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Shaping the Future Through Awareness

My Introduction Into Social Media as a LPC

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. Admittedly, as an adult now, I am not the one at the front of the line when the newest iPhone comes out and I haven’t owned a gaming system since Atari. I was slow to join Facebook and it has only been in the last few months, since connecting with Ryan and Shape The Sky, that I started to explore Snapchat and Instagram.

Obviously, I do not consider myself to be tech savvy and up on the latest and greatest. I do however, consider myself to be up on the most recent therapy techniques, theories, client needs, and available mental health resources. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and for 17 years I have worked with clients as young as 7 years old, teens considered to be “at risk youth” and adults struggling with both mental health and addiction. Despite my counseling knowledge, skills, and experiences I was not prepared for what I heard during Ryan’s training sessions. I was shocked, appalled, and saddened by what I heard.

How am I not prepared and what was so shocking you ask? I am floored at just how many apps, venues, and organizations are out there on social media looking to “hook” our kids into their products. It isn’t that I am completely unaware of every app or distorted message found on social media but there were more than I could have imagined. I do not know how to use many of the apps, I don’t understand the secret settings, I am not up on the codes teens use when texting, and I certainly do not have to go through the intense pressures that most teens face today. The stark realization of how much social media infiltrates the lives of our teens and tweens is disheartening. I’m an adult and have a reasonable ability to filter, defend, or close out negative images, words, or people. Our teens don’t always have that ability. They are still trying to fit in, belong, find love, or learn to understand who they are as a person.

I have also become aware of one significant difference from my teenage years and now. I had the safety of home, no computer, no cell phone, and the phone tethered me to the family room for everyone to hear. I had to ask permission to call long distance, it still cost extra back then, my friends couldn’t reach me anytime they wanted and if someone was bullying me I could find solace in those four walls where they couldn’t tease me until the next school day. Now, teens are accessible 24/7. If I don’t like you, it isn’t just you who knows it, everyone knows. Every mistake, heartbreak, bad day, or negative experience is out there for anyone to see, exploit, or take advantage of.

In all of this madness there is a ray of hope. There are people like Ryan and organizations like Shape The Sky that are out there educating parents, teens, and professionals. I am looking forward to my journey with Ryan as I learn more about social media and how I can help to educate others and protect our kids.

So, as a counselor what do I need or want to do with all of this new awareness? I want to be more aware, more educated and more connected. I need to be each of those things if I am to help my clients as best as possible. I have started exploring more of the social media sites and apps Ryan presented in his training. I am not just exploring but learning to use. I am talking with the teens, tweens, and your adults in my personal life to find out first hand what some of the struggles are and how they would hope for adults to assist them in addressing those challenges. I am listening without judgment. I am asking questions knowing I don’t have the answers. This has been an eye opening journey so far and I am buckling up for now because I feel it may get a little bumpy.

 

Tracey Hazlett, MA, LPC, CADC, CCS is the owner of her private practice “Finding Hope from Within.” She provides therapy for adults affected by both mental health issues and addiction issues. Some of the mental health issues Ms. Hazlett treats includes Anxiety, Depression, Trauma/PTSD, Grief and Loss, Divorce, Self-esteem Issues, Relationship Issues, and Self-Harm. As a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, she can treat not only the addiction but the underlying issues related to the addiction.

Prior to private practice, Ms. Hazlett has experience working with adults, adolescents and children in community out-patient programming, inpatient mental health setting, and out-patient addiction treatment. Her roles at those setting have included counseling, music therapy, supervision and trainer. Ms. Hazlett completed her undergraduate work at Slippery Rock University of PA with a major in Music Therapy. She continued her graduate work in Community Counseling at Indiana University of PA and obtained her Licensed Professional Counselor status in 2012.

Let’s Get Medical: Salt & Ice Challenge

A critical adolescent developmental task involves developing a stable sense of self.  During these vulnerable years, tweens and teens are strongly influenced by their peers and the actions of their peers take on a heightened sense of importance. We have known for many years the grave pull of peer pressure and how it influences teen behavior. 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).

By placing salt on the skin and then ice on top of the salt, the teen feels a “burning” sensation and is challenged to see how long they can withstand this sensation. This is a very serious medical concern as the mixture causes the temperature to become 0 degrees F and can cause second and third degree burn injuries. It is similar to frostbite and numbness associated with the cold interferes with the teen’s awareness that an injury has occurred. Nerve damage and permanent scars to the skin at varying depths are possible.

It is critical for parents to be aware of their adolescent’s use of social media and monitor for sites they visit and content on their network pages. Parents are not always aware of the nuances of social media and feel uneducated about how to monitor the social media sites their teens use. It is extremely important for parents to be informed about access to the internet and social media sites available to their adolescent. If they find something that they do not understand or are alarmed by, they can use their pediatric primary care provider to assist them.

As a pediatric nurse practitioner for 20 years, I always discuss social media and the internet with teens and their parents. Although many parents are involved, too many parents will tell me that their older sibling checks on the younger teen’s sites and many are unaware of the vast array of web pages, links and social media sites accessible to their teens. One study reported adolescent use of social media and the internet at 7-11 hours/day with 25% of it being unsupervised as it is accessed on their cell phones. Please click here and here for articles from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control. They have excellent resources for parents to stay informed.

Nursing Faculty portraits

Brenda Cassidy, DNP, MSN,CPNP-PC
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, over 20 years experience

Facebook “Dislike” Button Update

As we thought, Facebook has made a decision about the “Dislike’ button. Rather than one button, Facebook is planning on launching a group of “Reaction” emojis which will express “love”, “haha”, “wow”, ”yay”, “sad” and “angry”. These emojis will have motion much like a gif.

emoji

Currently, they will pilot the new buttons in Spain and Ireland. After data is collected, then plan will be to release more globally. For a video of how it will be used and additional information, click here.

As with all changes, keeping up to date and talking with our kids about usage will continue to be important. The potential for “laughing” at something serious or being “angry” about something positive still exist. But the choice to show an empathetic response is certainly needed in today’s world. I look forward to the roll out in the U.S.

Amanda Cooper, LCSW

 

Facebook’s “Dislike” Button

In the last week, there has been a lot of talk about Mark Zuckerberg creating a new button to allow users to express “dislike”. This request has been going on for several years as users would like to show empathy for a FB friend who may be going thru something that is negative in their lives. As a clinician, my natural assumption, given the prevalence of cyberbullying, is that it could turn into another weapon in the cyber arsenal of those who wish to bully a peer.  Because we live in a world where we look for validation – we want to know that we are liked and that people are interested in what we have to say. A dislike button could add fuel to the fire and further the need for digital validation. After talking with my in-house expert, my daughter, who is a high school senior about this, her comment was, “That’s a horrible idea. All it will do is create more hate!”   As I contemplate this, I agree with her. From her perspective, a “Dislike” button will just allow peers to give a negative comment to each other and continue the issue of on-line bullying. Imagine a teen posting a new relationship status and a group of “friends” click on “Dislike” or posting a college acceptance letter, a prom photo, new pet and having a group of negative responses. This could have social and emotional consequences for youth. I then decided to challenge her. “How do you “like” a friend’s post that mentions that their grandmother died?” Her response was that she would post an emoticon showing a sad face or tears. Interesting.

So, let’s think about the flip side, why would Facebook create a button that could potentially be used for negative purposes? You could argue that having friends commiserate and offer support by “disliking” a post can feel therapeutic in the same way that venting about a tough day over a latte or a walk with a friend. And for those doing the “disliking”, it is known that expressing, rather than avoiding, negative emotions can prove helpful to well-being.  Also, if a teen posts an inappropriate comment and receives 89 “dislikes,” would this be feedback to the teen to recognize that the post was negative and allow the teen to edit or delete the post and learn from the experience? Interpretation of words without facial expressions, voice tone and other non verbal cues is difficult in this media world. This could allow for a discussion about sarcasm and “meaning what you say and saying what you mean.” Especially when it is posted for the world to see.

So where does that leave us? As with most apps and platforms, it’s how we use it and teach and monitor how our children use it. Zuckerberg has been quoted to say that “we didn’t want to build a “dislike” button because we didn’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts.” Click here to read the full article.

The intention is for people to be able to express sympathy or support for personal or world issues that are around us. The company has not determined what the button will actually be labeled or what graphic will be used we will keep you posted. More importantly, this is a time to have a conversation with our kids about how to show support, both online and in the real world.

Amanda Cooper, LCSW

Anonymous Isn’t Synonymous With Ominous

“This is one of my favorite titles from an excellent technology journalist Larry Magid. When I present, I discuss apps that allow the user to post anonymously. While there is obvious concern for bullying and other inappropriate use, there are other concepts to consider. Larry does a wonderful job of discussing these points in this article and also brings in the experts from the Cyberbulllying Research Center in for comment. ~ Ryan”