent 15 minutes writing something else entirely (and an hour or so drinking beer). Then I went back to the office and told Lucifer I'd knocked on every door in a six block radius and no one was home, and left the something else on his desk: my resignation.

You almost can't blame the vile (bad word deleted here): He really was just trying to do his job. Because his job is to sell papers, and drama does that. When I hear people denigrating the media for their focus on and dissemination of these kinds of news items, I usually have to tell them that the media wouldn't run those kinds of stories if consumers didn't buy them -- you buy the paper, you watch the news story, you read the article online; it might not cost you any dollars, but if you don't think you're paying for it, keep reading. In other words, it's your own stupid fault for being a bloodthirsty rubbernecking drama-sucking vampire.
You can imagine how many friends I gain this way.

Michael Moore, in his 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, suggests that much of the violence (he's talking specifically about guns, but I think we can generalize) that takes place in the U.S. is attributable to a "climate of fear" that is perpetuated by the media. If you haven't seen this film, you might want to; it raises some interesting points.

This lines up nicely with the idea espoused by cultivation theory that "one of the consequences of media violence is that people begin to see the world as more dangerous" (Schneider, Gruman and Coutts, 2012, p. 147). Children find news stories scary; adults who watch the local news faithfully are "more likely to experience fear and be concerned about crime rates in their community" (Ibid, p. 148).news.jpg
But who's wagging what here? Did the American media just put their collective heads together one day and say, "OK, so we'll all really push the worst stuff we can find about people, and we'll let ... meaniemyneemo ... YOU, Paul Harvey! We'll let you do all the stories about good people doing nice things. Everybody got it?"

And if the media is actually just trying to satisfy our desire for blood and guts, how come media in other countries don't all do the same thing, thereby creating similar climates of fear in those places? Do other cultures not like violence as much as we do? Is it less shocking, less newsworthy to them? But then what about all those bloody Japanese video games and movies -- like The Grudge, which was remade for US audiences as many of the scarier Japanese films are, and scared the holy crap out of me?

I don't know the answers to these questions. But I do know that for some people, like my sister, a good soaking in shock, horror and misery seems almost an essential part of daily life. And I know that for me, the simple solution is to just say no: No to Dan Rather (you see how long it's been since I watched the news?), No to those Facebook shares about violent crime, No to the newspaper, No to scary movies. And if the research behind cultivation theory is any indication, I'm thinking we ought to teach our children to just say No, too. It might be a step in the direction of a less fearful climate for us all.

Note: Just to change things up a little, and if you're not tired by this time of my droning on about the media: Here's a link to another blog post about the media that I wrote for another class at PSU, and it's pretty much a 180° on this one:


Moore, Michael. (2002). Bowling for Columbine. DVD. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Home

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. Applied Social Psychology. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Real World Image. (2012). Stock Editorial Photos and News Photos. Retrieved from: