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I was recently interviewed by Elizabeth Hardison for the article, “Pennsylvania set up a tip line for school threats. Instead, students overwhelmingly called with mental health concerns.” When I was asked if I was surprised by the high level of mental health concerns being reported by students, I said I was not.

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I often hear fears about the latest online “challenge” that the kids are doing. But many times, they aren’t real or are not as reported.

Over the years, the mental health hashtags have evolved and are ever-changing. It’s difficult to keep up with all of the mental health hashtags as they are sometimes blocked on Instagram or other social media platforms, but when certain hashtags become blocked, others come to life to replace them.

One of my roles is working with youth in local schools. I check in with the at-risk students and try to encourage, support, and guide them. I also help to identify unhealthy digital relationships.

Working in a middle school, I often speak to youth who report being “bullied.” School counselors spend time looking at the scenarios and helping youth understand the difference between being rude, mean, and bullying.

Sometimes I’m asked about legal issues related to technology. There can be many struggles with technology, social media, and crime. I’ve posted a new resources about legal issues and technology.

I enjoy watching young people grow up and find their path; it’s wonderful seeing all of the good things that they accomplish. I’ve always liked recognizing youth that are trying to make the world a better place by their actions.

Standing in front of an audience was never a career goal for me. I had no intention to do public speaking. My last year of college, I took a mandatory public speaking course over the summer when I knew there would be only a few students in my class. So, when I was first asked to do an assembly for middle school students, I was petrified. I instantly put them to sleep.

With every new challenge we take on in life, there is an expectation set before the venture begins. Elementary, middle, and high schools have a handbook to follow. There are expectations about attendance, academics, and behaviors.

I’m sure many of us are telling our kids not to send nudes, but are we telling them not to request them equally?

Over the past two days, news stories of the “Momo Challenge” have been rapidly spreading through the media. This has led to much misinformation, unclear understanding and concerned parents, professionals and teachers as well as frightened children. 

Revenge porn is a type of cyberbullying that is on the rise. Also known as non-consensual porn, this occurs when photos of an intimate nature are distributed without the subject’s consent.

You may have heard of the tragic story of an 11 year old boy completing suicide after bad Facebook hoax was played upon him. My heart and condolences go to both of these families. As adults, we need to teach kids to tell us when they see someone posting about suicide, self-harm or eating disorders on any social media or texting platform.

Do you remember when Atari was the most popular, must have, latest gaming system? Or, when you got your first cell phone and it was used for emergencies only? How about when television ads first started to include that “www dot thing” at the bottom of the screen? Growing up, I can remember each of these instances and more as the world wide web began to infiltrate our homes and lives.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth 10-24 and the numbers are rising. You may have recently heard of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.”

In the age of social media, adolescents are able to utilize digital peer pressure to influence behavior of vulnerable teens and tweens. The recent internet phenomena circulating social media sites is the Salt and Ice Challenge (SIC).

I’ve had hesitations posting about this story due to my view on contagion and the importance of following recommended guidelines on reporting on suicide.

I enjoy seeing the kindness of youth. I see it everyday and it helps to balance out some of the negativity in the world. It’s important that we all teach kindness from a young age.

“Dear Amanda, I have a teenage daughter who is on social media. I worry about her self-esteem and her comparing herself to other girls on social media. How do I help her develop strong self-esteem in this social media visually driven world we are immersed in?”

“Dear Amanda, I have two children: a girl in middle school and a boy in high school. They have become obsessed with the PokémonGo app. It has been all over the news about thieves using it to lure kids to areas and robbing them. I feel that I should make them delete the app. What should I do?”

“Dear Amanda, I’m working with parents that are struggling with their kids’ behavioral outbursts when they take away their device. It’s almost like they have an addiction to their phone or tablet. I’ve heard of internet addiction, but is there device addiction?”

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