Pediatrics Volume 127, Number 4, April 2011 pp. 800-804
RISKS OF YOUTH USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Engaging in various forms of social media is a routine activity that research has shown to benefit children and adolescents by enhancing communication, social connection, and even technical skills. Social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace offer multiple daily opportunities for connecting with friends, classmates, and people with shared interests. During the last 5 years, the number of preadolescents and adolescents using such sites has increased dramatically. Since a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media, because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure. Recent research indicates that there are frequent online expressions of offline behaviors, such as bullying, and sexual experimentation, that have introduced problems such as cyber-bullying, privacy issues, and sexting. Cyber-bullying
Cyber-bullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person. It is the most common online risk for all teens and is a peer-to-peer risk. Although “online harassment” is often used interchangeably with the term “cyber-bullying,” it is actually a different entity. Current data suggest that online harassment is not as common as offline harassment (Lenhart, 2007), and participation in social networking sites does not put most children at risk of online harassment (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2008). On the other hand, cyber-bullying is quite common, can occur to any young person online, and can cause profound psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and, tragically,...