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Social media has given teens the ability to instantly connect with others and share their lives through photos, videos and status updates. Teens themselves describe these platforms as a key tool for connecting and maintaining relationships, being creative, and learning more about the world. But they also must contend with more negative aspects of social media use, such as drama and bullying or feeling pressure to present themselves in a certain way.
There are some age and gender differences in the topics teens share on social media. Older teens are more likely than their younger counterparts to post about their romantic relationships: 26% of teens ages 15 to 17 say they post about their dating life on social media, compared with 16% of 13- to 14-year-olds.
Although the proliferation of smartphones has given teens the ability to constantly share different aspects of their lives, this survey finds that many teens regularly forego posting selfies, videos or other updates of their lives to social media.
There is some demographic variation in the types of content teens say they post to social media. Girls are much more likely than boys to post selfies: Six-in-ten girls say they often or sometimes do this, compared with 30% of boys. And while two-thirds of black teens and about half (51%) of Hispanic teens report regularly sharing selfies on social media, that share drops to 39% among white youth. Black teens are also much more likely than whites to say they at least sometimes post things they want to go viral (41% vs. 25%).
The survey also presented teens with four pairs of words and asked them to choose the sentiment that most closely matches how they feel when using social media. In each instance, teens are more likely to associate their social media use with generally positive rather than negative feelings. By relatively large margins, teens indicate that social media makes them feel included rather than excluded (71% vs. 25%), confident rather than insecure (69% vs. 26%), authentic rather than fake (64% vs. 33%) and outgoing rather than reserved (61% vs. 34%).
Interestingly, there are few demographic differences on these questions. For example, teen boys and girls are similarly likely to view their social media use in these ways, as are older and younger teens.
Just as relationships get forged and reinforced on social media, friendships can turn sour and require teens to prune their friend or follower lists. More than four-in-ten teens (44%) say they at least sometimes unfriend or unfollow people on social media, including 14% who say they do this often. But a somewhat larger share of teens say they engage in this behavior relatively sparingly. Just over half of young people report that they rarely (39%) or never (14%) unfriend or unfollow people on social media.
Teens who at least sometimes unfriend or unfollow people provide several reasons for deleting people from their friend lists on social media. But by far the most common reason (mentioned by 78% of teens who engage in this behavior) is that the person in question is simply creating too much drama.
In addition, more than half of these teens (54%) say they have unfriended or unfollowed someone because that person posted too much or too often, and a similar share disconnected from someone because the person bullied them or others.
Majorities of teens believe social media helps people their age diversify their networks, broaden their viewpoints and get involved with issues they care about. Roughly two-thirds of teens say social networking sites helps teens at least some to interact with people from different backgrounds (69%), while a similar share credits social media with helping teens find different points of view (67%) or helping teens show their support for causes or issues (66%).
While some youth play an active role in controlling the content they see in their social media feeds and preventing various figures of authority from viewing what they post there, a large share of teens rarely curate their online presence in this way.
At a broad level, 46% of teens say they at least sometimes organize their feeds to only see certain types of content, although just 15% say they do this often. Indeed, 29% of teens say they never organize their social feeds in this way.
The vast majority of teens (90% in this case) believe online harassment is a problem that affects people their age, and 63% say this is a major problem. But majorities of young people think key groups, such as teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at tackling this issue. By contrast, teens have a more positive assessment of the way parents are addressing cyberbullying.
Girls also are more likely than boys to report being the recipient of explicit images they did not ask for (29% vs. 20%). And being the target of these types of messages is an especially common experience for older girls: 35% of girls ages 15 to 17 say they have received unwanted explicit images, compared with about one-in-five boys in this age range and younger teens of both genders.2Online harassment does not necessarily begin and end with one specific behavior, and 40% of teens have experienced two or more of these actions. Girls are more likely than boys to have experienced several different forms of online bullying, however. Some 15% of teen girls have been the target of at least four of these online behaviors, compared with 6% of boys.
The likelihood of teens facing abusive behavior also varies by how often teens go online. Some 45% of teens say they are online almost constantly, and these constant users are more likely to face online harassment. Fully 67% of teens who are online almost constantly have been cyberbullied, compared with 53% of those who use the internet several times a day or less. These differences also extend to specific kinds of behaviors. For example, half of teens who are near-constant internet users say they have been called offensive names online, compared with about a third (36%) who use the internet less frequently.
Today, school officials, tech companies and lawmakers are looking for ways to combat cyberbullying. Some schools have implemented policies that punish students for harassing messages even when those exchanges occur off campus. Anti-bullying tools are being rolled out by social media companies, and several states have enacted laws prohibiting cyberbullying and other forms of electronic harassment. In light of these efforts, Pew Research Center asked young people to rate how key groups are responding to cyberbullying and found that teens generally are critical of the way this problem is being addressed.
Indeed, teens rate the anti-bullying efforts of five of the six groups measured in the survey more negatively than positively. Parents are the only group for which a majority of teens (59%) express a favorable view of their efforts.
How could we live without our smartphones, laptops, and other devices that allow us to go online? That's how most of us keep in touch with friends and family, take pictures, do our homework, do research, find out the latest news, and shop.
Finally, remember that any pictures or text messages that you send could be leaked as soon as you hit send. Think about whether the words you've written or the pictures you're about to share are ones that you would want other people reading or seeing. A good rule is that if you wouldn't want your grandmother to see it or read it, you probably shouldn't send it or post it.
Sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate. In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim to already have a revealing picture or video of a child that will be shared if the victim does not send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value.
After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse. Caregivers and young people should understand how the crime occurs and openly discuss online safety.
"Most preteens and teenagers will get acne at some point," says Brantley. Even though hormones and genes play a big role in teen acne, adopting good skin-care habits can get rid of zits and prevent the emotional and physical scars of acne.
Furthermore, for celebrities that are as exploited for their physical bodies as often as the Kardashian family is, they are shirking an opportunity to reframe the narrative around healthy weight. Hence, teens are told that looking skinny defines your worth. This messaging is superficial, heartbreaking for many, and can be deadly for those who suffer with life-threatening eating disorders.
Celebrities influence teens in other ways as well. When stars post images of themselves drinking or smoking on social media, they normalize substance use. Furthermore, they make it appear attractive and cool. This is one way that social media can have a negative impact on teen mental health.
Moreover, teens often idolize celebrities and want to be like them. Therefore, if they see images on Instagram of a favorite singer or actor using drugs or drinking, they might be tempted to do so as well.
For example, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study looked at teenagers who frequently listen to music that contains references to marijuana. Subsequently, they found that these teens are more likely to use the drug than teens with less exposure to such lyrics.
In addition, for every hour that American teens listen to music, they hear more than three references to different brand names of alcohol. Researchers say that this might contribute to teen drinking. In addition, researchers at Dartmouth Medical School found that movie characters who smoke cigarettes influence teens to try smoking. Therefore, media influence on youth can contribute to risk-taking behaviors. 781b155fdc