Young People and Social Media: Doctors Look at Generation M2

This original article was posted by Pat Etheridge , Special to

Many teens learn the hard way that once they hit "send," there is no such thing as an "erase" button. 

Editor's note: Former CNN correspondent Pat Etheridge is a journalist specializing in children's health and family issues. She previously hosted CNN's "Parenting Today." 

(CNN) -- They're called "Generation M2": highly tech-savvy children ages 8 to 18, whose lives are immersed in electronic media.

Now, the nation's top pediatric organization is mobilizing efforts around their well-being.

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The Dark Side Of Sexting

The trend to send sexually explicit text messages and photos (also known as sexting) is something that is seen as harmless by many upon first consideration. In fact, many who read this may have engaged in this type of activity themselves at some point. However, there are some things that those who engage in sexting, are considering doing so, or are the parents of someone who falls into the first two categories should consider. 

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12 Signs Your Teen Is Addicted to Their Smartphone

I'll admit it. Smartphones are pretty addictive. They're fun to use, make it easy to stay in touch with anybody no matter where you are, and can do just about everything. I'm pretty sure you could spend a whole day on the couch without ever getting up except to go to the bathroom and eat – and maybe your teen has.

Have you seen your texting teenager and wondered whether they're really addicted to their smartphone?

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Internet Habits and Patterns: Red Flags For Teen Depression

All parents know that the Internet is a place that requires parental involvement and parental monitoring. There are cyberbullies, online predators, and identity thieves out there to worry about.

But the obvious dangers notwithstanding, did you know that some Internet uses and behaviors may also be linked to a teen's physical and mental health, too? Many studies suggest a correlation between certain types of online behavior and physical or mental health problems, from anxiety to obesity.

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Kids Safety: How Depressives Surf the Web

surfing the webAn interesting article reported by the New York Times: Kids Safety, Facebook Depression and How Depressives Surf the Web. By SRIRAM CHELLAPPAN and RAGHAVENDRA KOTIKALAPUDI

IN what way do you spend your time online? Do you check your e-mail compulsively? Watch lots of videos? Switch frequently among multiple Internet applications — from games to file downloads to chat rooms?

Brian Cronin: 

We believe that your pattern of Internet use says something about you. Specifically, our research suggests it can offer clues to your mental well-being.

In a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, we and our colleagues found that students who showed signs of depression tended to use the Internet differently from those who showed no symptoms of depression.

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Kids with Disabilities Especially at Risk for Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is one of parents' top concerns for their children's health and safety, and it's one of the most common dangers for young people online. And certain kids, namely those with disabilities, are more at risk for cyberbullying than others.

Most kids won't pick on the child with a physical handicap, but children with “invisible” disabilities such as Asperger's, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADD and ADHD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying. What's more, these children may not even realize that they are being bullied or taken advantage of.

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10 Signs Your Child Suffers From Facebook Depression: Kids Safety

If your teen seems moody and withdrawn after spending time on a social networking site, the problem may not be cyberbullying – it could be a sign of Facebook depression.

Facebook depression is a blanket term for any depression that develops when a teen spends a lot of time on social media, comparing their lives to the posts of other people.

For some teens, social networks may end up feeling like a popularity contest where they always lose: they don't have as many friends on their buddy list, as many happy tidbits of news to tweet about, as many Kodak moments with their friends as everyone else seems to.

In fact, I felt the pull of Facebook envy when my sister-in-law sent me a link to her Flickr account. As expected, it was populated with pictures of her happy children having the time of their lives on various picture-perfect family vacations, and by the bottom of the second page I was already doubting myself as a mother.

Where were the kids with lunch leftovers on their faces throwing tempter tantrums? Where were the piles of dirty laundry, or the piles of clean laundry that never get folded and leave the basket? Was I doing something wrong?

So I can certainly see how Facebook for kids could become a depressing activity, reading about the fun parties they weren't at and looking at photo after photo of other people laughing it up with their BFFs. By immersing yourself too much in social networking, it's easy to lose perspective and measure your worst against everyone else's best.

Here are 10 signs that your child could be suffering from Facebook depression:

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Texting and Walking Can Be Hazardous, Too

We all know that texting while driving is dangerous – statistics agree that it's even riskier than driving drunk. But even if your child isn't even close to receiving his or her license, you're not off the hook just yet. Texting also presents a potentially fatal distraction while simply crossing the street.

In a recent study published by the University of Alabama, 10- and 11-year-olds were observed walking across the street in a simulated environment, several times while using their phones and several times while not using their phones. Researchers found that children using a cell phone took 20% longer to cross the road, were 20% less likely to look both ways, and were twice as likely to be hit by a car. Your kids safety may be affected by using their phones even when they are walking!

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Too Much Texting or Sexting? Is it Affecting Your Teenager?

Do you ever wonder about the impact that excessive technology might have on us as a society? Probably no one is more concerned than parents of teenagers, because teens are much more likely to text, be sexting, play games online, and use social networking all the time.

Though scientists are still forming conclusions about the effects of a digital lifestyle, one new study suggests that frequent texting may lead to shallow patterns of thought and behavior in young people.

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Sexting Linked to Depression, Psychological Distress, and Suicide

Every parent knows that teen sexting is potentially really, really bad news. Sexting can spread around the school in minutes and humiliate the subject, or worse they can find their way online and become the common property of every pedophile with a broadband connection. But a recent research study also suggests that kids involved in sexting are twice as likely to experience psychological distress and even attempt suicide.

The Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts analyzed the results from a group of 23,000 high school students in the Boston area who were surveyed in 2010. The schools were situated in predominately upper-middle class white suburbs, so further research needs to be done on different demographics of teens.

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Impact of Online Gaming on Teen Sleep and Kids Safety

Like most things teens might do to fill their time, online gaming has its pros and cons. Gaming improves hand-eye coordination, encourages problem solving, and can foster teamwork and social skills (in multi-player games.) On the other hand, too much of a good thing can be, well, bad and can affect teen kids safety. Several studies have followed the effects of gaming in teens, including the latest released by the American Psychiatric Association revealing a correlation between too little sleep and Internet gaming.

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Is Facebook Depression Real? Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe

Facebook depression” is a term that first started showing up around March of 2011 after studies linking depression and overuse of social networking sites were publicized. How real is Facebook depression, many parents wonder, and should we be worried? Are our kids safe? What about Facebook for kids?

Several groups report on the Facebook depression phenomenon, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.) Follow-up studies have also replicated the findings: depressed teens are more likely to report excessive social networking use than their non-depressed peers.

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Is Late-Night Sexting Interfering with Your Teen's Sleep?

sextingDoes your teen have to check her phone the second a text comes in, no matter what she’s doing? Does texting regularly interrupt mealtime and homework time? Does it seem like your teen is constantly “on call”? If so, have you considered the impact texting may be having on her sleep?

Night Texting and Sleep Requirements

Healthy teenagers actually need more sleep than elementary school children: about 9.5 hours per night. But for teens struggling with a texting addiction, getting adequate sleep at night may be a serious challenge.

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Girl Gamers More At Risk Than Boys: Parental Monitoring Needed

online gameGiven the proliferation of teen gamers out there, Yale researchers were curious about what types of behaviors gaming was most often associated with. Out of the 4,028 respondents in the study, 2,064 of them (51.2%) reported playing at least an hour of video games per week. Here’s what they found about those kids.

    • Boys were much more likely (76.3%) to be gamers than girls (29.2%)
    • Gaming was significantly more prevalent in Asians and students with lower grades
    • Different behaviors were typical for male gamers versus female gamers

One of the most interesting parts of the study was that boys who played video games were more likely to have higher GPAs, never smoke, or never use marijuana. Aside from high caffeine consumption, there were no risky health behaviors associated with male gaming.

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Depression More Likely in Cyberbullying Victims Than in Cyberbullies

cyber bullyingWe all have heard the old adage that bullies only pick on others because they feel bad about themselves. But when it comes to cyberbullying, that may not actually be as true as we thought.

A recent study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that victims of cyberbullying are more depressed than the kids who bully them, while studies of traditional face-to-face schoolyard bullying show an equal rate of depression among bullies and victims.

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