Friday, October 13, 2017

Blue Whale (game)


While many experts suggest "Blue Whale" was originally a sensationalised hoax, they believe that it is likely that the phenomenon has led to instances of imitative self-harming and copycat groups, leaving vulnerable children at risk of cyberbullying and online shaming. Blue Whale is described as being based on the relationship between participants (or challengers) and administrators. The administrators prescribe a series of duties that players must complete, usually one per day, some of which involve self-mutilation.[11] As of late 2017, participation in Blue Whale seems to be receding; however, internet safety organisations across the world have reacted by giving general advice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and online safety in advance of the next incarnation of cyberbullying meme.


In 2016, Philipp Budeikin, a 21-year-old former psychology student who was expelled from his university, claimed that he invented the game in 2013. He said his intention was to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value. Although originally claiming innocence and stating he was "just having fun", Budeikin was arrested and held in Kresty PrisonSt Petersburg and in May 2016 pled guilty to "inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide."[14]He was later convicted on two counts of inciting suicide of a minor.
In June 2017, postman Ilya Sidorov was arrested in Moscow, also accused of setting up a "Blue Whale" group to encourage children to self-harm and ultimately commit suicide. He claimed to have persuaded 32 children to join his group and follow commands.

Reported cases


In San Juan Province, Argentina, a 14-year-old boy was admitted to intensive care after claiming on social media he was participating in Blue Whale.[18]


Many news reports have published on Bangladeshi media about attempted suicide related with the game. A teenage girl committed suicide allegedly from the addiction of the game in October, 2017. A Chittagong University student was arrested by Bangladesh Police for playing the game.


Several news reports have appeared on Brazilian media linking cases of child self-harm and suicide with Blue Whale. Police have several ongoing investigations, although as yet none has been officially confirmed. Altogether, eight Brazilian states had cases of suicide and self-mutilation suspected to be connected with the game.


The first news about Blue Whale appeared in Bulgaria in mid-February 2017. The Safer Internet Centre, established under the Safer Internet plus Programme of the European Commission, responded quickly. "(T)his sensationalistic story was inflated by a number of our clickbait websites creating a wave of panic among parents", Centre Coordinator Georgi Apostolov reported.
"We decided not to initiate contact directly with the media since this would attract additional interest and could mislead the public into believing the story to be somehow true. As the hype was magnified by thousands sharing the story on the social networks, we just published a warning on our website and spread the link in comments under all shared in Facebook articles and posts. Then the mainstream media themselves started asking us for interviews and quoting our conclusions that it evidently was a hoax."
Two discussion groups about suicide opened on Facebook, but were quickly reported and deleted. The diffusion of the viral news was stopped within two weeks. Later, when a sensationalist piece in the Romanian newspaper Gandul resulted in five more articles being published in Bulgaria that reported the challenge as real, media again circulated SIC's positions, and the hoax was stopped immediately.


Media in Chile have reported three cases of children suspected of involvement with 'Blue Whale'. In Antofagasta, a mother reported to the police that her 12-year-old daughter had 15 cuts on her arm that formed the design of a whale. After being interviewed by police officers, the girl confessed that she followed game administrator's instructions while playing this game. A 13-year-old girl in Padre Las Casas claimed to have played the game along with three other friends. The girl reached the tenth stage, also making cuts in her arms. An 11-year-old boy in Temuco accepted an invitation to join the game on Facebook in 2017 from an unidentified woman, but declined to participate after being contacted by a profile named "Ballena Azul".


A suicide group was founded by a 10-year-old girl in NingboZhejiang; who posted several photos of her self-mutilation related to the Blue Whale.[30] Since then authorities began to monitor mentions of the game on forums and live broadcasts.[31]


Throughout 2017 media in India has reported several cases of child suicide, self harm and attempted suicide alleged to be a result of Blue Whale,[32][33][34][35] although no case has been officially confirmed.[6] In August 2017, the Government of India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology requested that several internet companies (including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo) remove all links which direct users to the game.[7] Some commentators accused the government of creating a moral panic. Indian internet watchdog the Centre for Internet and Society has accused the coverage of effectively spreading and advertising a ‘game’ for which there is little evidence. [7] In India suicide was the second most common form of death of children, according to a 2012 report.[6]


In Italy, press coverage of 'Blue Whale' first appeared on 3 June 2016, in the newspaper La Stampa, which described the challenge as "a bad joke".[36]
The debunking site BUTAC reported the total lack of evidence to affirm the game's existence. On 14 May 2017, a TV report by Le Iene about 'Blue Whale' on the national channel Italia 1[37] linked the challenge to an unconnected suicide in Livorno, Italy. The report showed several suicide scenes, mostly from videos on LiveLeak depicting adults unrelated to the challenge. It incorrectly described the footage as evidence of teenagers playing the game. The report interviewed a schoolmate of the Livorno teenager, two mothers of Russian girls who supposedly took part in the game, and the founder of the Russian Center for the safety of children from internet crimes. Following the report, coverage of the challenge in the Italian media increased, with many outlets describing it as real. There was a sharp rise in Google searches for the challenge, and some panic.
On 15 and 16 May, newspapers announced the arrest of Budeikin, without saying that it happened months before. His unconfirmed statements about his supposed victims being "genetical rubbish" were reported as real. Paolo Attivissimo, a journalist and debunker of hoaxes, described the game as "a death myth dangerously exaggerated by sensationalist journalism". Police received calls from terrified parents and teachers, and there were reports of teenagers taking part in the challenge. These included several cases of self-mutilation and attempted suicide. Most reports were considered to be false or exaggerated. Alleged participants were reported from all over Italy: Ravenna,[38] Brescia[39] and Siracusa.[40]
On May 22, 2017 the Polizia Postale declared that they had received 40 alarms. On the 24th this number was increased to 70. On its website the Polizia Postale defines Blue Whale as "a practice that seems to possibly come from Russia" and offers advice to parents and teenagers.[41] Several alleged cases have since been described by newspapers.[42]


In Nairobi County a student in Kiambu County, had played the Blue Whale challenge. He committed suicide on 3 May at the hotel owned by his grandfather in the city centre.[43]


On September 13, 2017, Pakistan reported its first two victims from the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).[44]


Three pupils of a primary school in Pyrzyce self harmed, allegedly under the influence of the 'Blue Whale' challenge.[45][46]


An 18-year-old girl was admitted to hospital with mutilations on her body in Albufeira after she threw herself from an overpass to the railway line. Police, parents and friends said that the girl had been motivated to do so by a person on the Internet named as "Blue Whale".[47] In an interview with RTP, she said that she felt alone, and lacking affection.[48]


In March 2017, authorities in Russia were investigating approximately 130 separate cases of suicide related to the phenomenon. In February a 15-year-old and 16-year-old threw themselves off the top of a 14-story building in IrkutskSiberia after completing 50 tasks sent to them. Before they killed themselves together, they left messages on their pages on social networks. Also in February, a 15-year-old was in critical condition after throwing herself out of an apartment and falling on snow-covered ground in the town of Krasnoyarsk, also in Siberia.
On 11 May 2017, Russian media reported that Philipp Budeikin "plead guilty to inciting teenagers to suicide," having described his victims as "biological waste" and claiming he was "cleansing society." He was held at Kresty Prison in St. Petersburg with charges of "inciting at least 16 teenage girls to kill themselves."
On 26 May 2017, Russian Duma (parliament) passed a bill introducing criminal responsibility for creating pro-suicide groups on social media, in the wake of 130 teen deaths linked to the Blue Whale suicide challenge. On 7 June 2017, President Putin signed a law imposing criminal penalties for inducing minors to suicide.The law imposes a maximum punishment of six years in prison.

Saudi Arabia

On 5 June 2017, a 13-year-old boy committed suicide in his room, where his body was discovered by his mother. The boy used his PlayStation wires to commit suicide. His death has been linked to Blue Whale.[54]


A 13-year-old boy in Velika Plana injured his hand, telling his parents that he had done so because of Blue Whale. The parents reported the case to the police.[55]


In Spain, a teenager was admitted to a psychiatric unit of a Barcelona hospital after her family said she started playing Blue Whale.[56]


In Turkey, a family filed a criminal complaint after their son's suicide, and demanded further investigation regarding the incident. The family told the officials that after their son started playing "the game", his behavior changed rapidly.[57]

United States

In the city of San AntonioTexas, the body of a 15-year-old was found on 8 July 2017. A cellphone had broadcast the teen's suicide, which is believed to be related to the game.[58]
It is also alleged that the game was tied to a teen girl's death in Atlanta, Georgia.[59]
The sheriff of LeFlore County, Oklahoma, said evidence showed an 11-year-old boy committed suicide in August 2017 while participating in the game.[60]


In the city of Rivera, 450 kilometers from Montevideo, a 13-year-old girl was hospitalized after employees of the school she attended reported injuries to her left arm.[61][62] Adolescents victimized by the Blue Whale game are being investigated in six departmentsMontevideoCanelonesColoniaRío NegroSalto and Rivera.[63][64]


In March 2017, Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Dan expressed her deep concerns about the phenomenon.[65] Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Fireadescribed the game as "extremely dangerous".[66]
In Brazil, in response to the game, a designer and a publicity agent from São Paulo created a movement called Baleia Rosa (Pink Whale),[67] which became viral. It relied on the collaboration of hundreds of volunteers. The movement is based on positive tasks that value life and combat depression.[68] Also in Brazil, Sandro Sanfelice created the movement Capivara Amarela (Yellow Capybara), which proposes to "combat the Blue Whale game" and guide people seeking some kind of help. Participants are separated between challengers, who are the people who seek help, and the healers, who are kind of godfathers of these people.[69] An Adventistschool in southern Paraná, in partnership with other education networks, also sought to reverse the situation by proposing another charity game, the "Jonas Challenge" (referring to the biblical character Jonah, who was vomited up by a large fish three days after being swallowed by it).[70] Other games created in Brazil in response to the Blue Whale were the Baleia Verde (Green Whale) and the Preguiça Azul (Blue Sloth).
In the United States, one site, also called the "Blue Whale Challenge", does not identify as an effort to combat the game, but offers fifty days of challenges that promote mental health and well-being.[71][72]
Author Glória Perez stated on 21 April 2017 that she plans to include the Blue Whale game in her new telenovelaA Força do Querer.[73] The media also stressed that the phenomenon coincided with the controversy surrounding the Netflix television series 13 Reasons Why, which addresses the issue of teen suicide.[74][75]
In Belo Horizonte and Recife metropolitan area in Brazil, many schools promoted lectures to talk about the Blue Whale game.[13] The police who are specialized in High Technology Crime Repression (Dercat) in Piauí is preparing a digital primer to warn young people about the dangers of the game.[76]
In May 2017, Tencent, China's largest Internet service portal, closed 12 suspicious Blue Whale-related network groups on its social networking platform QQ. It said that the number of this kind of groups is on the rise.[77] The search results of related keywords was also blocked in QQ.
In August 2017, the Government of India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology made a formal request to several internet companies (including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo) to remove all links directing users to the game.

Copyright Wikipedia

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ব্লু হোয়েল এর ভুয়া নিউজ

সম্প্রতি BTRC এর নাম দিয়ে কিছু বিভ্রান্তকর তথ্য শেয়ার করা হচ্ছে। এগুলোকে ফেসবুক হোক্স বলা হয়, বিশ্বাস করে শেয়ার করা থেকে বিরত থাকুন। এর ফলে আপনার আইডিতে স্প্যামিং রিপোর্ট করলে সমস্যা সম্মুখীন হতে পারেন।
যে ইতিমধ্যেই এই মেসেজ শেয়ার করছে তাদেরকে পোষ্টে ম্যানশনের মাধ্যমে জানিয়ে দিন। জন-সচেতনতায় শেয়ার করতে ভূলবেন না।

signUp&Earn money

ব্লু হোয়েল গেম; যেভাবে আত্মহত্যায় প্ররোচিত করে

বর্তমান যুগ অনলাইনের। বিশ্বের উন্নত দেশ থেকে শুরু করে প্রায় প্রতিটি দেশে ডিজিটালের জোয়ার বইছে। আর তথ্য প্রযুক্তির এই যুগে যন্ত্রনির্ভর হয়ে পড়ছে মানুষ। আর বর্তমান প্রজন্ম মেতে আছে তাদের স্মার্টফোন আর ভিডিও গেমে। তবে এ গেম প্রযুক্তিও আধুনিক হয়েছে।

সাধারণ ভিডিও গেমের বদলে জনপ্রিয়তার তুঙ্গে উঠেছে অনলাইন গেম। সারাবিশ্বের যে কোনো প্রান্তের মানুষের সঙ্গে এখানে প্রতিযোগীতা করা যায়। এ কারণে বর্তমান প্রজন্ম নির্দিষ্ট গণ্ডির মধ্যে আবদ্ধ হয়ে পড়ছেন। এক সময় তাদের মধ্যে দেখা দিচ্ছে হতাশা। আর তারপরই এই অনলাইন গেমের মাধ্যমেই ঘটছে মর্মান্তিক ঘটনা।

অবাক করার মত বিষয় হলেও এটাই সত্যি যে, গেম খেলতে খেলতে এক সময় আত্মহত্যা করতেও হৃদয় কাঁপছে না তাদের।

বর্তমান বিশ্বের আতঙ্ক এক অনলাইন গেম নিয়ে। তার নাম 'ব্লু হোয়েল সুইসাইড গেম'। যুক্তরাষ্ট্র যুক্তরাজ্যের মত দেশগুলোতে এর বিপক্ষে স্কুল কলেজে প্রচারণা চালানো হচ্ছে। তরুণ-তরুণীদের এ গেম খেলা থেকে বিরত রাখার জন্য রীতিমত চিন্তিত হয়ে পড়েছেন সেদেশের বিশেষজ্ঞরা।

ব্লু হোয়েল গেম কী?
অনলাইনে একটি কমিউনিটি তৈরি করে চলে এ প্রতিযোগীতা। এতে সর্বমোট ৫০টি ধাপ রয়েছে। আর ধাপগুলো খেলার জন্য ঐ কমিউনিটির অ্যাডমিন বা পরিচালক খেলতে ইচ্ছুক ব্যক্তিকে বিভিন্ন চ্যালেঞ্জ দিবে। আর প্রতিযোগী সে চ্যালেঞ্জ পূরণ করে তার ছবি আপলোড করবে।

শুরুতে মোটামুটি সহজ এবং কিছুটা চ্যালেঞ্জিং কাজ দেয়া হয়। যেমন: মধ্যরাতে ভূতের সিনেমা দেখা। খুব সকালে ছাদের কিনারা দিয়ে হাঁটা এবং ব্লেড দিয়ে হাতে তিমির ছবি আঁকা।

তবে ধাপ বাড়ার সাথে সাথে কঠিন ও মারাত্মক সব চ্যালেঞ্জ দেয় পরিচালক। যেগুলো অত্যন্ত ভয়াবহ এবং এ খেলার সর্বশেষ ধাপ হলো আত্মহত্যা করা। অর্থাত্ গেম শেষ করতে হলে প্রতিযোগীকে অাত্মহত্যা করতে হবে।

কেন যুবক-যুবতীরা আকৃষ্ট হচ্ছে:
শুরুতে তুলনামূলক সহজ এবং সাহস আছে কি না এমন চ্যালেঞ্জ ছুড়ে দেয়ায় তা যুবক-যুবতীদের কাছে আকৃষ্ট হয়। তবে একবার এ খেলায় ঢুকে পড়লে তা থেকে বের হয়ে আসা প্রায় অসম্ভব। খেলার মাঝপথে বাদ দিতে চাইলে প্রতিযোগীকে ব্লাকমেইল করা হয়। এমনকি তার আপনজনদের ক্ষতি করার হুমকিও দেয়া হয়। আর একবার মোবাইলে এই অ্যাপটি ব্যবহারের পর তা আর ডিলিট করা যায় না।

কোথায় জন্ম: 
এই খেলার জন্ম রাশিয়ায়। জন্মদাতা ২২ বছরের তরুণ ফিলিপ বুদেকিন। ২০১৩ সালে রাশিয়ায় প্রথম সূত্রপাত। ২০১৫ সালে প্রথম আত্মহত্যার খবর পাওয়া যায়।

তবে এহেন গর্হিত কাজের জন্য নিজেকে অপরাধী না বলে বরং সমাজ সংস্কারক বলে নিজেকে অভিহীত করে বুদেকিন। সে জানায়, এই চ্যালেঞ্জের যারা শিকার তারা এ সমাজে বেঁচে থাকার যোগ্য নয়।

এ গেম নিয়ে রীতিমত অবাক রাশিয়া পুলিশ। তদন্তের পর তারা জানায় অন্তত ১৬ জন কিশোরী এ গেমের কারণে আত্মহত্যা করেছে। এমনকি বিশ্বের বিভিন্ন দেশে প্রায় ১৩০ জনের আত্মহত্যার জন্য এ গেম দায়ী।

গেম কিভাবে তরুণ-তরুণীদের আত্মঘাতী করছে সে বিষয়ে চিন্তিত মনোরোগ বিশেষজ্ঞরা। বিশেষ করে ব্রিটেন-আমেরিকায় এ গেম জনপ্রিয়তা পাচ্ছে। যার ফলে সে দেশগুলো তাদের স্কুল-কলেজ সমুহে এ গেমের বিরুদ্ধে ক্যাম্পেইন পরিচালনা করছে।

তবে এ গেমের মূল অ্যাডমিন বুদেকিন আটক থাকলেও থেমে নেই তাদের কার্যক্রম। যার ফলে এ গেমের প্রভাব বিরাজমান। সম্প্রতি ভারতে এ গেমের ফলে আত্মহত্যার ঘটনা ঘটেছে। 

The Blue Whale

At the turn of the 20th century our vast oceans were a plenty with baleen whales. What has happened to them? The Blue Whale is the largest baleen whale and the biggest living creature to ever breathe on our planet. These creatures make sounds that travel hundreds of kilometres yet we cannot hear these sounds without special equipment. They also eat thousands off kilograms of food every day and they live as long as we do.

Scientists and oceanographers are constantly carrying out research on the Blue Whale in attempt to assist in the survival of this magnificent creature which experts now estimate number less than 10 000 worldwide. Up until recently, one of the greatest mysteries of the sea was where these whales are born.

Most of the time Blue Whales swim far off shore only surfacing for brief periods usually for only a few seconds at a time. In late summer however many of these creatures gather to feed. Researchers then have a chance to tag them. They can then track them during the winter migration south with satellite tags. With this information, researchers have discovered that these whales mate and give birth in the tropics.

Blue Whales feed during the winter when they mate and give birth. They are twice the size of more commonly known whales. Experts know little about them. An adult female Blue Whale can weigh almost 180 tonnes which is heavier than 25 fully grown elephants. The heart alone is the size of a small car and weighs close to 500 kilograms. They grow to be as long as three buses.

Blue Whales do not have teeth. When they open their mouths, pleats of skin allow their throat to expand letting them suck in krill and tiny crabs. Plankton and krill makes up nearly all of the diet of the Blue Whale. The largest animal on the planet feeds on one of the smallest. It takes around one metric tonne of krill to fill a Blue Whales stomach and they can devour three and a half tonnes of these small shrimp-like crustaceans every day.

Cousins of the Blue Whale, humpbacks, generally do not eat during the winter months when they are mating and calving. Blue Whales, however, are three times heavier than their relatives. Blue Whales are so big that they need to eat continuously to keep up their energy levels all year round. Mating and calving require these giants to expend energy and a productive place to provide the fuel.

Blue Whales can also make some of the loudest calls of any animal but we require special technology to hear them. Scientists are capable of decoding certain sounds made by certain whales and attempt to interpret what they may mean by comparing the acoustic signals to the behaviour observed.

Scientists attach probes to the whales via a suction. The tags record how deep the whales dive, its pitch and roll and how it approaches its prey. These probes are also used to record surrounding sounds. The sounds the researchers are particularly interested in are the sounds of ships in the shipping lanes. The researchers hope that the information from these probes can answer questions such as how loud the sounds of the ships are compared to the whale and whether and how the noise from these ships affect the whales. The data may reveal whether the whales' voracious appetite places them in peril from the shipping lanes. They use this data to identify danger zones.

Some of the higher density areas that Blue Whales use and return through every summer to feed are intersecting with areas of increasing shipping traffic. Ships are now not only becoming more numerous but they are bigger and faster as they supply more and more goods to the harbours of the world. This is the recipe for disaster for the whales. Could it be that after surviving the sharks and the whaling that ships strikes now pose the biggest threats to the survival of the Blue Whale?

Research offers the best hope for new shipping paths that will give the largest of the baleen whales the space they need. The challenge for protecting the Blue Whales has only just begun. For these almighty animals to have a chance we must respect the oceans for the decades ahead... for all creatures great and small....but in this case mainly for the great.

Stephen has been writing articles for nearly 3 years. Come visit his latest website over at Buildings For Sale where people will also find valuable information on Steel Buildings For Sale. Investors are in search for various metal buildings for sale because these buildings have many benefits as compared to the traditional timber structures.

5 Video Games You Should Play Before You Die

5.) Halo 3 (2007)
Why: The Halo series is one of a kind. It brought friends together to blast one another in an epic space combat. Halo 3 is perhaps the best of the series when it came to the glorified multiplayer, with a dramatic storyline with absolutely no shortage of opera music cues and a hardy character customization. Many titles still try and replicate what Halo did and it just can't be matched.

4.) Minecraft (2011)
Why: Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time, so you would have to be living under a rock as a gamer to have never come across it. You get to create your own world basically and do whatever you want. If you think it, then you can create it. The nice thing about Minecraft is it is offered on almost every platform, including smartphones. This game is good for letting your mind wander and become an artist.

3.) Super Mario 64 (1996)
Why: Mario is one of the most known titles, but anyone can tell you this might be the best game in the franchise. The game is not like any of its predecessors because this was the first 3D platform game in the series. It is a bigger world than the ones before and the additional moves and jumps Mario can do makes the game fast-paced and more exciting. There are a total of 120 stars and the game has a ton of replay value. Mario platformers are still being made today and none of them still cannot come close to how good this game was.

2.) Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Why: Everyone has their favorite Zelda game, but Ocarina of Time encompasses the best features from the glorified series. There is a huge world that you have the freedom to explore, a magnificent score, and a truly remarkable origin story. The dungeons are not too challenging, but intricate enough to not get too mad when you can't figure a puzzle out.

1.) Pokémon X and Y (2013)
Why: Whether you are a kid or an adult, with this franchise that never seemed to matter. Pokémon revolutionized what it meant to make characters like Pikachu come alive. They modernized the handheld multiplayer gaming and made it what it is today. X and Y is one of the newer titles, which is great because the game never stops using the old characters the adults grew up on.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Teacher and Student Relationships in the Age of Social Networking

That education and social media will share borders and encroach on each other's area of influence shouldn't come as a surprise. On one hand, education as we know it is very much a social engagement in itself, involving teachers (the channels of new cognitive experiences) and students (the learners of new or restructured knowledge). On the other hand, social media is both a technological tool for communicating different ideas as well as an enriched environment for collaboration. As such, the benefits that social media can deliver to contemporary education can be very tremendous, indeed. In fact, it is now very easy to imagine a virtual classroom that melds the current platforms of the most innovative online universities with the powerfully engaging and personal experience of social media. How the learning dynamics will be influenced by this theoretical setup is still open to debate but it is a possibility that may now have already taken root in some form or another.

While the exciting, positive advantages of using social media in education is a topic that can rouse a lively discussion, the serious ethical issues that result from their melding inspire a much more heated debate. In July this year, the state of Missouri enacted a law that prohibited students and teachers from being friends or contacts in social networks such as Facebook. However, following a strong clamor from teachers who deemed that their fundamental rights are being assailed by the legislation, the original bill was substantially modified, finally granting individual school districts the freedom to establish their own policies on social networking.

Both sides of the argument have persuasive merits. It is no secret that social networks have become a virtual setting for instigating various crimes ranging from bullying, extortion and sexual assault. That there are people with criminal intent who use social networks to plan and execute their series of capers is clearly undeniable. There are quite a number of disturbing stories about them that we encounter almost every day.

In addition, some psychologists and social scientists believe that taking the conventional student-teacher relationship out of the classroom can lead to dire consequences. When taken to the highly informal environment of most social networks, the traditional authority of teachers can be eroded to the point that classroom engagements will be among peers, not between teachers and students whose roles and expected behavior are clearly defined.

The many possible types of interactions on social networks such as liking a particular hobby, organization or place can also lead to inappropriately close relationships between teachers and students. On top of this, the provision for one-on-one messaging between friends or contacts can even encourage sexual misconduct.

That said, the danger of social media is very real. However, merely focusing on the risks will cause us to miss its true potential as a teaching tool/environment. After all, there's bound to be some criminally-minded people just about anywhere a substantial group of people converge, whether online or not. True, social media lends an anonymity and a cloak of security to criminal elements but there are ways of circumventing, restricting or exposing their schemes without altogether banning the use of social media in education. To do so would unfairly clip the tremendous benefits social media can enrich the learning experience with.

A case in point. A pilot social media program for the 7th grade was conducted in a Portland, Oregon classroom. The results were amazingly conclusive:

1. Schoolwide, 20 percent of all students accomplished and submitted extra assignments even when these assignments carried no bonus credits for them.

2. Grades increased by more than 50%.

3. Chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than 33%, allowing the school organization to meet its absenteeism reduction targets for the first time in its history.

In a nutshell, closer collaboration and easier means to communicate encouraged students to participate more. Meanwhile, the very engaging social media environment enabled the students to perform better.

Banning social media in education will prevent schools, teachers and students from reaping its phenomenal benefits. A few decades ago, the Internet created a very similar educational milestone. Many schools in the nineties were hesitant to implement an Internet connection for fear of unleashing unwanted content from the Web to their student population. However, As Karl Meindhart, the developer of the Portland social media program commented, "There was this thing called the Internet starting to show up that was getting a lot of hype, and the school administration was adamantly against allowing access...The big fear was pornography and predators, some of the same stuff that's there today. And yet...can you imagine a school not connected to the Internet now? "

In yet another display of technology-helping-teaching-become-terrific, the New York Times published a May 2011 article on how a group of English Teachers are leveraging a Twitter-like messaging technology that encouraged 11th grade students to freely communicate their ideas on different subjects, something that might just remain unvoiced without the new technology. Instead of verbally expressing their opinions about a poem, for example, the students and teachers collaborate and conduct discussions using the messaging tool that makes it easy for everyone--even those who have the unreasonable but socially common fear of speaking in front of people--to freely share their opinions. To all the teachers who conducted the experiment, social media tools such as group chat are great instructional aids that give voice to students who do not even dare to raise their hands during a recitation session.

Another plus for social media as a learning tool is that most are free to use and many can be configured in such a way as to restrict the potential for inappropriate behavior., Edmodo, and Edublogs are just some of the school-ready social media platforms that have been purposely designed for academic deployment.