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Technology & Relationships

A lot of teenagers today are addicted to technology. It’s obvious. For those of you who have cell phones, odds are you find yourself spending a lot of your free time texting friends and checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and whatever other social media sites you have an account on.

Here are the statistics:

  • 75% of teens have a cell phone
  • 73% of teens are on a social media website like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace
  • 93% of teens spend time online
  • a typical teen sends anywhere between 50-100 texts everyday… sometimes even more

Sure, not all teens are addicted, and not all of you even have Facebook and a cell phone. But the numbers are high and they are continuing to get higher.

Texting and social media sites are great. They are quick, easy, and super convenient. Sometimes you might not have time to call your friend to see if they want to hang out later, or you aren’t sure if they’re busy at that moment and might not be able to answer the phone. It’s fun seeing pictures your friend posts of Facebook, especially the friends that moved away or you might not be able to see very often. Catching up with someone via texting can be convenient when you’re both busy and have different schedules. There’s nothing wrong with texting or social media… as long as you don’t become addicted to it.

A lot of teens today tend to rely on texting and Facebook too much instead of engaging in face-to-face conversations. Some people text friends all night long who they’ve never spoken to at school, or maybe the only thing they’ve said to each other in person is “hi” as they pass in the halls. Some people Facebook their boyfriend/girlfriend instead of going out on dates. Some people even text someone they’re sitting right next to instead of actually talking to them.

With that being said, teens are having a hard time developing social skills. Hiding behind the internet and texting is causing them to not develop communication skills they need for jobs, relationships, school, and life in general. When you need to confront somebody and have a tough conversation, it sure is easy to just text them about it, but that won’t do you any good when someday you have a disagreement with your spouse or somebody at work. Will you feel too awkward and uncomfortable talking to them about it in person?

“Texting and Facebook friendships” also usually lack depth, meaning you probably aren’t as close with that person as you think you are. You can text someone 100 times every single day, but if you can’t have a real conversation with them in person, you aren’t really friends. It’s better to have quality over quantity: more real friends that you hang out with and talk to in real life as opposed to having tons of friends text you everyday. If something happens to you and you’re upset, would you rather text someone about it, or have someone be with you who you can talk to and hug and cry with?

Another thing about texting and messaging is it’s really easy for things you say to be misconstrued. When someone’s reading a message, it’s sometimes hard to tell if their friend is teasing them or joking with them, or if they’re being serious. But in person, you can hear in the person’s voice and see in their actions whether they’re joking or not. A lot of fights can start because of messaging.

Just like drugs and alcohol, if you continue to text or go on Facebook constantly, it can become a serious addiction. Your brain can become used to using technology so much, and even want to use it more and more. So be careful to only text and go on Facebook in moderation.

Especially with Christmas is coming up, try setting your phone down for a few days (or even just a few hours) and spend some quality time with your friends and family instead of hiding behind your phone. Engage in real conversations, watch movies together, play games together, go for a walk, go to the mall, share meals together. There are plenty of ways to spend quality time with those around you!

Cyberbullying: Get Help!

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Now that virtually every teenager in America has a cell phone and access to the internet, “cyberbullying” is a new category of bullying that is affecting thousands of teens every single day.

Cyberbullying refers to any bullying that occurs using electronic technology, whether it be cell phones, computers, or tablets, and using things like social media sites, texting, chatting, and other websites to post or message hurtful things about somebody else. This can include saying mean things about the person, spreading rumors, embarrassing pictures or videos, or fake profiles that are used to target somebody. Whether these things are posted for the public to see or only sent to certain people, it is all considered cyberbullying.

Many people consider cyberbullying to be the worst kind of bullying, because:

  • it can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach kids wherever they are
  • messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience
  • it can be difficult/impossible to trace the source
  • deleting those messages, texts, and pictures/videos can be difficult after they’ve been posted/sent

Kids who have been cyberbullied can be effected in several ways. They could:

  • begin using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain
  • skip school to avoid bullying
  • experience in-person bullying because of the cyberbullying
  • be unwilling to attend school in fear of being bullied
  • receive poor grades due to lack of motivation
  • have lower self-esteem
  • have more health problems due to stress

If you, your child, or your friend seem to be a victim of cyberbullying, there are several things you should do. First, do NOT respond to the messages or posts, or forward them to anybody else. Responding will only create more problems. Just ignore them.

Make sure you keep the evidence: record the date and times of when the bullying occurred. Save and print emails and texts, and take screen shots of anything posted on a social media site or other website. You can use these to report cyberbullying to your web and cell phone providers, and also to the website. Make sure you block the person from being able to contact you on a social media site, and by phone.

It may also be necessary to report the bullying to law enforcement. This is appropriate when you feel there are threats of violence, sexually explicit messages/photos, stalking and hate crimes, and if the bully is taking photos/videos of someone in a place where they would expect privacy.

It is ALWAYS necessary to report cyberbullying to the school the victim attends. By law, schools are required to take some kind of action in cases of cyberbullying. Since cyberbullying can often be related to in-person bullying, the school can respond and prevent that from happening.

If you believe you are being cyberbullied, you are not alone. Studies show that about HALF of teenagers get cyberbullied at some point, and about 15% of them experience it regularly. If this is happening to you or a friend, report it and get help. Nobody should ever have to put up with any kind of bullying.

Hyper Texting YBS :(

Early this month Science Daily published a report on Hyper Texting. For those of you that are teens you probably already know what this is. For those that are not, hyper texting is texting  more than 120 times per day. I am not even sure I would be able to think of 120 things to say to people in a day.

While texting itself is not a health risk, studies are showing that hyper texting can lead to health risks. Here are the statistics found in the report mentioned above:

Hyper Texting Teens are…

  • 40 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes
  •  two times more likely to have tried alcohol
  •  43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers
  • 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs
  •  55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight
  • nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex and 
  •  90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners

PLZ think about how often you text and if it is worth the potential health risks. TTYL