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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.

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

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.
Currently, they will pilot the new buttons in Spain and Ireland. After data is collected, the 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.

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.

“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”