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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 a story of a mom who discovered her daughters picture being used by a random man on Facebook claiming that it was his daughter. It’s a interesting read that may make you think twice before posting your child’s picture on social media. In reality, trying to avoid positing your child’s picture on social media is a daunting and unrealistic task. You might be able to control what you post on social media, but chances are, if you are like me, you have family and friends who spend time with your child and take pictures with them and post on social media. Besides, you are proud of your child(ren) and you want to brag to your friends about their accomplishments and achievements.
My guidance on this is, use the settings available on social media to control who can see your posts. Talk to your friends and ask them not to post pictures of your child(ren) on social media and give them a reason for your request. Link them to this article. Educate yourself about wise posting because in a few short years, you will be entering the phase of your teen(s) running rampant with selfie’s and helping them with their own self-posting learning curve.
– Ryan
During my trainings, I encourage parents to sign up for Facebook and Instagram at minimum to learn how they work. I discuss the parental benefits of understanding the platforms, so they can articulate to their children how to make safe and wise decisions when using them. Social media can also be a useful tool for parents who needs support being parents. Check out this article by the folks at Connect Safely.
– Ryan
“I often get asked about privacy settings on Facebook. I tell people to regularly check their settings and adjust them as needed. Sometimes people tell me they are unsure how to adjust them and seem hesitant with their ability. Here are a couple links that will help you navigate adjusting your privacy settings. ~ Ryan”
“In my role I have to interpret teen behavior related to social media and present it to an audience. But I really enjoy listening to teens discuss social media from their perspective. Here is an excellent blog post from a college aged teen articulating teen views on social media. ~ Ryan”
“This site was brought to me by a 12 year old boy who is a friend of the family. He and his family know about my work and they help out when they see something I could use for educating parents, professionals and youth. I have used this site for several years working with parents and students. Basically it is a two minute video that pulls you in as an interactive participant using your Facebook data. It will ask you to log in using your Facebook username and password so the application can access your Facebook content. It will then show you a video of someone creeping on your Facebook page. I have had students tell me that they have tightened up their Facebook privacy settings just because they saw this video. I tell parents all the time that it’s a simple and youth appealing way to teach them about privacy on Facebook. ~ Ryan”