Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

10 Things Teens Won’t Tell You   Leave a comment

10 things teens won’t tell you

Published: Aug 16, 2014 8:11 a.m. ET

The secret and costly life of the American teenager

Chip Wass

1. America will look a lot different when we grow up.

Like every generation of adolescents, today’s teens have habits that are utterly unfamiliar to their parents. The roughly 25 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 18 grew up with Facebook and Netflix. They’re more likely to hang out at Chipotle and Starbucks, and less likely to hang out at the mall, than teens of 20 or even 10 years ago.

But teens’ attitudes are also being shaped by an era where people are less likely to assume that a “typical” American family is straight and white. “They’re the most socially and ethnically diverse of all generations,” says Sharalyn Hartwell, executive director at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, which studies teenage demographics. While their parents saw Morgan Freeman as the U.S. president in the 1998 movie “Deep Impact,” modern teens grew up with the real-life Obama White House.

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Ready to live in a nontraditional nation.

Only 55% of Americans 18 and under are Caucasian, compared with 72% of baby boomers, according to Magid. Not coincidentally, teenagers and “tweens” are more comfortable with the country’s changing ethnic balance. Some 47% say they feel positively about the U.S. becoming more ethnically diverse, compared with 32% of boomers.

Teenagers are also growing up in a society where same-sex marriage is more widely accepted, and, as a result, television shows aimed at their age group reflect this new reality, she adds. Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” featured a same-sex couple, ABC Family’s “The Fosters” is a television show about a family with two moms, and ABC’s prime-time comedy “Modern Family” features a male same-sex couple that wrapped its last season with a wedding.

Today’s teens and tweens are also more likely than earlier generations to be the products of a particularly hands-on style of parenting—one that involves 24/7 online monitoring and more involvement in their education. Demographers and researchers say that such tighter-knit parenting can have an impact on how these teens will perceive the world as they become adults: They’ll be more likely to be realistic about their future and to embrace change—though if the parenting was too claustrophobic or authoritarian, they’ll also be more likely to be rebellious and get along poorly with others.

Also read: 10 things Generation X won’t tell you.

2. We’re one click ahead of you online

Some 95% of teenagers are online compared with around 80% of the overall population, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. In theory, that should make it easier for parents to keep up with them and track their behavior. But teens are light on their feet, and data suggests that teens are quietly fleeing mainstream social sites that have been adopted by their parents

Snapchat

During 2013, the share of teens active on Facebook dropped by 9 percentage points, while on Twitter it dropped 3 points, according to research firm GlobalWebIndex. Teens are gravitating instead to services like Blink and Snapchat, where messages are easier to keep private. “Video apps like Instagram and Vine are also playing a much larger role with this generation,” adds Jeanne Connon, chief marketing officer of FPgirl.com, a marketing firm that analyzes fashion, technology, trends and relationships among young girls. What’s more, teens are adept at hiding apps in folders on their computers or mobile devices to make them more difficult to find.

Parents are doing their best to play catch-up, Connon says, but it’s still an uphill battle. Around 1 in 5 tweens and young teenagers in middle school have received a sexually explicit message or photo, according to a survey of 1,200 middle school students published in July in the “American Academy of Pediatrics.” Those who received such a text were also six times more likely to be sexually active.

Also see: Teens rebel against Facebook.

3. We’re sooo bored…with the shopping mall

Teen-oriented retailers, take note: Shopping may be losing its mystique among the under -18 set. The latest retailing survey by investment bank Piper Jaffray found that the average teenager spent $1,000 on fashion annually, down from $1,300 in 2006, and took 29 shopping trips a year, down from 38 in 2007. For the first time in the survey’s 13-year history, they spent a bigger share of their spending money on food than clothing (20.8% versus 20.7%).

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Online shopping may make the teenage mall-rat an endangered species.

The big issue here is that teenagers are shopping with their tablets and smartphones, rather than in person: 75% of teenage girls and 50% of teenage boys says they prefer shopping online than in-store. (They spend an average of $56.50 per shopping trip when they do make it to a brick-and-mortar store.) “Teens are browsing regularly on their mobile devices, shopping less frequently and engaging with brands on demand,” says Steph Wissink, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Teens’ spending may be waning because their parents are economizing: They remain heavily dependent on the fortunes of their parents, who contribute around 65% of their annual spending, according to the report. And while they do have a penchant for expensive clothing brands, there are only one or two that have a firm hold over them: 19% of male teenagers prefer Nike and the same percentage of female teenagers prefer Lululemon leggings.

4. We do drugs (but not the same ones you did)

Around 36% of high-school students report having used marijuana at least once within the previous 12 months, according to data released in July the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. That’s down from 41% in 1998. The share of teenagers who used alcohol over the past year has declined more sharply, to 51% in 2013 from 68% in 1998.

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Marijuana remains popular with teens, but prescription drug abuse is rising faster.

Use of other drugs, however, have risen slightly: 23% of teens admit to abusing or misusing prescription drugs, at least once in their lifetime, up from 20% five years ago, and one in six report doing so within the past year. Pain medications like Oxycodone and Vicodin and “study drugs” that combat attention-deficit-disorder are among the most commonly abused, according to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. And abuse of human growth hormone (HGH)—often used by athletes seeking to add muscle—has risen among teens to 11% in 2013 from 5% a year earlier.

“They are not doing [these drugs] to get high, they’re doing it because they think they can stay up studying to get better grades, to relax and get fit,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Also see: Cocaine use is going to pot.

5. We can’t do financial math (but neither can you)

American teens don’t fare so well on the “Program for International Student Assessment,” an international survey of financial literacy conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years. The most recent version, released in July, tested more than 510,000 15-year-olds across 18 countries. Americans scored below average (492 points versus an OECD average of 500 points), finishing behind China (No. 1 with an average of 603 points), Belgium (541), Estonia (529), Australia (526 points) and New Zealand (520).

Why Johnny can’t understand derivatives

Can the U.S. improve financial literacy? We ask Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Experts blame the system—not the students. “Teenagers don’t know about financial literacy because adults have a low level of financial literacy too,” says AnnaMaria Lusardi, a professor of economics and accountancy at George Washington University School of Business. In a 2011 study conducted by Lusardi, only 30% of U.S. adults gave correct answers to three basic questions concerning numeracy, inflation and risk diversification (versus 53% in Germany and 45% in the Netherlands). Nonetheless, 62% of teens say their parents are good financial role models, according to a survey by tax preparers H&R Block.

Some states are making efforts to fill this knowledge gap, introducing more economics and personal finance classes. For the first time, all 50 states and D.C. now include economics in their K-12 standards, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Council of Economic Education. Still, only 22 states require students to take an economics course as a high school graduation prerequisite, and only six states require the testing of student knowledge in personal finance.

6. Your recession-era stress is contagious

Teens report having stress levels that surpass that of their parents during the school year, a recent survey by the American Psychological Association found. Teens reported stress levels of 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared with 5.1 for adults; those levels declined to 4.6 for teens during the summer, but that still ranked above the 3.9 score that’s considered normal. One-third of teens reported symptoms of fatigue related to their stress, more than one-quarter said they skipped meals, and some 30% said they felt overwhelmed or depressed.

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School is a drag; parental stress, even more so.

Nearly 40% of parents say their high school kids experience stress, according to a 2013 Harvard School of Public Health Survey conducted for National Public Radio. About one-quarter of high-school students’ parents said homework caused their child a lot of stress, the survey found.

But school is far from the only factor, experts say. Teens pick up coping mechanisms or a lack thereof from their parents, and they’re also more likely to experience parental divorce than children were 20 years ago, says Lynn Bufka, assistant executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association. The impact of stress over divorce and financial trouble gets passed onto children who may also feel less able to tell their parents or teachers that they’re feeling stressed out, she says. “Often times, they don’t want to add to their parents’ burden,” Bufka says. If a child has a problem turning in homework or lack of attention, she adds, parents should tell teachers what’s going on at home.

One potentially positive sign for college-bound teens: The SAT will undergo a revamp in 2016 in ways the experts say will make it somewhat less demanding.

7. Our hunger for gadgets will cost you billions

Remember when loose-leaf binders and a new backpack were all the school supplies you needed? Parents are set to spend $8.4 billion on back-to-school electronics this year, including computers, tablets and smartphones, up 7% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 per household on electronic items.

Stanislav Komogorov/Shutterstock

Phones are a major driver of this spending: About 27% of teens owned smartphones last year, up from 23% in 2011. Howard Schaffer, vice president of retailing website Offers.com, says these mobile devices are seen as critical by parents because they allow them to keep tabs on their kids via geolocation apps like “Trick or Tracker” or “Connect.”

Some parents say they’re trying to moderate the back-to-school tech spending this year. Only 37% of parents are buying tablets or computers, compared with 61% who will underwrite clothing and 55% who will buy shoes for their kids, according to a survey of 1,000 parents by Offers.com. And 36% say they’ll spend more than $200 per child on technology, down from 45% in 2013; Schaffer says that reflects the fact that computers and smartphones are lasting longer.

Also see: 5 apps for spying on your spouse.

8. We’ll double the price of your car insurance

Adding a teenage driver to a married couple’s car insurance can be a financial tsunami for the typical family. According to a report by insuranceQuotes.com, a division of personal finance site Bankrate.com, adding a male teenager hikes premiums by an average of 92%; while female teen drivers hike premiums by 67%. The good news for parents: The older their child becomes, the lower the premium. The premium hike falls from 96% for 16-year-olds to 58% for 19-year-olds.

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Texting and driving: Bad at any age, particularly troublesome among teens.

The most expensive state to insure a teenage driver is New Hampshire, where the average premium surged 111%. Hawaii is the only state that prohibits age, gender and length of driving experience from affecting car insurance costs, so teen drivers there cost only 17% more to insure on their parents policy.

That said, more families are dodging this bill these days. There are fewer teens on the road, says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at BankRateInsurance.com. Twenty years ago, 70% of 18-year-olds had their driver’s license, she says, but today only 54% do, due in part to the rising cost of car ownership, increased unemployment among teens, and the increased use of social media (rather than face-to-face time) for teenage socializing.

There are other ways to minimize the financial damage: For example, some cars are cheaper to insure than others. “Choose a model that has a low crash history,” says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which publishes insurance claim data. Larger, heavier family cars such as Toyota Corollas, Ford sedans or Subarus are safer for teens, and their insurance rates reflect that. Many insurance companies offer a “good student” discount for those with B averages or better, adds Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “A friend of mine told his teen driver that if he got a B average, he would split his insurance savings with him,” he says. “It was good motivation and a gain for both of them.”

9. We get bullied, even when we’re popular

Teenage movies from “Clueless” (1995) to “Mean Girls” (2004) show the hazards of being on the low end of the status scale at high school. But a recent study offers evidence that popular kids get bullied, too.

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Being popular doesn’t mean they’re safe.

For the paper “Causality of Social Combat: School Networks of Peer Victimization and Their Consequences” (links to pdf), researchers at the University of California and Pennsylvania State University studied 4,200 high-school students across 19 schools. They found that students’ chances of being bullied rise 25% if they move from a group with average popularity to the 95th percentile, beyond which victimization begins to drop. (Popularity was measured based on friendship nominations among students.) Those with higher social status also experienced stronger adverse psychological consequences when bullied—because they felt like they had more to lose. More popular kids may also escape the radar of concerned educators and parents who focus on isolated students. The study also found that females are victimized 30% more often than males and “social isolates” are bullied 23% more often than others.

There has been a major push to combat bullying in recent years, including suicide prevention campaigns such as the LGBT-focused “It gets better” social media effort, which featured videos from sports stars, celebrities and politicians, including President Obama. In 2012, the Department of Education released a free training tool kit aimed at reducing bullying in schools. But 17% of students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month during a school semester, and 1 in 10 drop out because of bullying, according to DoSomething.org, a nonprofit organization focused on young people and social change.

10. We don’t buy into the American Dream

Like member of other generations, most teens define the American Dream as involving homeownership, educational opportunities, a high standard of living and the likelihood of doing better than the previous generation. But teens are more likely to see that Dream as out of reach. According to a survey by Magid Associates, only 60% of teens and tweens believe in the American Dream compared with 71% of millennials, 64% of Generation Xers and 75% of boomers.

Although most teens are too young to remember 9/11, they’re not too young to recall how their parents struggled during the recession. “They’re influenced by their Gen X parents and older siblings,” Hartwell says. Many Xers were clobbered financially by the housing bubble, while millennials have more college debt than any previous generation of Americans. Older role models are “telling these kids that it’s not going to be better for you just because it should be.”

But that doesn’t necessarily make teens negative or pessimistic, it makes them pragmatic and realistic. “They still have the optimism of youth,” Hartwell says.

A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying   Leave a comment

As a follow up to my previous post about the girls who were arrested on charges of aggravated stalking, and their cyber-bullying of Rebecca Sedwick, I’d like to offer you a guide on Cyber-Bullying from Walt Mueller at the Center for Youth and Parent Understanding. www.cpyu.org.

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Posted October 16, 2013 by sotpyouth in Bullying

Sheriff weighs charges for parents in bullying death   Leave a comment

Florida sheriff says one suspect’s parents are in “total denial” of their daughter’s online activity.

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY    1:22 p.m. EDT October 16, 2013

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(Photo: Calvin Knight, The Ledger, via AP)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • One 12-year-old suspect shows
    “remorse and cooperation”
  • Boyfriend at the center of the feud says he was “shocked” by girl’s death
  • If convicted, the suspects are unlikely to serve much jail time, if any
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The sheriff who arrested two girls for allegedly bullying a 12-year-old into committing suicide says authorities are trying to decide whether they can also charge one of the suspect’s parents.

The pair — ages 12 and 14 — were arrested Monday and charged with third-degree felony aggravated stalking in connection with the death of Rebecca Sedwick, of Lakeland, Fla., who jumped from a cement factory tower Sept. 9.

Rebecca, who authorities say was bullied relentlessly for months, was “terrorized” by as many as 15 girls physically and online. One message to Rebecca said she should “drink bleach and die.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday that the bullying began after the 14-year-old suspect began dating a boy Rebecca had been seeing. She “began to harass and ultimately torment Rebecca,” Judd said, and prodded the 12-year-old to join in.

The younger suspect has shown “remorse and cooperation” over the incident and was released into her parents’ custody, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The older suspect, described by Judd as “very cold,” is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The sheriff said authorities are still investigating the girls, and also trying to decide whether the parents should be charged.

“I’m aggravated that the parents aren’t doing what parents should do,” Judd told reporters. “Responsible parents take disciplinary action.”

CYBERBULLYING: A wake-up call for parents about monitoring Web use

Judd told NBC’s Today on Wednesday that investigators so far have found no criminal charges that could be filed against the parents, “but if we can find contributing to the delinquency of a child, we would certainly bring that charge.”

He said the parents of the 14-year-old suspect are in “total denial.”

“They don’t think there is a problem here, and that is the problem,” he said. Judd added that the girl’s parents gave her back her Facebook access even after learning about her alleged bullying of Rebecca. “That’s terrible,” he said. “That’s why we moved fast to lock their daughter up.”

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Rebecca Sedwick, 12, of Lakeland, Fla., is shown in a family photo. She killed herself Sept. 9, 2013, after enduring months of bullying .(Photo: Family photo via WTSP-TV)

The sheriff said the tipping point leading to the arrests came when the older suspect allegedly posted on Facebook on Saturday: “Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a (expletive)]”

“We decided, look, we can’t leave her out there,” the sheriff told reporters. “Who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass? Who is the next person she verbally and mentally abuses and attacks?”

The suspect told deputies that her Facebook account was hacked and that she did not write that post, WTSP-TV reported.

A man who answered the phone at the older suspect’s Lakeland home told the Associated Press that he was her father and said that “none of it’s true.”

“My daughter’s a good girl, and I’m 100% sure that whatever they’re saying about my daughter is not true,” he said.

A man who answered the door at the home of the younger suspect identified himself as her father. He told WTSP that he had lost a daughter himself years ago and that his whole family is devastated over what happened to Rebecca.

“I feel horrible about the whole situation, but like I said, there’s two sides to every story,” he told the Tampa TV station.

“The day that this happened, we all felt super horrible. I’ve even brought my daughter numerous times to the grave where she jumped. She even went over there and prayed at night, but that’s all that can be done right now and I can’t really say too much more,” he said.

John Borgen, the boyfriend at the center of the feud between Rebecca and the two suspects, said he was “shocked” by her suicide.

“(It) made me mad because she should have just told somebody,” Borgen told WTSP. He said he knew as many as 15 girls from school were teaming up against his former girlfriend, but never expected what happened.

“They need to take life seriously,” Borgen said. “Why do you need to be bullying somebody?”

Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, told reporters that the day the arrests were announced was “really rough,” WTSP-TV reported.

“It is bittersweet for me,” she said. “There’s some relief. There’s some regret. There’s some sadness because of her birthday being this weekend.”

Norman, who has created an anti-bullying page on Facebook in her daughter’s name, said the suspects needed help.

“I can’t say that I want these girls to spend the rest of their time in jail or any time in jail, but they do need serious rehabilitation,” she told reporters.

Rebecca’s mother said both girls were former friends of her daughter and that the younger girl had even been in her home for a slumber party.

“I had to ask her to leave because of problems with other girls. She was doing bad things and gossiping; she made other girls cry,” she said. “I told her she had to leave. I always had a bad feeling about that girl.”

Sheriff Judd, noting the suspects have clean criminal records, said that the girls — if convicted — are not likely to serve much time in jail, if any.

Contributing: Associated Press

Posted October 16, 2013 by sotpyouth in Bullying

Snapchat app – Why Parents need to be very concerned   Leave a comment

Parents – Here is just another reason why you NEED to know what is on your child’s phone. The newest, hottest social media app is Snapchat. It’s an app that allows users to take a picture, add some text if they want, and send it off. When the recipient receives it, the picture deletes itself up to 10 seconds after it has been seen.

For those of you I know personally – Some of your children are using this app. I added this app to my phone and it tells you what contacts in your phone are using this app. Some of your children’s names popped up. I am no going to divulge who those young people are. That is something you need to investigate and talk with your children about. (By the way, the same holds true for Instagram – Your children are using this app too.) Facebook is full of requests from our young people to “Snapchat me”.

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What is this picture, taken from Snapchat’s website implying?

My first thought after hearing about this app was “Well, that’s stupid. Why would that appeal to anyone?” That thought lasted about as long as a person can view a Snapchat picture sent to them. My next thought was this app is just begging for people to send nude photos of themselves. I’m sure the Snapchat user’s thought process goes like this: “What could be more perfect? Take a naked picture of myself, send it to ___________ (fill in the blank of the person to be impressed by said picture), he/she will be impressed and like me. Life will be great because photo will automatically deleted and I will be considered cool because I’m giving him/her what he/she wants. This is awesome!”

Ad for Snapchat from a college website

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This thought process couldn’t be more wrong, and this is why we need to stay vigilant as parents in keeping up on what our kids are doing. We MUST keep reminding them that what they do online will be there forever no matter what they read or hear.

Snap chat arms immature minors (there are no age restrictions) with an easy way to send photos of themselves and others that could have long lasting consequences past the 1 to 10 second timer on the app.

Although an interview with Snap Chat’s CEO, explains that sexting is not the motivation of the app the FAQs say something completely different:

According to Snapchat’s 22-year-old co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, “it doesn’t actually make sense for sexting. Because you see the photo for, what, three seconds?”
Snapchat photos don’t last very long.

From Snapchat’s FAQs:

IS THERE ANY WAY TO VIEW AN IMAGE AFTER THE TIME HAS EXPIRED?
No, snaps disappear after the timer runs out. You can save snaps that you capture by pressing the save button on the preview screen.

WHAT IF I TAKE A SCREENSHOT?
Screenshots can be captured if you’re quick. The sender will be notified immediately.

Yes, anyone can take a screen shot if they are quick enough, and as we can see by watching our kids text, they can be very nimble with their fingers. Even though the sender is notified if a screen shot is taken, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. A digital photo can be taken of the phone when a Snapchat image is received. Then, the sender doesn’t even know that the image was captured.

Those pictures could be sent around faster than you can imagine, ruining a young persons reputation in a matter of minutes.

Snapchat’s main feature is definitely implying a false sense of security. Their privacy policy states that they “cannot guarantee that the message data will be deleted in every case” and “Messages, therefore are sent at the risk of the user”. So, theoretically, if a child were to send an inappropriate photo through Snapchat, the image could be floating around on their servers even after the photo has been deleted from the recipient’s phone. How do we know that we can trust Snapchat employees to respect their users’ privacy? The answer is: We can’t. And the consequences can be disturbing, with parasite porn sites stealing and spreading images and videos of young people, and tragic tales of victims like Amanda Todd, who was bullied so badly over images of her that were shared over the net that she commited suicide. (Taken from Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

As you can see from Appdata.com, as of today, Snapchat ranks 2nd in photo sharing apps.

top photo app stats

Snap chat is currently sharing more than 10 million images a day.

Parents, as you can imagine, Snapchat would allow a child or teen to send nude photos to their friends without fear of becoming the laughing stock of the school or ending up on a porn site, but we should expect more from our children. We should expect them to make good decisions for themselves, regardless of how easy technology makes it from them to do otherwise. My hope is that you will take this knowledge and use it to leverage your vigilance at home. Keep an eye out for this app on your child’s mobile device. If you see that they’ve downloaded it, chances are it’s time to sit down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of sexting.

(Sources: Yoursphere.com, Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

Posted December 4, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, General, Media, School, Technology

Instagram – Info for Parents – Part 1   4 comments

Ok. I’ll admit it. I’m getting fairly addicted to Instagram. I like because it’s fun to take pictures with my phone, add some cool effects and save them to use for my own albums or something in youth ministry. I quickly found out that that it’s a very popular social networking site owned by Facebook. I started being followed by people and in turn I follow people. You can see comments people make on your photos and you can make comments on other peoples photos. It’s starting to become the Facebook alternative for kids who don’t have (or can’t get) Facebook. It does have a 13 year old age limit, meaning you have to be at least 13 or older to sign up, but it’s easy to circumvent that. Instagram is something maybe parents don’t know a lot about and think it’s fairly harmless and let their kids sign up for it. It’s up to you as a parent to decide how harmless it is for your child, but know that “not so good” pictures and comments are not difficult to stumble upon…

That is why I am offering this 3 part series on Instagram. I have found some articles I would like to share with you to give you some information regarding this extremely popular social networking entity. What you do with it is up to you, but it’s no different than any other online access we give to our children – It should be closely monitored.

***By the way – This article speaks of Instagram in terms of Ipods and Iphones. Instagram is also on Android, and has most recently allowed user profiles to be viewed on the web – Pictures and comments. Click the image of my Instagram home screen to see what I’m talking about.***

How Instagram became the social network for tweens

Well-intentioned parents who’ve kept their tweens off Facebook are catching on to the workaround: kids are turning to Instagram, the photo-sharing app that may as well be a social network.

| September 8, 2012 4:00 AM PDT

I just learned that my 12-year-old daughter is an app scofflaw. So, in fact, are the hordes of her fellow tween-agers — kept off Facebook by their well-intended parents — who have turned to Instagram as a seemingly innocuous social-network workaround.

As it turns out, just like Facebook, you technically have to be 13 to have an Instagram account. And, just like Facebook, Instagram is more or less a social network, dark sides included. Kids post photos, their followers comment… and then those not invited to said birthday party or shopping excursion get hurt feelings.

Many of us adults discovered Instagram as a nifty photo-sharing app that’s lets you spruce up your photos with cool filters. But it has all the functionality of a social network, which Instagram founder Kevin Systrom says was by design.

“We are delighted that there is such a social component to using the app,” he said, “but we target and intend for our user base to be 13 or older and because of legal restrictions cannot have anyone under that age using the app.”

It’s not easy proving the popularity of Instagram among the tween set with hard data, mostly because, as Systrom acknowledged, the service doesn’t “currently disclose demographic data.” It’s unclear whether this might change now that Facebook has officially closed its purchase of Instagram.

Asked specifically if he’s heard about the growing numbers of tweens on Instagram and Systrom could only offer that the service has grown in just about every demographic, from “the elderly side” to the 13-plus group. “The proliferation of iPod Touches and iPads has also helped growth outside of people that own iPhones,” he said.

But even if Instagram did release demographic data, it likely wouldn’t reflect reality. Users like my daughter and her 100 young followers have managed to get around the strict Instagram terms requiring users to be 13 or older to use the service. If their iTunes accounts are set up correctly, tweens shouldn’t be allowed to download the app, Systrom said. My daughter’s account, for example, must still be tied to my account — she’s had an iPod Touch for years and still goes through me before buying apps. (So yes, I’m actually just as much the app scofflaw.)

Plus, upon signup, Instagram gives you a birthday picker that doesn’t let you chose an age younger than 13, Systrom explained. (My daughter claims no memory of this part of the Instagram sign-up process, so it’s unclear how she bypassed it.) Systrom kindly offered to close my daughter’s Instagram account, as the service does with any account it learns is in violation of terms. But would mean the end of my already shaky cool-mom status, and after all, she didn’t sign on to be the daughter of a journalist.

Hard data
My daughter’s experience aside, a few studies help us connect the dots in support of this meteoric rise in Instagram’s popularity among tweens. According to Nielsen, for example, Instagram is the top photography site among teens ages 12 to 17, with 1 million teens visiting the site during July. Nielsen doesn’t categorize Instagram as a social network. While Flickr was top photo site for the overall population in July, Instagram was the favorite among teens, Nielsen found.

Add to that an earlier Nielsen study on growing popularity of Facebook and social networks in general among teenagers, and yet another on how teens tripled their mobile data consumption between December 2010 and December 2011, and the picture becomes clear.

Also, a Pew report presented over the summer about teenage online behavior found that 45 percent of online 12-year-olds use social-network sites and that the number doubles to 82 percent for 13-year-old Internet users. The most popular activity for teens on social networks is posting photos and videos, the study found

Parents caught off-guard
We parents have been advised over and over again by educators that our tween-age kids are just too young for Facebook. Most are just not mature enough to gauge what’s appropriate for posting and to know how to respond to cyberbullying or contacts from strangers or spammers.

But with Instagram our guards were down. We never really imagined how it would be used. When my daughter asked permission to download the app, I was frankly excited that she was showing interest in photography. I love using the app and was unaware of the age restriction.

I had heard stories of kids on Instagram who had lost friends over not being included in activities posted to the site. But I only really caught onto Instagram’s ubiquity as a tweenage social network the day before school started this year, when my daughter’s middle school sent out class schedules to individual families using its password protected Web site. Within an hour of viewing the class schedule, my daughter had scribbled out a chart of who was in each of her classes. When I asked how she had figured it all out, she responded, “Everybody posted their schedules on Instagram.”

That started me looking through her account. In another Facebook-like status update, she posted a photo of a note she wrote on her iPod Touch that read, “So glad it’s a 3 day weekend!!!” That got 31 likes.

“My fifth-grade daughter and friends purchased the Instagram app with iTunes gift cards. Her friends thought it was an app to take and share pics and at first didn’t realize they could post comments,” posted a commenter named SAM. “I had no idea that it was a pseudo-Facebook app. (We are waiting until she is 13 to get a FB account.) I did not know that this app would have her following and being followed by hundreds of people she didn’t know…and posting comments…it was alarming.”

Another commenter, Laura, says she’ll be closing her 12-year-old daughter’s Instagram account, which has turned into a “nightmare.”

“She is not allowed to have a Facebook account until high school to avoid bullying issues, but due to my lack of knowledge (I thought Instagram was basically a glorified camera), I allowed her to have an account,” Laura wrote. “In the last week, she has been indirectly contacted by what appears to be a predatorial pedophile posing as a radio contest to which girls send their photos. And she also experienced the middle school drama that I was trying to avoid by the lack of a Facebook account.”

Tweens, of course, are merely following the leads of teenagers, and, for that matter, the general population. An Experian Hitwise survey just found that Instagram increased its market share in the U.S. by 17,319 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

But a friend of mine just offered up a theory on Instagram’s youth popularity based on the behavior of his 14-year-old daughter and her friends who are also crazy for Instagram. She’s been on Facebook since she was 12 and her parents have always warned her that with other parents (and grandparents) on the social network, she needed to keep her act very clean.

However, her grandparents haven’t yet caught wind of Instagram, so she and her friends can be a little freer with what they post and comment on there.

Of course, it may just be a matter of time before older folks join the party. As Instagram founder Systrom noted, the service’s numbers are growing on “the elderly side” as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Until tomorrow…Greggor

Posted November 27, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Media, Technology

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7th grader commits suicide   1 comment

Source: Walt Mueller’s Center for Parent/Youth Understanding www.cpyu.org and http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/18071943/father-hurtful-words-killed-my-daughter

My heart was breaking as I watched this video about Rachel Ehmke, who took her own life on Saturday, April 28th, 2012, a victim of bullying. – Follow this link to read her touching obituary as well – http://www.dibblefuneralhome.com/obituaries/rachel-d-ehmke-kasson/ – What do we need to do get bullying to stop?!?! – Greg

MANTORVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) –

A father in southern Minnesota says words — simple, hurtful words — killed his 13-year-old daughter, and now he’s speaking out against the bullying his child endured at school and through social media after she took her own life on Saturday.

“These words killed my daughter,” said Rick Ehmke. “I’ll go to my grave believing that.”

For months, Rachel Ehmke was bullied at Mantorville Middle School. Though experts say there’s seldom just one reason for teen suicide, but this victim’s parents were engaged with the school over a known problem.

In fact, the school first told her parents that the 7th grade student was being bullied last fall.

“They called her all these names. They vandalized her locker — smeared it full of gum, chewed gum,” said Rick Ehmke. “Put it in all her books.”

Though she was outgoing, athletic and had many good friends, she was also bullied by a pack of girls that called her a slut and a prostitute even though she had never kissed a boy.

“She shared with us that she was being called these kinds of names,” Rick Ehmke said.

After she reported the bullying, Rick Ehmke said his daughter kept telling them everything was fine — even when it wasn’t.

Ehmke’s parents thought the bullying had been resolved — until the principal called on Friday to say a whole new group of bullies were bothering her.

“That, apparently, set her off,” Rick Ehmke said. “Back into ‘get mom and dad into it.’ Based on last time, all it did is make people angrier.”

On Saturday night, Ehmke hung herself in her room. There was no suicide note, but her family found a note card where she had written “I’m fine = I wish you knew how I really felt,” along with a picture of a broken heart.

“I wish she could’ve,” Rick Ehmke said. “I don’t think we’d be sitting here if she could’ve.”

Word of her suicide spread quickly through the tiny town, and even faster on Twitter and Facebook as some of Rachel Ehmke’s friends made posts retaliating to the bullies. But Rick Ehmke said he doesn’t blame the school, the kids or even the Internet.

“They’re good kids that made some bad choices,” he said. “Truly, if they ever thought she’d do something like this, they’d never do it.”

Instead, he only wants to share his profound loss now that he won’t see his daughter swim again in the pond she loved. He will never pick out a dress for prom, or for a wedding.

“I’ll never understand, but I need to figure out how to go through life without my daughter,” he said.

If there is one thing that angers him, however, he said his stomach turned when he searched his daughter’s Internet browsing history and found she had visited a site offering tips on how to take your life — even a discussion group where someone gave her advice.

Posted May 7, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, School

HOW TO PREVENT RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE   Leave a comment

Did you know that 30 percent of women murdered in the US are killed by their boyfriends, husbands, or exes? Or that 20 to 25 percent of college women will experience attempted or complete rape in college? Date rape, intimate violence and relationship abuse are issues that many women face every day. We talked to New Jersey-based counselor Dari Dyrness-Olsen, author of Safe Dating for College Women, about what women can do to protect themselves while dating and in a relationship. Here are her top 10 tips for staying safe.

 

10 TIPS TO PREVENT RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE

Dari Dyrness-Olsen, MA, LPC, author of Safe Dating for College Women, is nationally known as “America’s Safe Dating Coach.” She is currently working with New Jersey legislators on passing the “Safe Dating Law” that will require all public middle and high schools to add Safe Dating Curriculum to their annual health curriculum. Dyrness-Olsen is also working with the national organization Love Is Not Abuse and other states to model what she is doing in New Jersey. Here are her 10 tips to stay safe while you’re dating.

1. Don’t buy into “love is blind”

If relationships started off abusive, then no one would ever date. Dating abuse slowly rears its ugly head over time, as the relationship progresses. Before you know it, you have fallen in love with the person who is treating you badly.

2. Know the red flags of dating abuse

Dating abuse is all about power and control over another person. Do you fight a lot? Is he mean to you? Does he put you down? Does he text you obsessively and need to know where you are, who you are with and what you are doing? Does he want you to spend all of your time with him?

3. Set the bar high

You deserve to be in a safe, healthy and loving relationship. The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. When you love yourself, you can love other people, and they can love you back in a healthy way.

4. Be aware of family dynamics

When kids grow up in abusive families, there is very good chance they will follow in their parents’ footsteps. The apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree, unless they have received professional help.

5. Never depend on a guy

The best lesson I ever learned from my parents was to never depend on anyone else to take care of me. With a divorce rate of more than 50 percent, statistics show you may well end up divorced and having to support yourself and your children. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted March 22, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, School

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