Teaching children how to tweet

Teaching children to tweet

I came across an interesting article on New scientist titled “Do we teach our children to tweet?” written by Nic Flemming. The article though short examines and points out the critical elements that we sometimes overlook when we parent our children.

Parents guidance is utmost necessary in steering children to use social media  in a responsible and at the same time in an enjoyable manner.

Can social media usage be appropriate?

If so, then what are the guidelines?

Read on…

Social media has become quite popular ever since Mark Zuckerberg came along. But then the risks of using it particularly for the younger crowd are more worrisome. Some say the benefits outweigh the risks as it expands their horizons and makes them a divergent thinker.

As you would know, the minimum age (official) to use or rather to participate and entertain is 13 for Facebook, Whats app, Instagram and Snap chat.

Ann Long field who is the children’s commissioner for England made a study on the impact of social media use on 8 to 12 year olds. The study was published last week.  Her study showed starkling results and there was a contrast.  Children enjoyed sharing these jokes and staying connected with family and friends but at the same time expressed anguish that they had to be compete unreasonably for being in the limelight and be the talk of the community.

Constantly being online and commenting to posts takes a toll. This involves shaping their own personal activities to make them more attractive to their peers so that they can share them online.  There is a constant pressure to fit in.

However considering the circumstances, it could be either healthy or detrimental depending on how you look at it.

It also creates a kind of competitive peer pressure.

For example, if somebody is into something novel and exotic like ice skating or simply about how much home work or exam preparations they have covered creates a competitive pressure. It is difficult for  ten year olds to stay away from it.

Such peer pressure existed even before the likes of FB and Snapchat  came along in the earlier generations. But then such pressure to confirm came from outside of their immediate circle – people or friends who were outside of their homes and also probably through face to face interactions at school.

Now with the use of social media, the 8-10 year olds have the whole world to interact, share and also to learn a lot more.

‘Now the pressure could come from any of the 3 Billion online and follows them from school to home and even continues through the night’ says Beeban kidrow, Founder of 5 rights, a campaign group for children rights online.

Parents are increasingly apprehensive and would want to know how they can protect their children online. We cannot be too liberal in the name of gaining worldly awareness and at the same time be overly protective.

According to Kidrow, it is better to understand the childhood milestones and see the child fits in or what is appropriate for social media use.

The childhood milestone guidelines are below.

  1. At the age of 5, there is increased dependency on parents and carers for security and guidance.
  2. From 6 to 11- There is increased independence and self care.
  3. From 12 – 18 – There is a growing dependency on peers (away from parents) and autonomy.

It is time that we need to assess the suitability of social media use based on our children’s age. Parents are begining to understand such messages and they are providing guidance to their children and this is needed even before children reach the secondary school.

It is good to look at social media use for children holistically rather than focusing only on the potential negatives. It would be good to say social media usage is good but there is a caution to use it responsibly. The onus falls on parents to teach and expose children to social media use in a right and  appropriate manner.

Ethical design is the answer to some of social media’s problems

Ethical design
In the post below, Faye Miller cites common examples of overlooking ethical design concerns in user experience for Facebook and Twitter. Some had minor ethics concerns among the user community and others were not that simple. Further, the author suggests  four categories ranging from contextual to ethical on which user experience design for social media can be based.  Technology should respect human rights and human experience. Her post is below. Image credit: Pixabay

The original article was published in ‘The Conversation’  from Faye Miller, Lecturer / Researcher, University of Canberra.

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Many of the challenges faced by social media companies come down to failures of design.

Faye Miller, University of Canberra

Facebook last week announced a redesign of its news feed to prioritise posts from friends and family over those of news publishers.

While struggling news organisations are likely to take a hit on their social traffic, the move suggests that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been paying attention to criticisms around issues such as fake news and adverse mental health outcomes.

In many cases, the biggest shortcomings of these technologies are failures of design.

There is often a disconnect between what digital designers originally intend with a product or feature, and how consumers use or interpret it.

Ethical user experience design – meaning, for example, designing technologies in ways that promote good online behaviour and intuit how they might be used – may help bridge that gap.

Read more:
Explainer: what is experience design?

A case study: the Twitter tick

The furor over Twitter’s blue verification tick is a good example of the disconnect between business intent and user interpretation.

The Twitter community has taken the tick to signify an endorsement of a Twitter user and their tweets, or a VIP status symbol indicating power and recognition.

Meanwhile, the company says the tick is intended to authenticate and protect the voices of high-profile users who are vulnerable to identity theft by imposters.

The confusion has caused outrage among Twitter users who accuse Twitter of endorsing white supremacists who spread hate speech on the platform.

The popular meaning of this function has developed over time within the Twitter community through collective action and opinion, and it speaks louder than formal explanation released by Twitter.

If Twitter’s intention was to mark authenticity, then perhaps it shouldn’t have chosen a tick, which commonly symbolises correctness or approval.

The public continues to urge Twitter to rethink its user verification process. Although the company recently clarified its rules to ban or remove verification from users who post violent and abusive tweets, the verification issue remains unresolved in the eyes of its users.

Tweets deemed in breach of the new rules, but seen by Twitter as “newsworthy” (Trump’s nuclear button tweet, for example) show the continued confusion over enforcement of the rules.

How can ethical user experience design help?

User experience design and research has so far mainly been applied to designing tech that is responsive to user needs and locations. For example, commercial and digital assistants that intuit what you will buy at a local store based on your previous purchases.

However, digital designers and tech companies are beginning to recognise that there is an ethical dimension to their work, and that they have some social responsibility for the well-being of their users.

Meeting this responsibility requires designers to anticipate the meanings people might create around a particular technology.

I have been researching the everyday experiences of users on Twitter with my colleagues at University of Southern Queensland’s Digital Life Lab. Preliminary findings show that users perceive “grey areas” when they are confused about rules, etiquette or whether they are using Twitter correctly.

Read more:
Engineers, philosophers and sociologists release ethical design guidelines for future technology

Elements of design

An ideal user experience would reduce confusion and harm by blending four digital design elements: contextual, emotional, anticipatory and ethical.

Contextually aware design is capable of understanding the different meanings that a particular technology may have, and adapting in a way that is socially and ethically responsible. For example, smart cars that prevent mobile phone use while driving.

Emotional design refers to technology that elicits appropriate emotional responses to create positive user experiences. It takes into account the connections people form with the objects they use, from pleasure and trust to fear and anxiety.

This includes the look and feel of a product, how easy it is to use and how we feel after we have used it.

Anticipatory design allows technology to predict the most useful interaction within a sea of options and make a decision for the user, thus “simplifying” the experience. Some companies may use anticipatory design in unethical ways that trick users into selecting an option that benefits the company.

The ethical design manifesto created by UK start-up Ind.ie describes technology that reduces inequality and benefits democracy, is functional, convenient and reliable, and is delightful to use.

Ethical user experience design is a relatively new and complex area.
Created by ind.ie and remixed by jfontana.fr, CC BY

Devices, websites and social networks designed with these elements in mind work for the benefit of the user. For example, if a teenager is overusing or oversharing on social media, a pop-up notification might prompt the person to exercise or meditate instead.

Read more:
Does Apple have an obligation to make the iPhone safer for kids?

If tech companies don’t respond to these challenges, it could damage their brands and the trust consumers place in their products.

Working within newly developed ethical frameworks, there is a need for human roles within tech companies to monitor and respond to emerging popular meanings around their products.

The ConversationIn this way, ethical user experience design could clarify “grey areas” and prevent harmful consequences on people, organisations and tech-dependent societies.

Faye Miller, Lecturer / Researcher, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How social ties make us resilient to trauma

people and social ties

This article was originally published on The Conversation, By Dr Daniel P Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Security and Resilience Program, Northeastern University.

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Manchester, England, May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead.
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Daniel P. Aldrich, Northeastern University

The May 22 suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, England has claimed at least 22 lives. Once again we find ourselves mourning the loss of innocents and wondering how our societies can find normalcy in a world of suicide attacks, car rammings and mass shootings. Many pundits have already called for the United Kingdom and other societies to increase their levels of security, add more police officers and install security personnel, bag checks and metal detectors in public places.

Hardening our society is one way to make us more resilient to hazards – that is, to allow us to bounce back from adversity more quickly. But we cannot armor our societies against all threats.

Millions of people in cities like Boston, Mumbai, Ghana, Tel Aviv and Tokyo use public transportation systems, attend concerts, go to parks, visit malls and walk in public daily. All of these locations are vulnerable to those who would do us harm, and we cannot police them all. Further, protecting against one type of physical threat, such as an active shooter, does little to shield society against other types of dangers, such as vehicular attacks.

My research on the role of social networks during and after crises provides an alternative approach. Rather than focusing on hardening our physical infrastructure, our societies become more resilient when we deepen and broaden our social infrastructure. Social ties provide emotional support, information and collective action at critical times.

A fan is comforted as she leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
AP Photo/Rui Vieira

We’re here for you

During and after traumatic events, we need other people. Social ties measurably lessen the effects of trauma and allow us to grieve, work through our adversity, and create and offer support.

For example, our ongoing research on evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear power meltdowns has shown that factors such as health and wealth did little to ease survivors’ anxiety over radiation exposure and worries about their livelihoods. Instead, having neighbors and friends who moved along with evacuees as they fled from their homes was the most powerful predictor of reducing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among residents.

Social ties – especially those mediated through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and NextDoor – provide information and platforms to connect acts of kindness and solidarity to people in need. Facebook’s Safety Check feature, for instance, allows users to check in and announce they are safe following a natural disaster or terror attack.

In Manchester, residents offered rides, food, water and shelter to all, using social media tags like #roomforManchester. Taxi drivers took people home from the concert arena without charge. Similarly, after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March 2016, locals offered shelter to stranded survivors with the hashtag #PorteOuverte (open door).

During the agonizing period when parents and spouses were waiting to hear news of loved ones at the concert, the social media tag #missinginManchester helped them seek information. But not all shows of support involved social media. Blood banks around Manchester received so many donations that they started turning people away less than 24 hours after the bombing.

These emergent collective actions were not coordinated by governmental authorities, but instead evolved from feelings of connection and decency. Sometimes they can even inject some humor into grim events. During a four-day lockdown in Brussels in November 2015 while police searched for one of the Paris attackers, residents started tweeting pictures of cats in battle gear.

Strength in numbers

Scholars studying societies that regularly face terror attacks from rockets, shootings and knifings have similarly argued for the importance of social ties in building resilience. One study of Israel illuminated how community ties may be the most powerful way to help people deal with the reality of life as targets.

The ConversationManchester itself has faced bombings before. It was attacked multiple times during World War II, and in 1996 an Irish Republican Army bomb destroyed the downtown shopping district, injuring more than 200 people. Thanks to strong connections and community resilience, the city bounced back from past tragedies. As we struggle to find words to express our shock and sympathy for those who were harmed, we should not forget the healing power of building connections to each other.

Daniel P. Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Security and Resilience Program, Northeastern University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Social network analysis on informal networks: ‘Who we know’ has a say on ‘What we know’

Informal networks
In some way or the other, we all are part of some informal networks in the organizations where we work. Through these networks, most of us if not some of us, get vital information to get our jobs done. Our collaboration with others becomes much easier when we know who would be right person to deliver the goods on time. Image credit: Pixabay

Note: The words ‘Workplaces’ and “Organizations’ have been used interchangeably within this post and they both mean the same.

Rob cross et all, in their seminal article titled “Making invisible work visible’ talk about the effects of social network analysis on informal networks in organizations. Even though the article was written in 2002, it offers much insight into the analysis of informal working relationships in workplaces and is quite relevant even now. Their analysis and research findings were implemented into many excellent companies across the globe. I have tried to crystallize and infer as much as possible from the first few pages. You can find the article here. Later on in the upcoming posts, I will try to summarize the lessons learned.

Social network analysis on informal networks within organizations has revealed that most of the innovative work happens across cross-functional units that cut across detailed work processes.

Such informal networks are usually not found in formal organizational charts. They are invisible and work in myriad different ways with all the subtleties and nuances embedded in it.

People with similar backgrounds, expertise, and job positions gather to share and grow together. No body forces them to form a group there by forming social capital. They are a high concoction of talent, expertise, and influential information brokers.

Workplaces need to recognize the importance of such informal networks, which can develop the ability to innovate and adapt.

It is a known fact that such informal networks in workplaces often compete with formal structures and work processes. Established HR practices, culture, and leadership styles hardly recognize the existence of such networks. Yet, we know to the core that people often depend upon informal relationships to find information they want.  Social science researchers across the world have consistently pointed out that ‘who we know, has a great say and impact on what and how much we know’.

The understanding is that if we put an organizational chart, the lines and boxes hardly represent the relationships that exist within the workplaces. Informal relationships exist beyond those lines and boxes for carrying out work and are always growing and often not immediately seen.

Informal relationships are compounded when organizations become more flat (typically, the direct reports span for manager increases or when there is widespread retrenchment) and when there is increased virtual remote working across the globe. However, the managers seem to have a good understanding of the immediate social links their direct reports have but they are largely unaware of the social links and connections, employees have across the gamut of the organization.

Now having said that, social network analysis can play a significant role in mapping and assessing key relationships among group members in informal networks as well as making productive interventions in the best interest of the organization as a whole.

There were simultaneous studies on Social network analysis from researchers across different disciplines. From the field of Social Psychology was JL Moreno who was credited with creating the first social network after mapping the city of New York. He created the first Sociogram (A network diagram, depicting relationships among group members).

Cultural anthropology, another discipline developed independent studies on informal networks. Then there was ‘graph theory’ from the field of Mathematics, which provided the foundations for the analytical techniques in social network analysis.

Over the years, all these research studies culminated today to study the effects of informal networks in modern work places through social network analysis.

All this valuable research into social network analysis provided significant inputs for investigating and understanding the conditions necessary for the rise of informal networks in organizations.

Have you read ?

1. What small world village clusters can teach us on social networks
2.  The human brain helps us make decisions in everyday life social networks
3.  How social networks can add value to innovation in workplaces

Informal networks in organizations are quite common among people who are from similar background and job profile. Firstly, it emphasizes the fact that informal networks thrive from a cognitive standpoint where in employees with similar abilities and job positions communicate more.

Secondly, from a structural standpoint, the organizations design and structure has an impact on the influence and the density of the connections within informal networks. There is every likelihood that informal networks are less dense in formal structures.

Lastly, from a relational standpoint, it emphasizes that trust; motivation and reciprocity are the other important factors, which influence informal networks within workplaces.

Some insight into social network analysis for informal networks

An interesting point which I would like to make is that so far social network analysis has been viewed from a researcher’s point of view and the outcomes of such research and the benefits where never been within the reach of practitioners belonging to the industry. The outcomes and the insight derived out of such analysis need to be accessible for people in workplaces. Moreover, addressing challenges in context can help working relationships. The current conditions and challenges of working relationships in modern workplaces need to assessed and understood in the first place.

Such contextualized approach can give practitioners insight into ‘what is working and not working’ when analyzing the patterns of relationships and make changes and corrections accordingly.

For example, relocating people who are central to the informal networks with respect to decision-making and information control, to other parts of the network can have a positive effect to the group as a whole. This can boost the morale of the employees as well.

Similarly, people who are in the far reaches of the informal networks can be re-assigned so that their expertise and talent does not go underutilized. Their expertise can be leveraged by bringing them closer to the network members.

Finally, analyzing the gaps at the junctures of two independent informal networks can help in understanding what is missing or not working. By making suitable interventions and infusing new talent in those gaps or through introduction of knowledge brokers, disparate groups can be integrated. Such integration can facilitate free flow of information, expertise and know how across the groups in workplaces.




Social network analysis: The rationale behind

Social network analysis
Social networks have existed for a very long time ever since the evolution of human society.  As we dwell into details, social network analysis provides us an understanding of, among many – why people are connected more closely together then before and when there is no logic. Such analysis can make organisations flourish in a modern information economy.  Image credit: Pixabay.

Social relationships are complex. They say. Understanding such complexity requires conceptual tools when you are trying to understand the relationships beyond a small number of people.

Networks can be used to represent social relationships.

A network is simply a graph or a structure, which represents people interacting with each other. Social network analysis examines the relationships among individuals, organizations and other groups as they interact and mingle with each other. The groups’ members and their relationships can be represented in a data set, which can be created exclusively for this purpose.

Social network analysis allows scholars and industry practitioners to study and understand the behavior of network members and their relationships.

Social network analysis asks questions such as ‘who is linked to whom’ and the content of the linkages. It also looks at relationship patterns among the network members based on their behavior.

Understanding these patterns is crucial in understanding the flow of the contagion (which could be information, diseases, love, goods, etc.).

By analyzing social networks, we can understand and measure a community’s social cohesion. Things like why people engage in communities, maintain active or passive social relations, and yet live at arm’s length like in a market or business perspective.

Social network analysis also allows us to understand, how people in a community can broker information to achieve power and status and yet collaborate with others to achieve shared goals. It is a known fact that new communities emerge at the intersections of sub cultures or communities where information brokers reside.

That way, social networks have existed since ancient days and have evolved since then. Modern social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have generated massive online networks. The ease of use coupled with their widespread availability has raised the need for social network analysis and has greatly expanded its reach and potential in the last few years.

Social network analysis is usually studied through various visualization tools. Gephi is a popular open source software tool for social network analysis. Social network analysis finds its applications in a wide variety of fields from studying food chains in ecosystems, to understanding network traffic and connections for building new tools.Further online social networks use social network analysis to develop and create new proprietary software algorithms for new connection recommendations and targeting niche advertisements.

Have you read?

Designing social media platforms for knowledge sharing
Why social media likes, tweets and shares are best things since cheese burger
Social network of the gods – A primordial soup of carbon atoms and water

Conceptualizing social network relationships

Social networks exist at all levels and in great variety. For example, there are social relations among friends and relatives. These are mostly among equals and then there are employer relationships i.e. between a boss and a subordinate. Further, there is also love and trust among life partners and of course infrequent interactions among people who trade and do business.

Network relationships vary according to certain factors and they are 1. Emotional intensity 2. Trust 3. Time spent. 4. Reciprocity


To be continued…