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Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . .: A Parent's Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use

Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . .: A Parent's Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use

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Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . .: A Parent's Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use

3.5/5 (5 valutazioni)
324 pagine
3 ore
Feb 1, 2014


Forget sex, drugs, and rock & roll today's parents and teachers have to deal with cyberbullying, sexting, internet addiction, and exposure to inappropriate online content. Fortunately, expert researcher Dr. Megan Moreno has written this book as a guide to help you teach your kids about balance and boundaries in their internet and media use and the skills they need to thrive online.

Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook will help you to zero in on the problem and the solution. Backed by researchers funded by a $2.5 million NIH grant, this guide provides a clear toolkit for teaching our young people how to avoid the dangers of the internet while taking advantage of its full potential.

The book is grounded in the real experiences of young people on the internet. Incorporating the insight of teens and college-age students, each chapter includes real-life case studies and helpful new methods for productive conversations about these situations, in your own home or classroom.

Dr. Moreno gives actionable advice based on the most cutting-edge research in social media and technology use. Respectful of the needs of both children and adults, Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook is the smart guide to raising cybersensible kids.
Feb 1, 2014

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Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . . - Megan Moreno



When it comes to the Internet and young people, it’s hard to keep up. Yesterday’s MySpace is today’s Facebook. Chat rooms have been eclipsed by Twitter parties. And while ten years ago young people were reading content on the Internet, today they’re creating it. Figuring out how to keep kids safe online is challenging for many reasons. Technology is constantly evolving and trends come and go. It’s often unclear who should be teaching Internet safety to kids. Schools? Community groups? Parents?

In spite of these challenging questions, one thing is clear. Young people need the same kind of guidance regarding Internet safety that they require from adults in all other areas of life, whether the subject is establishing good study habits, determining what it means to have good friends, dating safely, or getting into the right college.

Every day, ordinary kids—our kids—are faced with split-second online decisions. What slang to post on their public Twitter feed? Which spring-break beach photos to upload to Facebook? And whether to disclose yesterday’s party hook-up in a casual online comment. Who is going to help these kids make smart decisions? Research done by my research team, as well as others, shows that it’s parents who can best and should play a key role in helping their kids to use the Internet wisely. This book will help parents and guardians—and every other interested adult, from physicians to police officers to church leaders—do just that. As we move forward in this book, we will often use the term parents to mean both parents and guardians. We hope that other adult role models such as clinicians, educators, and community leaders will find many of the suggestions and information useful as well.

How will we do this? There are three major distinctions about this book to consider before diving in to the chapters that lie ahead.

First, consider the perspectives from which this book is written. As the primary author of this book, I bring the experience and perspective of an adolescent-medicine pediatrician, social-media researcher, and mom. For over five years I’ve been researching social media, technology use, and online safety among all ages of teens. One of my goals with this book is to bring these research findings to parents in a way that is useful, outside of the academic-journal world where this research usually is published.

But I don’t think it is enough for you as a reader to take my word for it. Every research project I’ve done has incorporated the views and perspectives of adolescents, as research subjects and as student researchers themselves. My research team, the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) is made up of staff as well as student researchers, and many of our key contributors are themselves adolescents. This approach has helped make our research successful by bringing in key insights from the real experts in the world of social media and technology. For this book, I felt it was important to share perspectives of adolescents who are bumping up against these online safety issues on a daily basis. By incorporating their voices, their experiences, and their expertise, I felt I could present you as the reader with more understanding of what the issues are and what options you have for addressing them. To further commit to our goals of creating a book that could be useful to you as parents, every chapter in this book was reviewed by parents of adolescents. We involved two families in the creation of this book, the Schuchardts and the Rojeckis.

A second distinction is that we have grounded this book in timeless principles of adolescent development. Adolescence is a journey, starting somewhere around age 10 and lasting through about age 25. This journey is made up of different stages, stages that incorporate varied concerns and skills. By attending to these stages, our goal is to ground the information we present to you in issues relevant to your adolescent’s stage. In this way, we hope that this book remains useful to you as your teen progresses from a tween all the way to an older adolescent or college student. Further, by grounding the book’s content within these stages, we hope that the information can be trusted and leveraged regardless of what new trends in technology may come about.

Finally, we populate this book with up-to-date research translated into practical and usable information. We’ve included research call-outs that discuss specific research studies and what they found, as well as case studies in which one of the book’s student-researcher contributors describes an experience that really happened to them. Some of the research was done by my research team, some by others. All of the stories are true and come from adolescent contributors or my patients in my clinic. Thus, when we make suggestions and recommendations you don’t have to go on my word for it, you can choose from options guided by what science is telling us about young people, as well as by what adolescents tell us about their experiences, and consider your best options for how to keep them safe online.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first, which includes Chapters 1 through 3, gives an overview of pertinent Internet safety trends and concerns, an understanding of the stages of adolescence as they pertain to Internet use, and an overview of our recommended framework for teaching Internet safety. The second section—Chapters 4 through 10—goes through specific Internet safety concerns including up-to-date research and approaches for parents who may be faced with these issues, or want to prevent them ahead of time. The final section—Chapters 11 through 13—looks to the future to consider approaches parents and adults, individually or in groups, can take to improve the education youth receive about Internet safety. We hope that this three-section framework will provide you with relevant information you can use through your own stages of parenting in the digital age.

The time to help young people learn how to use the Internet safely is now, not later. Studies indicate that to make a difference in teen Internet behavior, we need to provide education before the behavior happens. If that window of opportunity is missed, we need to have a plan to provide either new information or reinforcement in later teen years as challenges and opportunities to use the Internet evolve. This book will help you do both, by providing you timeless strategies and a classic framework to support young people of all ages and their safe Internet use.


The Wide World of the World Wide Web

Let us be clear from the start. Although the Internet has potential for misuse, abuse, and overuse by young people, the Internet is, well, essential.

Today’s youth will need Internet skills for the future. They will need these skills to get jobs, to communicate with others, and to perform many daily tasks. Finding a job today has migrated from being a process of pounding the pavement to a process of searching the web. Communication with old friends used to be done at coffee shops and through phone calls. Now it is accomplished through Facebook chat and texting. Daily tasks such as finding a bus schedule, paying a bill, and planning a trip are all commonly done online. Young people already experience the benefits of the Internet throughout their adolescence. The Web provides a treasure chest of valuable information, available at the click of a mouse. Teens can access far-flung facts and factoids for school papers and find useful explanations of health conditions that can encourage them to take ownership of their own medical conditions or treatment. Parents can get their daily fix from their college-age children through their kids’ regular Facebook updates. And isn’t it amazing that young people who met at summer camp can now keep in touch easily through e-mail, chat, and social media? Teens in military families who move homes frequently now have new tools to keep in touch with old friends, in some cases with friends all over the world.

Every day, from the classroom to the health clinic to the business world that awaits them, the value of the Internet in young people’s lives is evident. But like any form of media—whether pop music, tabloid newspapers, television, or video games—there is room on the Internet for bad things to happen. These may include victimization, overuse, access to dangerous material, and even addiction. The Internet is a tool, and like any tool the way in which it is used will determine whether the outcome for the user is positive or negative.

We begin this chapter with an understanding that you as an adult are probably pretty aware of the Internet and its many uses. Our goal of this chapter is to provide a brief overview to help lay the groundwork for the information to come in later chapters. We’ll begin with answering a few key questions about today’s Internet. What are the current trends? What is Web 2.0? What is so social about social media? Or as a parent asked in clinic one day, How can you tell MyFace from Twit-head? We will then provide a quick check-in on currently popular sites that young people are using today including Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and YouTube as well as gaming and music-sharing sites. We’ll end the chapter with some considerations of the benefits and risks of the Internet to help frame what’s ahead in coming chapters.

  Web 1.0 Versus Web 2.0

Just as kids grow to be adolescents, the World Wide Web has grown, too. Its first version was Web 1.0, which has now grown into Web 2.0. What many teens today don’t realize about the World Wide Web, though you as parents likely remember this well, is that it wasn’t always filled with blogs, Wikipedia pages, and Facebook posts. The Internet began as a place in which information could be accessed. You probably could have found your favorite restaurant’s location and menu, or looked at potential colleges for your child and learned a few factoids. Some computer-savvy people even had their own personal web pages with family photos and information about their new dog. The Internet provided a slightly easier way to access and select information that was already available on TV and radio, or in newspapers or phone books. Information flowed in one direction, off the web page and into the viewer’s purview; it was a more passive Internet experience. There were not really any opportunities to interact with others, provide feedback, or share.

In 1999 Web 2.0 introduced a new age of the Internet based around the ability to interact with others. Web 2.0 is interactive. It provides the user the ability to work with others and actively have a say in the information provided on the Internet. This new emphasis on interactivity led to a huge culture shift in both the function and culture of the Internet. Information now flows in two directions; it is both viewed and created by the consumer.

Web 2.0 has led to what is often referred to as social media, also known as immersive or interactive media. Social media is compelling in that it allows users to become part of the online discussion and information-sharing world. Through a multitude of websites they can communicate in a variety of ways, including through text, photographs, video, comments, and audio.

  Internet Trends

Who uses the Internet? The Internet has transcended cultural, geographical, and socioeconomic boundaries. A report released in July 2011 by the PEW Research Institute found that a whopping 96 percent of teen boys and 95 percent of teen girls use the Internet. Findings among different ethnic groups showed that 95 percent of African Americans, 88 percent of Hispanics, and 97 percent of whites use the Internet regularly (PEW 2011). Internet use is common even among disadvantaged groups, as a study of homeless youth found that 96.5 percent of this group used the Internet (Rice et al. 2010).

As technology and the Internet become ever more integrated into everyday life, youth become exposed to technology at younger and younger ages. I’ve seen kindergartners skillfully manipulate an iPhone to access their favorite YouTube videos of Elmo. There are applications you can download to your computer or even iPad to entertain your toddler.

With all of the new technological tools that seem to magically appear each year, it can be hard to get a handle on the current Internet trends. Luckily, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has been collecting information on these trends every year since the word Internet became a household name. The project is the go-to place for the most up-to-date information on Internet trends for youth. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 77 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have a cell phone and 74 percent have a desktop or laptop computer (Pew 2011).

Did you have a cell phone when you were 12? I know I sure didn’t, primarily because when I was 12, cell phones were still about the same size and weight as a brick. Now my cell phone is lighter than my keys.

— Female older adolescent

The overwhelming presence of technology surrounding our teenagers makes it easier than ever to access the Internet. Over 95 percent of today’s teens and young adults are using the Internet, most using it several times a day (Pew 2011). So if most teens access the Internet multiple times a day and can access it through a variety of technological devices, what are they doing online? Perhaps a better question may be what aren’t they able to do online? Today’s teens have been raised in what has been called a digital society; they are used to computers and to needing to use them for a variety of tasks. Today’s adolescents’ use of the Internet can include academic work, communication, entertainment, and socialization. Teens’ top online activity is the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook, whereas young adults use the Internet most often to search for information (Pew 2011). This makes sense if you consider that younger teens are very attached to their friends, so their Internet use involves communicating and sharing information with those friends. Young adults and college students, whether they attend a tech school, community college, or four-year university, are working and learning, so their Internet use often focuses on information- seeking (Pew 2011).

FIGURE 1.1. Cell phones from the vintage days to the present

In a study of 1,409 middle-school students, researchers found that online searching for information helps boost exam scores.

Chen and Fu 2009

  Popular Websites Today

As we review popular websites of the current day, keep in mind that these sites may change over time and that different groups of teens may favor particular sites. But an understanding of their similarities and functions can help you as a parent understand their appeal to your teen, and anticipate what future sites may be like.

Some of the most popular websites today are ones that you are likely to be familiar with, such as Google. Google is currently the most used search engine website, meaning it is a website that can be used to find relevant information. Another popular website that most adults are familiar with is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia whose content is entirely user- generated. Most teens are also very familiar with these websites. We will spend more time here on sites that are more popular among teens, and potentially less known to adults. And we will particularly focus on sites with a social or interactive component brought on by Web 2.0. The interactive features of these sites are often what makes them so attractive and enjoyable, but also can bring some risks depending on who is on the other end of the interaction.

Social networking sites (SNS) allow users to create a profile to represent one’s identity, to communicate with other users, and to build an online social network. Let’s begin with Facebook, which is undoubtedly something that parents and teens alike hear about on an almost daily basis. At this time, Facebook remains the most popular SNS across all ages, gender, and ethnic groups of teens. With over 900 million users, Facebook is the most widely used social networking site not just in the United States but also around the world. Facebook users establish profile pages where they can represent pieces of their identity in a multimedia format. For example, they can upload photos. Users can also post their Facebook status: A status update is a feature that allows users to provide a brief text disclosure, often about what they are doing or feeling at the moment. Users can also join—more commonly known as like—groups created on the site, such as a sports team, a clothing store, or a company. Twitter, on the other hand, gives its 140 million users 140 characters to tweet, or post, about anything they want: school, friends, what they had for breakfast, literally anything. Twitter users can also follow other users to view and receive updates on their tweets. The Twitter websites describes: "our goal is to provide a service that allows you to discover and receive content from sources that interest you as well as to share your content with others." Figure 1.2 shows screenshots from both Facebook and Twitter. We’ll describe social media sites in more depth in Chapter 7.

FIGURE 1.2. Screen shots of Facebook and Twitter on a phone

Another popular website today is Pinterest (see Figure 1.3 below). Think of Pinterest as a giant bulletin board made up of a lot of individual boards. On this site users create various boards based on different topics or interests such as beauty, cooking, or cute animals. They can also take things they like from other people’s boards and re-pin them on their own. Users even have the option of linking Pinterest to their Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, meaning the things they re-pin appear on their profiles for all their other social media friends to see. This feature lets users find which of their friends are using Pinterest as well. Similarly to Twitter, Pinterest lets users follow other friends who use the website. And, as with Facebook, those who use Pinterest can like other people’s pins and comment on them.

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  • (3/5)
    This book provides a lot of basic practical information to assist parents with a very timely topic of important.
  • (3/5)
    A useful book for parents or anyone who is concerned about the dangers of social media. Obviously, media gets outdated or is used by different groups of people. The need for parents to understand and be vigilant never gets outdated.
  • (3/5)
    A good source for parents (especially those who are not big users of social media) to assist them in understanding and guiding their tweens and teens in the advantages and drawbacks of using such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Naturally, with the ever-expanding and changing world of social media, no book can hope to remain completely relevant for long, but this title is a good introduction to overall best practices. Recommended.
  • (3/5)
    I just received this book 2 days ago. I found the chapters on "on-line identity and your digital footprint" and "cyberbullying" especially helpful. There are some specific examples parents can use to talk to their children about internet safety and some horror stories about how kids have been tricked. I will use this book at work as I work with teenagers.
  • (4/5)
    My husband and I read up on pregnancy before I was pregnant. We read up on babies and toddlers before my first child was born. And we've benefited much from reading Megan Moreno's book on Promoting Healthy Internet Use for Tweens (8-12) to Early, Middle and Late Adolescence (13-25) This parent tool kit breaks down the World Wide Web, how it has evolved, as well as it's main focus of social media's benefits and dangers. Even as someone who considers themselves to be quite adept at social media I still had a thing or two to learn about what is available to the youth of today on the internet. I have also walked away from this book with ideas on how to encourage healthy usage of all the information now at my children's fingertips. Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook was an enjoyable read and was not overbearing or heavy on the statistics. I would recommend this book to anyone that has children - of any age. For as this book expresses in every chapter it is never to early to have an internet safety conversation. Just as with learning to read, as a parent you have a responsibility to appropriately guide that curiosity and learning experience(s). So read Moreno more entertaining and educational version and enjoy her blend of professionalism, current research, as well as her own and other's "mom" experiences.
  • (3/5)
    This book is designed to help parents of pre-teens and teens navigate the sometimes-sticky world of Facebook. I received an Early Reviewer copy of this book and just finished it. This book is good, not great. Essentially, it's for the parents who don't use social media themselves. If you are a parent who already uses and is familiar with Facebook, I think you probably know most of what is in this book already - it's largely filled with common sense tips that are helpful, but really only for social media neophytes. Parents do need to be aware that the news feeds of their teens are filled with links to explicit material that doesn't show up on their own feeds. Kids can use Facebook to share porn, for example. I also think this book serves as a good wake-up call for parents who might be a little naive about the world their teens live in today. Recommended if you are a non=Facebook-using parent of a pre-teen or teen.
  • (3/5)
    A lot of common sense ideas in this basic intro book on teens and electronic communication/interaction, etc. I would love to see someone delve more in-depth on the topic of problematic internet use, but it sounds from this book as though this is still under research by the experts. I've seen firsthand how gaming can take over an individual's social life, and looking at the young people around me who seem to always have their phones out and are texting constantly that also seems to be something that can pre-occupy your life. I understand parent's reluctance to get involved in this world that my 30-something son calls "stalkers anonymous" but it does seem that parents should know what confronts their children on a daily basis. A good basic intro to the subject.
  • (3/5)
    I received Sex, Drugs, 'n Facebook as an Early Review. It's so unfortunate that the title includes the word "Facebook," since teens are increasingly dropping Facebook for other social media platforms, such as Vine, Instagram, Twitter, and WeChat. In just the last quarter of 2013, Facebook usage by teens has dropped by 16%. I think parents can still find use in this books subtitle, "A Parents' Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use." Parents have to know what their kids are doing online, and which sites the kids are using. Get familiar with the terminology, start the discussion about online footprint, safety/security, scams, bullying, etc. This book does provide information that parents would find useful. Personally, I wouldn't buy a book with the word "Facebook" in the title, as I would think that it's outdated information.
  • (3/5)
    Sex, Drugs ‘n Facebook: A Parent's Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use by Megan Moreno provides parents with an introduction to the online life of tweens and teens. Moreno gives a decent overview of social media site, as well as making parents aware of the possible dangers children maybe facing: from predatory behavior to an overly wide and uncontrolled digital footprint. Like most parenting books I’ve read since the birth of my children, the answer is simple to state, difficult to do: Talk to your children and monitor their computer usage. Moreno provides a nice framework for discussion, but the book, itself seems written for adults who have very little online experience, themselves.