Dangers of Facebook: What Parent's and Teenager's Should Know
Facts and Statistics about Social Networking and the Teenager
Facebook has some features that appeal to its users such as its a good way to connect with your classmates and also those you previously went to school with. Family and close friends can share their lives from thousands of miles away. Like with anything we let our children have access to, and anything they use or have that is considered a privilege should be monitored by an adult. Even more responsible teenager's will make mistakes and it could be one that could affect their lives forever. Teenager's are still going through some brain development and are starting to enter the fourth stage of Piaget's stages of development called, formal operations stage. This stage is that the brain is maturing in the frontal lobe and its theorized that this is the portion that is responsible for reason, logic, and impulse control. They are not neurologically developed enough for making certain kinds of decisions for themselves.
The culture of the modern day teenager includes social networking. It happens to be a large part of their lifestyle in the 21st century.
Internet Usage by Teen's
- 93% of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 go online.
- 69% of teenagers own their own personal desktop or laptop computer.
- 63% of teenagers go online daily.
- 27% of teenagers use their cell phone to get onto the Internet and go online.
- 24% of teenagers that have game console's such as Xbox or PS3 go online.
Use of Social Networks by Teenagers
- 73% of teenagers have at least one social network, such as, Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook.
- On average a teenagers friends list will consist of 200 plus friends.
- Every day 37% of teenage facebook users send messages to their friends.
- Only 8% of teenagers in the U.S. uses Twitter.
Teenager's Activity on Facebook
- 86% of teenager's comment on their friend's wall
- 83% of teenager's comment on their friend's pictures.
- 66% of teenager's use the instant messenger feature to send private chat messages to their friends.
- 55% of teenager's give out personal information to someone they don't know that includes physical characteristics of themselves and photos.
- 29% of teenager's have posted something mean on their page, taken and posted embarrassing photographs of someone they were harassing, or have used to spread rumors and gossip about someone they know.
- 29% of teenager's have been stalked by someone through their facebook, been contacted by a stranger or someone they didn't know.
- 24% of teenager's have had private or embarrassing information made public without their permission.
- 22% of teenager's were the vocal point of a cyberprank.
Parent's Control and Concerns
- 88% of parents know their teenagers has talked to someone they didn't know online.
- 61% of parents are aware that the number one problem among teenagers on facebook is giving out their personal information.
- 60% of parents believe that a parent should have complete control over everything their teenager does.
- 47% of parents admit that ensuring their teenager's safety online is overwhelming.
- 40% of parents worry about their teenager's online safety, even while they are home.
- Only 37% of parents check their teenager's activity of social networking sites.
The Kid's View of Their Parent's Control Over Facebook
- 67% of teenager's admit that they know how to hide everything they do online from their parents.
- 43% of teenager's said they would change their behavior if they knew their parents were watching what they were doing.
- 39% of teenager's think that everything they do on Facebook is not visible to anyone, even their parents.
- 25% of teenager's would be offended if they found out their parents were watching their activity through parental controls.
- 20% of teenager's think that their parents have no idea what they are doing online
- 18% of teenager's have created a private email or a separate social network site.
- 10% of teenager's have unlocked parental controls to disable filtering.
Facebook Rules for Teenager Use
Children under the age of 13-years-old are forbidden to use Facebook.
Rules for Teenager's
- All privacy settings set to "friends only" or "no one".
- Disable the ability for anyone but the user to view the friend's list.
- Following friends of friends is greatly discouraged for teenager's.
- Remove event's and marketplace applications.
- Do not allow them to add applications without permission.
- Don't allow them to browse the application menu.
- Check the information that is entered for their personal information and make sure nothing identifying like birthday's and address and phone number's are visible.
- Leave "interested in" and "looking for" unchecked and select "don't show my birthday".
- Under Contact Information, only enter email and screen name
- At least one parent is a friend on their child's friends list.
- Only allow true friends in real life as their friends on facebook.
- Beware of spoof facebook pages, these are one's that are claiming to be who they really aren't. Sometimes friends do this as a "joke".
- One parent needs to approve of all of their friends.
- Friends who use facebook in a dangerous manner are not allowed to be on your friends list.
- Don't end lots of friends casually as defriending them can be awkward.
- Only join groups and organizations that are groups and organizations in real life. This generally would only be your school, home town, church, and other similar organizations. Do not allow to join other facebook networks.
- Get parent's consent before adding any new groups or organizations and have them check it out first.
- Don't visit profiles of anyone else aside from your friends.
- Don't search unless its to search for a true friend you know in real life.
- Don't use the events button.
- Parent's should always have the updated facebook password and should randomly log in to check that the teenager is abiding by the rules set.
- Parent's agree not to change or make posts on their child's page when they are checking the content.
- The teenager agrees that if facebook is abused, the account will be disabled.
Parental Control: Facebook Monitoring
There are monitoring tools for parents available to stop Facebook bullies and predators. Two of these tools available are:
- GoGoStat Parental Guidance: This program helps protect children online, is free, and currently only works with facebook.
- Social Shield: There is a ten dollar payment per month after the 14 day free trial that starts immediately after sign up. It is also a monitoring tool for social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
This is how the program Parental Guidance works. A parent or guardian opens up a facebook as their child, adding the Parental Guidance program. They send a request to the child to add the program as well. When the child accepts the invitation, both the child and the parent will have to exchange a security code. The actual program will contact the parent with the child's activity online if their is content that exposes them to be at risk such as viewable personal information that may lead to unsafe situations for your child. Parent's will be notified of status updates that are inappropriate, potentially unsafe content, and blatantly unsafe content. This helps show parents how their child is interacting online. It also can alert the parent of a possible cyberbully or any sexual solicitation of their minor child from another user.
This program offers a section to add in content that they are not allowed to use, such as foul language and gives a place to put in the things that are forbidden for the child to do or say. There is even a feature that responds to emergency situations. Your child's information and photo will be generated in a report to be given to local law enforcement officials to aide in the emergency situation.
This program isn't intended to replace the parents watchful eye and the parent is encouraged to still be an active participant in monitoring the account and making sure that nothing goes unnoticed.
Behaviors Correlating to Social Network Use
Recently a question was brought up asking if Facebook was the new "gateway drug". This probably confuses the generation that is parenting these kids. There was found that social media users were five times more likely to start smoking cigarettes than other teenagers there age. Also found was that social networking users were three times more likely to start drinking alcohol and twice as likely to start smoking marijuana than other kids there age. The correlation was questioned due to the obvious question as to if their usage of social networking was actually contributing to this risk for drug use.
If you look at the amount of teenager's that are actively using online social networks, between the ages of 12 and 17-years-old, 70 % of the teenagers in this study was spending their spare time on social networks. This would approximately be 17 million teens across the country. They are exposed to countless sources of media and images that portray pictures and videos of people drinking and getting drunk, using drugs, smoking, and much more. There exposure to the media is probably more than the kids that don't use these networks at all. Unfortunately the design for this study was not designed as an experimental study that would prove causation. So they could only find a correlation of the two so there could be many other factors contributing to this increase in use of illegal substances.
One thing that can't be disputed is the fact that the exposure to these forms of entertainment, exposes teenagers to many things that can influence their behaviors. Even status messages can affect users mental health. It is something for parents to keep an eye out for so that they can catch early signs of abusing these substances.
Those that frequent social networking websites are in a group that is at risk for developing mental illness, most notably , depression. The symptoms are similar to "online depression", the APA has stated that "Facebook depression" may be a new phenomena in the mental health arena.
It is important to note that a teenager is still developing socially and emotionally. This development is going on while they are engaging in online activity. The generation that are their parents were interacting with other people socially when they were going through this development. The American Psychological Association (APA) warns parents that the frequent use of social media outlets poses more of a risk to their child than they have an idea about. They are open for cyberbullies and develop social anxiety. They are sitting on a computer with little human interaction so its common to see them develop some issues with severe isolation.
These aspects are what they are using to define Facebook Depression.
I am sure, as adults, we can still remember how important it was for us to fit in and be accepted by our peers back in junior high and high school. This is still important to teenagers today. Apparently in the 21st century one of the aspects that contribute to the teens "cool factor" is Facebook. It isn't just among teenagers either, this extends through the age of 30. The newer feature that Facebook recently added, the "check in" feature, these individuals stated they use it to appear cool to their peers and admitted to wanting to make others jealous.
A contributing factor to Facebook depression is the high number of friends on their website that is a constant stream of happy status updates and full of pictures that are uploaded frequently that show "happy" couples and families or friends, affects the psychological health of the teenager. The analogy used to help us understand just how painful this is to the teens is that it is more painful than sitting all alone in a crowded cafeteria. It is a hard experience for any child that has had to sit in a cafeteria and eat lunch alone. So, for it to be compared to this experience and it actually exceed the pain you would feel is incredible.
Another thing that is contributing to the new form of depression they are describing is that even though they are engaging in social communication and there is always someone to interact with, and they are surrounded by many people through the net, they begin feeling more isolated and alone. It becomes a sad experience almost, instead of a fun and happy one that they could be experiencing with their friends by going to a football game.
One concern in dealing with a teenager that may be suffering from facebook depression is that they are more likely to go to risky and shady websites looking for "help". They are risky because they promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual experiences, and/or aggressive and destructive behaviors. What is a difficult aspect for this situation is this cyber world is a relatively new addition to our existence, at least to the extent it has interwoven into our lives. Parents are prepared to parent in the world that didn't consist of this technological marvel. They need to be comfortable parenting in the new stage of parenting that includes our world and a whole other one in the cyber world. They also need to accept that world's "reality" and understand that it isn't as easy as they may have expected it would be or that they have different expectations than what it is turning out to be.
2 Florida Teenager's also arrested for fake facebooks
The majority of Facebook users in the age group of teenagers and into 20's, report having a positive experience while using Facebook. It has made them feel good and become closer to someone on their friend's list that they weren't like with before connecting on social networks. However, there is still quite a few younger users that have a more negative experience.
- 22% of teen's ended a friendship with someone
- a quarter of teen's have had an experience on a social network that ended up in a face-to-face confrontation with someone over their social networking site or something in relation to it
- 13% have gone to school the next day after a social networking encounter with extreme anxiety
- 8% have gotten into a physical altercation with someone else over what happened on a social networking site.
- 6% have gotten in trouble at school for an experience on a social networking site
Social networking sites can be a breeding ground for a conflict to formulate. Compared to adults, teens are 4 times more likely to describe social networks as unkind. Many teens have said they just feel like a different person on these kinds of site, so their behavior can be drastically different online than it is in school. Teens, for some good news, often come to the aide of someone being bullied or harassed.
Cyberbullying on Facebook can be destructive to the victim's life. People will go out of there way to hurt someone and when its done online, it never truly goes away. It can haunt the victim for the rest of their life as well. Here is an example from the news to show how vindictive and malicious teenagers on Facebook can be without any thinking into how this person they are tormenting will handle it.
In Granburry, Texas two middle school student's (girls) created a fake profile so they could ruin another female student's reputation. The two girls were 12 and 13 and their victims parents turned the girls into the sheriffs office in June, resulting in the arrest of the girls on a third degree felony charge of "online impersonation".
Because of the remarks on the fake profile, another student (not affiliated with the creating of the profile) was threatening the female that was the target. The ironic thing here is that her parents wouldn't allow her to have a Facebook page and she didn't have one. The nickname on the profile was in inappropriate language and the photograph that was supposed to be here was actually an old child photo of an actress the girl resembles. The girl's mother continued to explain that just on the introduction of the profile's user alone, there was so many vulgar things written and not to mention all the threats to the girls classmates.
The sheriff publicly stated it was bullying and also almost like identity theft. "Instead of using it for financial gain, they are using it to hurt people," said the sheriff when he was interviewed about the girls that committed the crime in the first place.
How Social Media is Used for Kidnapping and Rape
Different forms of technology are being utilized when a criminal is looking for their victim to kidnap. Smart-phones, Google, and Facebook are being used to kidnap these individuals. They create Facebook profiles and become familiar with their prey. After the victim accepts the friend request they lie about who they are and what their intentions are, and will fabricate themselves so they are more desirable to the victim. Teenagers are not the only target of this kind of crime. Colombian's have used Facebook to target wealthy men while posing on Facebook as an attractive woman and would keep up an ongoing conversation for several weeks before asking for a date. When they met at the designated destination the victim would be drugged called scopolamine that eliminates free will and erases the memory of the victim. They would be transported to another location than tortured.
People being kidnapped by someone they met on Facebook isn't just a crime that is committed in the United States. It is a tactic used by criminals globally.
The perception has been that sexual predators have posed as a younger kid so as to connect with minor online. They were thought to have lied about their age and their interests and engage in conversations to find out their vulnerabilities, and this is true, just not to the extent we have assumed. The American Psychological Association (APA) has found that the majority of Internet predators do not pose as children or lie about their age as often as we previously believed. They found that the predators openly give their age and also their intentions and talk to children online openly about the child's own sexual desires. This is a disturbing addition to the dangers of our children being online and using social networking sites. It was shown that children and teens on the Internet are talking to adults knowingly and are not telling their parents.
Statistics of Online Predators:
- Only 5% of Internet predators have pretended to be a teenager
- 75% of victims who have met their predators face-to-face have done so more than once
- Children and teenagers who have engaged in 4 or more behaviors online to be deemed "risky" are more likely to be receiving sexual solicitations. "Risky" behaviors can include having friend's list with people the don't know on them, talking about sex online with people they don't know, are rude to others online.
- Teenage boys that are questioning their sexuality or are homosexual are more vulnerable to Internet sex crimes that other groups, researchers found. They are victims in about 1/4 of cases reported.
- 58% of teens don't think that it is unsafe to post their photos or personal information on social networking sites.
- 47% of teens aren't worried about someone using their personal information. 49% aren't concerned about the content of what they post online negatively affecting them later in their life, such as a future employer not hiring them due to what is found online. Its important to note that many employers now do online searches on prospective clients.
- 71% of teens have online profiles on networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, in 2006 that number was only 61%.
- 58% of teens post information about where they live.
- 8% of teens post their cell phone number.
There are many stories that have been reported in the media regarding kidnapping through Facebook contact.
- Christopher Danneveg meets Ms Belomesof (18) through facebook and kills her
In December of 2009 Christopher Danneveg, 22-years-old, was put in jail for kidnapping and killing a young girl. He was released on parole under the condition he receive counseling and 8 days before he made contact with Ms Belomesof of Cecil Hills. Danneveg created a fake online profile through Facebook and made contact with the teenager. His user profile showed his name as "Jason Green" and portrayed him as an animal lover. He had found out that she was an avid animal lover so after creating the fake profile he sent her a friend request claiming to be a NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service and was a team leader. He than offered her a job. The teenager met up with him and went with him into the bushland five times before he killed her. During these "training" days, he asked her for bank account details, telling her it was so she could get paid. She gave him all the information, including her PIN number that was simply the year she was born. Danneveg used the ATM card that she gave him and cleared out her bank account on the day he killed her. When he was interviewed by police, Danneveg claims they had an argument and he pushed her and she fell, hitting her head. Then he held her under the water until she drowned. They speculated that he wanted to have a relationship with her and an argument ensued and that he may have killed her on the spur of the moment, other officials claim his actions leading up to the crime show it was premeditated. The murder of the other women two years prior was also done in the bushland.
2. Ronald Stacey Rhodes met 18-year-old girl on Face book and kidnapped, raped and extorted cash from her.
In Raleigh, North Carolina met an 18-year-old girl during Superbowl week on Facebook. The two spent everyday for a week together, including a trip to Virgina for a day. Rhodes, on the 13th of Feb, took the girl into her room to show her something and than grabbed her and forced her to kiss him. She resisted and tried to leave, but he held her tighter and threatened her, using the word "erase". She thought it mean to kill her. He forced her to take off her clothes, he photographed her than raped her. He extorted money from her as well. After keeping her against her will, raping her, and extorting money he let her leave.
3. Peter Chapman lured 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall and kidnapped, raped, and killed her: "Facebook Murderer"
Peter Chapman is a serial sex offender and is currently serving a life sentence in prison. He is to serve no less than 35 years for kidnapping, raping, and murdering the 17-year-old girl he lured through a fake Facebook profile. He pretended to be an attractive male teenager and befriended the girl on Facebook, later meeting up with her. He was actually a 33-year-old convicted double racist. He was toothless and living in a car, a far cry from attractive teenager. The photos on the fake profile were not of him but of an attractive male. The teenager suffered from low self-esteem. She told her mother, a day before her body was found on the 25th of October, she said she was going to stay at a friends house. To get her into his car he texted her prior to picking her up, "My Dad's on the way, babe". He also texted her to let her know he was there. Once the girl got into the car he attacked her.Her arms were bound with tape over her face, she was suffocated to death and dumped in a farmer's field.
4. A 19-year-old first-year mechanical engineering student, Neeraj Rajkumar Babar, from Koyna Vasahat in Malkapur area of Karad taluka was arrested for allegedly kidnapping a 16-year-old Pune city
Babar met Koyna through Facebook and they talked on the phone. They were going to meet face-to-face that is why he was in Pune city. He called her under the pretense of wanting to finally meet in person, then kidnapped her. He used her cell phone and called her mother, demanding a ransom. Babar further threatened her he would kill her daughter if the ransom was not paid. The father works in South Africa, so she was alone. Konya's mother called the law enforcement officials. While the investigation was going on, she received another call from a hospital that claimed her daughter was dropped off by a younger individual. The ransom caller was traced back through a phone number that was left with the hospital by the youth who had the girl admitted. Babar had taken the girl to the hospital because she was complaining of being "uneasy", so he took her to the hospital and left his number so when she was done they could have him come get her but instead he was met by the police.
5. Teacher used Facebook to lure minors
In Phoenix, a P.E. teacher at a local elementary school, John Todorich (55) was arrested for luring minors with a fake Facebook profile and charged with sexual molestation and luring children for sexual exploitation. Three witness' reported him for fondling a student during P.E. class but he wasn't arrested because the student didn't coraborate his story in 2010. In 2011 he created a Facebook profile portraying himself as a 16-year-old boy and started talking to a male teenager. When the kid told him he was actually under 15, he solicited him for sex. In 2012, the boys mother found the chat on her son's Facebook and called the police. As far as they know the two never met and never had sexual contact. An investigation was started for luring a minor child for sex. An investigator went online pretending to be a 15-year-old, contacted Chapman, and he tried to lure the investigator. This added to their evidence. Chapman was put on administrative leave pending the investigation.
- Accused Ringleader Charged in Teen's Death | Video - ABC News
Michael Bargo could face death penalty in Seath Jackson killing.
Murders Committed and Social Networking
It is obvious that there are serious risks to teenagers who aren't vigilant in their use of the social media. They can become victims of a cyberbully, be getting unwanted sexual solicitations, and if they decide to meet up with the person they are talking to they are risking things like kidnapping and rape. Another danger that is linked to facebook is murder. Thinking of teenagers chatting with their friends on Facebook and the brutality of a murder in the same sentence seems ridiculous. However, its a grim reality of what social network poses.
1. Teen Love Triangle Ends in Murder
A Facebook feud had started when the victim's ex-girlfriend starting dating someone else who ended up being one of the suspects. He posted online that she was a "slut" for dating the new guy that led to the feud. Seath Jackson, the 15-year-old victim, was lured to the house by his ex-girlfriend, 15-year-old Amber Wright. The gang leader, Michael Bargo, 18, led and took part in the gruesome murder of Seath Jackson. Jackson tried to escape the situation and was brutally beaten and shot three times as he left. They broke his knees after putting him into the bathtub than stuffed him into a sleeping-bag, shot him again because he was still alive, and then burned him in the backyard BBQ pit. They dissolved his ashes in pain containers They also charged the step-father of the two boys of helping dispose of the body.
2. Ohio Teen co-conspirator in Craigslist killings
Brogan Rafferty, a 17-year-old was a co-conspirator with Richard Beasley (53), in luring victims to Ohio with promise of a job on a cattle farm. Four men responded to the Craigslist ad, three of the four were killed and one got away. The think the motivation for the murders as robbery since they were instructed to bring all their belongings because they would be living there. David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., was found dead in Noble County, Ohio. Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio, was found shot in the head in a shallow grave. Ralph Geiger, 55, of Akron, Ohio, was also found with a gunshot wound to the head. There is a possibility that the fourth victim that got away was let go by the teenager because the guy was talking about having a family. The teenager is being tried as a juvenile since he was one at the time of the crime and so won't be looking at the death penalty, but he will look at a life-sentence.
3. Dutch Teenager was convicted in "Facebook Murder Trial"
Two teenagers in Amsterdam, 16-year-old Polly W and her boyfriend Wesley C (17), hired Jinhua K in a contract murder of Joyce Hau. He stabbed her to death. The murder was contracted by the two teens because of "objectionable" posts Hau wrote on her Facebook about Polly. Jinhua also attacked the victim's father. Apparently Hau gossiped on Facebook about her close friend, Polly's, sexual escapades. She was so angry she plotted with her boyfriend to murder Hau and they took several weeks to plan the murder. Communication with the hired killer teenager was done through facebook and through telephone contact. They put a lot of pressure on Jinhua to commit the crime and said if he didn't they would kill him.
4. Deadly Teen Love Triangle
Two teenage girls in Florida, Sarah Ludemann and Rachel Wade, had been arguing over a 19-year-old boy Joe Camacho. Camacho had been "playing" both girls for several months. The two girls had been viciously taunting each other, sending harassing text messages, leaving nasty voicemail messages, and fighting on Facebook. In April of 2009, Wade received a threatening voicemail message from Ludemann. Wade said she was going to murder Wade in the message. Ludemann and several of her friends drove to fight Wade, but Wade was armed unbeknownst to the teenagers. When Ludemann arrived, they rushed each other and immediately Wade pulled out a steak knife and kept stabbing Ludemann until she had pierced her heart, killing her. She was sentenced to 27 years in prison.