Online Pics Encourage Risky Teen Behavior

Sep 17, 2013

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When it comes to online friends, which affects teens more? The amount of friends or the type of friends they have? Research suggests that quality is more influential than quantity. 

Facebook and Myspace newsfeeds are overrun with photos, updates, and links of different lifestyles and activities. One study shows that "adolescents can be influenced by their friends' online pictures to smoke or drink alcohol." 

Thomas W. Valente with a team of surveyors asked "1,563 10th-grade students from the El Monte Union High School District in Los Angeles County...about their online and offline friendship networks and the frequency of their social media use, smoking and alcohol consumption."

The exposure to friends' drinking and partying significantly increases the likelihood that teens will engage in it, too.

The team surveyed the respondents and found that "on average, 34 per cent of students had at least one friend who talked about partying online and 20 per cent reported that their friends posted party/drinking pictures online."

As a result, "nearly 30 per cent of respondents had smoked and more than half had at least one drink of alcohol."

About 80 percent of teens use social networking sites as their means for communication. The constant exposure to risky behaviors online causes teens to accept and even engage in such behavior because it becomes commonplace.

Teens shouldn't be engaging in such activities as drinking and smoking. They also shouldn't post about it online so that everyone can see what party they got wasted at last Friday. College review boards and employers are now utilizing Facebook to preview candidates. If a teen has photos of drinking, it is very likely he or she won't be taken into consideration for selection.

Net Nanny Social lets parents monitor their child's friends, pictures and posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr so they can know what types of behaviors are presented online to their children. Net Nanny Social sends alerts to parents when a friend posts on their child's wall. It also allows parents to peruse their child's friends list so they can be certain the child actually knows his or her friends. Knowing what your child is exposed to is the first step in preventing risky behavior.