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Posts Tagged ‘teens and social media

Please click here to read my masters thesis entitled, Sharing the Social Media Scene. I look forward to feedback!Sharing the Social Media Scene

The use of cell phones and social media are widespread in a group of people who least prepared for the power they hold, teens.  teenagers use social media and cell phones in many ways, often they do not realize the consequences that can come from their actions using these technologies. Teens, usually include people ages 12 -17, these young people are still developing social skills and in 2010 technology is having a great impact on how this happens.  Their constant connection to one another provided through the internet and mobile phones is changing how they communicate. The factors are also forcing adults to look into what is happening in chat rooms and through text message conversations.

The most notable mention of teens and how they have been impacted by social media and mobile devices is sexting. Sexting, according to a Pew Research center article is, “the creating, sharing and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images by minor teens.” (1)

This phenomenon has hit headlines in many states as this provocative material makes the rounds to friends, and even in some cases families.  The exchange and sharing of this kind of material is detrimental to emotional development in teens. It is well-known that bullying can happen around body issues in teens, and the sending of a nude or nearly nude photo is open to all kinds of criticism in this age group.  It is also often the case the photo or message was sent to someone the user trusted, and this can cause teens to develop issues with trust. The sending of sexts is not a good idea for teens, and it is vital that these kinds of things are worked into school curriculum and talked about by parents.

According to the Pew Research study 75% of teens ages 12 -17 have cell phones and 66% use text messaging. Of this group 4% report having sent a sext, while 15% reported having received sexts. (1) These messages are not going unnoticed, as many legal cases have come about around them. The weight that comes with prosecution around sharing of this explicit material is heavy. While it varies state to state, it never goes without punishment.

“Teens are being charged with everything from “disorderly conduct” and “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material” to felony “sexual abuse of children…, criminal [use] of a communications facility, or open lewdness.Legislatures in a handful of states are stepping in to consider making laws that downgrade the charges for creating or trading sexually suggestive images of minors by text from felonies to misdemeanors. In 2009, the Vermont and Utah state legislatures downgraded the penalties for minors and first-time perpetrators of “sexting.” Ohio has legislation pending to criminalize, at a milder level, sexting between minors.” (1)

Social media, texting and mobile phone use is likely going to continue to increase, and teens will continue to use these technology during a developmentally vital time. The above laws will continue to evolve as the ways in which teens are using and abusing these technologies done, however, it is vital that stay in the forefront of adults.  It is extremely important that parents and educators are up to speed on these technologies, not only how to use them, but how teens are choosing to use them.  Web 2.0 and smart phones are amazing technologies that hold a great deal of attributes teens can benefit from, but they will never do so without being taught. Both negative and positive uses of these technologies need to be made clear, let’s teach this generation how to best use the technology they are lucky to have.

1) Lenhart, A. (2009, December 9). Pew Internet & American Life Project. Teens & Sexting – Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from pewresearch.org/pubs/1440/teens-sexting-text-messages


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