5 Unsafe Habits Social Media Is Teaching Kids

SocialMedia25The Internet is here to stay and only expanding by the day!

The social media heyday shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and likely will just continue to gain speed and momentum as it appeals to younger and younger audiences; however it can’t go unnoticed that the values it’s teaching our children are less than ideal, especially in regards to unsafe internet habits. As social media becomes more prevalent, so do our kids apparent lack of regard to what is considered over-sharing and what isn’t. Social media has made it completely acceptable to engage in the following less-than-safe behaviors:

1.     Checking into places – It’s become commonplace to check into places once you get there; whether it’s the gym, a restaurant, or even a different city or state from the one you reside in, you’re now able to post onto your social media sites where you are, and are even rewarded with badges for checking into places regularly. However while the badges and upgrades to “mayor of the city” may make kids feel cool, it’s also alerting anyone and everyone that they’re not at home and where you can find them, something that seems less than stellar from a safety standpoint.

2.     Posting provocative and risqué photos – Scantily clad pictures, pictures showing drug and alcohol use, and pictures of people in risqué circumstances routinely grace Facebook walls, get uploaded to Instagram, and find their way onto Twitter. All this does, however, is encourage risky behavior, prompting teens to engage in it and even challenging them to outdo their friends,as well as appealing to predators with questionable motives, making it easy for them to identify easy targets.

3.     Putting your address, phone number, and email address online – While this type of information may be posted innocently for friends and family to easily find, kids tend to forget that the internet is not a private forum, it’s very public. Posting this information makes it easy for scammers, spammers, and predators to prey on unsuspecting victims, which is why this information should never be made publicon the various social media websites.

4.     Demeaning others – Bullying others online has become the new social norm. This kind of cyber-bullying has had an overwhelming effect on kids, leaving them feeling depressed and hopeless. When kids are unable to achieve any respite from the constant demeaning of their peers the effects can be monumental, with self-mutilation, uncontrollable anger or depression, and even suicide or harming their peers being the fallout.

5.     Encouraging hazardous games – Remember the choking game that encouraged kids to hang themselves to get high? These types of dangerous games are a result of social media allowing them to spread like wildfire, and the results are often tragic because kids don’t realize how dangerous they really are until it’s too late.

Social media, while it is many wonderful things, has its drawbacks as well. The younger the audience allowed to interact on it, the more unsafe it becomes, especially because they don’t yet understand that for every action there can also be a tragic reaction. This is why it’s imperative for parents to be vigilant in teaching their kids safe internet habits and to monitor what their kids are doing online.

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Teens, Tweens and Social Networking

It is simply a fact, your child today, no matter what their age will be involved in some sort of social media and social networking.

Just like you will be discussing the birds and the bees you also need to discuss Internet safety.

Here are some quick tips to remind them as they begin their cyber-life:

Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone’s mean to you, try to ignore them – often that makes them stop. Use privacy tools to block them from viewing your full profile and contacting you.

Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.

Passwords are private. Don’t share your password even with friends. It’s hard to imagine, but friendships change and you don’t want to be impersonated by anyone. Pick a password you can remember but no one else can guess. One trick: Create a sentence like “I graduated from King School in 05” for the password “IgfKSi05.”

Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.

Don’t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don’t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don’t lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator’s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.

Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.

Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

Sue Scheff: Teens and Internet Safety by Education.com

Introduction: Teens Navigating Cyberspace

If you believe e-mail, blogs, and instant messaging are a completely harmless way for teens to communicate, think again! Many teens have Internet access–often private communication in the form of blogs, chat rooms, and forums. These online communication aids are not themselves a problem. But the ever-present threat of being sexually solicited or bullied while on the Internet is a big problem.

While online, teens may be persuaded to do things or share private/confidential information, to be sexually solicited, and/or to experience public humiliation. Recent testimony on child protection before Congress, alerted the public to online sexual solicitation of teens. However, parents and youth workers may be less aware of “cyber-bullying” in which peers viciously attack one another. This article will define online sexual solicitation and cyber-bullying, explain the risk factors and negative effects of these communications, and outline ways to protect youth from harm.

Online Sexual Solicitation

Online sexual solicitation is a form of sexual harassment that occurs over the internet. Incidents of online sexual solicitation include: exposure to pornography; being asked to discuss sex online and/or do something sexual; or requests to disclose personal information. This can start when an adult or peer initiates an online nonsexual relationship with a child or adolescent, builds trust, and seduces him or her into sexual acts. Several studies have found that:

 

  • 30% of teen girls who used the Internet frequently had been sexually harassed while they were in a chat room. 
  • 37% of teens (male and female) received links to sexually explicit content online. 
  • 30% of teens have talked about meeting someone they met online. 
  • 19% knew a friend who was harassed or asked about sex online by a stranger. 
  • 33% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys had been asked about sexual topics online. (Dewey, 2002; Polly Klaas Foundation, 2006) 

There are several signs–traits, life circumstances, and actions–that parents and adults should be aware of in order to keep teens from online communication with sexual predators. Studies find that teens at the greatest risk for online sexual solicitation are:

 

  • females between the ages of 14 and 17 years. 
  • teens with major depressive symptoms and/or who have experienced negative life transitions (moving to a new neighborhood, a death or divorce in their family) are especially vulnerable. 
  • teens who use the Internet more frequently, for four or more days a week at two or more hours a day. 
  • teens who engage in high online risk behavior (including cyber-bullying and discussing sex online with strangers). 

Research has found that about 25% of youth who are sexually solicited felt “extremely afraid or upset” in response to the incident. Preteens to early adolescent (aged 10-13), youth who were solicited more aggressively, and youth who had been sexually solicited on a computer in another persons home, were the most upset and affected (Mitchell et al., 2001). Youth with major symptoms of depression are twice as likely to become emotionally distressed by online solicitation than their peers who report no or few symptoms of depression. These reactions, in addition to the more blatant dangers of teens meeting in person with online predators, point to the need to prevent preteens and teens from exposure to online solicitation.

Read entire article here: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teens_Internet/

Wrapped up in the Web: Teen Internet Addiction by Sue Scheff

computerpic1.jpgIn today’s society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent’s Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.Keeping tabs on our teens’ online habits doesn’t just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

Learn more about Teen Internet Addiction