I must confess, I am a bit of a study enthusiast. It may stem back to my days as a chemist, but I love a big data chart and well done graph. This morning, Pew Internet released a new study on Teens, Social Media, and Privacy. This study is the sequel to their first report from 2007, Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks. The 2012 report contains good news as well as some areas to work on.
Teens are sharing more personal information online.
In every category, teens shared more information in 2012 than in 2006. One of the biggest jumps was sharing cell phone numbers. In 2006, only 2% shared their cell number online compared to 20% in 2012.
- 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
- 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
- 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
- 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
- 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.
Although sharing more personal information, teens are taking steps to manage their online reputations.
60% of teens kept their Facebook profiles private. More than half of online teens (57%) said they decided not to post something online because they were concerned it would reflect badly on them in the future. Teens also reported having adults on their networks influenced their decision about whether or not to post something. The pressures of college admission and employment seemed to have a big influence on their online behavior.
Middle school is tough. Suddenly, your little kid is almost as tall as you. They greet all family activities with an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Every time you look at them they are texting their friends. There always seems to be some sort of drama happening at the middle school. Someone said something or someone was upset because they were not invited somewhere.
Today, cliques and drama are not limited to the school halls. It goes on 24/7 with the pictures of the party they were not invited to on Instagram or the list of the 5 prettiest girls/cutest boys on Facebook. And sometimes, middle school drama can escalate to the point where a kid feels powerless and bullied. According to the School District’s 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, 27% of 6th graders and 24% of 8th graders at IMS reported being bullied in the last 30 days.
On May 16th, the IMS PTA is hosting a parent education night to discuss bullying and cyberbullying. We will be using the book Sticks & Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon to guide our discussion. We will talk about the stories in the book, and we will explore how we teach our kids empathy, foster resilience and create an accepting community. The challenge is how to do this in the age of the internet, where peer relationships and social jockeying occurs 24/7.
We are using excerpts from the book to kick off our discussion, but you are not expected to have read it. Some of the ideas, we will be discussing are:
Last week, I gave a talk at the middle school about what apps and sites are popular with kids. Last year I spent most of my time talking about Facebook, not this year. Kids are moving off Facebook to other sites. My talk focused on the big 5 sites but I also mentioned a few up and comers. One site, I am hearing a lot about is Omegle.
Omegle pairs up random strangers for a chat. Everyone is anonymous. On Omegle, you are identified as “YOU” and everyone else is “STRANGER”. Kids can chat with a stranger either via text or video. To kick off the conversation, they can ask a question or type in an interest. Based on this information, Omegle will pick a stranger for you. Kids can also allow Omegle to use their Facebook likes to find a compatible stranger. Once paired up, you and the stranger chat until someone chooses to disconnect. After chatting, kids can post or save their chat or just move on to a new stranger. Omegle is available as an app or on the desktop. Currently, the app only allows for conversations via text. On its website, kids can video chat or text.
I tried out Omegle. All of my chats began with “hi” or “hello” then some form of ASL – Age, Sex, Location. Depending on my response, the stranger either disconnected or asked for more information.
I tried adding a few interests and asking a question. I had the same conversation regardless of my question or my interests. I did not find anyone willing to have a non-sexual chat. Continue reading