Friday, May 20, 2011

Exciting news! A post from SCPOC Facilitator Shana Friedman

It's been a long time since I have blogged for the Sonoma County Peer Outreach Coalition! The beauty of a peer-led campaign is that our group of transitional-aged youth does all the work outreaching to other transitional aged youth. That means that as the Group Facilitator I get to do all the other work that does not involve paperwork and grant reporting. Ah, the Peer Leaders have a lot more fun than I do!

Anyway, I am excited to report that there are some big changes happening to our campaign in the next three months. The SCPOC has received generous funding from the Office on Women's Health to complete a specific project. The primary focus of our project will be implementing bilingual content into our campaign. Our Facebook, Twitter, and this blog will all be written bilingually to help us reach our diverse followers.

I would like to thank our Intern Hannah Davis for her year of hard work on this blog and the SCPOC campaign. Hannah has graduated from Sonoma State University and will be moving on to new and exciting adventures of her own. Thank you Hannah! You will be misred!

I would also like to welcome Deisy Vargas to our team. Deisy has been hired as the Social Media Coordinator to work specifically on this project for the next three months. Desiy has already started recruiting new Peer Leaders to work on this campaign. If you are interested in volunteering, please comment on this blog, on our Facebook, or send an e-mail!

Our anticipated start date is June 1st! Keep following our social media sites and let us know how we are doing!

AppWorks Oslo- On Embedded Location and Location Privacy

OSLO -I will be speaking about 'Location, Location, Location' at the AppWorks Conference at Latter at Aker Brygge in Oslo on the 24th May and will join John Valentine from Scvngr, Christophe Joyau from Nokia and Mette Lykke from Endomondo in the first conference session on "Location Based Services".

This is interesting, as the first point I will be making in my presentation will be that "Location Based Services" are extinct. Readers familiar with my blog will know that I have mentioned this point before. What do I mean by this? 

The point is not just a semantic one. We are now in a world of "location everywhere", with location becoming a pervasive and embedded element of mobile. In fact, you could argue (and I certainly do) that location has gone mainstream. Cue Facebook Places and Twitter, for example.

While location today is powerful, it is still lacking an edge. That edge could come from adding context to location, and so provide a cooler mobile experience (including predicting that you are about to head for a restaurant or go shopping).

Location privacy has been and continues to be a very hot debate. Expect this to remain the case 40 years from now. At the same time, it won't matter. The new digital native generation considers this a moot point. To get free digital services, it goes without saying that some invasion of privacy is required (even if it is only to better target 'harmless' ads).

At the same time, players in the mobile ecosytem can buffer themselves against the worst privacy storms by using common sense. The main rule being, don't store users' private data unless you really have to.

I will be covering more points in my presentation-those who will be there, look forward to meeting you. For the others, please check back on my blog for the Slideshare version.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Technology: Helpful or Harmful? By Hannah Davis

Do people rely too much on technology in today’s society? Are we getting to the point where we would rather send a text or instant message instead of calling someone or talking face to face? Could younger generations be losing important social skills due to the ease associated with talking through media devices instead of in person? Has technology made society more distant and impersonal?

From personal experience I can see both sides of the argument. On the positive side I can be more direct and honest when I’m communicating in any way besides face to face. I have a hard time expressing anger, frustration, and fear in conversations, but when I am not directly talking to another person I feel it’s okay to show these emotions. In a way, the cover of technology allows me to open up more and voice opinions that normally I am too concerned to express.

Another thing I like about technology is that it is quick. Instead of writing a letter (does anyone really do that anymore?) and waiting for it to get there, the recipient to respond, and it to get back to me, I can Skype with someone instantly. With the new technology, people can video chat with people in other countries, which is allowing them to stay connected.

Technology also removes another burden for me. I don’t know if others feel the same way as I do, but when I am communicating in person I begin to worry about what I am about to say and if it will be positively received. On the other hand, when I am emailing or texting someone I am able to carefully chose my words and fully think about what I want to tell the other person. This takes away some of the pressure I feel, as well as helps me find ways to clearly communicate to others.

But can that also be a negative aspect? Have I come to rely on technology to help me communicate and forgotten how to talk to people in person? Sometimes I worry that my shyness is perpetuated by my ability to hide behind social networks and emails. Instead of learning to talk in front of groups, which is a huge fear of mine, I can instead write a blog. I’m still getting the point across, just in another form.

But is it okay to avoid interacting in person? I have observed people neglecting those they are with to text a friend. People will take a call and end up talking to the person on the other line longer then they will to the person they are with. People are so use to using technology that people are even starting to break up with their significant others through email or social networks instead of in person. Are all of these things acceptable?

It seems people can become addicted to forms of media and communication. People in many of my classes are so obsessed with staying connected through their phones that they can’t even turn them off for an hour and a half; they must sneak text messages when the teacher isn’t looking. Others take their laptops into class and instead of paying attention are distracted by Facebook or YouTube.

So as we can clearly see technology that helps us communicate has created positive and negative issues. It helps us stay in touch, helps us communicate, and can allow us tn be more open and honest. At the same time it can cause us to ignore those around us in favor of talking those who are on the other line or computer, keep us from socializing and learning how to communicate in person, and can be addictive.

So, we must ask ourselves each one question; does the ever expanding technology hinder or help us? The answer may vary for every person, and because of this everyone needs to assess their own involvement with technology. If it is starting to negatively impact your life then it’s time to consider how to cut back or improve what you are currently doing. If you are able to cope and thrive with all the technology, then maintaining that is important.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How the Teen Years Can Affect You By Hannah Davis

The teen years are very turbulent. Sometimes we encounter things that may frustrate and scare us as we age during this time. There is a lot of change going on physically, emotionally, financially and educationally.

Physically we watch as our body hits puberty; hormones start to go wild as we get more testosterone or estrogen, hair starts to grow in new places, we begin to have sexual urges and our appearance and voice change. With these changes many teens are excited to enter the dating world – we want to experience the thrill of falling in love, having our first kiss, getting to say we have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and perhaps engage in sexual activity.

Teens need to learn to deal with is their new found urges. Giving in to sexual desires may lead to feelings of guilt, worry and regret or happiness and empowerment. If they are happy with their decision they may stop controlling their desire and instead give in. This is dangerous because a person may start to have sex without protection with possible results of STI’s or pregnancy, or result in getting a reputation for being easy or a player. On the other hand, if a person feels pressured into losing their virginity or engaging in certain sexual actions they may become depressed or turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with their decision.

These physical changes can and often do impact us mentally and emotionally. As our sexuality and body mature we must face new experiences, some good and some bad. For example, we watch others and compare our body to theirs and may worry that we are changing too quickly or slowly. As we get more self conscious about our bodies we may begin to get self-esteem problems and see our physical appearance as less then desirable. This can sometimes lead to eating disorders or other troubling habits to control and achieve a desired look.

During the teen years we begin to take on more responsibilities. We get jobs which allow us a new form of freedom; the ability to buy whatever we want with the money we have worked hard to earn. But with power comes great responsibility. Perhaps our college tuitions aren’t being paid for by our parents, so we begin to worry about keeping enough money to support ourselves. Taxes, bills, student loans, and other money issues may start to enter our lives. This can lead to stress and possibly depression if you feel that you don’t have enough money to do all the things you want and need.

But those aren’t the only things that teens must learn to deal with. There are multiple school changes, with the hardest most likely being the transition from high school to college. This change brings a teen more independence but also more money issues, responsibilities, and stress. We move out of the house (and potentially very far away), we get roommates, even tougher classes, and the added pressure to find out what we want to be when we grow up as well as attaining that goal through education. A lot of the time we don’t know anyone at the school and therefore meet and make friends with a whole new group of people. All these things can be hard on a person and lead to problems in their life.

I am sure there are other changes I have forgotten to mention. Each person has a unique life and experiences their teen years differently. For some they may ease on through, others may struggle at every turn, and those left over will have their high and low moments. The good thing is most people understand what teenagers are going through, having experienced it themselves, and want to help you through any hard times your teenage years may bring you.

Remember that change is necessary and good. It allows us to try and do new things, explore who we are, and grow up. Sometimes being a teenager may seem like the worst thing ever but keep in mind that soon you will be older and will be able to look back on these years.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Facts on Suicide By Intern Hannah Davis

Suicide is a very serious topic that many people avoid talking about, but some things need to be discussed. If this saves even one life then it has been worth every second it takes me to write this blog.

First off let me start by saying if you or a friend is having suicidal thoughts get professional help immediately!

According to, four out of five teen suicide attempts are preceded by clear warning signs. If you think a friend may be suicidal you should look for these signs:

  • they withdrawal from people they love such as family and friends

  • they either loose or gain a lot of weight

  • they starts to sleep all the time or very little

  • they begins to give away their possessions

  • there is any talk about suicide

  • they stop participating in activities they use to enjoy

  • they pick up self destructive habits such as drinking, driving recklessly, and taking drugs

If any of these things are occurring you should talk to people you and your friend can trust. This can include teachers, family members, a school counselor, doctor, or an adult friend. You can also contact certain support groups by calling 1-800-suicide to reach The Hotline For Suicide Crisis, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-talk, or 911. There are also helpful online resources at, and

Sadly suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24. The risk increases when there are firearms easily accessible to a suicidal person. Rates for girls are higher in their number of attempts, but since the common method for women is drugs and cutting, they survive more often. Boys, on the other hand, die about four times more often then girls because they use more dangerous methods such as hanging, jumping from heights, and guns.

What can cause a person to want to end their life? Teens who are depressed, may be using alcohol and drugs, could have been subject to physical or sexual abuse, or may dealing with their homosexuality in an nonsupporting family or environment; these are just a few examples of what lead to a higher risk for attempting suicide. Other factors include a family history of suicide or depression, lacking a supportive network, feeling isolated, and feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation.

Since so many teens attempt or succeed in committing suicide, chances are you know someone who has done this. I remember in junior high school one of the students hung himself in the bathrooms. Even to this day I get upset when I think about the loss of this person. It is typical and okay to be angry at the person who killed themselves. You may be mad that they gave up and left you behind. Or you may feel guilty because you couldn’t stop them from hurting themselves. Or you may feel confused, lost and sad. All of these emotions can be very strong and need to be discussed with a trusted person, preferably a counselor or professional, in order to help you get through these hard times.