Online Harassment

I really enjoy the “comments” section of online articles (whether they be news, opinion, or even about sports). From the snarky comments, to the sometimes insightful debate in comment forums, and just hearing others’ views and responses that I would have never thought of, I enjoy and value it. I’m also a cynic when it comes to the propensities of my fellow man for being narrow-minded, so certain articles I know will generate nasty comments attract my attention. I personally have been the target of some very nasty comments posted in reply to things I have said on social media, but I found them kind of funny and even imaginative insults, and such an overreaction, that I just shrugged it off.

But, it can go much further. A recently released Pew Research study found that 73% of online users in the study have witnessed online harassment of others and 40% have themselves been harassed online. This includes not only nasty comments and name calling in comment forums and on social media, but threats of violence and stalking.

Some other interesting findings from the study: 66% of complaints of harassment from study participants came on social media, and 16% were tied to online gaming. Men were harassed more (44% to 37%) but the harassment against women seemed to be much more violent and threatening.

And, if you have never heard of the “Gamergate” controversy, then you have not seen the limits of online anger and harassment. The genesis is a group of gamers questioning the ethics of certain game creators and industry critics. It has morphed into threats, stalking, posting of victims home addresses and reported attempts at hacking the devices and bank accounts of those victims. The FBI is taking the threats seriously.

The funniest thing I came across when reading about this study: one commenter in an article discussing the study said that while 70% of people have witnessed someone being a jerk on the Internet, 100% of us have witnessed someone being a jerk in real life. True that.

Pew Report: Senior Citizens’ Technology Use on the Rise

A newly-released Pew Research Center report finds that 59% of senior citizens report they go online, an increase of 6% over the past year.

According to the report, “Older Adults and Technology Use,” 77% of older Americans has a cell phone (up from 69% in April 2012). Forty-seven percent has a broadband connection in their home, up from 39% in 2012 but well below the national average of 70%. However, while the 59% of seniors reporting they go online represents significant year-over-year progress, it remains well below the 86% of all Americans who go online.

The report identifies the hurdles to adopting new technologies that face seniors, including physical challenges, skeptical attitudes and difficulties learning to use new technologies. But Pew finds that once seniors join the online world, digital technology often becomes an integral part of their daily lives. More than seven in 10 seniors who go online do so every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times a week.

The Pew report also finds that only 18% of seniors use a smartphone, versus 55% of the population as a whole. The gap is smaller for tablets or e-book readers: 27% of seniors own one of those devices, compared to 43% of all adults.

The report is based on a telephone survey of more than 6,000 adults age 18 and older conducted in the summer of 2013.

Teachers Report the Internet has a ‘Major Impact’ on Learning

Digital tools are widely used in middle school and high school learning, according to a new study released last Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. According to the study, however, low-income students disproportionally lack access to broadband service both at school and at home, and this trend is leading to disparities in education.

The report, entitled How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms, surveyed 2,462 American schoolteachers about digital media use in their classrooms.

According to Pew, 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching, and nearly 70% of teachers report that it has had a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with teachers and interact with parents.

Mobile technology including cell phones, e-readers and tablet computers has become central to the learning process. Seventy percent of teachers report that their school provides the resources to bring digital tools into the classroom. Unfortunately, only 50% of teachers in low-income areas reported similar levels of access. Read more

65% of Online U.S. Adults are Using Social Networks

For the first time, half of all adults in the United States report that they have visited a social networking site at least once in their life, according to a survey report released August 26 by the Pew Research Center. In comparison, just six years ago when Pew first conducted a similar survey, only 5% of all adults said they used social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace.

The Pew survey found that among adults who are online, the rates of participation were higher: 65%, according to the most recent survey, up slightly from 61% last year.

The dramatic increase in social networking is a sign of how important these tools are to our everyday lives, and how technology is transforming the ways in which people communicate. Read more

Pew: 24% of Online Adults Use VoIP

According to the a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 24% of all American adult Internet users — or 19% of all U.S. adults — have used the Internet to complete a voice call. On any given day, 5% of Internet users are going online to place phone calls.

Both figures are marked increases from the last time Pew asked these questions in early 2007, and found that 8% of Internet users (6% of all adults) had placed calls online and 2% of Internet users were making calls on any given day.

Not surprisingly, Pew found that that most VoIP users tend to be younger, and most live in urban and suburban areas. In rural areas alone, Pew notes that 13% of online adults have used a VoIP service.

Pew attributes the rise to several factors: Read more

23% of U.S. Internet Users Have Tried Video Calling

Video calling has become increasingly available as camcorders have spread through the online environment, cameras have been built into smartphones, and as video-chat services like Skype, Google Talk, Apple iChat and FaceTime have become a feature of the online and smartphone environment. Teleconferencing is also becoming more embedded in the business environment.

This summer, in a nationally-representative telephone survey using landlines and cell phones, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Project asked for the first time about the prevalence of video calling both online and on cell phones.

The survey of 3,001 adults found that 74% of American adults are Internet users and, among those Internet users, 23% have participated in video calls, chats or teleconferences. The survey also found that 85% of American adults have cell phones and, among those cell owners, 7% have used their phones for video calls, chats, or teleconferences. Overall, that means that 19% of Americans have either used the Internet or their cell phone to participate in video calls – and in many cases, people have used both technologies for video chats. Read more

Pew Research Center: Where People Go For News

According to the Pew Research Center People & Press biennial report, local TV news is the source of choice when choosing  news source alternatives. According to the report, Americans are more likely to add different technologies to their news consumption rather than replace a conventional source.

Pew indicates that people devote roughly 57 minutes each day to news from television, newspapers and radio, while adding only 13 minutes from online sources. More than one third of those responding to the study indicated that they went to both digital and traditional sources. Slightly more than 39% indicated that they elected to get news from traditional sources, while less that 10% indicated that they got their news from the Internet or a mobile technology. Read more

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