Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Social Networking Sites: Are They Safe?

This is a guest post by SG Katie! Please make her feel welcome. If you'd like to submit a guest post, please contact us at!

There are so many social networking sites out there: Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, and Myspace are among the most popular.

So many young people are keep to use these sites. Maybe it's as simple as wanting to socialize with their friends. However, have you thought about the personal information you use to sign up? How safe is this realy?

After doing my own research, this frightening headline came up after I was already a member of the popular site Facebook:

Details of 100m Facebook users collected and published (BBC)

After reading that article, how does it make you feel? Are your personal details as protected as you thought?

Facebook user photographs can even be used in advertisements. This can be done without your consent. Take a look at the privacy you have selected on your profile and change it so you are comfortable with how your information is being used.

Have you ever had an experience where someone made a clone of your profile and pretended to be you? Celebrities have this happen to them all the time. People pretend to be popular celebrities on any popular network, but this could happen to innocent victims like you.

There are so many young people out there dying to use this network. They lie about their ages in order to meet the minimum age requirements. But is lying about your age really worth it? Sometimes, can age limits be a good thing? It's a bit like driving a car. In the UK, the minimum age is 17; in the USA, it's 16. These rules and guidelines are there to ensure the safety of all civilians.

A Facebook Victim

From my own experience of what I thought would be just a way to socialize, I found myself to be a victim. Once it was new and fun to talk to old friends on Facebook. Then things changed. Friends started to get addicted to Facebook. If you had an argument with one of them, you'd find it plastered all over Facebook for everyone to see. Imagine sitting at your computer and thinking, "Right, that is aimed at me."

People use Facebook on an everyday basis. That's how addicted my friends have become. What used to be meant for socializing and catching up with old friends has turned out to cause arguments and friendships lost! Sadly, Facebook and other social networking sites are used for things such as cyber bullying, clone profiles, personal details taken without consent, photos published without consent, arguments, and intimidation.

Online Grooming

So many young people talk to people online that they don't know personally. You think you are talking to another kid or something. Have you really thought, "Do I know who I am talking to?" Sometimes, these people are not who they say they are. Online sites can be used to groom youngsters and teenagers. Some of these children/teenagers have been killed. If you are talking to people you don't know, consider that you may be putting yourself in great danger!

If your parents put up parental controls on your computer, they are trying to keep you safe. My parents did the same for me when I was growing up, and I thank them for that!

I hope this gives you some insight to the dangers of these online sites. Remember, stay safe!

What kinds of online experiences have you had using social networking sites, positive and negative? Do you think that catching up with old friends is still the main purpose? What common sense tips do you have for staying safe online? We'd like to hear your thoughts!

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Surveys

Recently we received a message from Sierra, age 18:

"I just have a quick suggestion. I check SmartGirl every day to see if you have a new survey up. I feel like you almost never change them. I enjoy taking surveys and polls and it would be great if you had more of them. I know it must be difficult to cultivate all the data, but it'd be great if you could have a new survey up every week or something, it would make the site much more entertaining and keep it moving everyday. Thanks for listening."

Although we typically update Quick Polls, Advice Poll, and Would You Rather...? every week, it's true that we put up the long surveys less often. Part of this is exactly what Sierra says, that it takes a lot more time to put together and to analyze the data!

Still, it's really important to us that SmartGirls get to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We'd like to have surveys more often. We're listening, and we'll do our best to make the survey section more active over the coming month. This means anything from keeping surveys up even after we post the results, including surveys from the archives, as well as adding brand new surveys.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments here!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's 2011, and we are so excited for all our plans for SmartGirl this year. We have been listening to your feedback and trying to give you more of what you want. We've made it so you can comment on stories and reviews and even added comments to the issues. We've been slowly updating the look so that it's crisper, cleaner, and easier to navigate. And we're planning on keeping it up all throughout the year.

Stay tuned, too, for more new content! We're collecting our favorite games from around the internet and pretty soon we'll post them up on SmartGirl all in one place. Another popular request was info on careers -- hey, you asked for it! So we're doing something similar with that and we're looking up all the best career info we can find and putting it in one place, too.

So we hope you like all our changes planned for 2011. What else do you think we should do? What are you planning on doing this year? Did you have a fun holiday?

Monday, November 22, 2010


Hello SmartGirls!

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the USA, and to celebrate the national holiday, our office will be closed down on Thursday and Friday. We will be back on Monday!

However, in the month of December, our site will only be updated once weekly. You may continue to submit things as usual with the understanding that turn-around may take longer than normal. We will return to our usually daily updates in January.

Thank you for understanding!

The SmartGirl Team

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life of a Teacher, by Katie J.

This guest blog to "SmartGirls Get Real" was submitted by a SmartGirl! If you would like to guest blog for SmartGirl, please contact us at Thank you!

Many of us don’t realize how important teachers are, but I’m a trainee teaching assistant and have been training for a whole year. I think I may have insight into what important work teachers do!

As a trainee teaching assistant, I have been helping the teacher make sure the class runs smoothly as possible. I work with certain groups of children, run errands, photocopy, and sometimes I even get to take over the classroom for her. But there is so much more I am still training for.

With all this experience, I thought I would write an article for those of you who are curious why a teacher behaves in different ways.

When someone studies to be a teacher, they have to pick a specific age they want to work with. Different age groups need different teaching methods. For example, if you are working with students between 4 and 7 years old, you should avoid shouting unless as a last resort.

A teacher’s tone of voice is very powerful in a classroom. They might use their tone to indicate that they aren’t happy and you think, “Oh, I’ve done something wrong! Her tone of voice has changed!” Another technique they use is to talk really quietly. Children will have to listen more closely, and it reduces the noise level in the classroom. If your teacher is talking quietly, she might actually be trying to get your attention! So listen carefully.

When students are older than age 7, shouting becomes more common. Usually it’s because the teacher can’t be heard. She will shout to those who are being rude and talking over her, or if some members of your class are doing something they shouldn’t be doing!

Sometimes it can be annoying how bossy our teachers seem to be, but trust me, they have a good reason! If you’re teacher says, “tuck in your char” or “stop swinging on your chair,” it’s actually part of health and safety to keep you out of danger. Chairs that are left out can get tripped over and cause serious injury, or you might fall backward and hurt your head.

In my studies, the the safety precautions that are most common are:

Chairs tucked in at all times
No swinging on chairs
All equipment be put away
No jewellery worn to school
No open toe shoes
No running in the corridors
All doors be shut
No rough play

They may seem silly, but these rules are made up to keep you safe! Think about it: running in the corridors, you could collide with someone. I’ve actually seen this happen, and two students were seriously injured!

No open toes in case a chair or someone steps on your toes!

No rough play... well, quite often it turns to real fighting, which can get out of hand.

All doors be shut for the health and safety of children.

All equipment should be put away. For example, if you had a pair of scissors lying down on a chair and you sat down without looking, you could get injured.
So next time your teacher prompts you, remember why!

Most of all, every teacher has a different teaching style. All teachers are different. Some may be more strict than others, but it all depends on the teacher. But every teachers two most important questions are: are you learning new things, and are kept safe? So if she seems more strict, she is just doing her job.

Teachers are very wise people and often can teach you things your parents can’t. So we should praise them!

However, no teacher for whatever reason is allowed to man-handle a child. This is not right!

There’s so much to learn as a teacher, isn’t there? It’s not just about teaching subjects, but taking care of a lot of students.

From being a TA I have learnt all the above. If you have any more questions I would be happy to answer them!

So happy learning everyone, and remember: respect your teacher like I am sure she respects you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The SmartGirl Pledge

Recently, we crafted a SmartGirl Pledge. We made it because we're opening up SmartGirl to a lot more discussion, adding comments everywhere and just really encouraging everyone to speak their minds. That being said, we still want SmartGirl to be a safe place where everyone can feel welcome. If we disagree on something, we want to be able to talk it out and learn something about each other and why we feel differently about the same thing.

So we wrote this pledge. Here's what we got so far:
  • I promise to keep an open mind and withhold judgment
  • I promise to learn more about other people's experiences and ideas
  • I promise to share my own opinions, even if someone will challenge them
  • I promise to ask for support when I need it
  • I promise to be supportive and encouraging when I can tell others need it
  • I promise to make my own decisions by being informed
  • I promise to take responsibility for the choices I've made and the future I'm making
What would you add to this pledge? What other promises would you make so that SmartGirl is the best that it can be?

SmartGirls Get Real

Hey Volunteers!

We're looking for some opinionated SmartGirls to write essays on important topics that today's girls care about. We'll publish them in a new article section called "SmartGirls Get Real."

The idea is to get girls talking about things they don't usually get to talk about with other girls who really care what they have to say. We'll all have our voices heard, our opinions challenged, and hopefully we'll learn something, too.

So. You've been in this world for a long time. What do you stay up late thinking about? Contact Boowee at with your SmartGirl Gets Real topic idea, and soon you might see your first or fake name as an author on our new blog!