Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Social Media (page 1 of 3)

You’re wearing WHAT to prom? Not happening

One of my friend’s called me today, asking me to mediate an argument. She is fighting with her daughter over her prom dress. Her daughter wants to wear a red, super-sexy dress that costs $800. My friend is having a fit. She says the dress is too expensive and too sexy. Her daughter wants to spend her own money that she made working last summer to buy the dress and says her mother doesn’t realize that girls wear these kind of dresses today.

As a mediator, I stink.  I don’t want anyone to be mad at me. But I figured some of you might be dealing with the same problem.  Prom dresses have gotten SUPER expensive and SUPER slutty. Okay, not all of them. But many of them.

However, if you’re a frustrated parent, there is hope.  I went on Amazon and found a brand called  Ever Pretty.  All dresses are under $100 and there are some nice ones that are a little sexy, but not too sexy. BCBG is a popular brand, too and has some reasonable priced, glamorous prom dresses.

Here’s are a few decent ones I showed my friend:



I explained to my friend and her daughter that the dress is just the first part of the prom prep. There are the shoes, too. You haven’t seen slutty until you see the skyscraper heels some girls wear.  Some of those stripper shoes are close to $300.  Again, if this is an issue in your home, I got you covered. I found a brand called Fergalicious (designed by pop star Fergie) The heels are glam enough for prom but  not too pricey or too reminiscent of a hooker who just crashed prom.

Now, there’s one more thing that completes the prom outfit — the bling. I’m talking about the jewelry, purse, hair accessories…all that small stuff that adds up to big money. Believe me moms, you will want to see this stuff before your daughter heads out the door wearing it and WAY before she gets to the cash register.

Once again, I’ve got you covered.

There are the  bejeweled hair pins, the sparkly headband, the strapless bra, and fun clutch purse.

Here’s another great tip. For the guys, you  often can buy a tux online for cheaper than renting one. Check out this Kenneth Cole one for $99.

Of course, most savvy high school seniors have found a way to ensure their dress pick is the one-and-only at their prom by using social media.  You need to check your school’s sites  before you buy the dress to avoid duplication and prom disaster!!! Yes, prom in the digital age is so different then when we were in high school — not yet sure if that’s a good thing???

It seems I have mediated a peace deal between my friend and her daughter. With a little online searching, we found an Ever Pretty dress that is similar to the red one she wanted from a local boutique but not as revealing or expensive. However, our prom girl gets to wear the stylish heels she wanted. Mom and daughter are both happy.  For now, I’m declaring victory!!!

Social Media: Deathtrap for teens?

I recently reviewed a book  called The Boss of Me…is Me and was impressed, horrified, scared out of my wits and grateful  to the authors all at the same time.  The authors  have written an eye-opening book about  how social media can  lure teens into some scary and awful life-altering situations. They  give some  edgy scenarios as real-life examples.  One of the most shocking was about a young teen who had befriended an 18-year-old on Facebook, slipped unnoticed from her home to meet him, and walked into her death trap. As I was reading the book, all I kept thinking was how I could so see this happening.

The  book is filled with tips and intended to  empower teens with the life skills they need to be the boss of their own thoughts, attitudes and actions.    The authors address a variety of relevant issues including suicide, shoplifting, child molestation and runaways.   The book is designed to equip teens to think and act quickly to avoid going down a path that ends in death, prison and suicide. It  basically helps prevent teens from becoming  a victim and  a statistic. As a mom of two teens, these scenarios scare the heck out of me and infuriate me at the same time! I am still shaking my head that these threats to our teens are  really happening in our society, but I shouldn’t be.

I like that this guidebook helps teach teens that there is always a way out of these awful situations they get themselves into, often because of their social media activities. The guidebook is in a notebook form so teens can write in it and basically have a lifetime of references when completed! The notebook does not come in a digital format because the authors wanted to ensure parental supervision however, the guidebook is in digital format. The guidebook empowers parents to facilitate and engage in conversations with their teen and that’s what is most important!  Without the parents being a facilitator, your teen wouldn’t learn or grasp the true meaning and value of the message(s) the authors are trying to convey.

Parents, because you haven’t physically seen or been exposed to this DOES NOT MEAN it’s not happening or could not happen to you and your kids. Your child could be a victim!  No one is immune. Educate, be aware and talk to you kids. Better yet,  BUY them this book so they can learn first hand about the crimes that are happening to teens.

As a parent, I encourage you to  have them read it! Get the electronic version since you know teens prefer technology to actual books. I hope this books builds awareness but most importantly, saves lives.

Here is a link if you wish to purchase The Boss of Me…is ME ! It is also available at www.cablepublishing.com, Amazon, and all major bookstores. (25% of all proceeds will be donated to The Youth Connection in Detroit, MI.)

By the way, the authors’ backgrounds are impressive:  June Werdlow Rogers  is a retired federal agent with a PhD in criminology,  Rayfield Rogers Jr  is a retired district chief of security for a school district in Michigan,  Grenae´ Dudley PhD is CEO of a youth center.

Parents if you have encountered scary scenarios with your teen as a result of social media, or know someone who can relate, please share your stories.

A Teen’s Perspective: What Your Teen Is Doing On Social Media

Today, fellow parents, we are extremely fortunate. A teen is going to give us some insight into how  we can keep up with our teens on social media. She has lots of great suggestions for  how to help  your kids with problems they  may encounter online.

Let me introduce you to Lauren Ofman. If you have questions or comments for Lauren, please weigh in below!

Lauren Ofman is a high school student in California who loves spending time with her family, learning sign language, and helping teens and parents communicate! She blogs about her perspective and answers requests for advice at, http://ateensperspectiveblog.weebly.com/.

I’m a junior in high school, so I can tell you one thing for sure – your teen’s phone and computer are essential to his or her life. For school, social life, and sometimes even breathing, I need my phone and my computer.

It’s not surprising that it’s difficult for most parents to understand the role technology plays in almost everything their kids do. For most teenagers that I know, interactions with online content and social media are complex, inescapable, and require constant management in order to protect or maintain an image- even if your goal is to not have an image.

I’m a big fan of the 90s and even the 80s a little. My understanding of high school for the generations before mine is derived mostly from movies and stories I hear from my parents. In my admittedly limited view, it seems to me that not much has changed. The struggles of a teenager in high school today are still basically the same as they were decades ago. We’re all still very concerned about our image and the way we’re perceived by others.

The big difference is that, in today’s world, many of us, whether we admit it or not, are managing two separate personas. Yes, you read that right; we’re leading double lives. There’s our IRL (“in real life”) persona, which everyone has and does their best to maintain, but, for most teenagers today, there also exists a funnier, sexier, wittier, and even more daring alter ego. And it’s this second persona that’s in charge of making sure that, no matter what, the Instagram and Snapchat content coming out of the camp is sensational, sexy, and stage ready.

The priorities of the alter ego and the IRL persona are sometimes different and the two are rarely on the same page. This is usually okay, since for the most part the IRL persona makes rational decisions and is ultimately the one in charge. Trouble arises when the alter ego takes over and clouds the judgment. When this happens the Instagram and Snapchat posts get racier or otherwise worse in judgement while at the same time the social circle expands beyond friends to include more random, anonymous internet alter egos with bad intentions. It’s at this point that your teenager is most likely to encounter issues like cyberbullying and blackmail.

Here’s what to watch for:

New Followers: As a parent you should have the Instagram and Snapchat apps on your phone and learn to use them. You should also do your best to know your teen’s Instagram and Snapchat handles. For Instagram and Snapchat, even if the account is private, you can see the number of followers your teen has. A few of my friends with dominant alter egos have multiple Instagram and Snapchat accounts, so this may take some digging. Once you find the account(s), keep an eye on the number of people following that page. If you notice more than 5,000 followers and the account is private, this could be a sign that the alter ego is in command. Also, if you notice a large and sudden uptick in followers, this would be a point of concern.  I suggest that even though you’re keeping an eye out, you focus on protecting against real danger, not policing every move your teen makes and trying to be too controlling. A post that makes you roll your eyes, has typos, sounds dumb to you, or uses slightly off-color language? Let them be.

 

Cyberbullying: According to Antibullyingpro.com, 7 in 10 people aged between 13 and 22 have been a victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become one of the most frequent types of bullying in society today. It’s happened at my school. It’s even occurred within my social circle.

For many alter egos, the feeling that they can say what they want anonymously or without the pressure of speaking face-to-face is too strong to resist; however, cyberbullying is a very serious offense. It comes in many forms: texting, sending incriminating pictures, or even sharing confidential information can all be examples of cyberbullying.

The best way for your teen to avoid cyberbullying is to limit your teen’s followers and social media friends to those they actually know in real life. In my experience, cyberbullying usually doesn’t come from someone you’re going to see at school or camp the next day. It’s almost always some random troll from the internet. I only accept friend requests or approve followers from people I know.

You might let your teen know that cyberbullying is a crime and that if it happens to them, you are happy to help. They will roll their eyes, but if things get bad, they might remember they can come to you.

Blackmail: Limiting social media interactions to people your teen knows  also helps limit opportunities for blackmail. All of the blackmail I’ve heard about, however, has taken place when a relationship ends badly. Relationships in high school are by nature shaky and uncertain and always have the potential to end badly, so that means lots of us are at risk of being blackmailed.

Whenever I send a photo or video, I assume it’s going to go public, and if I’m not comfortable with my grandmother seeing it, I simply don’t send it. My recommendation to you is simple; tell your kids to assume that everything they send out will be seen by everyone they know, including their grandmother.

But also make sure your teen knows that if someone is blackmailing them with a text or photo, there are legal actions he or she can take, and you’re able to help them if they get in a tough situation. The idea that an indecent picture of you may be on everyone’s phone within the hour can be terrifying for a teen (or anyone).  So, it’s good that they know ahead of time to come to you immediately for help if the situation arises, and that you’ll help them without being angry.

They should also know, if they’re under 18, that sending risque photos of themselves, even to a friend or boyfriend, could land them in legal trouble. It’s pretty common for teens to send photos to their boyfriends and girlfriends, and although you may not want to think about it, you should be sure your teen understands that it could end in not only embarrassment, but legal trouble.

Most people I know who’ve been embarrassed by a photo getting shared trusted the person they sent it to, and thought “He would never do that!” Your teen will probably think the same. So instead of focusing on what that significant other might do if they break up, point out that accounts get hacked all the time, phones get lost, laptops get stolen, and all sorts of unpredictable things happen. Those scenarios may be easier for your teen to think about happening to them.

TALK TO YOUR TEEN! These are just some suggestions, but overall the important thing is to start a dialogue with your teens and share information without attacking or accusing them. You should also always be on the lookout for signs that the alter ego has taken over.

Teens don’t want their parents on social media

Is your teen on Houseparty?

 

Driving some teens to the beach last week, I listened in on a conversation going on in the back seat about a new social media platform called Houseparty.  My son, Garret, and his friends were talking about some girls whose “houseparty” they had joined. One kid was saying that he sneaked into the houseparty without everyone realizing it.  I was intrigued. Here’s the description of  Houseparty, a group video chat app: Welcome to the House, where the Party is always on. When you and your friends are in the app at the same time, you’ll see each other instantly.

Last night, I told my friend with two teen daughters about Houseparty. I told her it was likely her daughters were on it at that very moment. She immediately downloaded the app and discovered that sure enough they were on it and taking part in a houseparty on their cellphones. In a houseparty, you can see other people on your screen who are at the party, you may  or may not know everyone because a friend of a friend could be on. My son and his friends say it’s a great way to meet people.  Anyway, when my friend’s daughters discovered their mom had joined Houseparty, they weren’t happy. Not at all. One of them started begging for her mom to delete it immediately.

The whole situation got me thinking about teens and social media. I remember doing things as a teen that I didn’t want my mom to know about or participate in.   Maybe we should give our teens leeway to do the same. Or should we?

Facebook, started by college kids, was cool until parents joined. So teens migrated to Instagram. As soon as we got on Instagram, they moved to Snapchat. When I joined Snapchat, my teens weren’t happy about it. Very few of their friends accepted my friend request. (Maybe it’s creepy for a parent to friend their teen’s friend?) My two  teens told me even if their friends accepted my request, I shouldn’t look at their Snapchat stories. (I still peek) But when my two older teens traveled this winter break, it was their postings on Snapchat that allowed me to keep up with them and know they were safe.

Recently, I noticed that my son, Garret, and his friends are on Instagram Live. It’s a new feature.  It worries me that going live and letting people comment on what you are doing and saying might make it easier to bully kids, intentionally or unintentionally. Unfortunately, so much of our teens’ self esteem revolves around what happens on social media — their likes, comments, acceptance into groups. It just feels like parents should be aware of what our kids are doing so we can have conversations that guide their online behavior.

As a parent of a teen, I want to keep up  and make sure my kids  don’t get into any trouble online. But this is difficult territory to navigate.  It’s pretty clear to me by now that as a parent, I will never be able to keep up with everything my teens are doing on social media. I’m just not as digitally savvy.  The question is…how hard should I try to keep up?  Do our teens deserve the privacy we had without our parents hovering? Or is it different with social media?

Some friends of mine take a completely hands off approach. Others, stalk their kids as much as possible on social media. For now, I decided to stay off Houseparty and give my son his privacy. He has convinced me that joining will make me look like a creeper. But I have reserved the right to  join later if the conversation in the back seat of my car leads me in that direction.

So parents, how do you handle monitoring your teen on social media?

 

 

When an Instagram post makes your teen feel excluded

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The morning after Halloween, my friend’s daughter woke up and checked Instagram (part of most teens morning routine).   She saw in a post that three of her friends had gone trick-or-treating together and didn’t invite her — and freaked.  She told her mother that her feelings were hurt.

As a parent of a teen girl, I could SO relate!

Being excluded from social events has always been rough on kids. For decades, groups of friends have been getting together, inviting this one or that one, and someone inevitably gets left out.  But tweens and teens today are much more likely to find out about what they are missing because EVERYTHING is posted online in real time.

 

A few years ago, I went through a similar experience with my daughter. She found out from a Facebook post that some of her good friends had gone to the beach and she wasn’t included.  She was sad and disappointed that she was left out.  As a parent, it was upsetting to me, too.

Unfortunately,  during their teens years, our kids are struggling with confidence and self esteem and friendships and relationships. Being excluded from one event can easily seem like a BIG deal.

I feel like most kids aren’t posting with the intent to make others feel bad. They’re just trying to be cool or share pics of themselves having fun.

When my daughter experienced this type of exclusion, I told her:  “You’re just not going to be included in every get together and you have to be okay with that.”  I also told her she may be the one who accidentally excludes a friend one day and she needs to be careful about what she posts and mindful of how it could hurt someone’s feelings.

My teenage son says handles it differently when he sees on Instagram that he has been left out when friends get together: “If I really want to hang out with them, I ask them if I can hang out with them next time, or I take the initiative to be the one to make the plans.”

Of course, there’s a big difference between posting group pics or party photos in which someone is excluded by accident — and posting the photos on purpose to taunt someone.  That’s where some parental intervention may need to come in.

We all know that teens aren’t going to stop sharing their “hanging out with my friends” pics any time soon. But encouraging your teen to think about the potential for who may see the pictures before posting can go a long way toward avoiding hurt feelings.

Has this happened to your teen? How as a parent did you handle it?

 

 

We’re on ABC Nightline!

 

Are you worried about what your teen daughter is doing on social media?

Raising Teens blogger Raquel Alderman and her daughter Olivia tackle the topic on ABC Nightline!

This topic gives  parents lots to think about….

 

Are group chats the new digital cliques?

A few months ago, my son Garret, a high school freshman, got a new iPhone. He set it up right away and joined a few groups chats. By the next morning, he had 400 text messages. The teens in the groups he joined had been texting all night!

If your teen has a cell, chances are high that he or she participates in group chats. Group chats are where teens are dishing about everything happening in their teenage lives.  With group chats, regardless of who starts the conversation, everyone  in the group can chime in instantaneously. My son explained to me that weekend plans are made in group chats. Homework is discussed. The latest fashion trends or social events are talked about.

Lately I want to ban my son from group chats. One day last week, I looked over his shoulder and I noticed that some of the girls in one of his group chats were saying mean things about someone’s unibrow. “What’s that about?” I asked. “Oh, some of the girls are roasting on my friend,” my son explained.  That’s when I realized that sometimes group chats get downright mean. That chit chat in the hallway about the ugly dress some girl wore to school, or gossip about the way so and so was flirting with so and so now gets typed and disseminated among a group of kids with a touch of the enter key.  “Sometimes, even if you didn’t say something mean, you feel guilty just because you’re in the group,” my son admitted to me.

On top of that,  sometimes, someone is intentionally left out of a group chat —  or taken out of the group without their okay. It’s that exclusion we all endured in high school years ago, but today, it’s digital. Yes, cliques have gone electronic!

Even if you’re in a group and no longer want to be, the challenge for teens  is that when you want to get out of a group chat, it’s difficult because there’s always the chance you will “look like a jerk” if you leave.

I could spend all day and night trying to monitor what is being said  in group chats, but there is no way I could keep up. These teens are WAY too prolific and they are fickle about where they hold their group chats. My son recently showed me how the chats have moved from text messages to Instagram group messages.

On a rainy day last week, my son’s phone was pinging nonstop with incoming messages from group chats.  I nudged him to participate with caution.   I reminded him that a group text (and anything shared online) can be captured by a simple screenshot and shared outside of that group.  “A digital conversation is never “secret” or “private”,  I reminded him.  “And, a misinterpreted conversation easily can lead to hurt feelings.”  He nodded, and then went right back to looking at his phone screen.

I know banning my son from group chats is a losing proposition. But it sure is tough to parent when a majority of our teens’ communication is a 24/7 digital stream!

 

 

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Does taking away your teens cellphone really work as punishment?

My daughter’simages.jpg1 friend Tina recently got her phone taken away for lying to her mom and dad. When I asked her why, she said that she was driving a golf cart and accidentally hit her brother’s  foot. Well, her brother, Ryan, started crying and their mom freaked and wanted to know what happened. Tina,  for fear of getting in trouble, lied and said he ran into the cart.  Her brother said that was not not true, Tina ran into him.  Her mom asked a neighbor who happened to have seen the incident and she supported what Ryan stated. Well, Tina’s mom was not only disappointed in Tina for lying, but extremely upset because  she could have seriously hurt her brother.

Tina’s phone was taken from her as punishment and she does not know when she will be getting it back. Now, I understand what Tina did was wrong, but I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. I know every parent disciplines differently, but I would have at least told Tina her exact punishment — a day or two  without the phone —  or I would of had her do the laundry for  a week.

I told Tina she needs to apologize to her brother for hurting him and apologize to her parents for lying and hurting her brother, even if it was an accident. Accidents happen, but lying  will only hurt you in the end.

 

I have to wonder what punishment would Tina have gotten if she snuck out of her room and went drinking with friends at midnight. Would she  have the phone taken away for a month? It’s unrealistic and I don’t think would work.  If you keep taking the phone away as a punishment for everything your teen does, do you think it’s really going to continue working? For some teens, the first or second time their cellphone is  taken away  becomes their last. They realize it is too painful to be without it.  Yet, some other teens become immune to losing their cell phones. Or, parents give in and give the phone back.

So, I pose this question: Does taking away a teen’s cell phone really work as punishment?

 

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Let’s call them “Generation Strike A Pose”

I am on vacation, on top of a volcanic rock, and my daughter has given me her iPhone to take her photo. She is posing in an Instagram-worthy way, but I am realistic enough by now to know I will never be able to capture the pose to her liking.

On the occasions that I have tried to play photographer, my daughter has deleted my subpar attempts and replaced them with a more likeable shot that better captures her pose, usually a pic that another teen or sibling has snapped.

If you have ever browsed your teen’s Instagram feed or followed a teen on your own account, you will know the like-worthy poses my daughter and her peers aim to capture on their smartphone screens — the glamourous girl hand on hip shot, the lips pursed and eyes wide shot or the cool dude holding up two fingers in a  peace sign  shot.

As a mother of teens, I have learned that any location can instantly become a photo shoot. I might be driving along, transporting my  daughter and her friends somewhere when suddenly my backseat becomes a studio. The flash goes off over and over while my teen passengers mug for the camera. Watching them strike a pose, snap, delete, snap again and post, I wonder about the future for a generation that tries so hard to be viewed in a picture perfect way.

I think about the little camera with a disposable flash bulb that I had as teen. I remember how it took weeks to finish off the film, get it developed and either happily slip the glossy  3 x 5  into a photo album or tear it up and lose the paper memory forever. Unlike my teens, I didn’t walk around all the time with my pocket camera, and picture taking wasn’t an everyday  or every hour event. But then again, my friends weren’t glued to their smartphones giving likes to my newest selfie within seconds of posting.

One mother recently wrote on her blog: “I doubt there’s been a day in the past two years when I haven’t argued with my teenage daughter about the amount of time she spends taking selfies and posting them online.” The mom says she can’t understand why her selfie obsessed daughter can’t just smile and instead has to pout provocatively or make the duck face.
When Madonna belted out Strike a pose, Strike a pose.. .Vogue, vogue  it’s as if  she was speaking directly to the selfie generation. So I have to ask, is all the posing and posting harmless, or have we birthed a generation that is preoccupied with being camera ready?

By some miracle, my daughter has deemed my photo of her on the volcanic rock to be Instagrammable. While I gloat over my success, I’m hold firmly to my inclination that picture snapping has taken on way too much importance in our teens’ lives. What are your thoughts on Generation Strike a Pose? Are they engaged in harmless fun, or obsessed with their online appearance?

The Danger of a Screenshot

My youngest son, Garret, celebrated his 14th birthday last weekend with a pool party. At one point during the party, I noticed all the boys were huddled looked at something on a cell phone. They were laughing and acting suspicious, so I asked what was going on. I got the usual answer “nothing.”

After the party, I asked my son again what the huddling was all about. He told me that one of the girls in his grade had posted a “booty shot” on Instagram. She had deleted the photo from Instagram a minute or two after posting it, but by then, one of the boys had taken a screenshot. The boy then forwarded the photo to all his friends, my son included.

I asked him to let me see it, and when I did, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a picture of a 14-year-old girl on a pool ledge taken from behind —  with her bikini bottom riding up her butt crack. No wonder the boys were mesmerized!

It was at that moment that I realized how the screenshot has changed our teens’ lives. All it takes is an instant to capture an inappropriate photo and blast it out to others. Once a teen posts something (or anyone for that matter) it’s out there. Even Snapchats that disappear after 10 seconds don’t really go away when a screenshot can capture the moment for eternity.

There is no such thing anymore as going back and deleting something off the Internet! That’s so scary to me!

I tried to use this opportunity to teach my son that putting ANYTHING inappropriate on the Internet is a risk. I explained to him the concept of thinking before you post and explained how adults are losing their jobs, their reputations and their families over something they post without thinking first. My son’s argument: “All the girls post booty shots mom. Why are you making a big deal?” (When I Googled teen booty shots, dozens of images came up)

“Maybe they do,” I said. “But that doesn’t mean they are using good judgment.”

I’m just not sure my son or his friends get it. When teens live their lives on social media, desperate for likes, I’m not sure that they fear the screenshot as much as they should.

Still, I haven’t given up trying to get my point across.

Have you had any situations like this? Do you think your teen knows what is inappropriate to post online?

Below is a real example from the Internet (one of the more milder ones):

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