Tag Archives: E-risk

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.