Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Netiquette is the New Etiquette

Your virtual resume is your first step.
Summer is almost here and it can be a time when teens want to make their own money.

With today's struggling economy having an extra income can certainly help in many ways.  As school in Broward County will be coming to an end shortly, the time is now to start looking for a summer job.
Many jobs can be found online, however going into your community and networking is always beneficial. 

Today networking can be done both online and off.

As our lives become more and more involved with the internet, we have to become more aware of our web presence.

Netiquette, the etiquette of the internet, is of more importance now than it ever has been before. With online classes, online job profiles, and online dating, the way we conduct ourselves online impacts every aspect of our lives. In the online world, our communication skills are tested. The only means of communication we have on the web is through the written word, which can cause several complications. For this reason, it is imperative to communicate clearly and professionally in all online arenas. The following netiquette rules will guide a job seeker in the world of professional internet use.
  1. Be Professional: While this notion encompasses almost all of what we will discuss, being professional in email correspondence means more than the words you use and the tone you convey. Something as simple as the email address you use can mar even the most well written message. When sending an email on a serious matter it is important that you appear serious on all fronts. If the email address you are sending from sounds silly or joking, it will reflect poorly upon you and can demean your professional credibility. Now, we realize that this advice may sound dated. After all, who uses the email address surferchick22@something.com anymore? But, we believe that this notion is important enough to repeat, even if it is archaic. As a tip for today's users, sending an email to a potential employer from a dot edu or a dot org email address can give you more credibility. For one thing, using a school or organization email address proves that the educational or professional information on your resume is true.
  2. Evaluate Your Tone: Deciding on an appropriate tone of voice to use in internet communication can be difficult. Because emailing can be so impersonal, people can sometimes come off in a manner that is more informal or harsh than they intend. When writing an email from the comfort of your own home, it can be easy to slip into an overly conversational tone or a tone that sounds too direct when in writing. Because email correspondence is so quick and easy, people often send off their thoughts without properly reviewing them. Often times, people will send an email without reading it over and evaluating the way the language sounds when read by the recipient. For this reason, it is important to judge what tone is appropriate for that particular correspondence before you begin and read over the message when you are done to make sure that it accurately conveys the desired tone. When communicating with an employer about an open position or an interest in the company, it is always important to sound positive and friendly. Thank the individual you are emailing for their time and express that you look forward to hearing back from them.
  3. Use Proper Language and Titles: Another essential aspect of professional emailing etiquette is a writing a proper greeting. Be sure to include a greeting that is both courteous and official when conversing with any individual in any professional setting. Always address the individual you are speaking to with the appropriate level of formality and (though it may sound silly) be sure you have spelled their name correctly. Do not address them as you would a friend. For example, it is not appropriate to simply right "hi" or "hey" at the beginning of an email. Always address whomever you are speaking to with their official title (whether it is Dr., Mr., or Mrs.). If you are unsure of what the individual's official title is default to Mr. or Mrs. to be safe. If the individual replies to you and has used his or her first name only, then it is safe to assume you can call them by their first name. However, to be safe and remain professional, it may be wise to refer to that person as Mr. or Mrs. through all email correspondence.
  4. Use Effective Communication: This tip is key to all aspects of writing and (of course) takes some practice. Writing effective, clear messages can be difficult at first. You must be thoughtful and careful with your language. Try to be as clear and concise in your email correspondence as possible. Once you have completed your message read (and reread) it before you click send. Be sure to define and restate your words when you think necessary. Keep in mind that if something sounds unclear to you it will certainly be unclear to your reader. Within the same notion, be mindful of the words you use and the phrases that you write. As discussed earlier, it can be difficult to determine tone in writing, so if you use a phrase that is dependent upon inflection when spoken it is probably not the best choice for written correspondence.
  5. Ask for Clarification: Never assume you know the intention of an email if you are unsure. It is important to ask the sender to clarify anything that confuses you. As discussed earlier, it is easy to misinterpret emails because tone can sometimes be difficult to determine. If you think that you are misunderstanding something the other individual is saying or that you have misinterpreted their tone, just ask. It is always safer to send a quick email asking for clarification then it is to email a reply that you are not completely confident about. A potential employer will appreciate your responsiveness and maturity when dealing with confusion. Be sure to place the reason for confusion on yourself and not the sender. You do not want to come off as accusatory or blaming. A simple way to do this is to write, "I did not understand�", keeping the burden for the misunderstanding on yourself. Accepting blame also displays a level of maturity and confidence that is important within the professional world.
  6. Do Not Over-Send: While sending emails asking for clarification is important, it is also important that you use restraint when emailing. Do not clog an individual's inbox with messages that are not completely necessary. Be sure to reread the message you are having trouble understanding and make sure that you have no way of answering the question on your own. Although it can be difficult at times, you must consider that emailing is the same as having a face-to-face conversation. Every message you send is taking time from someone's day. You do not want to waste anyone's time or suggest to them that you do not consider their time valuable by over-sending emails.
  7. Write Appropriate Subject Lines: The subject line of an email, next to your name, is the first thing the recipient sees. For this reason, it is one of the most important (and most difficult) aspects of writing an email. It is important to convey a message in this line that is clear, concise, and informative. Give the recipient the bottom line of the message they are about to read without giving a complete summary of the entire email. Be precise and include details that allow the recipient to identify what you are talking about quickly and unambiguously. As a job seeker who is emailing a potential employer, never leave the subject line of an email blank. It is important to standout to the employer you are corresponding with. You want to grab their attention (in a professional manner) without looking too showy. Employers seeking new employees likely receive dozens and dozens of emails a day. Many will completely disregard an email sent without a subject.
  8. Use Proper Grammar and Spelling: It is endlessly important to use proper grammar and spelling in emails. Slipping into an overly conversational tone can be easy when communicating through email. While informal emails are fine when conversing with friends and family, you should always speak with potential employers in a professional manner. Messages that utilize poor grammar and have several misspelled words, demonstrate carelessness. If you do not take the time to edit your emails before you send them it will imply that you do not value the recipient's time. Quite simply, an email with poor grammar and bad spelling will not be taken seriously.
  9. Sell Yourself: Going hand-in-hand with using proper grammar and spelling, it is important to look good when seeking a job online. In today's techno-savvy world, many companies require job seekers to create an account or profile in order to apply for a position. In this profile, individuals should "sell" themselves to their potential employer. Your writing is the main thing that you will be judged by online (because, for the most part, it is the only thing available). Make yourself look good online by demonstrating professional writing etiquette. Be sure to display your strengths in these profiles. Also, it is important that any profiles that already exist online reflect you in a positive and professional manner. If you have a Facebook (or MySpace) account, be sure to make it display you in a positive and professional light or make it completely private and hidden from potential employers.
  10. Be Honest: While "selling yourself" in an online job profile is important to landing the position you desire, you must also be careful to remain completely honest. Because the world of the internet is faceless, it can be easy to fabricate information and think that you will get away with it. For many reasons, lying online can get you into more trouble than admitting your weaknesses (true in all aspects of life). Demonstrating your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses shows a potential employer that you are willing and able to grow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

10 Quick Tips To Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

Do you know who your kids are meeting online?
Facebook turned 7 years old this month.  Hard to believe that a college student and his buddies invented it and now it has spread so quickly that more than 40% of the U.S. population has a Facebook account.  Talk about going viral.

While this social network phenomenon started out as a tool for college kids, it has rapidly grown to include a younger and younger audience.  Facebook rules state that a user must be 13 years or older to have a Facebook account.  However, there is no way to verify this so there are many kids that are younger than that with their own accounts.

How do you protect your kids from the questionable material on Facebook?
  1. Don’t let them get an account. Now, this may sound obvious, but it’s the truth.  The best way to protect your kids is to make sure they don’t have an account before they are old enough.
  2. Make sure your child friends you. You need to watch what your child is posting on their friends’ walls and what kind of stuff is being posted on their wall.
  3. Make sure your child only friends people they know in real life. Anyone can send you a friend request if you are a friend of a friend etc.  This can be an open invitation for predators.
  4. Discuss boundaries with your child. Your child needs to know that he/she should not post any personal information online.  No reference to their full name, name of their school, their address or their birthday.
  5. Limit your child’s access to the computer. Computers are a way of life, but as a parent you want to be able to monitor what your child is doing on the computer.  Make sure the computer is in a central location like the living room or office.
  6. Invest in parental control software that monitors your child’s computer activity. You can’t always be with your child.  If you have software like that specializes in monitoring your child's keystrokes, you can see exactly what your child is doing on the computer and on Facebook accounts even if you aren’t home.
  7. Do not allow your kids to post pictures. Pictures lead to online bullying and sometimes too much information.  What if your child posts a picture from his soccer game?  Seems innocent enough, but this gives out personal information that may put children at risk from a predator.
  8. Allow your child to use your Facebook account. This may sound funny, but if they aren’t posting under their own name they may be more conscientious.  Plus, you will indeed have access to see everything they have posted.
  9. Make sure you have their passwords. There is no such thing as privacy in your house.  You should have their e-mail password as well as their Facebook password.
  10. Make sure you set the privacy settings on Facebook. Facebook will show your phone number and other personal information if you don’t turn it off.  Make sure you are there to help your child set up their account.
Source: Internet Provider

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teenage Drinking is Underage Drinking

Teen Drinking is illegal.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, it is also a time when proms and graduation party plans are underway.  Teen drinking is illegal – don’t be fooled by home parties.

A modest meeting amongst friends on campus can be enhanced immeasurably with the introduction of a fun, buzz-inducing drinking game. Of course, drinking in general is associated with the college experience, in which young adults assert their independence by going buck wild. Such behavior usually comes with the lack of a true understanding of the consequences of alcohol, and thus reckless behavior — albeit fun behavior — ensues. Consequently, some drinking games can turn a lively shindig into a deadly or at least vomit-inducing debacle. Here are a few to avoid if you value the function of your liver (or eyeball).
  1. Vodka Eyeballing: Originating in the UK, the Vodka Eyeballing craze has spread across the Atlantic Ocean thanks to YouTube, and now it’s catching on with numbskull American teens and college students. Unlike other drinking games, the feared repercussion isn’t alcohol poisoning; it’s the potential of losing eyesight. Vodka eyeballers test their eyeball’s strength by pouring vodka directly onto it with the purpose of achieving a quicker buzz. The results can be less than pleasant, however, as the potent liquor causes the removal of eye’s protective membrane covering, burning and scarring the cornea.
  2. Power Hour: Partaking in Power Hour is a great way to end the night drowning in a pool of your own vomit. Traditionally, participants in the game take a shot of beer each minute for 60 minutes, ending the hour completely sloshed — if they’re not sloshed much earlier. The rate of consumption at which participants are required to drink can be very unhealthy, especially if they’re small in size. The rapid increase in blood alcohol content ensures a quicker buzz, thus making the game an extremely difficult one to conquer.
  3. 21 for 21: Power Hour has inspired a couple of offshoot games — 21 for 21 and 60 Seconds, neither of which are any less dangerous. In the case of 21 for 21, it exclusively occurs on a participant’s 21st birthday, a night of heavy drinking regardless of whether or not drinking games are involved. At the behest of one of their friends, the birthday boy or girl downs 21 shots of liquor or mixed drinks. It’s a way to celebrate a rite of passage, making the most of their first night of legal drinking. But overdoing it can trigger tragic results; there are numerous documented cases of people dying of alcohol poisoning on their 21st birthdays, including one who apparently played 21 for 21.
  4. 60 Seconds: Sixty Seconds is the game of choice for wannabe speed drinkers looking to prove their mettle while in the presence of their drinking buddies. Each player selects a number between one and 60, chugging a pint continuously for a minute when the second hand on the clock passes their number. The game proceeds until there’s one person left standing, which usually is the problem. Just like its forerunner Power Hour, 60 Seconds causes each player’s blood alcohol content to rise quickly, and as you probably know, rapid consumption can produce dire results.
  5. Edward Fortyhands: When Edward Fortyhands was “in” on college campuses a few years ago, it was met with resistance by opponents of youth alcohol abuse. Notably, the chairman of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Joseph Califano, made it explicitly clear that participants could be rewarded with a trip to the morgue. The game — if you’re not already familiar with it — is a race in which each participant strives to finish two forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor that are duct-taped to their hands. The inability of participants to use their hands, particularly when they need to use the bathroom, motivates them to finish fast. In some circles, upon finishing, participants must break the bottles to free themselves. So not only do they face the danger of quickly chugging a beverage with high alcohol content, but, while in their drunken stupors, their hands become recklessly operated weapons equipped with shards of glass.
  6. Beat the Barman: You may notice that most games on this list are simple and to the point. None of them require a lot of thinking — just a lot of booze. Set in your favorite not-so-crowded bar, Beat the Barman involves cash, a cool bartender, quick drinking and that’s it. Each participant separately orders a shot from the bartender, pays in more cash than its worth, and finishes it off before the bartender returns with change. The process repeats until a drinker falls over or the bar closes. In other words, there really are no winners; alcohol poisoning is a distinct possibility. Beat the Barman is also dangerous because the participants, in most cases, partake in the game at a bar that?s beyond walking distance from home.
  7. Beer Race: A singe match of Beer Race won’t cause major harm to a participant, but nobody plays just one match — and therein lies the problem. Each participant chugs a full pint of beer hoping to finish first, proving their superior manhood or womanhood — usually manhood. The first finisher indicates they’re the winner by putting their empty glass on their head, and everyone else must follow by doing the same with their unfinished glasses. In most cases, the competitive spirits of the participants override reason, and they play until they’re lying unconscious in a pool of their own vomit — pools of vomit are common parts of these games — ironically stripping them of their manly or womanly pride.
  8. Kill the Keg: Once “Kill the Keg!” is screamed by a fellow partygoer, participation is immediate and mandatory. A few lucky guys and gals line up at the keg and down the remaining beer goodness. Of course, the actual luckiness of the guys and gals is highly dependent on when “Kill the Keg!” is yelled and how many thirsty people are attending the party. If partygoers are called to action at 9 p.m., for example, when just a handful of people are hanging around and the keg is full, then the game is much, much less enjoyable.
  9. Dead Man Walk: If your primary goal is to get messed up as quick as possible, ignoring the process by which you reach that end, then Dead Man Walk is the game for you. The title is self-explanatory: participants take a drink for each step they make, seeing who can walk the farthest without face-planting. Because someone inevitably does faceplant, the game yields painful results. The authors of the game — drinking game authors are always looking out for the greater good — urge participants not to drink spirits, as the use of them “will probably result in a premature death.” Sound advice.
  10. Death Ring: Death Ring is a fittingly ominous title. The rules of the game are slightly complicated, so we’ll refrain from detailing them here, but they are included in the link. Hopefully, the people dumb enough to partake in it are also too dumb to consistently follow the rules. The game requires a deck of cards and a few cases of beer, which tend to disappear quickly as each player takes about umpteen drinks during each of their turns. If participants escape death, they’ll undoubtedly wake up the next day feeling like death.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teen Internet Addiction: Facebook Depression or Obsession

Depression.  Obsession.  Addiction.

Are these three adjectives that surround social networking?

Social networking is on the rise, a recently released  study from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and that 75 percent own cell phones. This level of engagement online increases the risks of cyberbullying, “Facebook depression” (a new phenomenon where “de-friending” and online bullying lead to symptoms of depression), exposure to inappropriate content, and sexting.

What can parents do if they suspect their teen or child is heading down a dark road?

Looking at Facebook to begin with, is your teen age appropriate?  You have to be at least 13 years-old to be a member. On Facebook's help center it clearly states:  Facebook requires individuals to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. 

Facebook even takes it a step further with a report form to fill out if you suspect an underage member.
If your child is younger, it is wise to deactivate their account until they are of age or you feel they are ready for it.

It is important to help your child to understand, you are not attempting to block them 100% from social networking, however having boundaries is crucial.

These boundaries are what can help teenagers from going down the dark path of depression from over exposure of technology.  Teens literally go to bed with their cell phones so they don't miss a text!  This is ridiculous and parents need to start being parents.

Whether you have given the law of your home to your child or teen, or not, it is a serious and growing concern that parents need to be aware of.  Teenage depression is very serious.

A note to parents:  Be an example to your child.  How often are you online or plugged in?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Troubled Teens Benefit from Animal Therapy

Many benefits of animal therapy and at-risk teens.
Humans and animals share an ancient history of co-dependence, but this relationship extends far beyond domestication for food and labor purposes. The medical field, for example, utilized leeches and maggots for centuries, if not millennia. More modern times see a broader selection of animals helping their human partners through many different permanent and temporary conditions. Such admirable creatures as well as those taking the time to train them for the good of mankind rightfully deserve however many accolades people can give.

Physical Assistance
Easily the most common type of therapy animal — and probably the one that always pops into peoples’ heads — are those working as assistants to the disabled and elderly. Dogs make for especially adroit companions, and organizations such as Assistance Dogs International devote their time and resources to training these amazing animals to better serve those needing of their help. Most probably think of these venerable canines as guides for the blind, but they also assist those in wheelchairs, the elderly and individuals with other sensory or physical impairments who face down difficult times getting around. Although extremely common, dogs aren’t the only animals used to make life easier for the elderly and/or disabled. Monkeys, too, provide similar, though not identical, services. Their natural agility, dexterity and intelligence make them ideal for scrambling into out-of-reach spots for desired items. Many also learn how to feed and wash their human friends!

Emotional Therapy
Animal assistance and therapy completely transcends the merely physical. For those suffering mental and emotional trauma, the presence of a gentle animal helps quell some of the pain. While not a complete replacement for psychological care, allowing individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder to spend some time with a therapy dog, cat or horse provides an amazing supplement to routine treatment. Soldiers returning from war, for example, respond positively to their exposure to dogs — just petting, playing with and running alongside them fills them with the endorphins and energy necessary for healing. Beyond PTSD, therapy animals also provide warm companionship for the bipolar, depressed and anxious as well. Individuals with developmental disorders, such as autism, find some of their negative emotions soothed with exposure to horses. Also used in some physical therapy, these extraordinary equines play an integral role in helping people on the autism spectrum fortify their socialization skills. In addition to alleviating much of the depression and anxiety associated with the conditions, of course.

Everyday Perks
Simply owning a pet also offers up a couple of medical perks, even with animals without any kind of specialized training. Cats, for example, may help children with asthma improve their respiratory functions and lower cholesterol levels (and subsequently reduce the risk of a heart attack) — among other things. Along with relieving mental anguish associated with various psychological and developmental disorders, keeping a beloved pet of any species certainly makes life a whole lot less lonely. Many elder care facilities provide homes for animals eager to mingle with the patients and plaster big smiles on their faces. Oscar, a cat residing at the Steere House in Providence, Rhode Island, possesses the startling ability to sense when one of the residents is about to pass. Many of the patients suffer from dementia and great lonesomeness, and the little cat wanders into their rooms shortly before death to dispense solace. In the final moments of their lives, they feel love and gentle companionship rather than fear and isolation. And all thanks to the intuition of one inadvertent therapy animal.
Regardless of whether or not they receive any sort of formalized training, many different animals provide their human partners with more than just their friendship. Whether chewing up decaying flesh on a serious wound, helping a blind individual better navigate the streets, socializing an autistic child, comforting a dying elder or something else entirely, these amazing creatures make life that much better for often marginalized demographics. But their selfless efforts do not go unrewarded, at least in general. Gracious owners make sure companions receive sufficient shelter, love and nourishment as thanks for the enjoyment and assistance in making life flow just that much easier.

Special contributor:  Roxanne McAnn of Nursing Schools

Visit www.TeenHelpAdvice.com for more information if you are struggling with your teen.