Social Media addiction and your teen’s mental health

Social media is a growing trend and a required skill in the 21st century. We live in a time when if a teen does not have an Instagram account, Twitter or Snapchat, they are automatically considered an outcast and looked down upon in one way or another. Because of the way these social media platforms have been designed, they are highly addictive. According to recent surveys it was understood that almost 90% of Facebook users felt that their day cannot start on a good note unless they check their public social profile. That trend is only growing among young people with other various platforms.

Parents tend to often overlook the very negative and diverse effects that these websites have on the mind and mental health of their children. Following are some of the many negative effects social media and its addiction has on people:

  1. When one person is posting everything they do on a daily basis on a public platform, it is easy for people to begin to form a comparison. People automatically begin to judge their lives with everyone else’s and often forget the difference between one’s actual life and their virtual life.
  2. Teens express that when their phones are taken away, they feel completely uneasy and anxious being unable to check their notifications on their social media platforms.
  3. When a lot of pictures are being turned into memes and humorous content, it is easy to make things that have a very serious connotation into something that is almost ridiculous. Further, pictures on social media can be made to look more glamorous and that comes with negative influences for young people.
  4. People get into a debate over perceptions and realities. If they do not get a lot of likes on a single picture they report feeling sadness, insecurity or loneliness. We are seeing this growing trend in our Digital World programs.
  5. It is true that social media has enabled connectivity and staying in touch with friends, but it has also made cyber bullying easy. People find it easier to mock and ridicule others from behind their screens. The number of suicides has dramatically increased ever since the use of social media has made it easier for people to hide, and still make people feel terrible about themselves, or worse, put out material or pictures to the world that were meant to be private.

These are the effects social media addiction has on people. It is important that technology is used in a balanced manner to ensure it does not influence one’s personality, feelings or actions in any negative way. Having open communication, talking with your children and being their number one resource is imperative to contributing to a healthy online social life.

Check out this video on how to stop the worst of social media: Link

What do annoying jingles and sex education have in common?

Just for fun, click on this link and see if you can finish these old time popular jingles. Or, see if you can finish these phrases from popular commercials (hint: you may want to hum them):

  • “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back………………” (name the restaurant)
  • “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that……….(name the candy bar)
  • “Nationwide is…….”
  • “For the best night’s sleep in the whole wide world visit……”

Marketers are great at knowing how to get us to remember things whether we want to or not. It helps them sell us their products.

Here are some marketers basic rules:

  • The shorter the better
  • The more repetition the better
  • The more rhymes the better
  • Make it common (hear it everywhere)
  • Add music

Jingles are designed to stay in your memory, sometimes popping up from out of nowhere. Jingles become part of what we know, whether we know it or not.
That’s where marketing meets sex and relationships for teens. The common phrases (shorter the better) we hear over and over (repetition), that are common themes in popular songs and commercials (add music and rhymes) are things we naturally believe, whether we really know them to be true or not.
Here are some common phrases you will recognize, and that you may want to think about before you make any decisions you may regret.

“Everyone’s doing it”

Real Scoop: Since 1992 (crazy I know) the percentage of teens who choose to have sex has declined. In the last 3 years it has averaged 44%, less than half.

“Sex will bring us closer”

Real Scoop: Most young people can tell you the answer to this one. The most mentioned relationship issues they experience? Increased jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, loss of time with friends and other activities.

“Just use condoms”

Real Scoop: First, very smart decision. Unfortunately, it only protects you from about 20% of the risks we hear about. Negative personal, social, emotional and relationship impact can’t be protected by a condom. Also check out some STI and STD info you might want to have while we are on that topic.

Real relationships and safe sexual decisions take time, honesty, and awkward conversations about difficult topics before you decide to do anything. You ready for that?

Teen depression skyrockets and there is one common theme: Social Media

According to a recent national survey, between the years 2010-2015, the number of teens who felt useless and joyless surged 33%. Suicide attempts alone increased by 23%. These numbers are simply terrifying. After countless surveys, all of the results have one thing in common: a smartphone and the growth of social media. According to a recent poll, teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows.” Our goal in the Digital World program is to promote healthy online behavior and personal relationships, as well as talk to kids about the “reality” of the Internet, and how social media affects us both socially and emotionally, now and in the future. Take a look at Kids in a Cyber World for some quick facts about how fast social media has grown, and the ways the cyber world, left unchecked can impact youth development.

If you would like more information on this presentation or other Digital World programs send an inquiry to gpsempowered@gmail.com.

Can 6th graders handle a cell phone?

That is a question that has been asked since cell phones became a part of everyday life. So what’s the answer?

Imagine that the average guest in your school could electronically ‘find’ a child on the Internet? Most responses are doubting. Adults will say ‘kids are smarter than that’ or “I taught them to keep their information safe’. Kids will tell you that they are always ‘safe’, or more likely ‘I am not stupid”! But safety isn’t as obvious at it might appear when it comes to the Internet.

In ESC’s Digital World program for 6th graders we put this concept to the test with an activity called “6 Click Challenge” (NetSmartz). As a guest in the classroom, the instructor has access to students’ first names, as many people do. On day one, the instructor asks for a couple of volunteers who use social media frequently, and ask what their favorite social media platform is. The fun begins the next day when the instructor shares with the volunteers and the other students what information they found out in just ‘6 clicks’, or searches. Of course no personal information is shared! Students are completely shocked when the instructor tells them what kind of dog they have or their little brother’s name!

We have found that students DO keep very personal information off the Internet and social media. However, they do not (and at younger ages cannot) think critically about how ‘basic information, posts of less-safe friends, common pictures or snaps, and friending habits can be combined to ‘find them’ electronically. And just as importantly, studies show that bullying behavior, changes in self-esteem, and even mental health and attention span can all be affected by children’s social media and Internet use.

To find more information and safety tips check out our Digital World content and view this YouTube video: Keeping Kids Safe and Secure Online.

What do our students REALLY learn from TPP?

This past week our instructors were at Cardinal High School in Middlefield delivering the final lesson of our TPP program. We became curious about what exactly these kids retain during their years in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. We compiled a survey asking the kids that exact question…” what do you remember most from TPP over the last 6 years”? We were able to send this survey to them electronically through our new texting program called Simple Texting. The possible choices included various games we played, stories they heard, and the ‘face’ of TPP; BOB (Body on Board) shown below. BOB represents all the parts that makes us who we are, and most importantly how every decision we make can affect each part of us (or BOB in this case). Thanks to our survey, we learned that this fun but simple decision making tool stuck! BOB won with an overwhelming 32% of the votes. This is great news for all of us because it means that what we are doing is working! These young adults are retaining many of the skills and perspectives they get from TPP for several years, and remember the most important part of the program, BOB!!! Explore our website to learn more about Bob and other activities we do in the classroom!

 

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New study says teens’ decisions to have sex are influenced by parents… Say Whhaaat???

There are a lot of factors that go into a teen deciding to becoming sexually active or not.
Everything from peer pressure to social media, to their religious backgrounds, but what may surprise a lot of parents is that they may have the strongest influence of all. Many parents may believe that their kids are “tuning” them out when they sit down to have the birds and the bees convo, but according to The National Campaign to Prevent Pregnancy (NCPTP) that is just not the case. In their recent study, nearly 40% of teens pointed towards their parents as the number one influence on their sexual behavior. Parents rank in the top 2 for more teens than that, and the younger the child, the stronger parental influence! So the short answer is, THEY ARE LISTENING.

The question of “WHEN” to have these discussions always arises, and the short answer is- it’s never a one-time talk. The ultimate goal is to create an environment where your kids feel comfortable coming to you to ask questions on any relationship, developmental, or personal topic from the moment they are old enough to understand.

Both parents need to be open and honest, and do their best to keep these lines of communication open, even though the most fearless parents often become tongue-tied with these challenging topics. One of the most important things TPP instructors have heard from kids is that if children feel as though they will be punished for their curiosity, or honest questions about sex and relationships, parents can kiss the opportunity to talk goodbye. Kids need to feel safe in talking to their parents about anything.

Learn more about societal influences in the Digital World section of our website and check out how TPP Programs navigate sensitive topics and questions.

Are your children learning about puberty from Netflix’s hormone monster?

Netflix just dropped a new animated series called Big Mouth, which follows a young boy and his classmates embarking on the oh so embarrassing and awkward tradition of puberty. Some parents think that Netflix may have gone a bit too far on this one. They consider this is adult humor, and an adult series, but coincidentally many kids, as young as 6th grade are watching. Do you want your kids learning about their sexual development through foul-mouth cartoons, or would it be better coming from a trusted adult? The choice is yours, but this is definitely something to watch and decide for yourself what is best for your child. Learn more about how we address puberty in our TPP 5th and 6th grade programs, and take a minute to view the Big Mouth trailer.

Watch the Big Mouth video here.