Social Media

Social Media and Body Image Issues Among Teens

Written by: Hilary Smith, Freelance Journalist

Social Media addiction. young beautiful woman holding a smartpho
Just by scrolling through countless celebrities’ social media accounts, we can see that our society is obsessed with beauty. Everywhere our sons and daughters look they are viewing toned, tanned, and tight bodies. However, what caught me and countless other parents off guard, is the fact that our smart and beautiful children succumb to these impossible body ideals.

As my sons and daughter struggle with molding themselves to meet the physical ideals society deems desirable, it makes me wonder how I can help them see the truth that they are valuable without doing countless “curls for the girls” in the gym or looking up weight loss secrets on pro-anorexia sites. With all this focus on ideal bodies, I want to challenge parents everywhere to help our children understand social media and decode the truth behind body image issues.

Teens, Body Image, And Social Media

Teenager using Smartphone at Home

Body image is often defined as how a person views their appearance and physical features and how they perceive others see them. While the definition appears pretty straightforward, it’s important to realize that body image can be complicated to understand. It’s all about perception and when it is combined with the awkward teen years, many of our children begin to agonize over their changing bodies and each child deals with this in different ways.

It’s no secret that the telly and mags often promote body types and faces that portray an ideal body type, but today’s hyper connected children are living in a culture that is focused on social media and this driving force has considerable influence on our kids.

These images often cause feelings of insecurity to manifest leading to poor body images and self concepts. Numerous apps and social media hangouts rely on profile pics, likes, and comments to function; which place a lot of importance on a child’s physical attributes. This need to project the ideal social media image can lead our children to fixate on their bodies and their inadequacies.

Talking Body Image And Social Media: 4 Tips For Parents

Realizing social media can be connecting children to dangerous sites that fuel and magnify their insecurities is frightening for parents to realize. This is only compounded when experts warn that 70 percent of our sons and daughters will regularly hide their online activity by dimming screens, deleting messages, and closing windows when we walk into a room. A little privacy is understandable, but we need to consider the fact that our teenagers’ brains are still maturing which makes it easier for eating disorder habits to become hardwired leading to a life of addictive habits that are almost impossible to break.

It is heart wrenching to watch a child deal with body image issues and develop unhealthy habits. It is essential that we parents begin a conversation about healthy body images and take measures to reduce the impact social media has on our children before an issue develops.

Listed below are four ways we can help our children look beyond social media to see their true self worth:

  • Teach children that images of celebrities and other media have been changed to project perfection. Look online for some before and after pics of magazine covers to illustrate your point. Remind them that celebrities are human and have flaws, they just have hired professionals to maintain their image.
  • Encourage healthy habits and lifestyles. Provide access to nutritional foods, encourage physical activity, and promote personal hygiene to empower children and give them some control.
  • Lead by example. Be mindful of the things we say about ourselves, others, and even our children. Display a healthy and realistic view of our bodies.
  • Monitor a child’s online activity. Know the sites they frequent, who their friends are, what apps they download, and how they behave online or on their Smartphone. Being in the know can help alert you to any potential problems developing.

In our family, we are taking it one day at a time. Things in our house are improving as we focus on trying to be healthy, rather than achieving a certain size or body fat percentage. How does your family help children keep body images at bay in the social media age?

About the author:
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent, she now enjoys writing about family and parenting-related topics.

Tips for Hosting a Tweet Chat

Written by Katie Carter, Associate for Research, Policy, and Information; Presbyterian Church (USA)

Want to share information and answer questions about a new program your agency is offering? Want to generate ideas for getting local entities interested in your organization? Want to provide a fun venue for connecting with your current followers and gain new ones? A tweet chat is a great, low-cost way to do this. All you need is a little prep work, a Twitter account and an hour in your day to make it happen.

A tweet chat is like a virtual meet-up connected by a common hashtag that happens during a specified time. For example, a group used  to convene on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. CST to discuss small business issues and network on Twitter. They used the hashtag #SmallBizChat.

If you decide to host a tweet chat, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget to include a hashtag. This is the way people will find your tweet chat. It is important you create a unique hashtag that is relevant to what you want to discuss. It should be simple, short, unique, and easy to remember.
  • Know why you want to start a tweet chat and have a plan. There are as many different reasons for hosting a tweet chat as there are organizations and people hosting them. Think about your target audience – local agencies? Donors? Kids on social media? Policymakers? Then cater to that audience.
  • Become familiar with tweet chats. Reading this is a good place to start. You might join in a tweet chat, or observe ones taking place. Get comfortable retweeting and using @mentions and @replies before hosting a chat.
  • Promote, promote, promote. No one will participate in your tweet chat if they don’t know it’s happening. Make sure you promote it on Twitter and other social media platforms at least a week in advance so people can plan ahead and participate. If you have a listserve, you might share the information that way. This also requires nailing down a time that will work for your target audience. Want to target school-age kids? You might plan a chat in the summer or after school hours. Targeting working parents? Think about what hours they will be available.
  • Actively manage the chat. It’s a good idea to do some planning ahead by preparing tweets in advance. Maybe you want to do a live question and answer session, in which case create a list of questions first that take into account the 140 character limit on Twitter and include the hashtag you are using. Be flexible in case you run out of time to ask or answer all of your questions. And respond to things other people ask.
  • Measure your impact and tell your story. So you’ve hosted your first tweet chat, but what did you accomplish? It’s a good idea to go back and see how many followers you gained during the chat and how many people participated by either retweeting or posting new content. Also, using websites like Storify is an easy, free way to share a summary of your tweet chat, or turn it into a story to share with donors, board members, staff and your social media networks.

Additional Resources:

Best Practices Guide: http://www.hashtags.org/business/management/best-practices-guide-for-tweet-chats/

Best Practices: http://www.slideshare.net/WCGWorld/twitter-chat-best-practices

How Not to Host a Twitter Chat: http://socialmediatoday.com/laurenbubble/1954471/how-not-host-twitter-chat

5 Common Sense Tips: http://blog.wcgworld.com/2012/01/five-tips-for-a-successful-twitter-chat

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Tweet Chat: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevecooper/2013/09/30/the-ultimate-guide-to-hosting-a-tweet-chat/

Use Pokemon Go to Keep Kids Safe

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

You might have heard of this little monster game called Pokemon Go.  This game is all the rage right now and has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times (and hasn’t even become available everywhere yet!)  You might be asking… “Why is NSPN talking about this?”  The answer is simple… “potential.”  With so much interest and emphasis on mobility, organizations have the potential to use the game to draw community members to them.  When community members come to you, there’s an opportunity to share available youth and family services and resources (including your organization and the local Safe Place program.)

To take advantage of this potential, use the game app to identify PokeStops in your area.  Select one of these stops as a location where you want to set up a table with information and resources.  Since this game draws people to a location, partnering with a business, such as a Safe Place site, provides an easy opportunity to ask the business to donate the money used to purchase Lures.  Whether you ask for a donation or not, please make sure you obtain permission when setting up at a public location.  Learn more about PokeStops here:  http://www.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-go/PokeStops  http://attackofthefanboy.com/guides/pokemon-go-guide-pokestops-use/

After identifying and setting up at your location, it’s time to “lure” community members in.  As inc.com explains Pokemon Go offers a range of in-app purchases. The one that is most important for your [organization] is Lures.  Lures increase the rate of Pokemon generation in the area around the PokeStop where they’re placed for one half hour.”  Inc.com also shares the affordability of luring.

“With $100 netting you could purchase 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:

14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour

Once you send out your Lures, sit back and watch the crowd come in.  While sharing the great resources to community members, it’s a good idea to remind them that anyone can purchase Lures, so safety is key!  Remind youth and family members to not visit secluded areas and don’t adventure out alone.

You can learn more about how to use this game to #KeepKidsSafe and generate awareness about available resources in your community at:  http://www.inc.com/walter-chen/pok-mon-go-is-driving-insane-amounts-of-sales-at-small-local-businesses-here-s-h.html

If you don’t play the game, this might all sound crazy.  Here’s a great website you can visit it learn the ins and outs of the game.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/health/pokemon-go-guide-trnd/

It’s also helpful to know what some of the associated lingo is.  Here’s a handy chart:

PokeGlossaryImage credit: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/health/pokemon-go-guide-trnd/

You can also see some tips and tricks about Pokemon Go here:

And, at the end of the day… If you’re not ready to embrace Pokemon Go, it’s still probably beneficial to learn a little about it so you know what folks are talking about.

“Gotta catch ‘em all!” Have fun!

Why YOU Should be Teaching Online Safety!

By: Jenna Ryckebusch, Senior Programs Coordinator, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

For the past 31 years, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) has been the leading nonprofit organization serving as the national clearinghouse and resource center for families, law enforcement and the public to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent future victimization. As part of the services and resources we provide to educators, families, children and the public, NCMEC has made available and delivered thousands of Internet safety presentations to parents, young children, teens and youth-serving professionals. NCMEC’s presentations cover issues ranging from sexting to cyberbullying to being a good digital citizen. After several of our presentations, teens have approached NCMEC staff members looking for help because they were experiencing one of the issues we discussed.

According to a new study from Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly.” Just as teens are naturally vulnerable in life, they are also online. They often want to act older, crave attention and aren’t thinking about the long-term consequences their online activity may have. That’s why it’s so important for every teen to learn about online risks and have an adult they can go to for guidance.

Teens may not feel comfortable opening up to their parents, but may approach their friends or other trusted adults first. Teens may see YOU as that trusted adult, which puts you in a powerful position. If you raise the issue of online risks with teens before anything happens, they will be even more likely to come to you if they need help.*

This is why I advocate for prevention and teaching about these risks early. One of the best defenses children have is awareness. NetSmartz® Workshop, an educational program of NCMEC, offers many free resources your team can use to help educate and empower teens to make safer decisions online and in the real world. Use the following free resources to help you get started:

  • Teaching Digital Citizenship – Learn what digital citizenship is, why it’s so important, and how to teach it with this online educator training.
  • Online Safety Presentations – Deliver easy-to-use presentations that utilize the latest statistics, online resources, videos, and expert tips to empower teens to be safer online.
  • Real-Life Stories – Encourage teens to evaluate their own online choices with these videos of teens who have experienced online victimization or digital drama firsthand.
  • Tip Sheets – Distribute these after a presentation or at an event to educate others in your community about the main online risks.
  • NetSmartz News – Sign up for the monthly email newsletter to learn about tech trends and new resources.

And since June is Internet Safety Month, this is the perfect time to commit to learning more about child sexual exploitation and teaching teens to be safer and smarter online. Get started today!

*If a teen does disclose to you or a colleague that they have been victimized online, call police and report to NCMEC’s CyberTipline (www.cybertipline.org).

Spring Forward with National Safe Place Network

By: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, NSPN

I love spring. It’s a time of new beginnings, warmer weather, flowers…

We mark this time of year at NSPN by launching our annual membership and licensed agency renewal drive. In case you missed the launch, you can read more here: http://www.nspnetwork.org/join-the-network.

I’d love to take this opportunity to share some of the exciting things we are doing, and some of the things we have planned. For starters, many of you are wrapping up the busy grant-writing season. We’ve been providing support to many of our member agencies, answering questions and reviewing proposals. We are available to do this year-round, for any of your grant proposals, not just your federal proposals. We wish you all luck who are writing and submitting proposals in the next few days.

Later in April, we are hosing a webinar for NSPN members about host homes. Some of you have been asking what host homes are. In the host home model, youth live temporarily with members of the community while receiving services. Host homes can serve as emergency shelters or as longer-term housing for youth in transitional living programs. Depending on the individual state regulation, the placement may be licensed of unlicensed. Agencies in rural areas often consider host homes a practical alternative to both short-term shelters (Basic Centers) and longer-term transitional housing (Transitional Living Programs). The host home model is a flexible model providing housing and stability. We have a terrific, experienced panel lined up to share experiences using host homes in their states. We have representatives joining us from Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, Project Oz, and Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. If you are curious about learning more about the model, or want to figure out how to strengthen the model in your state, check out this webinar on April 29 at 2 p.m. NSPN members can register here:  https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_191383.

Later this spring, we are also convening an on-line course, Clinicians’ Coffee House. This four-week course will cover: how self-care can lead to preventing vicarious trauma and contribute to a better trauma-informed approach for your entire organization. You can learn more and sign-up here: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_192441.

Be on the lookout for additional webinars and training opportunities through National Safe Place Network membership. We are excited about the events we have coming up and look forward to sharing them with you.

Miley Cyrus Advocates for Homeless Youth

Miley Cyrus is a household name. She’s a pop superstar who has made a living performing on television shows and on stage in front of large crowds. She’s had many experiences in her young life but perhaps one of the most eye-opening experiences she’s had thus far was during a recent visit to My Friend’s Place, a homeless youth shelter in Los Angeles.

Cyrus is now lending her voice to advocate on behalf of homeless youth in America. During the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, Cyrus won the award for Video of the Year. Instead of accepting the trophy herself, Cyrus sent a young man named Jesse to accept the award and raise awareness for homeless youth.

He read his statements from note cards:

“My name is Jesse and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I am one of these people. I survived in shelters all over the city. I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms, I’ve been an extra in your movies, I’ve been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight.”

His speech called attention to the large and growing population of homeless young people in Los Angeles.

“The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home. If you want to make a powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to Miley’s Facebook page. A dream you dream alone is only a dream, but a dream you dream together is reality.”

Within the last day, news outlets have reported that Jesse has a police record and an open warrant out for his arrest. It’s important to remain focused on the issue, which is runaway and homeless youth in this country. Regardless of Jesse’s story, youth homelessness is a very real issue and each young person’s experience looks different. Kids may run away from home or become homeless for any number of reasons – physical and sexual abuse, neglect, family conflict, dating violence, bullying, and more. Homeless youth are not bad kids. Unfortunately for most, they’ve experienced loss, violence, trauma and/or other hardships that have left them feeling alone, scared, and lost. Because of this, youth may turn to couch surfing or living on the streets because they feel these are better options than their current situations. It’s up to all of us as individuals and communities to support young people in need. Youth need to know they are valued and have access to safe and supportive resources when dealing with a difficult situation.

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which funds programs that help prevent the exploitation of youth on the streets and support reconnection to their families, schools, employment, and housing options. While there is still much work to be done in order to end youth homelessness, it’s important to celebrate the successes and advancements of the past 40 years.

To learn more about runaway and homeless youth and how you can support youth in need, please visit any of the following websites:

National Safe Place Network – www.nspnetwork.org

Safe Place – www.nationalsafeplace.org

National Runaway Safeline – www.1800runaway.org

National Network for Youth – www.nn4youth.org

National Alliance to End Homelessness – http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/youth

Using Twitter to Promote Your Organization

Why is Twitter important for your organization?

Twitter is a great way to promote your organization and connect to a network of people doing similar work. It is designed with simplicity in mind – where short and sweet messages come across better than complex communication.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform (like Facebook and LinkedIn) where users have 140 characters of text to share news and thoughts in real time. The 140-character limit includes all spaces, punctuation, and letters – so it goes fast.  One way to save space is to use URL shorteners when you post links. These sites (like bit.ly and tinurl) shorten links for you, turning a really long link into a shortened version, saving precious characters.

Twitter is also public. Unless you protect your tweets, anyone can see your posts. You cannot hide them and restrict viewing.

What’s with the jargon?

Twitter has its own language, so much so that Twitter provides a glossary of terms available here:

https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337-the-twitter-glossary#. Some of the most important terms are Hashtags (#), @replies, @mentions, and retweets.

Using the “@” symbol allows you to connect with other users on Twitter. If you want someone to see your tweet, you might include their username with the “@” symbol in front of it somewhere in the message. For example, if you have a question or want to highlight something and make sure the National Safe Place Network sees it, you could tweet: Heard a great speaker today. @NSPNtweets, you should consider that speaker for a webinar. This is considered a mention.

If you tweet begins “@NSPNtweets”  you are responding only to that person and no one else will see that tweet. This is considered a reply.

Hashtags define key words and phrases that allow you to create and connect a community. If you want information on board development, you could try searching for #BoardDevelopment and see what others are saying. If you are hosting an event, like a conference or meeting, you might consider creating a new Hashtag so conference and meeting attendees can connect on Twitter.

Retweeting is when you take a tweet from someone you follow, and send it out to your followers. You can do this by clicking the “retweet” button on Twitter, or by copying and pasting the tweet into your own tweet. When doing this, it’s a good idea to mention the original entity tweeting.

How do I gain followers?

To be effective on Twitter, you need followers. You gain followers by posting regularly, but not too much. Posting once a day is a good goal at first. You can include interesting things in your tweets, like photographs or links to other content. Follow people relevant to your cause and mission. They might just follow you in return. More tips are available here: http://www.hashtags.org/platforms/twitter/how-to-get-followers-on-twitter/

Twitter provides additional tips and information available here: https://business.twitter.com/twitter-101

Hashtag.org also has great resources: http://www.hashtags.org/quick-start

Want to learn  how to utilize Twitter for professional growth? Log in now or sign up for the Professional Development Package today!