Author Archives: marina

#thoughtvectors metaphor

To me this course has been a lot like training for a marathon or one of those “couch to 5K” programs. We started very small, with a post that was just commentary on another #thoughtvectors blogger. Very similar to running, where you are supposed to start by walking. Slowly we amped up the speed as the assignments got more and more thorough, just as a runner begins to run more and walk less. But we got breaks from all the cardio too, as the nuggets allowed us to take a breath and work a little less than other days. Kinda like stretching after a long run. Relaxing, but still part of the workout.

Runners also need to do some lifting to gain muscles, and I think the heavy part of our course have been the readings. To build up our strength (cognitively, that is), we had to read a lot of texts that were somewhat difficult, at least for me. Engelbart’s was particularly complicated for me, as well Vannevar Bush’s. Which makes sense to me, because just as one cannot lift only 2lbs forever and hope to get “jacked”,  as students we also cannot hope to become better readers and writers if we keep reading only our Facebook feeds.

The several milestones a runner needs to reach in order to prepare for a marathon were all the research-related posts we did. Dividing our bigger goal (the IP) into smaller goals made this task (seem) easier, and I appreciate how much time we’ve been allowed to fully explore our topics. In the end, all this preparation only made the finish line even more cathartic.

I must confess I was scared at first about having a blog where I was supposed to write my school work in. I’m a nervous writer and I’m not fond of criticism, so obviously I was not thrilled about the format of this class in the beginning. But with time I came to love the idea of blogging, and it was great to be able to receive and give feedback to other students and interact with those in other classes through the #thoughtvectors hashtag on Twitter. Somehow blogging took a bit of the pressure off from oh-so-terrifying academic writing. Runners too sometimes start on this task to lose weight, initially dreading it – but then end up loving it. It’s been a great experience! But for now I am looking forward to getting back to my couch (at least for Winter break).

Revising a sub-claim

Parenting Help: How Forums Provide a Much Needed Respite

Parents whose kids have behavioral issues and/or mental illnesses face even more difficulties in addition to the “normal” challenges of raising a child, but they have found peer support online through forums and Facebook groups. These peer connections are crucial because, when a child diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is not doing well in school, for example, the blame is very often put on mothers. In addition, because of the nature of their children’s issues, moms are often perceived as too lenient or just bad parents (Mash & Wolfe, 2015). In reality, ADHD has several etiologies and only one of them is related to parenting, but unfortunately that is not common knowledge. Society then often stigmatizes and ostracizes families dealing with ADHD and other behavioral disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Thus, these moms frequently find themselves without support from relatives, neighbors and teachers, making their situation even more desperate.

So, it should come as no surprise that these parents are naturally eager to receive any kind of support, even if it is online. Sociology Professor Juanne N. Clarke and her colleagues Gudrun Van Ameron and Laura Lang from the Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, have conducted two discourse analyses studies in three blogs dedicated to ADHD and a helping forum dedicated to ODD. Professor Clarke and her colleagues examined the content, wording and overall tone of the posts in these two platforms, looking for patterns in discourses and analyzing how users usually responded to each other. The researchers found that the vast majority of users in all blogs and the forum are mothers, and that “it is to the blog these mothers go to get information and support.” Another common type of thread is a parent relating his or her child’s newly founded diagnosis, normally expressing despair and the struggle to come to terms with it. The studies have also found that parents constantly “reinforce to one another that they are not to blame, that others don’t understand and that (with blog support) they are not alone.” Clearly, these parents rely on these communities to find support on a daily basis.

With the popularization of Facebook, several forums (including the ones Dr. Clarke and her colleagues examined) have migrated from independent websites to Facebook groups, most likely because it is more convenient for users to participate. There’s no need for two separate logins, and since most adults are already on Facebook, it is easier to aggregate people with a common interest. A search on Facebook shows there are several support groups, communities and pages for parents of children with ADHD, and one of the most popular is ADHD Kids Care – Support Group For Parents, with more than 30,000 “likes.” On this community, users can submit questions anonymously to the moderators, who then post the question on the page.

Facebook groups such as ADHD Kids Care allow parents to protect their privacy while providing users with peer support and information.

The open but anonymous format is a great alternative to closed groups because anyone can benefit from the information shared there. If a parent does not want to join an ADHD support group for fear that his or her friends will see it and make assumptions about his or her child, they can simply “lurk” on this open page or even submit questions without sacrificing their privacy. The possibility of keeping a child’s diagnosis private online is invaluable, since granting the world access to our private lives has become the new normal in our society. It’s important that parents have the option to get answers and support without possibly jeopardizing their child’s shot at a job or school, for example, because of their diagnosis. It might sound far-fetched, but several companies use social media as a tool in recruiting and screening potential job candidates, and we can only expect this practice to increase. Of course it would be preferable that ADHD and other disorders did not carry a stigma anymore in the future, but that is impossible to predict. Until then, pages like ADHD Kids Care allow parents to get answers and support one another without exposing their kids online.

Certainly, saying that raising a child with behavioral problems is difficult is an understatement. Unfortunately ADHD and other disorders still carry a stigma in our society, even though its prevalence ranges from 5% to up to 11% of children aged 4-17 in the United States, making it a common disorder. Parents, most often mothers, are blamed and singled out by their social circle, making it the Internet one of the few places they can go for support. In the midst of increased judgment and blaming in society, mothers can go online to be reassured by one another that they are doing the best they can to help their children.

4 Reasons Why Parents Should Not Believe the Mommy Wars Hype

#1) A recent Parents.com poll showed that most parents have never actually seen or been involved in a dispute with another parent online, even though they hear or read about “mommy wars” all the time. This shows that mommy wars are more of a fabrication than an actual experience for parents.

#2) A Pew Research Center survey showed that almost 2/3 of parents receive support from friends, family and strangers online. A vast majority of mothers, specially, said they receive support, seek information and ask for advice on social media. One great example is the Facebook group “Ask the Chicks,” in which almost 9,000 pregnant women and young mothers participate. A survey conducted with some of the group’s members found that the possibility of receiving tailored advice is what draws them to these kinds of groups instead of simply Googling about their issue.

#3) Forums dedicated to parents facing the challenge of raising a child with behavioral problems, mental illnesses or disabilities offer privacy, information and support. Parents see these online places as the best way to get first hand accounts from others with similar problems but more experience dealing with them, as sometimes medical and professional advice fails to consider each family’s individual needs.

 

#4) Mothers who suffered a miscarriage or the loss of a child can greatly benefit from sharing their experiences online. A case study of Angie Smith’s blog, created when she received the news her unborn baby would not survive after birth, provided several examples of readers’ reports that learning about other mothers suffering the same loss was crucial for their grieving process. Another study conducted with a bereaved parents group on Facebook found that, for the participants, the most important aspect of the group was sharing their grief with others who understood their pain in a way that their relatives and friends did not. These two examples show that, through the Internet, parents can transcend geographical and social borders to connect, share and support one another through miscarriage and death.

Real Estate

https://marinagreen.atavist.com/

I chose Atavist because I really liked the sample websites they had on their page. Using this platform kind makes me feel like I’m writing for a real news site…They have several designs that remind me of The Atlantic website, for example. I like how easy it is to put videos, gifs, sounds, images, etc. I plan on using most of these features to make my IP more interesting.

IP Introduction Draft

A few months ago I was browsing Facebook and came across a post by a friend of mine who recently had a baby, her first child. At the time the little boy was not more than a few weeks old, and my friend was still learning how to take care of him. In her post, she was asking for advice from other mothers on how to soothe a colicky baby, since her child had been crying for hours and nothing she did seemed to work. Well, she got several replies because her friends had A LOT of opinions about how to treat colic. Which is perfectly fine – knowledge is power and so on – but a few of the commentators attacked other moms because their methods were not “the right ones.” My friend inadvertently started a “mommy war” on her Facebook page, because apparently there are many controversies when it comes to soothing a baby with colic.

This anecdote illustrates a very common trend seen in social media today: parents are increasingly using these platforms to seek advice and support from fellow parents, just like my friend did. However, it has also become common for debates to pop up on social media over several parenting-related topics: breastfeeding vs. formula, cloth vs. disposable diapers, and, of course, vaccinating vs. not vaccinating, just to name a few. What was supposed to be a fun place to stay connected to friends and family suddenly becomes a battleground, with parents fighting each other over personal choices that, in the grand scheme of things, probably won’t make too much of a difference in the future.

This recent Similac ad pokes fun at the so-called “mommy wars”

Thus, social media, especially Facebook, might not be the best place for parents with questions. However, that does not mean the Internet as a whole is useless for when it comes to parenting help. Online spaces such as messaging boards and blogs offer anonymity and privacy for parents facing challenges such as raising a child with behavioral issues, mental illness or disabilities. Additionally, parents who suffered the loss of a child or a miscarriage are very likely to benefit from discussing the issue with their peers who had a similar experience. Therefore, when used appropriately, the Internet offers great resources to parents that were not available before.

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This quote from my first source, Bartholomew et al. (2012) could help me ground my argument that, even though Facebook is most likely not the best platform for parents needing help and support, the Internet can still be a great tool for those parents who are facing serious issues with their children:

When mothers were more frequent visitors to their Facebook accounts and managed their accounts more frequently, however, they reported higher levels of parenting stress.

As exemplified by my anecdote above, Facebook discussions can get personal very quickly just because of its nature: you can learn a lot about a person just by looking at his or her profile. But parents using forums and blogs don’t need to share personal information to be able to discuss ideas with other parents. They can just use a random username, or even stay anonymous, and join in. That makes it less likely that parents will be personally attacked for their opinions. Another important characteristic of forums and blogs is that parents can discuss sensitive issues without fear of someone finding out about, which can easily happen on Facebook. For example, a parent can discuss their child’s ADHD diagnosis without fearing that a potential employee in the future will read about it online. For parents who want to discuss losing a child to death or miscarriage, blogs and forums can be great for receiving support and “normalizing” their experience, that is, seeing that they’re not alone and it’s ok to discuss what happened.

Google Like a Pro Research Post – Comparing Sources

My “Google Like a Pro” Search

University of Michigan Health System (2015). ‘Sharenting’ trends: Do parents share too much about kids on social media?. Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/uomh-td031115.php.

“However, there’s potential for the line between sharing and oversharing to get blurred. Parents may share information that their child finds embarrassing or too personal when they’re older but once it’s out there, it’s hard to undo. The child won’t have much control over where it ends up or who sees it.”

Nelson, J. (2015). Why Parents Should Be Mindful of (Over) Sharenting. Retrieved from http://yourteenmag.com/2015/09/sharenting/.

Then there’s the possible impact on your adolescent’s real-world life. Sure, that may seem improbable, but it is a possibility, say the experts. Social media activity can live on forever, and many more people are privy to our activity than most of us may realize.

These two nuggets are very similar, probably because they come from articles discussing the results of a poll conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital which questioned parents about their online habits. I chose these passages because I believe that parents today, as the first generation raising their kids in a world where the Internet, social media and blogs are widely available, perhaps have not anticipated the consequences of the so-called “sharenting” (a mash-up of the words “parenting” and “sharing”).

As mentioned in the passages above, what we publish online can literally live forever. Even if we delete a post, someone could’ve easily taken a screenshot of it and saved it – and that happens a lot nowadays, especially when someone posts something embarrassing or dumb online. So it wouldn’t be completely far-fetched to think that a “cute” potty-training Facebook post shared today could one day be seen by a college recruiter, a human resources employee, a future boss or a potential business associate. And while I personally wouldn’t judge someone by their parents’ oversharing, I don’t believe everyone would be so kind all the time.

Another problem that comes to mind, more serious than posts about potty-training, temper tantrums and made-up words, is that some parents might inadvertently share medical information online. I personally have seen parents discussing their kids’ ADHD diagnosis and medications on Facebook. This kind of sensitive information should remain private, because even though discriminating against someone because of a medical condition is a crime, we can’t be sure that won’t happen anyways.  Therefore, the message is very clear for parents everywhere: think before you share.

 

 

Google Like a Pro

University of Michigan Health System (2015). ‘Sharenting’ trends: Do parents share too much about kids on social media?. Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/uomh-td031115.php.

Concept Experience #8 – Class commentary on “How Slacktivists Can Change the World”

One comment that made me think was Jaffey’s because she pointed out something I hadn’t thought about after reading Justin’s essay: “I agree that social media is a great platform to speak out your own voice, but I don’t think that you voice will be heard ALL ROUND THE WORLD. At least not in China.” Perhaps Justin didn’t literally mean “the whole world” would be changed by social media activism, but Jaffey’s comment highlights that we certainly cannot forget that the Western World IS NOT the whole world. The implications for making this assumption are pointed out by Jaffey again, who says that there are millions of people in the world who don’t know what feminism is, either because they don’t have access to the Internet or because their access is filtered by the government, such as in China. I like comments such as Jaffey’s because they pop me out of this bubble that we are making great change and the world will be an awesome place soon, because frankly it is not. It’s easy to overestimate our abilities to foster social change when we have had some good results in our country lately, but as Jaffey points out, the situation is definitely not the same in other parts of the world and we need to be aware of that as well.

There are three key concepts in Justin’s essay, which is written in response to Malcolm Gladwell’s criticism of online activism. Gladwell says that online activism is lazy, inefficient and in no means comparable to protests that brought social changes such as the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Justin debunks Gladwell’s idea with evidence supporting these three concepts:

  • Key Concept #1: Social media is an effective and useful tool for organizing offline protests and demonstrations, as well as for making petitions popular and bringing in more signatures. Justin provides the examples of the SlutWalk in Toronto, which was organized entirely online, and the Twitter campaign NoMorePage3, which aimed to stop the British tabloid The Sun from printing pictures of topless women.

 

  • Key Concept #2: The popularity of social media means that activists are not constrained by geography anymore. With the Internet, people from around the world can fight for a cause without ever needing to leave their houses. If it wasn’t for online organization, some issues would never be known to millions of people. Another important point Justin makes is that the format of social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr allows for those who haven’t heard about a given cause to learn about it. With likes, shares and reblogs more people are made aware of issues they had no clue about. Of course, Justin is the perfect example for this argument because, before he joined Tumblr, he had no idea what feminism was, but through posts from his friends and the people he followed he became aware of this issue and now considers himself a feminist.

 

  • Key Concept #3Social media is virtually public and free, not controlled like traditional means of communication (such as broadcast TV). This means that anyone and everyone can sign up for an account on a social media website and start making themselves heard. People who were often marginalized and ignored, not part of the “main discourse” seen in traditional media can now change the narrative to focus it on themselves. Their voices are not tuned out or filtered in social media. Another important aspect of social media is that it allows for anonymity. Survivors of sexual assault, for example, can share their experiences, as well as receive and give support, without having to share their identities if they so wish.

With these clear, evidence-supported arguments Justin shows that online activism is nothing but lazy and inefficient, but rather a crucial tool in bringing about social change in our country.