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Social media & the school curriculum. Don’t ask.fm why.

Ask.fm has been subjected to immense scrutiny particularly in Ireland and the UK where at least six teenagers who have taken their own lives have been found to have been bullied or harassed on the website. The promised changes to policy are a welcome progression – comfort mostly to the parents of the teenage audience of over 60 million, a third of who come to ask.fm directly from using Facebook, illustrating how integral the Latvian site is to online social activity.

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Yesterday, ask.fm the Latvian based social media Q&A website responded to ongoing criticism following online bullying allegations. The website founded by brothers Ilya and Mark Terbin in 2010, has said it will hire more staff, create a bullying-harassment category of complaint and make the ability to opt-out of anonymous questions more obvious to users, and in an initiative to stem the use of the website by anonymous users, they will offer users to the site more features or incentives if they register their details.

Ask.fm has been subjected to immense scrutiny particularly in Ireland and the UK where at least six teenagers who have taken their own lives have been found to have been bullied or harassed on the website. The promised changes to policy are a welcome progression – comfort mostly to the parents of the teenage audience of over 60 million, a third of who come to ask.fm directly from using Facebook, illustrating how integral the Latvian site is to online social activity.

Today I spoke with Will Faulkner on MIdlands Radio on the topic of the changes at ask.fm’ and also on the Slane photos incident which sparked a quick reaction from Facebook and Twitter to prevent access to photos of a 17 year old girl, of an explicit nature that were retweeted or posted creating a viral incident in a matter of hours. I’ve written at length recently about internet trolls following the harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez, and in doing so reflected at length on my own experience twenty years ago with online chat, forums and digital communities. Today I suggested on Midlands Today that the answer, or at least the start of an answer may lie in our school systems. In July this year an Irish parliament cross-party group published a report that concluded that the mental health of Irish teenagers may be detrimentally affected by social media websites.

“The Committee recommends that more emphasis be placed on educating parents, teachers and children on how to safely use social media. For children, this might incorporate peer-to-peer learning whereby children mentor their peers. It is the Committee‘s view that advice and technical support should come from the industry. The SPHE curriculum may also be revised to incorporate this.”

— Recommendation 8 : Addressing the Growth of Social Media and tackling Cyberbullying, 2013

This recommendation may be the most important driver for positive change yet. I believe the school curriculum needs social media. Specifically, modules on managing your digital life to help pre-teen and older students understand what’s acceptable to and from them, as digital natives. Social media is a critical part of twenty-first century socialisation and online activity, association and interaction has a direct effect on students emotional well-being.

In the US state of Illinois earlier this summer, District 109 Director of Student Services Jenell Mroz said that a committee was looking at implementing a framework that would incorporate education on social media websites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in to the classroom. Lisa Nielsen, who writes the excellent Innovative Educator blog, wrote in March 2010 on why social media curriculum is crucial in schools and she makes the point that with a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach from schools:

….just as in the real world, without any adult supervision, students could be at risk and are existing without models for appropriate behavior.

In the UK pilot schemes in Cambridge, Shropshire and in Wales a scheme run by the Office of the Information Commissioner look to be inspiring action across the country. A good start – that every country in the world should embrace, essentially a ‘digital civics’ module. Rather than bodies like the Information Commissioner or the equivalent in other countries running it as a program, it really needs to be an integral part of the curriculum, and I’d suggest funding should be requested from companies like ask.fm, Twitter, FaceBook and Google.

Technology companies like ask.fm do have a responsibility; you cannot create a global social media website that facilitates anonymous users berating and bullying each other and look the other way. Parents also, cannot look the other way and in the same way they may want to know who their teenager is meeting at 8pm on a dark November evening they should also be conscious of what’s passing through the wi-fi from behind that bedroom door. Common courtesy and decency is welcomed and encouraged by parents and teachers, and we need the same online from the digital natives of today, and the best place to teach them the basics of how to be decent digital citizens is where we teach them the basics of everything else.

External links and references

  1.  Cyberbullying suicides: What will it take to have Ask.fm shut down : Joe Shute : The Daily Telegraph
  2. Chicago Tribune : Social Emotional Curriculum
  3. Lisa Nielsen : The Innovative Educator on Social Media Curriculum
  4. Ask.fm revise policies & practice to stem bullying : BBC News
  5. Why do internet trolls do what they do? : redcert.com
  6. Children’s mental health under threat from cyber-bullying : Independent.ie
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AnimagiC 2016 : Bonn, Germany

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Bonn is waving a long-gloved hand in farewell to the 12,000 visitors who packed in for AnimagiC, the anime, manga and J-Culture convention which celebrated its seventeenth year in the city this past weekend. Tickets though, are already on sale for the 2017 event, in Mannheim, leaving plenty of time to perfect the Unicorn look.

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Music

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide For Dads

Tara Purcell

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Post by Paula Murphy.

We only know too well how notoriously difficult it can be to buy Christmas gifts for your Dad, so we at eBuzz Towers have created our top Christmas picks to make your job that little bit easier – like always, we’ve got your back!

Ben Collins: Stunt Driver DVD

Ben Collins, former BBC Top Gear Stig, motorsport champion, Bestselling author, TV presenter, and, not to mention one of the world’s leading Hollywood stunt drivers and coordinators, has recently teamed up with Lionsgate UK and Wise Old Fox Productions to create something incredible that has never been seen before on the film screen. Get in on the intense action as the now star of the show – Collins, takes things to another level by setting out on a mission to source the ideal car for an epic, high octane, Hollywood style car chase. It’s now available to buy and rent and we at eBuzz Towers will most definitely be picking up a few copies to pop in the Christmas stockings this year! Check out our exclusive eBuzz interview with Ben here.

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Being AP DVD

Being AP is the latest feature documentary which follows AP McCoy – the greatest jump jockey of all time. As he passes his 40th birthday, an age beyond which most jockeys are unable to continue, AP contemplates his obsession with winning, the years of sacrifice that he has endured to become the champion he is, the chase for a 20th successive championship and then a future without racing. A perfect stocking filler for almost any Dad!

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Hozier Special Edition Album

The two disc special edition will feature the same 13 tracks as the original, with the second disc including exclusive live tracks from many of the the seriously talented Wicklow artist’s worldwide live performances, along with recordings from the BBC sessions. Covers of hit tunes from The Arctic Monkeys, Ariana Grande and Led Zeppelin are sure to please followers worldwide.

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FUZ Designs Noke Bluetooth Padlock

FUZ Designs have been busy working on their latest eccentric device; Noke which is being touted as “the smartest padlock ever made”. The guys at FUZ know just how easy it is to lose a set of keys or forget a combination code so by simply pairing your Noke padlock to your personal mobile device with the Noke app, you can access your possessions securely.When unlocking Noke, simply press the lock which will then search for your phone or a shared device, and, if your device is within a few feet of the lock it will open – pretty nifty ay?

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Top Gear Greatest Hits DVD

The DVD features an incredible collection of Clarkson, Hammond and May’s very finest moments of exciting racing, brilliant inventions, hilarious disagreements and sudden explosions. The DVD will be released early next week and we at eBuzz Towers think it will make a perfect stocking filler for any Dad.

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Dara O’Briain Crowd Tickler DVD

Take Dara O’Briain’s live stand-up performance home with Crowd Tickler. Recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo in London during his 2015 tour of the UK, the DVD will make an excellent stocking filler!

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The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, Extended Edition DVD

If you happened to miss the chance to catch the powerful big screen adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel which has been deemed as a masterpiece by many, fear not, you can take the incredible stream of action home this Christmas with the Extended Edition DVD. The much awaited edition, which would certainly make an ideal stocking filler for any Lord Of The Rings fan this Christmas includes 20 minutes extra footage and over nine hours of bonus features. It features an audio commentary with the blockbuster trilogy’s Academy Award winning producer, director and screenwriter, Peter Jackson, as well as The Appendices, a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy.

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Kevin Bridges Live: A Whole Different Story DVD

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD is Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges’ Live stand-up performance recorded at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow in October, 2015. It’ll be sure to make the whole family chuckle, so go on, stick it in to fill your Dad’s stocking!

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Jeff Lynn’s ELO Alone In The Universe

The much anticipated brand-new album,  Alone In The Universefeatures more of the Electric Light Orchestra’s genre-defining work with an exciting mix of modern rock, reggae, disco, pop and classical sounds. With ten intense tracks including the brilliant new tune, When I Was A Boy, you’re certainly in for a treat! Even now pushing 70, seasoned master, Jeff Lynne’s incredible vocals haven’t changed a bit.

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Luci Solar Lights by MPOWERD

These pocket sized inflatable solar light collapse to one inch and weigh less than thirty grams. They can give up to twelve hours of bright, clean light without the need for electricity or batteries which certainly makes them an ideal gadget to take along on a hike or other outdoor adventure as a nifty little emergency sidekick.

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Dylan Moran Live Off The Hook

This live stand-up performance DVD by the hilarious Irish comedian and actor Dylan Moran would make an ideal gift for any well-humoured Dad. The stand-up sow was recorded during Dylan’s 2015 Off the Hook UK tour.

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Don’t forget the classics why not pick up a copy of some of your Dad’s fave artist’s albums. To bring back a few memories why not pick up a copy of NOW That’s What I Call The 80s or celebrate Phil Coulter’s 50 years in music with a copy of one of his great albums. The Bee Gees, Simply Red and Tommy Fleming are a couple of others that will never fail to please!

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The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide For Mums

Tara Purcell

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We all know how just how notoriously difficult it can be to find the perfect gift for your Mum at Christmas time. With overflowing jewellery boxes and cabinets full of beauty products, they really can be a pain to buy for. It’s always that little bit harder to find an extra special gift that’s that little bit different to fill her stocking so check out our ultimate gift guide below  – we’re all about making life that little bit easier for you!

Adele, 25

The sensational singer’s latest album 25 is bound to be a sure pleaser this Christmas. Saying that the album has been highly anticipated would be a serious understatement. Fans and journalists alike have been speculating as to what style of music the album will feature for months! The 30 second teaser clip from her latest unbelievably popular single Hello, which aired during the ad break of the hit UK X Factor last month, caused a series social media stir. Featuring nothing but a black screen, a short stream of lyrics and Adele’s spectacular voice, the snippet had the public yearning to hear more. Adele’s much awaited return to the music scene is certainly long overdue and if the incredibly successful Hello is anything to go by, we expect the remarkable artist’s new album to certainly focus on emotional matters of the heart. A number of big names in music are said to have teamed up with Adele to record a series of collaborated tracks to feature on her much anticipated album including Damon Albarn, Tobias Jesso Jr and Danger Mouse.

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Polaroid SNAP

Get vibrant, high quality prints instantly, right from your camera, right on the spot with the nifty little Polaroid SNAP camera. You can choose to print in colour, black and white, vintage or sepia tones with the touch of a button. With the Polaroid SNAP, your Mum will never miss out on the chance to capture those important moments again. The camera, available in classic a black, fun blue and hot red, allows you to share and print with no computer connections needed. Using Zink® Zero Ink® Printing Technology, you can print 2×3” full colour prints in an instant.  

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 Kylie Christmas

Kylie’s much anticipated Christmas album which features 13 festive tracks is an ideal stocking filler for Mums this Christmas. It features 13 tracks – including several duets and a mix of original and classic songs. Kylie’s sister Dannii Minogue features on the deluxe version of the album, with the brand new song 100 Degrees. Frank Sinatra even features on the album collaborating with Kylie for a beautiful rendition of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

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Noble

Written and directed by Stephen Bradley, Noble follows the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine; Christine Noble, capturing her struggle to escape her diabolical life in Ireland, risking everything to help children in need on the streets of Vietnam. The beautiful film first premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January last year, where it received astounding recognition. Glowing reviews continued to prevail when it opened theatrically in Ireland. The biopic, now available on DVD and Blu-ray was awarded an astonishing four U.S. film festival awards, including the Panavision Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Noble has been deemed as “raw and genuinely powerful,” “captivating” and “moving” by critics all over the world. It’s certainly a eBuzz top pick this Christmas!

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Sam Smith, The Lonely Hour, Extended Edition Album

Sam Smith is back with an extended edition of his already chart-topping album The Lonely Hour. The incredible album includes a second disc packed with a number of new tracks and collaborations. It features the sensational Sam’s covers of Amy Winehouse’s Love Is A Losing Game and Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know?, as well as collaborations with Mary J Blige and John Legend who joins him for their breath-taking rendition of Lay Me Down.

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The Overtones, Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas

The Overtones’ forthcoming album Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas is set to be released later this month on the 27th November. It will feature a collection of festive family favourites including White Christmas, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Let It Snow. An ideal stocking filler for Mum.

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The REBECCA MINKOFF Notification Bracelet

Not only does this crafty REBECCA MINKOFF bracelet look stunning, it also has a pretty innovative hidden feature. The gold chain-link bracelet silently alerts you to important calls and texts through a Bluetooth pairing with your iPhone. It programs up to 25 contacts so that when they call or text you, the bracelet will vibrate. Your Mum will no longer need to shamelessly check her phone at the dinner table or while at important meetings.

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Tracy Chapman Greatest Hits

Earlier this month, the incredible Tracy Chapman released Greatest Hits, her brand-new album which features 18 songs which are remastered by the sensational soulful singer. It packs 25 year of remarkable music into one spectacular album. If your Mum’s a fan, this is the ideal Christmas gift for her.

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Spy

Spy comes from the comical masterminds behind both the hilariously entertaining Bridesmaids and The Heat, Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy. Not only did Melissa McCarthy co-write Spy, she also takes the leading role as Susan Cooper, CIA intel operative who becomes the unexpected hero behind one of the agency’s most dangerous missions. When top agent Fine, played by the ever so handsome Jude Law becomes MIA, and, agent Ford (Jason Statham) another of the agency’s best is preoccupied, Cooper escapes her daily desk bound routine when she volunteers to go deep undercover in order to infiltrate the world of the nefarious Rayna Boyanov, played by the beautifully malevolent Rose Byrne, in order to prevent a global disaster. Cooper drops her original drab and frumpy disguise and, as the everywoman who is put in extraordinary circumstances, becomes the top notch agent who certainly knows how to get things done. This outlandishly funny comedy will be sure to have you and your Mum in stitches this Christmas.

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Seal, 7

The legendary soul and R&B master made a triumphant comeback earlier this month with his much awaited album; 7. The impressive ninth studio album, sees Seal reunite with producer Trevor Horn, who previously worked with the talented artist to bring us the sensational, Grammy Award winning Kiss From a Rose. Seal’s unique and distinctive voice paired with the diverse combination of orchestral pop, sleek soul and a little electronic emphasis makes 7 an album your Mum will definitely thank you for this Christmas.  

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Downton Abbey Series 6

The sixth and final series of the award-winning ITV costume drama Downton Abbey is available on DVD this Christmas. The period piece follows the lives and loves of those above and below the stairs in an English stately home back in 1925. The perfect Christmas gift if your Mum happens to be a Downton Abbey fan.

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Enya Dark Sky Island

The spectacular Enya’s eagerly awaited album Dark Sky Island is out now, just in time for Christmas! The album is the sensational Donegal songstress’s first studio album in seven years. In her incredible new album which features her latest breathtaking tune, Echoes In The Rain, Enya teams up, once again with long time collaborators, Nicky and Roma Ryan who she has been working with since her breakthrough in 1998.

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How Now Mrs. Brown’s Cow DVD

Why not surprise your Mum this Christmas with How Now Mrs. Brown’s Cow – the live stage performance of the Irish sitcom on DVD. The show is packed with laugh out loud scenes from the hilariously entertaining Mrs Brown created by Brendan O’Carroll.

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Don’t forget the classic albums this Christmas that will be sure to put a smile on any Mum’s face. Michael Buble’s Buble Christmas, Andre Rieu’s December Lights, Nathan Carter’s A Beautiful Life At Christmas and  Now That’s What I Call Christmas to name but a few.

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Post by Paula Murphy

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