Nov 14 2013

Just What Are The Dangers Teens of Today Face with the Advent of of Social Media?

Instagram and other Social Media AppsJust What Are The Dangers Teens of Today Face with the Advent of of Social Media? – Vol. 225, November 14, 2013

I was having a discussion with a junior high school teacher the other day, who brought up the negative effects that the new social media aimed toward teens is having on many of them. She has noted that teens are finding many ways to harm their sense of selves with the use of these sites.

The teens themselves think that socializing on line is the same as socializing in person, which it is not. When something is said on a social media site, such a one that allows teens to ask any questions they would like including: What makes you so stupid?” damage is being done to the teen who takes this question personally. There are also many times when teens will bully others online with the targeted teen sometimes committing suicide as a result of the psychological injury done, due to the nasty remarks of their peers about them online. One of the worse attributes of these online sites is that the kids have access to them 24/7 365 days a year so can never get away from the negative commentary placed on them. Because of this thoughtful discussion with this concerned teacher, I decided to devote this weblog to finding out more about the subject to help parents and teens to better understand and navigate these social media sites.

The first thing that I would like to point out, is that teens have not fully developed their brains leading them to do impulsive things without the ability to understand the natural consequences of their behavior. Teens will rarely be able to understand another person’s perspective making the situation at hand worse. So, please respect that this is where teens are developmentally, even if teens believe that they know more than the adults in their lives. This too, is just another indicator of their lack of mental and emotional maturity needing to be respected as such. It is indicative of the necessity to help teens navigate through these situations that are all around them. The newest statistic is that 75% of American teens own smart phones, using them to access the internet, to text and sext – sending sexually explicit photos through texting.

The second thing that I would like to bring out is that for people to have healthy lives, it is imperative that people socialize in the old fashioned face-to-face sort of way. This is especially true of teens who really can’t understand why they feel so lonely even if they are spending multiple hours online on the various social networking sites, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning creating a lack of sleep as well.

Think of it this way: If one can hide behind a computer on a dating site pretending to be all that you as an adult may be looking for in a mate, and then find out later that this representation had nothing to do with who this being is in front of you during your date,  think about how much more confusing a teen may be to find themselves being stalked or made fun of by someone who is pretending to be someone whom they are not. Teens don’t have the life’s experience to be able to understand these nuances, these deceits in a way more experienced adults may. Because the truth be told many adults are also scammed, stalked and other wise abused by people that they met online. As an adult and especially as a parent, it is your job to keep your child as safe as you can. You do this by getting a real sense of the places your child is hanging out not only off-line but online as well.

True relationships are built off line, in person. Healthy relationships are what constitute a healthy relationship with one’s self which allows for normal functional development. Without healthy relationships, people get upset, which can lead to depression, which left to fester too long can and does lead to suicide. So these issues of how one is relating to others is very important to the health and wellbeing of all involved.

Here are some sites that you as parents and you as teens need to know about and stay away from. In fact, I would suggest the less time on your computer on social media sites and the more time interacting with healthy and kind people doing amazing things in life, the happier and healthier one will be – adult and teen alike. This content below was taken from the Post:  Social Networking: New Sites/Apps Your Teen (Students) May be Using POSTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 2013


  • AskFm and Websites that allow users to pose and respond to questions. For example, a user may post “Why are you such a loser?” and other users can respond. This site is often associated with cyber-bullying and harassment because it is not regulated and allows users to post anonymously.
  • Chatroulette: A website and app that pairs users up with random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. This site is known to be home to predators and inappropriate content.
  • Creepy: A desktop app that allows a user to track someone’s movements based on their Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr activity. It does so by gathering geotag location data from photos posted to online social networking sites. To help protect their teens, parents can turn off the geotag location data on their teen’s device; while this is not fail proof, it can help prevent new geotags
  • Efemr: A web and mobile app that allows users to post time limited content on Twitter. Teens are often more willing to engage in risky behavior and cyber bullying if they believe the contents will be deleted.
  • Facebook, Instagram, Pheed, Tumblr, and Twitter: Websites and apps that allow users post pictures, videos, and/or texts and comment on others posts. Teens often over share personal information including contact information and geotagged photos.  These sites can also be home to cyber bullying.
  • Flickr:  An image and video hosting site and social network. Flickr prohibits content that is illegal, but sexually explicit material is permitted.
  • Kik: A messaging application that allows users to send photos, videos, and messages. Teens like this app because it is harder for adults to monitor their activity.
  • SnapChat: An app that allows users to send photos and videos that will “self-destruct” or disappear. Teens are often more willing to engage in inappropriate behavior if they believe the contents will be deleted. However many users have found ways around this and are able to use other apps and screen capture features to keep and spread the photos.
  • Vine: A short form video-sharing app. According to Vine, users may be exposed to content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate, otherwise inappropriate, or deceptive. Sexually explicit videos are permitted on Vine.

Please be thoughtful with how much technology your kids are using, how often and most especially what they are doing with it. I know when I see a toddler playing with an I-phone I feel sick inside. Not because there aren’t some educational games that could be accessed. More because it means to me that that child is spending more time playing with technology not understood by them, rather then engaging in social activities to learn the basic concepts of sharing, caring and being interested in others – others with whom the child is building a lasting relationship. This instead of being distracted by the easiest item a parent has at hand.

Take the time to think about what your child is doing with his/her time and make sure to include all sorts of activities where the child can have the self-esteem and self-respect built up, which is really not to be found online. More often the relationships built on line are superficial based on fake personas created by someone your child may never know. If the child does know the people involved, as we are finding out with the sad news of kids cyber-bullying their “friends” and classmates, horrific damage can be done to the fragile teen in the world of teen hormones and jealousy built on a lack of self-esteem by the one who is doing the “bullying” the “posturing” etc. Please take an active part in guiding your children through this technological onslaught of inappropriate stimulation while bringing all sorts of healthier interests alive in them off line be it through sports, the arts, building models or doing something in the outdoors with plants and/or animals. Volunteering is also a very necessary act these days where your teen can learn some life long lessons that will do them much more good then sitting in front of a screen pretending to have a relationship with someone and getting addicted to the internet.




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photo by: Jason A. Howie



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