The Power of Knowledge

On this page the texts deal with education, especially media education. Iulia Popovici and Viivi Makkonen point out that it’s important to learn to use ICT and to be able to assess the information that is given in media – on paper or online. Natalia Tonca and Yanimir Stoyanov Kostadinov discuss more specific topics: the role of a kid’s family as an educator and the Blue Whale Challenge. Both are something worth knowing to understand yourself or the world.

Modern Life of Today’s Youth

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Photo: Hannu Mäkelä

Modern technology has developed over the past few years becoming the main pole which our society gravitates around. This change came with new tools designed and updated as the science and technology busted in the 21st century. Apart from the purpose of improvement and ease of our lifestyle through revolutionary working and writing methods, the new computers and devices were also made as a key of accessing the internet. The internet is a global network of computer based on platforms of wireless communication, in chosen time and transcending space. Over the past decade the internet has affected our lives in such manner that we have become dependent of it. The internet therefore has changed the field of education, health and business in the world. However, the internet has impacted our society especially in the field of education; students can get access to areas of their interest and most importantly, people today can study online with the emergence of internet.

This is why, in my opinion, the government should introduce computer and internet studyin our educational system, not only because of the ability to access millions of books, journals and other useful materials, but also to teach young students to develop computer skills, to prepare them for the upcoming events in life like finding a proper workplace. On the other hand, the internet has proven to be a double edge knife for the latest generations. Nowadays, children and teenagers are spending more time on the internet and social media, neglecting other significant activities that are vital for their preparation for the future, for example learning .

In my experience so far, the modern technology has mainly influenced my school studies in a positive way, as it should be used. Unlike many teenagers my age, I don’t like spending too much of my time online. Instead, I prefer focusing on the more meaningful activities, like spending my time with real people, painting, or reading books. I find the old fashioned activities very important as the future society will completely get rid of them and find new bionical ways of replacing them.

My life as an artist and the arts school in general has helped me understand the value of practical work, briefly because of the satisfaction you get when you see your own creation.

In conclusion, despite all of the benefits of the new technologies, they bring both positive and negative influence in the evolution course of our society, so therefore it is very important for people to understand both.

Iulia Popovici, Liceul de arte vizuale Romulus Ladea, Romania

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What Is There to Believe in?

Nowadays we get information from everywhere all the time. The main sources of information are our smart phones. There are many different kinds of sites, broadcasts and journalists that create contents on internet. Readers have the freedom to read, believe and search whatever they want but what kinds of sources they should actually believe in? And what kinds of sources they already believe in? What are the main factors that affect the trustworthyness?

Digitalization is growing

We live in the age of digitalization where written books and papers are losing their authority. In the present world speed is the key word. Traditional media is usually too slow to inform people about recent events and that’s when social media comes in to picture. Social media can show us live what happens at the hot spot and it also usually shows the events from a normal person’s point of view. ”Very promising,” some would think. ”There’s no time to change the information about the event because it’s shown live and none of the authorities have had a chance to change the information for their advantage.” Yes, it’s true that the information hasn’t been modified by any authorities but is that necessarily a good thing? Usually reporters know how to pass on the information for the audience so that it does not hurt them. For example, in the case of crisis there is a high chance that information about it, that has been spread by normal people, will cause chaos and unnecessary anxiety in the society. That is because the people who spread the information are usually shocked themselves and they will show how everything happened from their point of view that does not let to observe the event from a different angle.

There is a good example from Finland. In 2017, 18th August, there was a stabbing situation in Turku. A man started running around and stabbing people randomly. Some people tried to stop the man by shouting at him and by blocking his way with outdoor furniture but there were also people who started to film the man with their phones. In minutes a video of a man shouting went viral all around the word. People speculated that it was the man who ran around stabbing people, shouting: ”Allahu akbar.” In fact, when you listen carefully the audio and you also understand Finnish, you can hear that the voice is actually saying: ”Varo, varokaa!” This means in English: ”Watch out!” People automatically assumed that the voice was the attacking man’s because there has been many terrorist attacks that have been made by extreme Muslim believers. It was only logical that it might have been a Muslim terrorist. People started to believe a rumor, an assumption, which was in the end, wrong. Later on the police found out also connections to ISIS, but even still the first version of the video was not accurate.

Simplicity and branding are important

The news that you see on social media are most likely very story-like. This phenomenon has also spread to the traditional media and many journalists use storytelling to get people’s attention. It seems that people believe easily in stories rather than scientific articles and formal news. This is understandable because stories touch people’s hearts and they can in many cases relate to them. The story is told from a very ordinary perspective with pretty simple language and plot. It does not take too much to understand what the story is all about. People don’t want to waste their time or use too much of their brain capacity when they want to know and search something quickly. Stories are also easier to remember and these may be the reasons behind the fact that story-based telling is so popular.

Branding is a remarkable factor that affects our beliefs and lives. Naomi Klein, a Canadian writer, was featured in Helsingin Sanomat (29th April 2018) in an article written by journalist Jussi Lehmusvesi. The article talked about Klein’s book No is not enough (2017) and how it criticizes especially Donald Trump’s way of making ’being the President’ a brand. She says that ”we all live in a world of Donald Trump’s brand” and that it creates a feeling for some people of a safe group that has your back. This is why people want to support him; he makes them feel secured by promising nice things in an unstable and cruel world. Same goes with information sources; if they have a good brand, chances are that people will want to believe them.

Always remember to question

It’s safe to say that criticism is the survival kit in today’s world. People should not blindly believe everything they hear, see or read. We still have that ancient urge to hear stories and it’s not always a bad thing. Stories can teach us very important things about life and at best stories are entertaining. We should just remember that in modern society facts and presicion are getting more and more important and that our world changes all the time and so does the information. We should be more like the 5-year-old child that is curious about the world and questions everything.

Viivi Makkonen, Forssan yhteislyseo, Finland

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The Most Important Education

The education we receive at home is considered to be the most important we receive along our lives, especially since as kids, things around us have a stronger impact on us and this is when we pick on habits that we keep for a long time. That’s why the amount of time our parents let us exposed to the internet, television and social media could have affected most of us.

Did it often happen that your mom would sat you in front of the television to watch cartoons when you were little so she could work in peace or just have a few moments to take a break? For my generation social media didn’t affect our childhood much, and it was a simple activity we did sometimes, either to free our parents of us for a little to have a small distraction when bored or actually to be a nice activity in family, watching a movie or a show. When I was little and my life was mostly controlled by my mom I had a normal interaction with technology and only when I grew old enough that  I could make decisions for myself  I properly explored the internet, learn about how it worked and used it to my advantage; but for newer generations parent’s don’t actually care so much for their education, and actually try to have to deal with them less by just giving them a phone or tablet to spend most of the day on.

Using the internet isn’t in itself a bad thing but I think doing it from a young age is not good. Before we can actually interact with people around us, we should be educated first, and that’s something we need to learn from our parents or guardians, and not on our own. Because children will pick up any behavior presented to them be it bad or good, since they do not have a proper idea of good and bad. Before we should be exposed to a larger platform of socialization, to information and to possibility to discuss it, we should be taught to think for ourselves and become our own individuals by default since things we achieve from a proper education at home.

Now, getting education from home is important, but what’s the big issue here is, it is good education or bad? Home education can actually be even more destructive than what kids pick it up from media, it all depends on what kind of parents you get stuck with. I’ve personally had the luck of having  a mom who is really god with kids, she properly educated me, without crushing my personality, forcing me into doing what I do not want, and managed to respect me as a person with rights in this world. But on the other hand, there used to be my dad, who is a perfect example of the kind of people who shouldn’t be parents. Parents shouldn’t be more immature than their children, and in no way be verbally of physically abusive. A kid living into an environment where they are only degraded, called useless, dumb, being told they will never be anything or even beaten, will never result into a strong independent and confident adults, and while they could keep and intelligent and good nature, they’ll also retain mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, depriving them from the right of having a happy and full life. In the worst case scenario, the child will actually pick up the abusive behavior as being normal, and how parents should be, and they themselves will become bullies, and later on abusive adults, and even abusive parents, and the bad influence from the internet that other kids are told to avoid by their parents. Because I received a good education from my mom, and had personal experience of bad and abusive parenting, I actually realized when talking to others about their family that the big majority of children this days are poorly treated by their parents. While these aren’t cases of abuse, I think they are just as serious since almost all kids experience mild verbal abuse or mistreating from their parents on a level or another and the biggest problem so far is the lack of respect children get. Most adults might think that children do not deserve to be respected, because they are young and dumb and bad behaved, but the actual reason they are bad behaved is because of the lack of respect they get. As there is that saying “respect if you want to be respected”, a child who isn’t respected will not be able to respect others, as they’ll lack the understanding of what respect is. Some parents might say they have their own idea of respect  and that is wrong. You can’t make up what it means to respect someone, because then you could say you think it’s respectfull to tell someone they are dumb, but that is not true in any way. And respecting a child means they should have the right to their voice, without being talked over, that their opinion has value, and even if it’s wrong it should be listened to and discussed over, and that they shouldn’t be insulted, just because you’re bigger and you can.

Another issue I noticed is the fact that parents actually discourage their kids from doing what they love and are good at, and I really cannot understand the mindset of these people. It shocks me the most, how can you have such an awfully talented kid, and call them trash? I know kids who  are just so amazing at what they do! They are above the general level, and even better that older people or even adults, but I heard these kids talking about how bad they are and I can’t understand them, they tell me their parents insult their work ,call it trash or even satanic. I’ve heard cases as bad as parents burning the art of their children, throwing it in the trash, breaking it to pieces, forcing their children to go on a path they hate because “it’s paid better”, and this is the worst thing someone could ever do. Why destroy a person for life? To kill an individual and replace him with a brainless depressed zombie? Do this. This is what monsters do, and from this are born new monsters.

You receive the creation of a small soul who is so proud of himself, and you take that purity and destroy it with your ideals. Your ideals, should only be yours not forced into others. Kids should be taught to have their own individual ideals, to think for themselves, to make decisions of their own, and to do what they love, not to be forced to live the life you failed to live, not to become something they hate.

Social media can be bad but for some it can be the only escape from the hell their life is.

Natalia Tonca, Liceul de arte vizuale “Romulus Ladea”, Romania

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Blue Whale Challenge And Society Measures For Suicide Prevention

What is the Blue Whale Challenge? Is it a challenge where you have to ride a blue whale or perhaps eat a whole one alone? Maybe you have to catch one? The truth is that it is a challenge that began in Russia. You get a message online from “Blue Whale”who asks whether you want to take it up and if you accept. He starts giving you different challenges which are innocent in the beginning but then they become more dangerous for the person. In the end “Blue Whale”will challenge you to jump from somewhere or do something that will cause your death. That means that he will make you kill yourself. There have been a lot of cases caused by the Blue Whale Challenge, not only in Russia but in other countries as well. The interesting thing is that most of the victims, maybe even all of them, are teenagers.

Here comes the next question – Why would they do that? Aren’t there any measures against that? Let’s go back in history for a little. In the past in Japan people used to kill themselves for doing something wrong, like dishonouring their family’s name. In medieval times in Europe it was forbidden for people to do that and they were really religious at that time which also is a working measure against suicides even nowadays, even though people have become less religious. Go forward a little more and people were still forbidden to do that but if you did it and failed you could be sent to jail or sentenced to death.

Nowadays suicide isn’t forbidden but there are a lot more reasons for people to do it – stress from work, bullying , finding no reason to live and so on. In bigger counties like the USA and Japan suicide is a really big problem. To counter that there are a lot of psychologists to help such people. They are professionals who can help with different methods. Some people do not trust them though and hide theis problems in them or share them with close friends. Such people are especially found in our own country Bulgaria.

The main measures for suicide prevention are groups and people who help suicidal people. Religions also prevent such things as they forbid it and talk about certain bad things that happen to the person who does that. The thing which could help the most, would probably be mutual kindness between all the people, which is impossible but a sweet dream.

Yanimir Stoyanov Kostadinov, SU za HNI ”Konstantin Preslavski”, Bulgaria

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