8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting

megan-maasMegan Maas has written a blog on 8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting for the Huffington Post.  Here’s a few snippets from the blog which are essential reading for any youth worker:

… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.

1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal. 

2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …

3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …

4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification

5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”

6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation

7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.

8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses. 

An Infographic on Anonymous Apps and Teenagers

One of the most frequent questions I receive from parents is about apps that teenagers are using and what a caring parents perspective should be on them.

The team from Rawhide.org have released a helpful infographic which gives a quick and concise overview of these anonymous apps – something you can share with parents.

Temporary and Anonymous Apps


Social Media Image Sizes 2016 Infographic

Social media is a key communication channel for youth workers.  One of the challenges is that all the different social media networks constantly change the goal posts in terms of how best to share your story.

The image sizes that Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and YouTube all use are all completely different.  Here’s a helpful infographic for these sites


Via makeawebsitehub.com

Teenagers abandoning Facebook and Twitter for more intimate social media apps

Social media icons

Fascinating to read this article on how teenagers are abandoning Facebook and Twitter for more intimate social media apps – it’s certainly something I’ve been seeing a lot more of over the last few months in our youth work:

When my digital media students are sitting, waiting for class to start, and staring at their phones, they are not checking Facebook. They’re not checking Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter. No, they’re catching up on the news of the day by checking out their friends’ Stories on Snapchat, chatting in Facebook Messenger or checking in with their friends in a group text. If the time drags, they might switch to Instagram to see what the brands they love are posting, or check in with Twitter for a laugh at some celebrity tweets. But, they tell me, most of the time they eschew the public square of social media for more intimate options.

For example, in a study published in August last year, the Pew Research Center reported that 49% of smartphone owners between 18 and 29 use messaging apps like Kik, Whatsapp, or iMessage, and 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages, like Snapchat. For context, note that according to another Pew study, only 37% of people in that age range use Pinterest, only 22% use LinkedIn, and only 32% use Twitter. Messaging clearly trumps these more publicly accessible forms of social media.

Well worth having a read and reflecting on how you communicate with young people.

Millennials Selfies: young adults will take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime!


Millennials average 9 selfies per week, spending an average of seven minutes perfecting each one before posting. That’s adds up to about 54 hours per year spent on taking & posting selfies according to this report in the International Business Times:

A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston, calculated that the average millennial could take up to about 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime. Ninety-five percent of young adults admitted to having taken at least one such picture of themselves.

Millennials, usually defined as people between the ages of 18 and 34, have proven particularly drawn to selfies. More than half of young adults have posted a selfie to a social media website, compared to 24 percent of Generation X-ers and 9 percent of Baby Boomers, Pew Research Center discovered last March.

Respondents to the Luster survey said they took an average of nine selfies a week and put the average amount of time needed at seven minutes. That adds up to about 54 hours a year of taking selfies, according to the survey, which included responses from 1,000 young adults.

That may sound shocking, but high numbers like those aren’t unheard of. The average 16- to 25-year-old woman spent 16 minutes taking an average of three selfies per day, or five hours a week, according to Beauty site FeelUnique, which commissioned a study earlier this year, Refinery29 reported.

Despite these figures, only 10 percent of respondents told Luster they were addicted to taking selfies.

The Optimal Length for Social Media Updates [Infographic]


Many of us use social media, but these days if you want people to engage it is so important that you make sure your posts are the optimal length.

Check out this infographic from Buffer to help you know what is the optimal length for not just social media updates but also for hashtags, blog posts and titles, and even subject lines for emails.


The Dangers of Social Media for ‘Missing’ Children

Last week I read a brilliant blog post on the dangers of posting about missing children on social media, over at Barefoot Social Work, do check it out:

Missing Children

I’ve seen a couple of ‘Missing Child’ posts on Facebook this week and I wanted to explain why I won’t be sharing them. They are always heart wrenching pleas for help. Some of them, I have no doubt, are genuine. I know this as a quick search on Google and I find that the police are also concerned for their whereabouts and are actively searching for them with the support of authorised charities and agencies. However, there are some that are not what they seem*.

Some are simply a hoax and some of them are not ‘missing’ at all. The child may have been adopted due to the risk of significant harm; they may be in hiding with their other parent as a result of serious domestic violence within the home; or the whole family may be in police protection and the concerned ‘father’ is not who he claims to be. Furthermore, ‘missing adults’ may wish for their location to remain anonymous, and they do have that right which we must respect. As virtual strangers we do not know the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’ and we should trust in the expertise of professionals to get the full picture.

In my current role we will share posts from Hampshire Constabulary but we haven’t shared other posts until we can verify the information for exactly the reasons outlined above.

The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites

The NSPCC earlier this week launched a new research report into the experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites and the strategies they use to deal with things that upset them online.  Researchers conducted an online self completion survey in December 2012 of 1,024 11-16 year olds in the UK.

NSPCC Report Cover

Here’s some of the key findings:

  • Over one in four (28%) of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site have experienced something upsetting on it in the last year.
  • Of the children and young people who were upset, 11% were dealing with upsetting experiences on a daily basis.
  • The most reported issue experienced on social networking sites was trolling, experienced by 37% of children who had been upset.
  • Other issues experienced by children who had been upset included: pressure to look or act a certain way (14%), cyber stalking (12%), aggressive and violent language (18%), encouragement to hurt themselves (3%), receiving unwanted sexual messages (12%), and requests to send or respond to a sexual message (8%).
  • Over half of 11-16 year olds (58%) believed at least one of the people responsible for the behaviour which had upset or bothered them was either a complete stranger, someone they only knew online, or they did not know who it was at all.
  • Only 22% of the children who were upset talked with someone else face to face about the experience.

Download the full report from the NSPCC: The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites.

One Man’s Approach On The NekNomination Challenge

South African NekNomination

As you have probably seen over the past week or so, there has been a new craze called NekNomination.  This challenge has swept across social media platforms and hundreds of thousands of people have taken part.  This challenge involves downing a drink or possibly a combination of drinks and then nominating two people who you know to complete this within a 24hr period.  Once they have completed it they are then required to upload it for everyone to see.  Because of people of uploading it, it has spread exponentially as videos tend to go viral pretty quickly.  Some people take it too far and end up mixing large quantities of strong drinks or in the even more extreme cases,  people have been adding things like bleach or mouth wash to their drink.

I stumbled across a video on YouTube via Facebook, where one South African man has shown us how powerful social media can be and how it can influence people to do good:

He has taken his own approach on the NekNomination challenge,  highlighting the fact that he lives in a region of the world where un-employment is at a high, the average wages are extremely low and some people will struggle to even eat each day. This shows there is so much more that can be done with social media. As you can see something as simple as downing a drink has spread so quickly, why can’t an act of kindness to those less fortunate do the same? All it takes is a small act from a large number of  individual people to make a change.

This is how Brent Lindeque, from Johannesburg decided to do his NekNomination.