Public e-Journals: Why Teens Love to Share All

e-journals, online diary, photo sharing, evertale, facebook, flickr, tumblr, bloggingOne of the questions I ask my teen interns during the interview process is:

“What are some teen behavioral trends? Do you see you or other teenagers doing something that is a new behavior for your age group?”

This is where I hear about all kinds of interesting trends before they reach the mainstream–like teen biting, SillyBandz and Nutmeg highs. Recently I have been hearing a lot about online or public forum journaling. With the advent of many new online tools, teens are becoming more nostalgic and want to not only share all parts of their lives, but also document and save them for the future. Here are a few different sites that help users document and share their personal lives online:

1. Evertale

Evertale is a digital scrapbook of your real life, and it does this by writing itself through your mobile phone updates. Evertale uses your phone’s locations, meetings, music and calendar events to create a digital scrapbook of your life automatically.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6VKxOvSKY0[/youtube]

2. Tumblr

Tumblr is a free blog hosting platform where users can upload, tag and save photos, music, diary entries, videos…you name it you can save it on Tunblr. I hear many teens mention Tumblr when they talk about kids who keep online journals.

3. Facebook

Duh. Teens use Facebook to store, share and save pictures. Many teens have told me that their Facebook is like their parent’s hall entryway–they have all of their most important pictures to show visitors.

4. Flickr

Flickr is a photo sharing and photo management website. Many teens who are avid photo takers and not huge writers love using Flickr to keep track of their photos.

The real question that many parents ask me is: “Why do teens feel the need to journal in public? What happened to a good old fashioned leather-bound journal with a lock and key?” First, many teens do feel that by adding some privacy features to their Facebook or Tumblr they are having a virtual lock and key. They feel this is private enough. Second, many teens feel they are actually maintaining their memories by documenting their thoughts, ideas and activities. Even I am not sure I will ever have ‘real life’ photo albums as it is easier to put everything online. Last, there is an aspect of public display. If teens do something cool, are dating someone hot or want to impress someone else putting pictures up in a semi-public forum is a great way to show off a bit.

I think it is really important for adults to see both sides of the public e-journal trend. On the one hand, it is great teens feel proud of themselves and their friends are documenting their lives for their grandchildren. On the other hand, there is a fine line between sharing the right amount of information and sharing too much information. I hope that we can talk to our kids about what is appropriate for them to share and what is not.

Photo: The Italian Voice from Flickr

Fakebooking: Facebook Made Fiction

facebook, fake profiles, online profiles, online personaShannon is an 18 year old from Wichita, KS. She enjoys poetry, airbrushing, drawing, and reading. She believes that language as well as art is one of the most colorful ways to express the self. It is painting the world with words.

I see people befriending fake Facebook accounts quite often. Some people add just to increase their number of friends, some actually talk to them, and others actually fall in love with them. There is even a documentary about this subject called Catfish that was made in 2008. A New York photographer travels to Michigan to meet the girl of his dreams even though he has only met her online. He discovers that the web isn’t always truthful and many things aren’t what they appear to be.

 

Spotting fakes aren’t always easy. But here are some give away signs that many people don’t always recognize:

New Accounts

  • New accounts aren’t always fake.
  • If mixed with other signals, it will help you find one.

A Really Attractive Profile Picture

  • If the picture is on Google, it’s probably a fake account.
  • They probably have chosen this alluring profile picture to get more attention.
  • They are most likely insecure about themselves.

Adding with Spam

  • An imposter profile needs a lot of friends.
  • If they have a ton of mutual friends, they are probably spam-adding.
  • Even some accounts with a small number of friends could have potential spam-adders.
  • Try talking to any mutual friends that you know pretty well to see if they know this person personally.

Blank Wall

  • If no one knows them, there would be fewer posts from their “friends.”
  • Scroll down their page and see for yourself.

The Wall of One

  • If only one person seems to be an active poster on their wall, then that one person may have been created by the potential fake.
  • Sometimes this isn’t always the case.

Adding Across the Globe

  • The fake may add from other places across the world.
  • If they have no friends where they are from, it’s suspicious.

Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend or Spouse

  • If one or the other account’s profile is filled with blanks, they are most likely both fakes.

Albums of Self

  • Fakers usually have one album or one picture.
  • It is rare for a fake to find pictures of variety.
  • Most of the time the pictures are Googled.

Tagless

  • No real friends.
  • No one to tag or be tagged by.

Interested/Looking for All

  • They are usually interested in both men and women.

Public Profiles

  • They have no need for privacy if they don’t really exist.

Cool Sexy First Name/Plain Last Name

  • This is usually the layout for fake names.
  • It grabs their attention.

I’m sure that there are several ways to spot a fake account even though I have only listed a few. Sometimes even an account with some or most of these clues can be real. You shouldn’t go around accusing people of being fictional. Just use these helpful hints as guidelines. Let’s make Facebook a safebook by avoiding fakebooks. Don’t add the people that you don’t know and adjust your privacy settings.

Photo: Birgerking from Flickr

 

Facebook: Weighing Its Pros and Cons

Evangeline is a homeschooler from Malaysia. She enjoys reading, writing, book blogging, editing Wikipedia, listening to music and surfing the internet.

I was 14 years old when I created a Facebook account. I had heard about Facebook from an internet friend and of course, I just had to create an account. I had a vague idea of what Facebook was and I did not know about what a powerful weapon this social networking tool could be.

 

More than three years have since passed. I still have my Facebook account, and I am more than ever active there.

 

Here is a list of pros and cons of Facebook. I am a little bias since I’m an active user in Facebook, but here’s the list anyway.

 

Pros of Facebook –

 

  • I can virtually connect with online friends in Facebook. I have never met some of my Facebook friends and most of them live on the other side of the world. But, thanks to Facebook, I have a glimpse of what’s going on in their lives and even know some of their personal information. Some Facebook users have no qualms when it comes to divulging personal information!
  • Facebook is a very useful tool when it comes to spreading news and information. Just imagine, the average user on Facebook has 130 friends. One day, this average user posts a message on his Facebook wall about a certain piece of “interesting” news. He asks his friends to re-post on their Facebook walls. If 10 of his friends does that and if each of these 10 friends has 130 friends each, over a thousand people would have read that “interesting” piece of news on that day. And we’re just talking about the average user. We’re not even talking about the active users. According to the Facebook Statistics page, the site has 500 million active users and 50% of these active users log on to Facebook on a daily basis.

 

Cons of Facebook –

 

  • Facebook is not a safe place. Many times, crime offenders met their victims over Facebook. No one can know for sure who is behind that computer screen managing that Facebook account.
  • As I mentioned earlier, some Facebook users divulge personal information. I have viewed Facebook profiles where addresses and phone numbers are displayed prominently. I don’t know why Facebook has these information fields, but they should never be in this site.
  • Abuse profiles and pages exist in Facebook even with many reports made against them. A few months back, I reported a Facebook page that was abusing kids in a US school. I wasn’t the only one reporting that page. Unfortunately, Facebook did not shut down that page despite the obvious disparaging remarks that were being made in it. It is very easy to find abuse pages and profiles against public figures, especially politicians and celebrities, in Facebook.
  • Facebook can be used as a weapon. Many times, false rumors are posted in Facebook and no one checks whether the rumor is true or not. People can and have been slandered in. It is very easy to abuse the usage of a network of friends and use it to spread false rumors.

 

All that being said, I am not going to say whether a person should have a Facebook account or not. At the end of the day, a Facebook user is responsible for his security, privacy and what he does or does not post in Facebook.

 

Someone once said that Facebook is a necessary evil. I disagreed. Facebook is good, although it can be bad when usage of it is abused. My advice? Use it wisely. Play smart.

 

 

Social Networking: What’s on your mind?

Cassie is a 16 – year old from Los Angeles, CA. She enjoys acting, playing guitar and spending time with her younger brothers. Her favorite subject is English because she wants to be a writer.

“What’s on your mind?” reads the blinking bar of the Facebook homepage.

As we continuously type in the answer to this single question and share it with the rest of our online friends, we transform social networking sites into a scrapbook of our daily lives.  From sharing a celebratory athletic accomplishment or lyrics to a popular song, teenagers are constantly “updating their statuses” and opening a window to their lives to the growing world of the Internet.

Award-winning movies, such as The Social Network, portray how the fad of Facebook became prevalent in various parts of the world.  While some critique the ethics behind this movie as controversial, it is evident that social networking does indeed have a strong impact on today’s youth.  We have become obsessed with the Internet and the idea of creating a perfect online profile that would best present ourselves to the world. As technology continues to expand, it becomes even easier for us to share their stories with a simple click of the mouse.

Along with this obsession of self-creating our own image, we use Facebook as their primary way of communication and socializing in the real world. “I’ll Facebook you” and “I’ll Tag you” have been thrown into our daily vocabulary.  Photographs of our daily activities are taken and uploaded onto Facebook to share with our friends and family on the web.  Individuals can update their Relationship Status and experience the ups and downs of a romantic relationship with the entire Internet watching.  Teenagers stay up late at night on Facebook, often procrastinating for a significant amount of homework due in just a few hours.

Arguably, this obsession can sometimes be unhealthy.  My friends can be glued to the tiny screens of their cell phones gossiping about the uploaded items on their News Feed.  While social networking does indeed seem to be revolutionary, it can also be detrimental.  We become so addicted to how we present ourselves to others that we cannot fully live in the moment.

Social Networking enhances the miniscule details of our daily lives.  While it may seem as though the self-creation of our own profile is superficial and materialistic, it does brings us teenagers closer together.  We provide moral support for each other as we communicate through messages and online chats.  We relieve each other’s stress late at night as we comment on funny pictures and reminisce on the most memorable fun moments. We are allowed to communicate with people from around the globe and document the small steps of our everyday on the Internet.

What are my friends up to at this hour?  How are my cousins across seas in the Philippines doing? I’ll scroll through my News Feed on Facebook and find the answers to these questions all within in a minute.  And I, too, will place my blinking cursor on the rectangular box under the blue Facebook status logo and answer the question, “What’s on your mind?”

 

My Life Before Facebook

Lily is a 16-year-old from Placentia, CA. She enjoys playing guitar, writing, and watching movies. Her favorite subject is Language Arts.

Facebook, Online Predators, Social Networking, Growing up Online

In all honesty, if Facebook had never been invented, I wouldn’t know what I was missing. My life was as normal as it could be for a teenage girl. My friends and I spent a lot of time together, but I wasn’t as into their lives as I am now. That’s the thing with Facebook; it opens up a new introspective world. A new way to connect.  I could talk with my friends anytime I wanted. I could see if so and so was dating someone else. Behind my computer screen, I was very observant. It was actually a little scary, and sometimes the monster known as “Facebook drama” would rear its ugly head. But the online world was also exciting. I could create a profile. I could present myself to my Facebook community in a new and different way. This wasn’t the same as Myspace. Myspace was messy, cluttered, and peoples’ profiles were more of a façade of glittery images and loud music that shocked you when you first clicked on their page. Facebook was cleaner, neater, and gave you more of a chance to express yourself in a personal, genuine way without the clutter and ostentatious bother of Myspace.

 

That being said, Facebook was a new danger. I made sure my privacy settings were up to date and strong but even now I get random friend requests from middle aged men and strangers, sometimes those from different countries. Facebook also limited the face-to-face conversations my friends and I had. I find myself typing to friends more than speaking. It’s unordinary if you really think about it, how much we now know about each other simply by looking at our friends’ Facebook profiles. Myspace was merely for decoration, the number of friends in your list and who was in your “top 8”. Facebook was your internet self, your page. It also started reaching out to people of all ages. My family (including my extended family) now has a Facebook. One status update can change everything. I find I censor myself a lot on Facebook in fear of my family’s eyes as well as future employer’s.

 

But while Facebook may be a contradiction at times; both freeing and limiting, it’s also addicting. People find they can’t tear themselves away from their online personas and their friend’s latest status updates. This creates a lot of time away from real communication. I fall victim to this as well. At the end of the school day I’m too tired to plan things with my friends. After all the homework a night I just want to lounge around my house. However, social connection is right at my fingertips. It’s a quick alternative to classic social interaction however it should not be your only social interaction. I’m trying my best to limit my Facebook (and computer) time. But I doubt I’ll ever delete my profile any time soon.

 

This Week’s Sponsor:
If you can survive a teenager, you can survive anything.
In Leah’s Wake – a novel by Terri Giuliano Long
“This is a story that will stay with you for days and weeks.” –Radical Parenting

Fine Without Facebook: 5 Reasons Why Facebook is Overrated

Hope is a 16-year-old high school student from Stratford, NJ. She loves reading, writing, socializing with friends and her favorite subject is English because she wants to be a writer/editor.

I honestly think that I am one of the few people I know that doesn’t have a Facebook account. I just don’t think it’s that necessary at my age. My friends who actually have Facebook accounts even say that Facebook isn’t that exciting. I understand that it can be used for networking and other useful tasks. I’m definitely not saying that Facebook is bad. When used for getting the word out on certain things, it is a very powerful tool. All I’m saying is that Facebook isn’t necessary for everyday life, even though many people think it is. Below are 5 reasons why not using Facebook may actually be a good thing.

 

1. All of the people who friend request you may not be your real friends.

Whenever one of my friends makes a Facebook account, I hear the same story. After she signed up, it seemed like everyone at school sent her a friend request. The bad thing about this is that most of these people only talk to her on Facebook. In public, they act like they don’t know her. I’m perfectly fine with having only real friends.

2. Creepy people may friend request you.

I’ve seen so many stories on the news, lately. A middle aged man friend requests a child as young as ten years old. The child accepts it and, then, the man send him or her creepy messages and links to dirty sites. I know that most people know better than to accept these types of friend requests, but just the thought of this happening is enough to scare me away. Plus, people even use Facebook to stalk others. If that’s not creepy, I don’t know what is.

3. It is a major distraction.

I know that, when I am on the computer, I get distracted very easily. I’m already obsessed with Youtube videos and checking my email. I don’t think I want to add another one that will distract me even more from my work. I know of friends who spend all of their time on Facebook and their grades suffer as a result of that. There are people out there who can handle doing work without being phased by distractions but if you can’t, then I wouldn’t get a Facebook account if I were you.

4. If you have a Facebook account, your computer and personal information may be at risk.

Facebook is a great place for people to spread computer viruses. All you really have to do is just click on a bad a link and a virus could make its way onto your computer. Once a virus is on your computer, it is a MAJOR pain to remove and it can also be expensive to do so. People can even steal your information. That is definitely something to think about.

5. Facebook isn’t even all that fun.

You can chat with friends. You can update your status. You can play games. You can “like” stuff. You can play more games. You can update your status again… I think you get the point. I’ve heard from friends, and witnessed myself, that there isn’t much to do. Why not use your time to do more productive things?

 

The Bottom line is that Facebook isn’t completely useless, but it isn’t a necessity. If you are a teen and you don’t have a Facebook account, don’t feel bad. There are many reasons why you really don’t need one at this age.

 

This Week’s Sponsor:

If you can survive a teenager, you can survive anything.
In Leah’s Wake – a novel by Terri Giuliano Long
“This is a story that will stay with you for days and weeks.” –Radical Parenting

TUMBLR

Gema is a 20-year old from Miami, FL. Reads like a maniac. Writes for sanity. It’s a fine line and she loves erasing it.

Let me introduce you to my latest obsession: Tumblr. It’s a social network where you can share anything: text, pictures, quotes, videos, and music. It doesn’t have the 140-character limitation of Twitter or visually dull limitations of Facebook. While those two popular social networks are mostly about the meat of the message, Tumblr has more flare. It’s the space of .gif and Photoshop galore. Creative minds have found an outlet for the little doodles that are inspired by a stray song lyric or a hilarious scene in a television show or anywhere. Following blogs is easy, since they are organized in one place (the “dashboard”) and is read in chronological order. It’s deliciously addicting that way. Whenever I log in for about fifteen minutes, time swallows up the seconds and spits them back out two hours later. All the time is spent scrolling, laughing and reblogging.

 

In my opinion, reblogging is the most unique feature in Tumblr. Instead of linking posts of interests for friends to maybe click, they are reposted on the dashboard for my followers. It’s in the vein of Twitter’s retweets, except that I don’t have to worry about the character limit. I can add my own comments below them the post as well as anyone that reposts it. It becomes a thread then, with comments and .gifs to express feelings that have no words. Sharing is as fun as creating and posting your own content. Tumblr encourages scavenging other blogs for creative gold. It’s easier to find people with similar interests. When there are thousands of people searching for similar content and reblogging that content and adding comments, they are bound to bump into each other in cyberspace every now and then. I’ve been able to geek out with Harry Potter, Mortal Instrument, and Hunger Games fandom. I’ve met new nerdfighters just by searching the name.

 

This cyberspace utopia does have its flaws, though. The site goes down every few days for several minutes. If you have my luck, it’ll be just as you reblog or post something. It occurs so often that there’s an ongoing joke about “Tumblr Beasts” (or just Tumbeasts) gnawing through the system because Tumblr forgot to feed it again. So while it goes down often, you can always expect the users to find a humorous spin and a well edited graphic to go along with it.

 

Another, perhaps more serious, flaw that I’ve encountered should be considered if you have children thirteen or younger. Like in any social network, the things that are found are not always suitable for children. I’ve seen it more on Tumblr than on Twitter or Facebook, but that’s just because it’s such a graphic network. If you type it in the search box, or if someone you follow happens to reblog it, you can find nude pictures, pornographic .gifs. But even then, I don’t think this is as bad as something else I’ve found. Thinspiration. The magic of Tumblr is that you hardly have to click anything unless you want to reblog. If you scroll to the end of a page, the next page unfolds beneath it and all you have to do is scroll for hours. There are a lot of girls that type in things to the like of “weight loss, thinspo, thispiration” and embark on a journey of pictures of skinny girls and graphics that promote not eating and put down those who don’t have the self-control to stop eating. If you scroll down long enough, the pictures and the mantras actually start to sound normal. I’m not sure that’s something that should be blamed solely on Tumblr, though. Just a couple of months ago, there was a Twitter account that promoted the same thing. Tumblr can spread ideas, which is great! But sometimes those ideas are unhealthy, and that in the power of such an addicting site can be dangerous. So if you have a young child, be cautious. Not just with Tumblr, but with every site.

 

Share Your Pictures, Not Just Your Thoughts

Mike is a 17-year-old from Chicago, IL. He enjoys eccentric individuals, playing with computers and hopes to one day dominate the radio airwaves.

Facebook.  Twitter.  Tumblr.  YouTube.  Teens like to share what’s going on in their lives.  A lot of today’s sharing is done not only with text, but also with visual mediums such as with pictures and video.  Personally, I enjoy uploading and sharing pictures to Twitter and Facebook whenever I’m out at an event.  Attaching pictures to short Facebook posts adds more meaning to what’s really going on, and it allows for easier commenting and discussion.  Lately, I’ve being seeing more and more of my Facebook friends uploading pictures from their mobile phones, making Facebook a whole lot more interesting to browse through.  Teens aren’t just uploading photos on their phones though, they are editing them too.  Here’s a few of the major examples:

 

Sharing

1.       Pixelpipe – For a majority of cell phones, even if they don’t fall into the “smart” category, Pixelpipe is a solid option that allows users to share photos and video to an endless number of social media websites.  If you happen to have an iPhone or an Android based phone, dedicated apps exist that streamline the process of sharing your mobile content with the world.

2.       Facebook Mobile – If you happen to own a smart phone, the Facebook mobile app is perfect for sharing content while on the go.

3.       Instagram – This website / mobile sharing platform has hit pretty hard recently.  This platform allows users to snap pictures and give them an old timey look before uploading to show their friends.

 

Editing

1.       Photoshop Express – Existing for both the iPhone and Android platforms, Photoshop Express allows users to professionally edit photos right on their phone.

2.       PicSay – Strictly for the Android platform, PicSay and PicSay pro allow users make fun edits on their photos and then share to their friends.

 

The problem with covering anything regarding mobile photo apps is that there are literally hundreds in existence.  I listed a few of my favorite above, but users are best off doing a search in their respective app stores or on Google to find the platform that is best for them.   Sharing apps and video as well as mobile editing is a fairly recent craze that is really catching on with the younger crowd.  It’s a fun way to show your friends what’s on your mind instead of simply telling them.

 

 

 

Bullying: Emerging in Online Social Networks

Cielo, a Los Angeles dreamer, enjoys recognizing images in the occasional cumulus cloud that meanders through the California sky, documenting interesting events and quotes and observations, and learning about different cultures, customs and lifestyles.

Perhaps when many parents were growing up, “bullying” required some physical contact or threats to be considered serious. These days, bullying takes various new shapes and forms. The more recent and ever emerging form of bullying is cyberbullying.

Recently, Matt*, a student at my school shared his sentiments of disapproval regarding a girl, Carol*, through the privacy of his Facebook page. Several students commented, adding their input, sharing what irritated them about the girl. After being warned that this post could result in major consequences, Matt assured everyone that the girl was not his friend on Facebook, thus things would be fine.

When the students returned to school, Matt and several of the students who also commented on the post had to deal with the school administration. An anonymous person had printed out the Facebook post and informed the school’s administration about it. In the end, Matt was forced to remove the post and warned about any further actions.

Many may think that this is not fair. It was posted in the privacy of his Facebook page. This is a free country with freedom of speech; Matt should feel free to say what he pleases. However, due to the recent (and increasingly common) suicides of young teens and college students due to verbal bullying, these types of actions are now being considered hate crimes. A few years ago, thirteen-year old Megan Taylor Meier committed suicide after her peers messaged and flirted with her from a fabricated Myspace account. Eighteen-year old Tyler Clementi killed himself after his roomate secretly streamed an intimate video of him online. Teens need to understand that in today’s society, things that they may consider “jokes” or their excercise of their First Amendment Right may not be so frivolous when someone responds to it by taking their own life. Fortunately in the case of Matt, Carol did not tragically respond to his insulting facebook post. However, if she had committed suicide, Matt’s comments, along with those of everyone else who contributed, can be used in an investigation that may result in an offense.

Teens and Parents, please remember these things when using the Internet:

  • There is no privacy online.
  • You will be held responsible for your actions and comments.
  • Verbal and cyberbullying, though non-physical, are still forms of abuse with grand consequences.

If you or your son or daughter is a victim of cyberbullying, please contact the school administration or visit this website for tips on what to do:

http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/

*These names have been changed.