We’ve posted about online safety as well as the dangers of sending sexually explicit text messages in the past, but a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, highlights the importance of making sure we educate teens and tweens about sexting early on.
In the study, researchers looked at the results of a national survey of middle school students. They found that 20% of students who had a cell phone reported receiving a sext and 5% reported sending a sext. For those students who send more than 100 text messages each day, they were over 2 times more likely to receive a sext and 4.5 times more likely to send a sext. They also found that those same students were more likely to be sexually active. In general, students who sent or received sexts were more likely to be sexually active and higher rates of texting were associated with higher rates of unprotected sex. Read full post »
This is a guest post by Adolescent Medicine fellow Ellen Selkie, MD.
We’ve talked about social media on this blog before . It continues to dominate the lives of teens, though the type or platform of social media is always changing. How can a parent keep up? Well, first, you can read this brief overview of social media platforms most used by teens. Then, check out info below about more learning opportunities! Read full post »
In a recent issue of Pediatrics, researchers studied a group of seventh-graders to see how prevalent sexting was in that age group (ages 12-14), as well as whether sexting is associated with sexual activity.
The answer for what percentage were sexting is 22%, which is good news or bad news depending on how pessimistic you are. They did find that those young teens who were sexting were more likely to be sexually active. (This makes sense to me; teens who are exploring their sexuality would be more likely to use different methods of sexual expression.)
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This week, Facebook announced changes to its privacy rules that allow teenagers to post status updates, videos and photos publicly. If you’re a parent with a teen on Facebook, this opens the door to an important conversation that you and your child need to walk through…and soon.
Until yesterday, Facebook users between the ages of 13 and 17 were only able to set the “audience” for their posts as “friends” or “friends of friends.” Now, these users have the option to set the audience as “public.” With these new rules, the status updates (including photos, videos, etc.) posted by adolescents who have made their audience “public” can be read by strangers, and by marketers.This may lead to unwanted friend requests or messages, or possible use of your teen’s photos or posts in marketing materials – on Facebook or beyond. If your 14 year old daughter (or you, for that matter) shares some vacation photos publicly on Facebook, you may someday see those photos used to advertise a beach vacation in Mexico, or a brand of jeans your daughter is wearing. Read full post »
Keeping adolescents safe from harm has been a challenge for parents since time began, but in the age of the internet, blogs, social networking sites, and texting, parents are faced with new territory to navigate. Our colleague, Dr. Megan Moreno, has written a book that can help guide parents through this terrain. Sex, Drugs ‘n Facebook: A Parent Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use is now available.
Dr. Moreno has been a guest blogger in the past and has written about her research in the use of social media and adolescent health. This book is written with her expertise as an adolescent medicine physician, research scientist, and mom. She also incorporates adolescents and parents. The combined effect is an easy to read, practical toolkit for parents on internet safety. Topics in this book range from sexting to cyberbullying and everything in between.
For more on internet safety check out these blog posts and please let us know what you think of Dr. Moreno’s book!
On the Pulse: Sex Drugs ‘n Facebook
Keeping your adolescent safe online
Teens and Social Media: Depression Displays on Facebook Part 1
Teens, Cyberbullying, & Suicide
In what is becoming a sadly familiar story, a 12-year-old girl named Rebecca Sedwick killed herself last week after months of both in-person and online torment by her peers.
What is especially frightening, at least to me, is that Rebecca’s family took all the recommended steps to protect their daughter. They immediately notified the school, then withdrew her from the school when the torment didn’t stop, and enrolled her at another one. They sought mental health counseling. They “unplugged” her from the websites bullies were using to reach Rebecca. And yet despite all these efforts, the bullies got through, and Rebecca took her own life.
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Celebrities and parents in the US are talking about the MTV Video Music Awards that aired Sunday night. Most of the award show was a fun concert showcasing the latest popular artists like Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, but there is a performance by one artist that has everyone buzzing: Miley Cyrus. She’s the same young lady who many of my teen patients grew up watching as Hannah Montana and last night she showed America that she wants to be seen as all grown up; an adult woman. Whether she relayed that message in an appropriate way is left up for discussion. The look on the face of Will Smith, who was sitting with his young teen children in audience, showed a parent who would agree with me that her performance was for mature audiences only. Read full post »
Back in the old days when I was a teenager, there weren’t many ways to keep track of your teen without actually seeing them or talking to them on the (landline) telephone. Once they were out of your sight, you had to trust that they were doing what they said they would. Nowadays, parents can gain more in-depth information about their teen’s private life than ever before. They can keep in almost constant communication with teens via texting. There are products to track a teen’s location, driving speed, and even the keystrokes on their computer. And now the question arises: Parents can track their teen, but should they?
Families have answered this question in different ways, with some believing that their teen’s right to privacy outweighs the benefits of keeping closer tabs on them, while others believe that given the trouble teens can get into, it’s better to know as much as possible. Here are a few tips to consider (and possibly disagree with!) Read full post »
Those in mental health circles are already aware that the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Disorders, aka the DSM-5, came out on May 18th. The new DSM changed, reorganized, and introduced certain mental health diagnoses.
One disorder which was put into Section III- which basically translates into “This might exist, but we need more research”, is Internet Gaming Disorder. This disorder signifies that certain people may become addicted to playing online or video games in the same way people can become addicted to gambling (which is a diagnosable disorder). The theory is that when playing games, some people experience intense activation of the “pleasure center” of the brain, similar to that experienced when taking an addictive drug.
I should clarify that there’s nothing wrong with playing video and online games! It can be a fun way to spend one’s time, or time with friends online, and may even have cognitive benefits. However, when gaming begins interfering with offline life, families may need to intervene.
For some parents, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly what sorts of behaviors would indicate a gaming addiction, as opposed to a gaming hobby or habit. It can also be very hard to tell if someone has a gaming addiction, as opposed to depression or social anxiety, which might result in some similar behaviors.
I can’t tell you exactly what symptoms would indicate an online or video gaming addiction (and, to be fair, neither can the DSM-5). I can, however, give you some signs to watch for if you’re concerned about your teen and playing games. Some of these symptoms might indicate addiction-like behaviors, and some might indicate another problem, but all of them warrant attention and a conversation with a mental health professional. Read full post »
Guest author Megan Moreno: Adolescent medicine physician and Principle Investigator of the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team
As Sara described last week, an area of our research team’s interest has been investigating depression disclosures on social media. We have conducted several research studies in this area, each new study develops after learning new things from the last one. Our initial study in the area of depression looked at how often depression disclosures were present on Facebook. We found that up to a quarter of Facebook profiles of older adolescents included one or more depression symptom displays. We also found that these displays were in particular patterns, and that comments from friends to these displays were frequent. Read full post »