Living Well: Health and wellness tips from Indiana University
Desktop dating. More and more people, young and old, are using the Internet to connect with others romantically. "Women and men both use the Internet as a tool to meet potential dates as well as a means of maintaining their existing relationships," said Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University Bloomington. "It's exciting to see the range of ways that women and men are learning to use a seemingly impersonal space like the Internet in increasingly personal and connecting ways." This trend does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon. "I think people will start to become more and more comfortable meeting strangers online. It was only 10 years ago that we might have thought someone was weird if they met someone online. Few would raise an eyebrow now," says Bryant Paul, assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunications at IU Bloomington. So, what's the appeal? Many women and men say that online surfing lets them meet a wider range of people than they would normally meet in their social circles or work environment. Herbenick says online dating can give them a chance to learn about their dates before meeting them. Paul says the dating pool in real life is a lot harder to access. "People in today's culture like fast food and fast news," he said. "We want things processed as fast as possible. Sites like eHarmony do all the front work for you."
Herbenick and Paul offer the following tips for those just beginning to explore online dating:
- Practice a little caution. "Safety remains a pitfall to online dating, especially when one is meeting complete strangers online. Women and men who use online dating services should be careful about giving out their phone number and work information, and should meet in public places where they feel safe," says Herbenick. "Sites such as Facebook and Myspace offer some advantages if you choose to date within your own friend networks, and begin communicating with a close friend of one of your friends."
- Check credibility. Many sites claim to offer services, but fail to deliver. "Recognize what each site has to offer and don't jump right in because not every site is safe. Google the site and see what others are saying. The more well known a site is, the better chance it's legit," says Paul.
- Don't be intimidated. Plenty of resources exist for those who may not have grown up in the age of Match.com or Facebook. "Local libraries and community centers frequently offer classes related to computers and the use of the Internet," says Herbenick. "Women and men can use these classes to learn basic computer skills related to surfing the Internet, protecting personal information, making online payments, uploading and downloading photos, and using email. Then if they want to venture into online dating, they will have the skills to do so."
- Have fun. "Be adventurous yet sensible. Look for opportunities to meet people online that make you feel good, safe and yet still excited about the potential for meeting people," says Herbenick.
The ways people are forging new relationships online are vast. Paul divides the world of online dating into two categories: dating sites and social networking sites (SNS). Social networking sites, like Facebook and Myspace, are Web-based online communities that include people who often share similar interests or characteristics. Paul said the growth of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, offer more options -- they enable users to socialize and interact with other users by means of an avatar, or character.
Dumb jocks? Misguided stereotype. An examination by Indiana University sport sociologist Gary Sailes of the academic success of male basketball players on elite college teams found that contrary to popular belief, academic and athletic success weren't mutually exclusive. Sailes and study co-author Louis Harrison of the University of Texas examined teams that made it to the Final Four in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual Division I men's basketball tournament. They compared two different standards used by the NCAA -- an older federal guideline that focused on graduation rates and the new model that combines a variety of factors -- such as the number of years a player is academically eligible -- into Academic Progress Rates. "The results were pretty surprising," Sailes said. "If you look at the old graduation rate, half of the teams were good, half were bad compared to all Division I basketball teams. The elite teams are right at the cusp. If you look at the new rate, the elite teams are well above the other teams. With the new formula, it's in your best interest to play on a team with a Final Four history, because you're likely to do better academically."
Sailes is an associate professor in the IU Bloomington School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Department of Kinesiology. The researchers examined teams that competed in the Final Four between 2000 and 2004. Here are some of the findings, published in the Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education:
- The average APR scores for Final Four teams were 941.75 in 2000, 945.5 in 2001, 921.25 in 2002, 918.5 in 2003 and 926.25 in 2004, which were higher in each case than the 916 average rate for all Division I men's teams.
- The graduation rates of Final Four teams were lower than the rates of their NCAA Division I peers in 2000, 2002 and 2004 (the data was suppressed in 2003).
- During this time, white male Division I basketball players graduated at a higher rate than their African American peers, by an average margin of 14.8 percentage points. This gap was closing, however, from 22 percentage points in 2000 to 8 percentage points in 2008.
- In 2000, male Division I basketball players had a graduation rate of 42 percent, compared to 44 percent in 2004. When looking at all male Division I athletes, the graduation rate was 51 percent in 2000, increasing to 55 percent in 2004.
- With the old NCAA formula, which focused on graduation rates, players who transferred from other schools counted against the team even when they graduated. Still, some teams in Sailes' study graduated none of their players in some years. "It says more about the coach than anything, not necessarily the team," Sailes said. "The leadership of the team sets the mindset of the whole team. If the coach is recruiting players who aren't graduation material, he's influencing the whole team."
Regarding the "anti-intellectualism" stereotype, which Sailes says, "is another way of saying 'dumb jock,'" student athletes actually have higher graduation rates and better grades than the student body in general. Athletes who participate in individualized sports, such as golf and gymnastics, do particularly well. Players on basketball and football teams, however, have historically struggled academically compared to other athletes. "They're improving, however. Graduation rates of African American athletes are improving, as well," Sailes said. "It's minimal. But it's going in the right direction."
Prepare for the worst and rehearse. For people with intellectual disabilities, the key to surviving a natural disaster may be in preparing for the worst, said Maribeth Mooney, research associate at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community's Center on Aging and Community at Indiana University Bloomington. The most important thing for anyone with a developmental disability is to know where they can go in case of an emergency. By planning and rehearsing a simple series of actions, anyone can help themselves get away from danger to a safe place, bringing everything they truly need with them. Mooney recently published "I am Citizen Prepared," a loose-leaf handbook on disaster planning and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities and their families. The idea came to her, she said, as she searched the Internet for disaster preparation tips and "everything I found was just pages and pages, and paragraphs of 10 font print, that the people with disabilities can't read." Her handbook is designed as a workbook, offering tips for what to do during blackouts, floods and hurricanes, using bold lettering and large pictures to emphasize the important points.
Here are a few tips the handbook offers for families and people with disabilities:
- Build a network. Knowing the people and places you can expect help from in an emergency is the first major step. A few simple steps are to make sure someone outside of your home town has a copy of your important medical documents, including allergies and insurance information, just in case they get damaged or lost. Have moving and operating instructions attached to medical equipment that needs to travel with you. Prepare a plan for where you will go and what you will do in case of an emergency, and make sure people in your network have a copy, so they can find you. Also you can download a form at www.vialoflife.com and post it on your fridge; emergency personnel know to look for it, and it can inform them of any medical problems or disabilities.
- Be Informed. Acquaint yourself with local sources of information on disasters. Call your local county government and find out the nearest building that will serve as a shelter. Find out if your town has a siren for emergencies. Ask which radio frequency will broadcast emergency information for your county, write that information down, and tape it to your radio.
- Be Prepared. Have an emergency kit packed and stored near the door, ready to go at a moments notice. Include water, a flashlight, a hand crank radio, local maps, emergency contact numbers and copies of important medical information. Also prepare a kit for your service animal, and be aware that most shelters do not accept pets.
For more information, the handbook "I am Citizen Prepared" can be downloaded for free at http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/cac/products/citizenprepared.htm -- or contact Maribeth Mooney at 812-856-5543 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Top
For additional assistance with these tips, contact Tracy James, University Communications, at 812-855-0084 and email@example.com.