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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Friday, February 10, 2017

Grammar Check, Correct, Click, and Post

Photo by Brad Fults (Flickr)
As a former journalist and current writer, I’m passionate about correct grammar and spelling. After all, I’m a former elementary school spelling bee champion and once placed sixth in the state. But enough bragging, in this age of digital and text communication, does good grammar and correct spelling matter? We’re seeing that it does.

The U.S. Department of Education’s misspelling of W.E.B. Du Bois in a tweet and then its botched apology caused laughter and eye rolling among many people in both political parties. When I was working as a journalist, I got calls when I had a typo in my story or even worse, when there were typos in our headlines, (and there were). Typos and misspellings show a lack of attention to details as well as a “we don’t care what this looks like” attitude, even if you really do care and just did not have time, or the mistake just got through. (Which sometimes happens. Nobody’s perfect.)

Disruptive Communications asked 1,003 UK consumers in 2013 what they hate most about brands they follow in social media. The top answer was spelling or grammar mistakes, which 42.5 percent of consumers said bothered them. Gender did not make a difference either, as 38.9 percent of men and 39.6 percent of women said it bothered them.

A Harris poll conducted for dictionary.com’s 2015 Grammar Gripes found even higher percentages in the U.S. That poll found 74 percent of people between 18 and 34 were irritated when the found a mistake on social media, and 65 percent said improper grammar was their biggest pet peeve.

But bad grammar doesn’t just erode confidence and reputation. It can also have an impact on sales. A 2011 study found grammar and spelling errors reduce online sales by half. http://www.bbc.com/news/education-14130854 Bad reputation and eroded confidence has turned into lost money, and that’s something that speaks to everyone.

So what can you do to correct your grammar and spelling? Running spelling and grammar checks on everything you write can help, but they don’t catch everything. If you misspell a word but that misspelling is still a word in itself, spell check won’t catch that. It also doesn’t catch some grammar errors or plain awkward wording. Lifehack has some great reasons why we shouldn’t just rely on spell check to fix all our errors here.

So the next time your children ask why they must know the difference between a noun and verb, adjective and participle and how to use a semicolon tell them it could cost them in money and reputation. People are watching to see if grammar is used correctly. Good communication can mean the difference in many circumstances.

Resources:

Learn about the author: Parker Jones
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thursday is National Toothache Day...Let's try not to celebrate it!

Photo by BRENDA MICHELLE (Flickr)
Thursday (February 9) is National Toothache Day. While this is not exactly a day to be celebrated (I do not want a toothache at any time), it does serve as a reminder for how important dental health is in both children and adults.

The origins of National Toothache Day remain shrouded in mystery according to timeanddate.com but the guess is it was a dentist who started it, and he or she probably had good reason to. According to the World Health Organization Oral Health Fact-sheet, 60 to 90 percent of children and 100 percent of adults have dental cavities. However, in the United States only 52.4 percent of adults in the United States reported visiting a dentist every six months in 2014, 15.4 percent reported visiting once every year and another 11 percent reported visiting once every two to three years. That means 21.2 percent of adults had not visited a dentist in at least three years, according to the American Dental Association Patient Statistics.

More than that plan on continuing that trend as well, as 22.9 percent of adults indicated they are either unsure or definitely do not plan to visit a dentist in the next 12 months. The top reasons for not going include cost (which 40.7 percent of people said), not needing dental care (at least, that is what they think, at 32.7 percent), and not having time to get to the dentist (which 14.7 percent of people said) according to numbers from the ADA.

Children are getting slightly better treatment, as 83 percent of children in the United States aged 2-17 had at least one dental visit in the past year. However, 17.5 percent of children aged 5-19 years have untreated tooth decay 27.4 adults had untreated tooth decay.

Untreated tooth decay can lead to a number of problems. A personal friend recently had all of his teeth surgically removed. He had not been to a dentist for three years and his mouth was too far gone to save. He is getting dentures, but the process will not be cheap. Without insurance the costs of the procedure would have exceeded $10,000.

Even though that is an extreme situation, it does prove the idiom in this case that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". I have personally skipped dental appointments before and it only leads to more pain and cost than I would have otherwise incurred had I just continued regular dental appointments. Keep in mind I do brush my teeth regularly.

The chart in the Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities from the ADA shows the cost of preventive measures versus the cost of more extreme options when prevention is taken. It is obvious that although prevention may cost money, foregoing it can cost more.

The lesson learned is to take the time to see a dentist, keep your teeth taken care of, and make regular appointments. Yes, it takes time, and it can take money, but the consequences can be worse. Try not to neglect home care including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day as recommended by the ADA. A clean dental bill of health is possible, but not if you do not see your dental provider. If you do not have a dentist, ask your insurance provider or use the Mouth Healthy directory to find an ADA member dentist near you.

Learn about the author: Parker Jones
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cyberbullying: A Real Problem and How-To Minimize a Child's Risk

Photo by J_O_I_D (Flickr)
Playground bullying is still a problem in most schools and areas today, though there have been plenty of efforts to stop it, like this video (https://www.stopbullying.gov/videos/2012/02/playground-for-everyone.html.) However, a new study shows parents are more concerned about cyber-bullying than traditional playground bullying, and their concern is based in some fact.

Just as a refresher, cyber-bullying is loosely defined as any bullying that happens online. It can take many forms including insulting text or instant messages, identity theft and assumption and posting disparaging comments and pictures on people’s social media profiles.

In a new study by cyber-security firm Symantec (Children are 'more likely to be bullied online than in the playground', parents claim) nearly half of parents, or 48 percent, said they believed their children were more likely to be bullied online than on the playground. Not only does this reflect the changing times that we live in, the fact that I’m writing about this area to you on an online blog should be one indication, but this is a concern that should and is being addressed.

More than 75 percent of parents in the survey said they thought children were more exposed to online bullying than they were five years ago. Some of the numbers back that up. More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html

Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or on the internet as well. Statistics from the Cyberbullying research center show that the last three years have seen the highest rates of cyber-bullying, though the rate has gone down from its high in 2014.

However the study also said despite these concerns more than a quarter of parents allow internet access to their children before 6 years old. Though at the same time 70 percent said technology should be used to monitor their children’s online experience.

There are simple things parents can do minimize their child’s risk of online bullying. Those include knowing your child’s online habits and not introducing them to the online world too early. It also means checking their online communications at times, either yourself or through a friend, and maintain open lines of verbal and in person communication between yourself and your children. Encourage your children to tell you if they think they or someone they know are being cyber-bullied and tell them you will not take their technology away if you think they are.

The delicate balance you need to reach with your children is to know what they are doing online while still respecting their privacy. If you try to pry too much, your children will not trust you and think you are trying to creep in on all parts of their lives. Always let them know you respect their communication and value their judgment, and are just trying to make sure they are safe. As an adult you have more power to do something about it if bullying happens than they do, and that is one reason parents need to be aware.

Cyber-bullying will probably be a problem as long as there is an internet, but taking simple steps can help prevent it from happening to your child or stopping it cold once it starts. Check out more cyber-bullying and traditional bullying resources at stopbullying.gov.

Learn about the author: Parker Jones