Social Media and Its Impact on Our Youth

17th April 2013 Celine Wong, MD Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Chief Fellow

Introduction
• Youth are surrounded by digital media such as computers, video games, Internet and other handheld devices • In 2012, 95% of US children ages 12-17 are using the Internet (Pew Report, 2012) • Youth use the Internet for information, communication and recreational purposes

Outline
• Quick Introduction to the Digital World • Interplay of the Adolescent Developmental Tasks with the Social Media • Darker Sides of the Internet • Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds

Outline
• Quick Introduction to the Digital World • Interplay of the Adolescent Developmental Tasks with the Social Media • Darker Sides of the Internet • Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds

Social Networking Sites (SNS)

Text Messaging
• Many teenagers in US (54% females and 40% of males ages 14-19 ) claimed that their social life “would end or be worsened’ without texting (Harris Interactive, 2008)

Blogs & MicroBlogs

Instant Messaging (IM)

Chat Rooms

Online Gaming

Outline
• Quick Introduction to the Digital World • Interplay of the Adolescent Developmental Tasks with the Social Media • Darker Sides of the Internet • Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds

Developmental Tasks of Adolescents
Three main adolescent developmental challenges that are most relevant with regards to social media use

1. Identity 2. Sexuality 3. Formation of Relationships

Identity
• Adolescents need to construct a coherent and stable identity • Online contexts and virtual identities allow youth to experiment with their identity earlier that they would “dare” to in reality • Online identities could very well become a forerunner for changes to come in their offline identities

Adolescent’s Online Identity Construction
• Research has found contradictory support for the myth that the Internet user frequently pretends to be someone else • Feigning a different identity was rare among US adolescents (Gross, 2004) • Youth frequently connect the real and virtual worlds, testing and clarifying their off-line values in the online world (Smahel, 2003; Suler, 2008)

Developmental Tasks of Adolescents
Three main adolescent developmental challenges that are most relevant with regards to social media use

1. Identity 2. Sexuality 3. Formation of Relationships

Adolescent Sexuality
• Sexuality is a very important developmental issue • Adolescents have to adjust to their developing sexuality, in particular their increased interest in sex as well as increased sex drive (Chilman, 1990; Macek, 2003; Weinstein &
Rosen, 1991)

• Sexual exploration, finding a romantic partner and engaging in a romantic relationship takes on importance in their lives

Adolescent Sexuality Online
• Adolescents engage in online sexual exploration:
1. Construct and present their emerging sexual self 2. Access pornography 3. Engage in cybersex

Constructing and Presenting Sexual Selves Online
• Youth use sexualized nicknames in chat rooms (eg. RomancBab4U, Snowbunny2740, innocent_angel, Vikingdude123) Sexualized nicknames could serve as the face and body of an adolescent who wishes to convey a sexualized presence online

Constructing and Presenting Sexual Selves Online

• 20% of teens (22% of girls & 18% of boys) reported that they had “electronically posted semi-nude/nude pics/videos of themselves” (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy, 2008)

Accessing Pornography
• On survey research, btw 23% and 71% of adolescents report being exposed to sexually explicit materials (Flood & Hamilton, 2003; Lo & Wei, 2005; Mitchell at
al.,2003, 2005; Peter & Valkenburg, 2006a, 2006b)

• Intentional exposure to pornography has been associated with delinquent behaviors and substance use in the previous year (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2005) • Online sexual material seekers more often report clinical features of depression and less emotional bonding with their parents and immediate family members (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2005)

Engaging in Cybersex
• Definition: Sexual chatting online btw 2 or more individuals that may/may not include role playing and masturbatory activities • In a survey in Czech Republic, 16% of males and 15% of females (12-20yr olds) reported that they have engaged in “virtual sex” activities (Smahel, 2006) • Research suggests that adolescents might engage in cybersex as a way of learning about sex (Divinova, 2005)

Developmental Tasks of Adolescents
Three main adolescent developmental challenges that are most relevant with regards to social media use

1. Identity 2. Sexuality 3. Formation of Relationships (Friendships, Romantic Relationships and Family Ties)

Forming Relationships Friendships
• Adolescents face the developmental task of establishing intimate relationships with peers (Brown,
2004; Furman et al.,1999)

• Adolescents' relationships with their peers reflect their need to learn to communicate and seek a position within a group (Brown, 2004) • Adolescents report that friends are their most important source of support, even more than their parents/ family members (Brown, 2004)

Forming Relationships Friendships
• Majority of teens (91%) reported that they used sites to keep in touch with friends they see frequently while 82% reported they used sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person (WIP, 2007) • Teens report that the Internet facilitates their communication with peers (Reich, Subrahmanyam & Madden,
2007)

• 44% US teens felt SNS made no difference to their relationships with friends, 43% felt it made them closer and 5% reported it created problems (Reich et al.,
2009)

Forming Relationships Romantic Relationships (WIP 2008)
• About 43% of adolescents reported that they sometimes visited a dating site and 23% had a profile on the site and had contacted another person to date • Older adolescents age 16-18 yr reported visiting dating site more often (52%) compared to younger adolescents age 12-15yr (35%) • No gender differences in dating site use

Forming Relationships Families (Mesch, 2006a)
• • • • Family relationships remain an important context Internet use can be a source of parent-teen conflict Conflicts were reported by 40% of parents Extent of conflict was greater if the adolescent was perceived as the family’s Internet expert • This reverses traditional family roles • Source of power imbalance leads to family conflict

Forming Relationships Families (Mesch, 2006b)
• Adolescents who used the Internet for social purposes reported a higher level of family conflict • Internet use for learning or school related purposes not associated with conflict and reduced family cohesion • More frequent teen Internet use was also associated with lower family cohesion, even when personality characteristics were controlled

Outline
• Quick Introduction to the Digital World • Interplay of the Adolescent Developmental Tasks with the Social Media • Darker Sides of the Internet • Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds

Darker Sides of the Internet
• • • • • Violence Internet Addiction “Facebook Depression” Cyber-bullying (Dr Shukla) Victimization (Dr Shukla)

Darker Sides of the Internet
• • • • • Violence Internet Addiction “Facebook Depression” Cyber-bullying (Dr Shukla) Victimization (Dr Shukla)

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Violent content can be found on web sites which advocates violence and aggression • High levels of exposure to violent media content (TV programs) in childhood can promote aggression in later childhood, adolescence and even young adulthood (Anderson et al., 2003) • Information on how to propagate violence can be found easily on the Internet. For eg., Columbine incident
in Littleton in Colorado in 1999

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Hate sites can contain violent and aggressive messages against individuals and groups. For eg, “When you are
feeling down.. Bash a Christian or Catholic to lift up”

• At a global level, terrorist groups use the Internet to reach young people • Some organizations have sites with content ostensibly for youth, but also promote messages of suicide terrorism (Weimann, 2008) • More insidiously, they offer free online games that promote radical, extremist messages and violent content

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Research suggests that even college students sometimes do not recognize the true messages of extremist sites (Leets, 2001) • Purveyors of hate use techniques that capitalize on young people’ still developing cognitive skills and limited abilities to evaluate the credibility of online information

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Violence is also present in online games • In massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), violence exist as
1. “Player killing”: violence against players by other players 2. Milder forms: verbal abuse initiated by players against other players 3. Grief play: players cause inconvenience /hurt other players via stealing another’s avatar/character or victimize poorer characters (WoW)

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Playing violent video games were associated with aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect and physiological arousal and decreases “helping behavior” (Anderson et al.,2003) • Individuals who played violent games online showed greater tolerance of violence, lower empathetic attitudes, more aggressive behaviors (Wei, 2007)

Darker Sides of the Internet Violence
• Other studies found no effect of playing online violent fantasy games on aggressive cognitions and behaviors (Williams & Skoric, 2005) • Some players reported that playing MMORPGs enables them to have a sense of belonging to a group and helped them to cooperate with others
(Slater 2003)

• Inconsistent findings reflect the multi-faceted effects of MMORPGS

Darker Sides of the Internet
• • • • • Violence Internet Addiction “Facebook Depression” Cyber-bullying (Dr Shukla) Victimization (Dr Shukla)

Darker Sides of the Internet Internet Addiction
• Characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviors regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress • Researchers have linked it to
1. Addictive Disorders 2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorders 3. Impulse Control Disorders

Darker Sides of the Internet Internet Addiction
• Heterogeneous group of “addiction” problems, including
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Cybersex “addiction” Online game “addiction” Cyber-relational “addiction” Net compulsions (shopping, gambling, stock trading etc) Information overload (searching, collecting and organizing info)

Darker Sides of the Internet Internet Addiction
• “Internet Addicts” found in 2 clinical studies to frequently meet criteria for Axis-I and –II Disorders: mood, anxiety, substance use and impulse control disorders (Black et al, 1999 and Shapira et al, 2000) • More research needs to be done regarding this phenomenon • DSM-V will include Internet use disorder as a condition recommended for further study

Darker Sides of the Internet
• • • • • Violence Internet Addiction “Facebook Depression” Cyber-bullying (Dr Shukla) Victimization (Dr Shukla)

Darker Sides of the Internet Facebook Depression
• In 2011, American Academy of Pediatrics described “Facebook Depression” in a report in Pediatrics • Depression which can be triggered when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook (O’Keefe et al,
2011)

Darker Sides of the Internet Facebook Depression
• Recent study of 190 older adolescents (18-23) did not find any association between use of SNS and depression (Moreno et al, 2013) • Study concluded that “counseling patients or parents” regarding the risk of “Facebook depression” may be pre-mature • However, replication of the study across various diverse demographic groups warranted

Outline
• Quick Introduction to the Digital World • Interplay of the Adolescent Developmental Tasks with the Social Media • Darker Sides of the Internet • Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds

Promoting Positive and Safe Digital Worlds
• • • • Role of Government and Industry Role of Parents Role of Schools Role of Clinicians who work with youth

Role of Government and Industry
• In the US, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) protects young children’s privacy • Commercial web site operators are required to obtain parent consent prior to “collecting, using or disclosing personal information from children under 13” • Child exploitation statues have criminalized online sexual coercion, exploitation, and abuse (Dombroskiet al., 2004) • Laws that mandate web site providers, Internet Service providers and similar parties to report evidence of child pornography and sexual exploitation to the “ Cyber Tip Line” at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Role of parents
• Most youth first start using the Internet at home, where much of their online activity takes place • Parents need to – Safeguard youth from inappropriate content – Safeguard youth from Online Victimization

Safeguarding from Inappropriate Content
• Evaluative mediation: parent and child co-view and hold discussions to evaluate and interpret media content • Technological mediation: use of software to track application usage and browser history, filtering software, installation of a firewall etc. • Restrictive mediation: rules employed such as
1. Placing computer in a public space 2. Time spent online 3. Content restrictions

Safeguarding from Online Victimization
• Parents must maintain open lines of communication with their teens. Specific strategies include:
1. Talking to their child about the dangers of making friends with people they have never met offline 2. Discuss common precautions when meeting online friends such as taking a friend along, meeting in a public space 3. Discuss the problem of cyber bullying and encourage child to talk to them/a trusted adult

Safeguarding from Online Victimization
• Parents must maintain open lines of communication with their teens. Specific strategies include:
4. Learn about ways to safeguard privacy online and educate and encourage teens to use them 5. Approving screen names 6. Help teens recognize the behavior of a predator and teach them about strategies they can adopt (eg, ending the interaction immediately, blocking the person, reporting to “CyberTipline”)

Role of Schools
• US Congress has enacted The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) • This law mandates that school prevent minors from gaining access to sexually explicit, obscene and harmful material • Generally, schools use filtering and blocking software to comply with these laws • Sites that provide access to SNS, games, shopping and gambling are blocked via the use of electronic filters

Role of Clinicians who work with Youth
• Understand the digital world which the youth today have to navigate • Educate youth and families about the complexities of the social media • Educate parents about challenging social and mental health issues that online youth experience • Advise parents to talk to their youth about online use and the specific issues associated with their use • Advise parents to work on becoming better educated about the many technologies their youth are using

Summary
• Youth today is surrounded by social media • Presents as a mass of contradictions for users • Opportunities for interactions and access to vast amounts of info and resources • Inappropriate content can also be readily accessed • Potential for victimization of youth • Need to focus on protecting and empowering youth to use social media positively and safely

Acknowledgment: Dr Aykut Ozden

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful