I have to admit that, as someone who has counseled teenagers for 22 years, not much of an article I recently read about teens and media surprised me. I would—and many of you—would guess things like:
· About half of middle and high school students say they’ve abused social media, by pressuring others to send inappropriate pictures, bullying classmates, spreading rumors, etc.
· 78% of teens texted at least once a day and 56% texted 10 or more times per day
· 16.3% have shared private or embarrassing pictures with the intent to hurt someone else
But what did surprise me were the stats on us, as adults. According to this study from Wayne State University said that only 37% of parents were watching their teenage children’s online behavior.
We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to protect them better.
I see kids every day who have unknowingly stumbled onto pictures that are now lodged in their minds forever. The majority of teenage girls I talk to have been asked by someone else to send some type of nude photo. They’ve posted pictures of their “cuts” or self-harming behavior on instagram. They’ve been bullied by sub-tweets on twitter. They’ve been hurt or hurt others at the hands of social media or technology. And we likely could have prevented it, if we were watching. Or, even if we couldn’t have stopped the hurt on the front end, we could have helped the healing on the back end. Their brains are NOT finished developing. They are impulsive creatures who are trying desperately to impress each other. They don’t know who they are and all too easily allow others to craft that definition. As I heard a friend say this week, “The right person saying something at the wrong time goes deep into our souls.”
They need us to watch. To protect. To talk. To guide. To connect in ways that help bolster their confidence in who the love of God and us, rather than the superficial likes of a few “friends.”
Read more of the study at http://patch.com/michigan/novi/half-teens-admit-cyber-bullying-other-abusive-social-media-behavior-0
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