Social Media Savvy And Safety For All Generations!

Social Media Savvy And Safety!

Like it or not, our society is heavily impacted by social media.  While those of my generation may long to see our younger counterparts build the mainstay of their relationships from friendships formed at work, school or church…like we did back in the day…there’s a lot to be said for the positive aspects of the ever mounting popularity of cyberspace–as long as we continually educate ourselves on using it wisely, that is, and protecting ourselves against the negative effects it can have on our lives–no matter our age!

Social media balance.

“Technology is a useful servant, but a dangerous master!”  Christian Lange

I don’t think it is news to anyone that the world wide web is a place where a lot of information, chances for social interaction, and entertainment are easily found.  Technology has also revolutionized the workplace–where often showing up for work simply means grabbing your laptop off your bedside table and working from the comforts of your home.  Virtual entertainment has quickly become the “go-to” for anyone wanting to play games or watch videos.  Online instructions have also become a fairly reputable resource for a wide range of lessons from simple household DIY’s to classes in cross-fit training.  But all this aside…it still takes a certain amount of savvy to navigate the internet safely and balance it properly in our lives so we don’t let it waste valuable time.  Certainly, nothing should ever replace the meaningful impact of reaching out personally to sustain valuable relationships with those who make life so fulfilling and worthwhile!

Maxine computer cartoon.

Bridging The Computer Literacy Gap!

While it may be true that tech developers tend to mostly target the younger population with their campaign ads, current research from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is quick to point out that the older generation isn’t as apathetic or fearful of current computer trends as once believed.  In fact, they report that since 2009 there has been a steady rise in the number of people 65 years of age and older who regularly use email and Skype to communicate with family members, and nearly 70% now use social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to stay informed about job news and health information.  Many seniors are finding that they feel less isolated by being able to connect with the outside world via the internet.  Computer games have also been found to be very beneficial in improving the memories and sequencing abilities of elderly people.  I guess if you can’t beat ’em–you might as well join ’em…right?!
CS Lewis quote.

Insights From An Expert!

For further, more in-depth insight on this subject, I’ve turned to someone I consider an expert in the field of computers…in fact, my friend, Leslie, actually holds the title of School Technology Specialist in our local school district–not only is she a computer wizard extraordinaire, she currently oversees the internet use and safety of over 100 staff members and 1,500 students…so obviously she is very qualified to address this topic.  Leslie is quick to point out that despite your age and level of computer competency, there are certain internet rules and behaviors that apply across the board.

While Leslie admits that it may seem a bit intimidating to keep pace with the ever accelerating pace of all the innovative technology tools available to us, she maintains that social media is a force to be reckoned with and has become an integral part of our daily habits and the preferred means to communicate and share our lives with others.  “Used correctly, social media can be a great resource to uplift, inspire and improve someone’s day .”  

The Far Reaching Effect Of Social Media!   

In discussing the topic of social media, Leslie reminded me of the far reaching effect and positive influence that an online presence can afford each of us.

the-power-of-social-media-1-638

♦  Social media helps us engage with one another.  Sharing highlights of our lives can enhance and deepen our relationships with those who live far away.  Besides Facebook and Instagram, the more popular online forums for keeping in touch with family and friends, people also have the ability to set up a variety of private social media groups on every possible topic imaginable;  ie. virtual book clubs, current event discussion groups, neighborhood and school information boards, to name a few.

♦  Our internet participation has the power to educate and empower!  When using social media we might want to ask ourselves these questions:  “How can we use time spent on our devices to become more productive citizens?  How can we use social media to improve ourselves and our communities?   In contemplating these questions, we can’t help but come to realize that social media helps us better understand that we are global citizens, and we can learn to work together to solve world problems.

  Our online interactions give us a chance to encourage and uplift!  Social media tools give us the chance to stand for truth and goodness.  We can voice approval for causes and movements that uplift and edify.  Setting a positive example via the internet can help move the dialogue more towards decency and civility–which is so crucial in this day and age of seemingly endless negative online sparring.

♦  Social media has the power to amplify our voice on issues that affect our lives.  If we’re looking to expand and encourage the positive impact  of online interactions, we need to understand that the accounts that rise to the top and get the most exposure are the ones that get the most likes and shares.  We can help encourage goodness by supporting people who are using their social media outlets to encourage and inspire.
Have a voice online.

“Example, good or bad, has a powerful influence.”  George Washington

Social Media–A Cautionary Tale!

Leslie also admonishes that an important responsibility for each of us, as far as our online usage is concerned, is to continually educate ourselves and keep updated on the social, ethical and legal ramifications at stake as they relate to the ever evolving digital culture.

♦  Play it safe!  Remember that social media is a public domain, so as we maneuver our way along the internet information superhighway, protecting our personal information on the sites we use has become more important than ever before.  Most online platforms give you the option to share a great deal about yourself, however it doesn’t mean you need to fill them out.  Consider a general version of the information requested, for example…list only your state of residency rather than both city and state to make it harder for others to figure out exactly where you live.  Create strong passwords using a combination of words and numbers, upper and lowercase letters and specific characters that are easy for you to remember.  You might even want to keep a log of these passwords in a special journal that is not located by the devices you frequently use.  Another important factor to consider is the privacy settings on any social media outlet.  Take the time to explore these privacy guidelines and create a custom list of people who are allowed to view specific posts.

Being safe on the internet information freeway.

“Caution is the parent of safety.”   Proverb

Be aware that there are folks out there who are using social media for nefarious reasons, so be vigilant!  There are pieces of personal information that you should never, ever post.  These include your Social Security number, driver’s license, bank account information and your specific whereabouts.  Don’t make it easier for ill-meaning people to take advantage of you.

A few other cautionary safety points to take into consideration for all ages: block inappropriate websites, never talk to strangers, and beware of “free” offers…they can infect your computer with an online virus.  The best protection for online safety is having a decent internet security site that blocks unsafe links and checks every download for signs of malware.  (The computer specialist my husband employs suggests using a product like, Kaspersky Total Security or Spybot since they allow you the ability to monitor your whole network from your PC and adjust the security settings of each computer individually.)          

And finally, always log out from any device when you are finished using it–especially if it’s a public computer.  Log out of your private devices from time to time, as well, to ensure that other people can’t access your social profile to change personal settings or information, attack friends, or make slanderous comments to embarrass or harass you.  Sadly, this is more common than we’d like to realize in today’s society.

♦  Keep It Real!  No doubt about it, we live in a world that tends to tap into our competitive natures, which can lend itself to people wanting to embellish facts about themselves. When I was growing up, my parents often took the opportunity to say, “Remember who you are…and conduct yourself accordingly!”  This doesn’t mean that we can’t learn and grow as individuals in real life–and project that online, but conducting ourselves one way in person and another way on the internet just seems disingenuous.  Besides, people are smart and eventually they catch on…then like the popular Aesop’s fable about the boy that cried wolf, eventually no one will believe anything you say!  This doesn’t mean you have to share all your warts, (however, it can be somewhat cathartic on occasion if done in good taste) but like the old adage goes, honesty is always the best policy!  And while we’re at it, let’s be each other’s cyber cheerleaders, sharing the love, so to speak, when others achieve a goal or work hard to jump one of life’s hard hurdles…in my opinion, that is when the online community is at its best!
Be real quote.As social media consumers, we also need to be engaged and check sources of information we read online, identifying falsehoods and misinformation.  In a recent interview, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said, “Some social media tools are unwisely used to divide people and manipulate them–to get fake news out to people in broad numbers, wrongly influencing their thinking based on nothing but made-up conjectures.” 

Social Meial Savvy and Safety For All Generations!

♦  Follow the “Golden Rule” of cyberspace.  Good behavior should be taught in our homes, and this applies to computer use too.  Decide as a family what rules you want applied to computer and social media use.  As adults we should emulate the kind of online behavior we want our children to have.  Here is a good rule of thumb for everyone to incorporate in their everyday internet conduct:
The golden rules of cyberspace. (Check out more do’s and don’t to a positive social media experience here.)

My husband, who is not a social media kind of guy, always cautioned our kids with this advice:
Be careful what you say online quote.Obviously, there are times and places that are appropriate for being online…we show our level of maturity and consideration by knowing when it’s time to unplug and be “present” in our daily lives!  My dad lived by the motto “moderation in all things” and perhaps in these modern times, there’s no area where we should apply this mindset more than in our daily internet habits!

Internet savvy cartoon..

“A computer screen limits your real life experiences!   John le Carre

I like the wisdom Leslie shared as she concluded her email to me on the role social media should play in our lives…

“We are more than capable of giving our internet use the proper priority it should take in our lives to avoid the easy distraction it can become from family, relationships and obligations.  It is important to keep a realistic perspective about social media.  Why let it have the power to have a negative impact on the way we feel about ourselves and the wonderful lives we lead.  Yes, we see friends posting pictures of great trips, lovely families, and beautiful lifestyles, and it makes it look like they have amazing lives every minute of every day.  We often forget that they are posting their highlight reels!”  

Perfectly said, Leslie.  Thanks so much for sharing your expertise on this important subject with us!

What are some ways you’ve found that help you strike a good balance with social media use in your lives? 

–Love, Mary 

Drink The Wild Air…An Ode To Summer!

Drink The Wild Air…An Ode To Summer!

I love living where I can experience all four seasons…but summertime definitely seems to bring its own brand of unique energy to everyday life…we always seem to find ourselves in that perfect juxtaposition between taking advantage of the flurry of activities that are available this time of year and enjoying some leisure time while still maintaining a little daily structure too!  Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best…

Emerson's summer quote.
Summer days will be here and gone before you know it, so as much as we might love to throw caution to the wind and let summer evolve with carefree abandon…here’s a few suggestions that might help us each make the best use of our time while still allowing for plenty of fun!

Sun symbol.

 

Make a plan…but be flexible!

Kids…and mom’s deserve to sleep in a little and be a bit lazy the first few days of summer vacation, but after that, I think making a loose schedule is a good idea so you don’t find yourself in pajamas eating cereal every afternoon!  When our children were young, my husband and I liked to get their input on some of the things they wanted to do during the summer and write them down so they could check the list throughout the summer and see what was planned and when we planned on doing them–looking forward to something is good motivation for getting your daily routines accomplished. (ie. reading, jobs, practicing, etc.)  We also made it clear that depending on weather, work and other obligations, we might have to change things up on occasion, but that’s what makes summer so much fun…and a bit unpredictable.  While you may choose to be more flexible on some of your normal rules and routines, the mom/nurse in me always liked to maintain enough structure to ensure that my children were getting the nutrition, exercise and sleep they all needed.

Planning a summer schedule.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be…if you make a few plans!”  Charles Bowden

Sun symbol.

 

 Focus on quality time!

I worked part-time when my children were still home during the summer, so being more mindful of planning quality time together when I was home was very important to me.  You don’t have to go on a family vacation to make family time a priority.  Check your local Chamber of Commerce or city summer guides for unique things to do in the area where you live.  It’s amazing how many great adventures you can experience close to home–enjoying a ballgame, neon bowling, a fun water park, and hikes up local canyons were some of the things we loved to do…as well as reading a good book together, working in the yard, enjoying family game night, or trying some new places to eat out.  Connecting in these ways always seemed to create the perfect atmosphere for lively conversation and genuine appreciation for one another!  Lucky for me…I now get to do many of these same things with my fun grandchildren!

Mueller Park trail sign.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt!”  John Muir

Sun symbol.

 

Take the road less traveled!

If you’re planning a family trip during the peak vacations months of summer and you want to avoid the follies of Chevy Chase and his family in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movie, it might be a good idea to travel to a destination that’s a little less known but still packed with a lot of fun activities and great experiences.  We had a boat growing up and we often planned trips to lesser known lakes and marina’s during the peak summer months, allowing for calmer waterskiing water and a lot more choices when it came to picking a camping spot.  If a popular amusement park is on the agenda, going during the middle of the week obviously helps you avoid longer lines and wait times.  I’ve also found that planning a vacation before or after peak holiday weeks, like the 4th of July, usually makes any travel destination less crowded.  I recently joined an online travel guide group that gives suggestions for unusual things to do in each state–I can’t wait to visit some of them!  Even if your vacation spot is a well-known tourist site, browse the internet or a good travel book for some “off the beaten path” exploits!  I’ve listed a few other great travel tips in this post.

Off the beaten path ode to summer!

“You must be a little fearless to take the road less traveled!”  Lailah Gifty Akita

Sun symbol.

 

Try something new!

As parents, I think we all want to provide an assortment of new experiences for our children so they can try their hand at various activities that could become a fun new hobby or talent, but let’s not forget to get in on the fun ourselves–you just never know when you might discover something that helps define a new chapter of your life…and summer seems to be one of the best times to do that.  My husband believes that we shouldn’t just be observers of our children’s summer fun, instead, we should experience it with them!

An Ode to Summer! Biking Signs!

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the human race!”  H. G. Wells 

I’ve started doing a little biking in the last few years, and while I don’t feel the urge to do it competitively like my husband when he does triathlon sprints, I find it’s fun exercise and a neat way to see our hometown from a different perspective.

An Ode To Summer! Tennis Lessons!

Signing your children up for classes with your city’s recreation programs is a great way to let them try a new sport without having to invest a lot of money until you see if they like it.  On a whim, my daughter had her girls try tennis lessons; not only did they love playing, they seemed to have a natural knack for it too!!

Sun symbol.

 

Keep it simple!

While we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time together as a family during the summer months, filling our days with the millions of options available to keep us busy and entertained, there is only so much parental energy–and our children’s congenial attitudes are not limitless.  I’ve found that if I didn’t over-complicate my life with things I thought I “should” be doing all summer, that my days naturally went smoother…besides, it’s good for kids to see that every minute of every day doesn’t need to be planned out and that the best summer memories are often those where they just enjoy some good old-fashioned leisure time.  I also tried to have some down-time after lunch when my kids were home.  They could read or play a quiet game in their rooms or perhaps watch a TV show for half an hour.  I’ll admit though, I’m happy that I raised my family before the great drawing force of the internet–my kids weren’t distracted by social media, living vicariously through their friend’s summer activities…instead they couldn’t wait to go outside and create their own adventures, letting their imaginations go wild!  (I’ll never forget the wedding they held in our garage, complete with dandelion bouquets and vanilla wafer refreshments!)  When my oldest daughter and her husband were looking for a place to settle down and raise their family, I loved it when she told me that she wanted to find a neighborhood where her kids could grow up just like she did…where they walk out the front door to friends who ride bikes, sell Kool-aid, run through the sprinklers, and play for hours on end using the simple creativity of their own minds!

Ode To Summer! Koolaid for sale!

“From here to there, and there to here, fun and funny things are everywhere!”  Dr. Suess

As parents we can often feel pressured to have everything Pinertest” perfect when it comes to entertaining our children…but their simple artistic efforts are what matter most when doing an activity; the stress levels are kept in check too.

When we get together as a family now, listening to my kids reminisce about their fun childhood summers fills my heart…those days have set a good foundation for all the wonderful times they enjoy now as they raise their young families!

Summer fun quote.

“Every summer has its own special story!”  Tribute Journal

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

I’d love to know how you balance your summer activities.  Do you have any summer traditions?

–Best summer wishes to you!  Mary

The Power Of Wow! Be Amazed Every Day!

The Power Of Wow!  Be Amazed Every Day!

The Easter season and the beauty of spring seems to beg for us to truly be amazed by all that this wonderful world has to offer.   One of the last pieces of advice my dad gave me before he left this mortal life was to always look around me and find something to be in awe of each day…the power of wow, he liked to call it.

The Power of Wow! Be Amazed Every Day

As grown-ups, we may not experience the innocent delight and awe of a child discovering nature for the first time, but we can certainly open up our hearts and be filled with the wonder and happiness that can be experienced when we take the opportunity to be amazed by the incredible gifts that are ours to enjoy–simply because of our existence here on earth!

The Power Of Wow! Be Amazed Everyday!

“Give each day the chance to become the most beautiful of your life!”  Mark Twain

Being More Mindful!

In trying harder to live each day with a more mindful approach, I’m reminded of a neat plaque that hung in the play area of a pediatric unit where I used to work:

“Be sure to explore the world with a fresh curiosity!”

Would you be surprised to learn that amazement is an instant stress reliever?  Dr. Rick Hanson of Psychology Today, even goes so far as to say that, “being amazed brings you into an enlightened relationship with the inherent mysteries and astounding bounties of the world you live in.”  We can often become preoccupied with our daily obligations, but I’ve found that the chance to be amazed is more likely to happen when I remember to allow myself the luxury of being wowed by the neat surprises that each day has to offer…when I do this–I feel energized and more grateful!

The Power Of Wow! Be amazed Every Day!

Today Is A Wonderful Gift!

I know that when I live more present-minded, I’m less likely to get stuck in my head–instead, I tend to focus more on savoring life and the people and things that make each day a wonderful gift.  Michael Kernis, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia, asserts that “when people are more mindful, they’re more likely to experience themselves as part of a greater good; it heightens their instincts and they are able to let go and focus more on the things that matter most.”  Living more mindfully doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from the past and the life lessons that have made us stronger and helped shape who we are…I also believe in setting goals and having strategies in place to help us plan for the future so we can take advantage of every opportunity to build a more meaningful life.

Learn from the past, plan for the future but live for today!

“The past is behind us, learn from it.  The future is ahead, prepare for it.  The present is here.  Live it!”  Thomas S. Monson 

A Few Things Thant Amaze Me!

I’m amazed…when I see the world through the beautiful eyes of my grandchildren; it gives me hope in the future of this sometimes crazy world!

Seeing the world through a child's eyes!

“There’s a certain joy and wonder everywhere about you, when you see the world through a child’s eyes.”  Katrina Mayer

I’m amazed…by the arrival of each season–but spring is my favorite!

Be amazed!

“Spring brings out our optimism!”  Susan Bissonette

I’m amazed…by the talent and passion of people who take pride in their craft!

Be amazed!

“A good chef is like a sorceress who serves up magic and happiness!”  Elsa Schiaparelli

(If possible, take the opportunity to sit where the chef’s prepare your food at your favorite restaurant…and be amazed!  My husband and I like to do this at The Copper Onion in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.)

I’m amazed…and my spirits are lifted by a beautiful sunset when I leave work after a long, busy shift at the hospital!

Be amazed!

“At the end of the day, before you close your eyes…be content with what you’ve done and proud of who you are.”  Tribute Journal

Mostly I’m amazed…at God’s love and His kind hand in my life!

Have a beautiful life.

“When you rush through life…it becomes a race, but when you cherish each moment…it becomes a beautiful journey!”  Apoovre Debey

Please share how you stay amazed with the world around you?

–Love, Mary