The Role of Technology in Creating a Safe Internet for Teens

Moderated by Krista Jessacher

The online social platform is here to stay.  On a daily basis teens are finding this social platform difficult to navigate when there is latent and overt conflict.  Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?  Are we providing education about good digital citizenship at the right time, with the right message, to the right groups - in a format that is easily understandable to teens?  Is Plagiarism being managed adequately or have some teens "beat the system"?  Is texting through the night by teens a myth or somewhat true?  Are teens viewing adult content, much too soon, and in much too explicit a format - do they have the option to opt out and still maintain a social presence in social media? What are the avenues for a teen to resolve a conflict involving an unauthorized photo of themselves on social media?  What could Facebook be doing to improve the safety landscape of teens on social media? 

Moderator bio:

Krista raises awareness about the issues of cyberbullying of teens and also increasing privacy in this digital age.  She has growing experience discussing cyberbullying, and wrote "It Stops Today", a resource to raise awareness about cyberbullying.  She is currently a Board Member of PMAST - an organization devoted to conflict resolution and teens.  She was a radio guest for Pink Shirt Day in Kelowna, BC in 2013 and a Youth Speaker about Online Bullying for Blue Friday in Calgary, AB in 2012.  Krista has a legal background, including a law degree, of approximately 15 years.  Her interests have recently expanded to include Youth Justice.  

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"Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?  Are we providing education about good digital citizenship at the right time, with the right message, to the right groups - in a format that is easily understandable to teens?"

I would like to touch briefly on the quoted questions that were posed above in the section query.  I find it interesting to consider the fact that we may be at a time where we need to teach citizenship not only at the real-world level, but also on the digital level.  I know that today the school environment is aimed at more traditional roles of good citizenship and politeness in the real/physical world, but it seems that, as technology increases and becomes more common-place, students and teens are finding it easier to adopt "online personas".  In the digital world, they can be who they want, see what they want, and most importantly, argue about what they want.

This gives rise to such things as "trolling" and cyber-bullying, in which people online can act with impunity in regards to social punishment, as long as they keep their anonymity intact, or in some cases, simply because they are not in close proximity to the person who is the target.  In my mind, it has become almost a necessity that students need to be taught to deal with conflicts, no only in the real world, but also online. They also need to be taught how to behave themselves properly.  It would be very interesting to see what kind of system can be developed to combat this new trend of online-impunity.

Does anyone else have any ideas on how we can bridge the gap between online and real world behavior?

Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?  

 

Resolving public online conflicts between teens (and everyone else, for that matter) can be done most efficiently by online moderators.  In many online forums, there are disclaimers stating that the use of any foul language, racial slurs, etc. will result in the removal of a post.  Online moderators could take a more aggressive approach in censoring public posts that are confrontational.  This would obviously require a large amount of resources in order to monitor an endless amount of online communication, but perhaps computer software could be of help if it is developed to eliminate certain confrontational “buzzwords”.

 

Resolving private online confrontations seems like more of a difficult task, and is the responsibility of the parents.  I personally do not think that a website like Facebook should monitor private conversations, as it would be a huge waste of resources and invasive of personal privacy.  The proper way for private, online conflicts to be dealt with would be through parental intervention, when necessary.  If parents keep track of their children and see signs of a problem, it is their duty to investigate.  Because online sources have become regular means for online communication, conflict, and bullying, it is important for parents to consider these sources if their child is showing signs of distress.

 

Another approach would be to let teens handle conflicts by themselves.  Obviously, this solution is only appropriate if the conflict is relatively minor.  Teens need to eventually develop into adults and resolve their own conflicts.  Overbearing parental intervention into the online lives of their children could have negative impacts on the child’s development. 

 

Are we providing education about good digital citizenship at the right time, with the right message, to the right groups - in a format that is easily understandable to teens?  

 

Online forums breed a different culture than face-to-face interactions do.  All people are less accountable for their comments and posts online, because they do not have to deal with the same consequences that would result from saying the same things to a person’s face.  When people and teens can post anonymously, practically all accountability is lost.  This usually results in more bold and hateful communication.  Here, I think the term “teens” is too general.  The online actions of teens vary from teen to teen.  I think all teens have a basic understanding of right and wrong, and hateful from peaceful.  Some teens ignore their conscience, while others do not engage in such bad behavior.  Like my response to the first question, I think the real issue here is parenting.

 

Is Plagiarism being managed adequately or have some teens "beat the system"?  

 

I think it is.  I knew plenty of students in high school and college that plagiarized from online sources.  Unfortunately for these students, their teachers could also use Google, and where able to detect plagiarism.  If a teen plagiarizes and the teacher is diligent, the teacher can find out.

 

Is texting through the night by teens a myth or somewhat true?  

 

It was true seven years ago, when I was a teen!  My parents could monitor when texts were sent, and what numbers they were sent to by looking at the bill.  If I ran up the bill, my parents would look through the list.  If they saw texts at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., I had to explain myself.

 

If parents are paying the cell phone bills, then they can control cell phone use.  In the age of smartphones, perhaps there is an app that could disable a child’s cell service for certain hours of the night.

 

Are teens viewing adult content, much too soon, and in much too explicit a format - do they have the option to opt out and still maintain a social presence in social media?

 

Yes, they are.  Unfortunately, this leads to what many would consider a premature loss of innocence.  Websites cannot really monitor how old someone really is.  Additionally, adult content and conversations can be posted on websites that teens have easy access to.  I’m not sure how a teen could maintain presence on a website like Facebook without coming across age inappropriate content.  But this problem goes well beyond online forums.  Children are exposed to adult content every day, in public, at school, and at home.  Some of the worst language I have ever heard was on the playground as a fourth grader.  There was nothing anyone could realistically do to stop it.  It was just a part of growing up. 

 

 

What are the avenues for a teen to resolve a conflict involving an unauthorized photo of themselves on social media?  

 

On Facebook, the picture can be reported and removed by a Facebook employee.  I am not sure what the protocol is on other websites.  If the teen cannot have it removed by online reporting, they can always take legal action.  However, legal action is not always feasible to everyone, especially low-income families.  A teen may also be able to reach out to school administrators, and hope that the school administrators can lean on the poster of the photo to take the photo down.  That is, assuming the poster is a fellow student.

 

What could Facebook be doing to improve the safety landscape of teens on social media? 

 

I think Facebook does a decent job of monitoring content.  To suggest that they can eliminate all online conflict and do a perfect job of online censorship may be unrealistic.  The only suggestion I could make would be for Facebook to offer a conflict/content reporting service for teens, and everyone else.  If a teen is being harassed by another user, they could shoot the Facebook staff a message, and the staff could handle it by deactivating the harasser’s profile.  Parents could also use this resource to report inappropriate content.  I think these sorts of resources may already exist, so my recommendation would be to just develop and staff these initiatives more thoroughly. 

Having grown up with the ever growing technology age (I'm 22 now), I completely agree that people adopt a sort of "online persona" as you put it.  When I was in grade school, the new online fad was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).  AIM allowed you to be the person your peers never saw.  A quiet, laid-back person could be more outgoing and start more conversations.  A student interested in poetry could finally have the opportunity to express their feelings without the fear of being made fun of.... Or at least that's the way it started.  Eventually, the cyber bullying started, and it has become a major issue with younger kids today, especially with the development of social media.  Part of the problem could be that schools are incorporating technology more and more.  This increase could lead to the decrease of actual substantive human interaction, because students only "talk" through digital messaging, like texting and social media.

In order to "bridge the gap" between online and real world behavior I think that encouraging teens to establish relationships in the real world will lead to better online interactions.  I'm not sure it would be possible to teach good citizenship online, because like you said, people can adopt a different persona behind the computer screen.  (There is even an entire series on MTV dedicated to people who have started online relationships, only to find out the person they were talking to was not who they said they were.)  Instead, I think that teaching good citizenship as a whole, teaching teens how to treat each other no matter how they are interacting (online or digitally), is the foundation for healthy online relationships.  To me, cyber bullying (and any other kind of bullying) only occurs because the bullies don't take the time to get to know the real person they see on a daily basis.  Personally, I find it is much easier to talk to someone (in person or online) if I can understand more about them in general.  Maybe the older generations, such as parents, older siblings, or even more people my age just need to teach teens how to be a proper human being.  We need to make them realize that no matter who you are talking to, they are a person first and foremost.  I think that once we are able to help teens, and even younger kids, understand this, then we will be able to prevent further cyber bullying issues.  Maybe this is a bit idealistic, but maybe it's worth a shot.

Michael Wade Anderson said:

"Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?  Are we providing education about good digital citizenship at the right time, with the right message, to the right groups - in a format that is easily understandable to teens?"

I would like to touch briefly on the quoted questions that were posed above in the section query.  I find it interesting to consider the fact that we may be at a time where we need to teach citizenship not only at the real-world level, but also on the digital level.  I know that today the school environment is aimed at more traditional roles of good citizenship and politeness in the real/physical world, but it seems that, as technology increases and becomes more common-place, students and teens are finding it easier to adopt "online personas".  In the digital world, they can be who they want, see what they want, and most importantly, argue about what they want.

This gives rise to such things as "trolling" and cyber-bullying, in which people online can act with impunity in regards to social punishment, as long as they keep their anonymity intact, or in some cases, simply because they are not in close proximity to the person who is the target.  In my mind, it has become almost a necessity that students need to be taught to deal with conflicts, no only in the real world, but also online. They also need to be taught how to behave themselves properly.  It would be very interesting to see what kind of system can be developed to combat this new trend of online-impunity.

Does anyone else have any ideas on how we can bridge the gap between online and real world behavior?

I think it's an interesting concept to adopt a practice of "teaching" teens how to use social media responsibly. Almost daily I hear about students posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook or sending them via text without the realization that what is posted to the Internet is there forever. No matter that the picture or post can be deleted, at some point in time it can still be found online. I think it'd be an interesting idea to discuss in schools or in after-school programs how to have a positive and appropriate online persona and what the consequences are of instances of things like cyber-bullying or tasteless photographs.

On the other hand, I don't believe this is a job for the social media outlet itself. While sites like Facebook have a really good policy on taking down and reporting "inappropriate content" I don't think it's their job to monitor messages or postings because that gets into privacy and oversight issues. If you are willing to post things on the internet I think you should also be willing to take responsibility for what you post. In an age where more teenagers are are participating and even checking the "13 or older" box when they aren't, parents need to be more active in their children's lives. Parents and schools should be the ones monitoring teenager's social media outlets and that is where a lot of the conflict resolution can be helped. Most teenagers don't have any idea how to face conflict online and I think that is why the adults in their lives need to be involved. I know a lot of parents who have access to their kid's Facebook pages and that way can approach any online conflict through social media directly and, hopefully, before it gets out of control.

Unfortunately, teenagers do have more access and more of a digital presence than most other generations. When I was in high school in the early 2000's we used AOL instant messenger to talk to our friends throughout the night, its no leap that now that teenagers receive smartphones at the age of 12 they can do the same thing only with text messages. Without teaching them the costs of phone plans, what not to put up online or send through text messages teens have to take cues from tv or magazines which doesn't always address important issues. I would be curious to hear how a "good digital citizenship" lesson plan could be implemented in schools or other programs or if such a thing even exists yet.

Krista,

Thanks for the thoughtful post.  This has been something that has been on my mind as of late.  There seems to be no end to articles that involve cyber bulling or intimidation in the news lately.  This is something that requires an organized effort to outline, within reason, of what is acceptable and what is not.  As you mentioned, children under the anonymous guise of an internet profile, are emboldened to do and say things that they would not otherwise say and do in person.  This has caused a lack of civility and politeness in digital forums.  The problem is that though the notion of anonymity is ever present, this does not truly protect one from being rude, inconsiderate, or belligerent in digital forums.  When a teen posts something inconsiderate and rude, simply because he believes that he/she will never me caught, this is a fallacy.  No matter how smart the teen believes he/she is, there is always someone else smarter willing to uncover the protected guise and reveal the thoughts, actions, or words the individual shared with someone when you believed that no one would find out.  The consequences of posting something under the suspected guise of anonymity that is either rude, harassing, or bullying may have far reaching social implications, but also legal ones.  

While a classroom seminar may be the direction to addressing the increasingly lack of civility in digital forums, the  more immediate forum, in which the parameters of acceptable actions in digital forums may be expressed, is in the home.  Those who are parents are put in a unique environment in which they are psychically present and able to articulate from the hopefully influential position of a parent the importance of being a responsible citizen, not just in person, but also in digital forums.   

I feel like this is something that must be addressed, if not necessarily for the immediate consequences of incivility expressed toward another, but the bigger picture; that someone is developing a comfort with treating a fellow human being with such a lack of consideration, tolerance, and human empathy.  This may seem a bit dramatic, but does anyone think for a second that with time this type of behavior exhibited purely in digital forums will not manifest itself in the relationships that he/she has with friends, children, co-workers, or spouse?     

Boy this is a good conversation to be having right now, and I think the previous posters have done a good job addressing the broad set of questions posed to us. 

A couple things come to mind for me that would be useful to add to the mix. One is the growing set of materials and even games for teaching young people about online interactions and safety/civility issues. One of my favorite is the work Common Sense Media has developed in partnership with different groups. See http://www.commonsensemedia.org and review their digital citizenship materials - scope and sequence - to see the kind of thing I'm thinking about.

Another related item is the fascinating work that is being done by researchers and Facebook as part of their Compassion Research Days, usually held in February? They have been changing the language and "workflow" presented to young people who "have a problem with a photo or post" and incorporating social emotional elements (asking how strongly the teen is feeling about something, for instance) and providing different sample text responses that could be modified slightly and sent to the poster of the questionable content that would make their point without being offense/defensive while doing so. Results show that young people are using the tools more and the recipients of the request to take something down are actually feeling more positive about the complainer than we might expect, as they get to know them some more.  See this story for more on this work.

Last year I did a workshop with Priscilla Prutzman from Creative Response to Conflict where we explore addressing cyberbullying in some detail. I made a Scoop.it collection of materials that we talked about, and there are some really innovative examples there of games or materials that are becoming available to strengthen teens online conflict competence. 

You can review this Cyberbully Prevention Scoop-it  and the presentation slides online. Perhaps it will spark new ideas that we can add to this thread. 

One other piece I have to contribute is some presentation slides from a project I did where I collected twitter posts talking about peer mediation over the course of a year using an automated data collection too. After gathering and collating the posts I tried to make some sense out of how teens are talking about face-to-face peer mediation on the twitter "backchannel" if you will. Some of the talk was very supportive, while other trends saw mediation as a form of weakness or too controlled an environment for real conflicts. Very interesting (to me anyway), and I hope I get around to actually publishing something soon! In any case, you can check out the slides, including some sample tweets here

Now, back to the bigger question, in my mind anyway, is how can we start creating technology to assist in calming down or reframing or curtailing online harassment and bullying, while still promoting dialogue and communication across many channels  by our young people? I think Leah Wing's live blog radio show coming up tomorrow will shed some light on this, as she and her colleagues at UMass Amherst have been doing some very practical and interesting work on modifying standard discussion forums in ways that we hope will promote greater understanding and less contentious behavior online. Good stuff.

Oh, and I forgot to ask, but Krista, could you please fill us in some more on what PMAST is and how you come at these questions of safety and civility? I'm always interested to learn more about groups coming to grips with these issues!

Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?  

Are we providing education about good digital citizenship at the right time, with the right message, to the right groups - in a format that is easily understandable to teens?

     To prevent conflicts from arising online, there needs to be a greater monitoring system in place as well as extensive education for children. Social media websites alert them about any comments they missed while inactive. A phone is the last thing kids put down at night and first thing they pick up in the morning. This allows cyber bullying to affect kids all hours of the day, at school, at home, and even out with friends. Conflicts arise daily, and teens are under equipped to deal with this. I don't believe that any education is happening at the right time. It is happening only once there is a problem. 

     There are usually no phones allowed in schools, and there is definitely no discussion going on about how to be safe on the internet. No one shows you how to set the privacy setting on your Facebook or tells you what to avoid online. I was never once taught how to avoid conflicts online and never discussed bullying online. Kids today are not being informed of the dangers of the internet. Schools hold a large role in the education of children and they should be discussing the dangers of social media and how to prevent cyber bullying. Classes should go on sites like Facebook and show students how much of their profiles are viewable to the public, as many students may not even realize what they are putting out there can be seen. Education is not happening where it should be. And if it is happening, it’s not forceful enough to have teens take it seriously. 

      Education can not only come from schools but from parents. It is not enough for a parent to glance at their child's Facebook once and a while; they need to be in charge of what apps are added to their Smartphone and they need to look through their posts. They need to first teach their child how to be respectful online and show the children that this is really online forever. In cyber bullying, many of the parents denied that their children were the perpetrators. Parents need to realize that online anyone could be the perpetrator, and education needs to be happening. Parents need to play an active part in their child’s online activities.

     Schools on the other hand have been looking to other measures. Schools may be monitoring students through their social media. Even something as small as principals asking to add students on Facebook has been a tool used to prevent conflicts between teens. Some schools have asked help from outside companies to prevent cyber bullying and conflicts online. They have hired surveillance companies to monitor students’ social media accounts. Many students have profiles and posts that are kept public whether they realize it or not. These companies search through profiles for harassment and even suicide related posts. If they do come across something, it is then in the hands of police or school faculty. It is left up to them to decide how to handle the situation. But all of this seems too reactive. There is a strong urge for schools and parents to be proactive when it comes to online conflicts. Education allows for more teens to realize how to act on social media, and monitoring makes it a safer environment. 

-Alyssa

 Krista, the question was asked “Are we doing enough to resolve conflicts between teens on social media?” and “Are we providing education…at the right time, with the right message, (and to) the right groups…?”, my thoughts are that we have been educating teens in school and at home about the threats to their safety and security on the internet. We often see PSA’s on television which warn kids not to let peer pressure induce them to participate in ‘sexting’ or other questionable interactions. I think these PSA’s could go farther, but until the public sees that somewhat universal DR system is progressing, (which would have the ability to resolve cyber-situations and the power to enforce those decisions,) there will be a lack if interest. This is not because the parties do not want to pursue a resolution, but because of the nature of the entities involved. Giant internet social media companies and ‘hidden’ cyber criminals are often seen as intimidating adversaries and they use that advantage to limit individuals ability to seek and find reasonable solutions to conflicts encountered online.

There needs to be more education. This education needs to include as many people as possible. We need to make sure that the uncles, aunts, and other people involved in the teens life have a clear view of the ‘realities’ that exist on the web, and what they should do in regard to guiding teens through the new era of social media. Many adults these days are familiar with the terms ‘phishing’, ‘cyberbullying’, ‘sexting’, and so on, but they lack familiarity with what those terms actually imply and how they are often used to harm the people using the internet.

Mark Prensky, in his paper “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” (Prensky, M., Digital Natives, Digital immigrants. MCB University Press. 2001). Identifies the gap between todays modern youth who possess a great deal of ‘computer’ skills and the the adults that lack the knowledge and understanding.  Involvement will certainly increase with knowledge- it is easier to get involved in a situation you understand than one in which you lack familiarity. Increased awareness and involvement by a larger number of people will, at some point, force the major cyber-players to develop technology and systems and implement a reliable dispute resolution system(s). that would encompass the industry and enforce issues such as cyber-bullying and copyright infringement, as well as providing young people more shelter from predators.

On a positive note, awareness of internet crime by teens is gaining traction. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), in a report released today, shows a marked increase of net-awareness. The report, "Teen Identity Theft: Fraud, Security, and Steps Teens are Taking to Protect Themselves Online," discovered thatover three-quarters of teens are very or somewhat concerned about the privacy of their personal information being harmed by their online activity, including 43% who are very concerned. This is up from the two in three teens who were very (35%) or somewhat (30%) concerned just a year ago."

The report was conducted by Hart Research Associates. It included two focus groups and a nationwide online survey conducted in October among 558 teens ages 13 to 17 who access the Internet.”( WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/. The full report is available at: http://www.fosi.org/research.html.

This increased awareness, while not a solution in itself, contributes to the comfort level teens have to seek help with cyber-issues, from peers, teachers, and parents. Many of the tragic stories we hear regarding cyber-bullying could have been resolved if the kids involved had spoken to an adult or counselor who could have assisted them with the situation and the emotions involved.   peter hilb

Every year Cyberweek is such a success.  This is such a great discussion - all about teens and technology. Hopefully we'll see some different points of view.  Everyone is welcome.

There is a lot of discussion about "Online Personas".  Michael and Alexander mentioned the problem linking these Online Personas and "real/physical world".  So are Online Personas getting to big to hide ?  Are teens involved in creating Online Personas or do they prefer to "just be themselves" online?
I liked Patrick's points about parents having to keep up with teens to make sure they are good digital citizens.  Also there is the continued problem of teens being exposed to adult content too soon, even if they are just on facebook.  So how do we better filter the online social platforms of the explicit content?  What could we be doing differently that would really help avoid those images/content that you never wanted to see?  
Hope you enjoy the discussion and Talk Radio Program details below.
Krista 

Internet Radio Program - Social Media and ODR

  • Pattie Porter with special guests Leah & Tom Murray @ 1pm Eastern/12pm Central/6pm GMT on Thursday

This is a great discussion.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed!

I really liked Alyssa's comment that "A phone is the last thing kids put down at night and first thing they pick up in the morning."  It is really difficult to talk about teens without also talking about mobile phones.  It is a big part of their world.  And there is Amanda's comment: "Most teenagers don't have any idea how to face conflict online".  I mentioned a while back that there is the COMBO of online and Face2Face conflict. I agree with Adam's point "...but does anyone think for a second  that with time this type of behvavior exhibited purely in digital forums will not manifest itself in the relationships that he/she has with friends, children, co-workers, or spouse?".  This develops the point of Online Personas and are they really so separate from physical world after all.  Is there such a thing as a good Online Persona or are they all dark?

Peter articulated an important concern: the "limit individuals ability to seek and find reasonable solutions to conflicts encountered online."  So what are these limits to proper resolution of online conflicts and how can we ensure that proper boundaries are respected for healthy families and communities.  He raised a nice point about extended family being involved in helping teens be good digital citizens.  That is a really good suggestion.  
Bill raised a point that I was unaware of: Facebook having a sophisticated response to some problem posters and suggesting alternate language.  This is very forward-thinking.  
A wonderful discussion!
Krista

Krista - thank you for hosting and moderating this discussion. As a father of toddler twins, and uncle to several teenagers, these questions are important and extremely relevant in today's global society. To streamline the discussion, I decided to answer a few of the questions I thought to be most interesting. 

Is texting through the night by teens a myth or somewhat true?  

Absolutely. There is no question that some teens, especially the ones I personally know, text other teens through the night. Not only do they text, but they use social media networks, engage in gaming sessions, and the internet in general. When I was growing up, it wasn't uncommon for teens to have their own landlines and talk with others late into the night. I can see parallels between that and texting. It seems that the up and coming generation is less willing to orally communicate, and find it easier to communicate through text. In my opinion, that can cause separate developmental issues unrelated to the topic of cyber-bullying. 

In my humble opinion, and I agree to an extent with an earlier post, it is imperative that parents or guardians become proactive in keeping abreast of what their teens are doing at night. There are many effective ways to do that. For example, I know that Verizon has parental features that allow a teen's phone to shut down at a certain time at night and become active again the next morning. In addition, there is a setting that allows parents to be alerted if certain words are used in their kid's text messages. I have a sibling that was able to uncover, and prevent, a potentially negative situation because of a similar feature. Obviously, children have a certain right to privacy, but to what extent? How lenient or strict should we be with teenagers? What is the balance between a parent's responsibility to teach and develop, and a teen's right to privacy?

Personally, I believe that although teenagers have a certain level of privacy, it is not unfettered. These teens are learning, and we are ideally teaching them, how to be respectful and productive members of society. In doing so, there has to be some level of structure, which may entail punishment and behavioral correction. Texting through the night can lead to serious issues, such as "sexting," and be counterproductive for teens.

Are teens viewing adult content, much too soon, and in much too explicit a format - do they have the option to opt out and still maintain a social presence in social media?

Yes. Unless precautions are taken, there is a limitless amount of explicit material on the internet, including Facebook, which teens are exposed to on an hourly basis. Our society is over-sexualized and violent, and teens notice and respond. From music, to movies, to TV shows, to video games, to social media sites, to mobile phone applications. Any teenager can go online and gain access to explicit material whenever they want. Again, I believe it comes back to the parents, and their involvement with teens. There is technology available that allows parents to filter what types of sites can be accessed at home using the internet. Additionally, a lot of cable providers have security measures that require an access code to view adult material, even if on network television. But our role as parents goes beyond that. As my children grow up, I hope that I am cognizant of the temptations and negative influences around them. It is easy for impressionable and immature teenagers to get sucked into explicit material. Providing an option to opt out of explicit advertisements or posts may be a great option. Similar to the cable networks, maybe social media sites can provide a warning to teenagers that states a post contains explicit material, and then give them the option to view it, or not allow the teen to view it at all. 

What could Facebook be doing to improve the safety landscape of teens on social media?

Besides the suggestion above, I honestly think Facebook is doing a pretty decent job in responding to cyber-bullying and the hateful things that go on online. I was impressed to find that Facebook has a section in its website specific to cyber-bullying, which they call Safety Center. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/safety/bullying

This gives teens an outlet to report bullying, and potentially solve the issue with the aggressor. One thing that Facebook can do is make this part of the site more visible. There are advertisements for all sorts of things, and maybe Facebook can make the Safety Center more prominent so that teens actually know about it. The Safety Center talks about bullying, how to prevent it, and most importantly, how to report it. I think it is incredibly important that teens understand that they are not alone, that there is help available, and that they should not have to stand being bullied in any form or fashion.

Thank you again for the discussion. I apologize if my comments offend anyone. That is not my intention. These are wholly my own opinions. I'd love to hear from others as well. I always personally grow the most when others share their perspective. 

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