Posts tagged with "Teens"

Handcuff illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Facebook × Child Predators

SURVIVOR OF FACEBOOK-FACILITATED CHILD PREDATOR ABUSE TELLS SHAREHOLDERS TO “DELAY END-TO-END ENCRYPTION” UNTIL PLATFORM CAN ADEQUATELY PROTECT CHILDREN

Searing Testimony Shows Danger Facebook Poses to Young Children and How Ill-Conceived Steps Justified on Privacy Grounds Would Only Hurt More Children.

A survivor of child abuse and exploitation who was approached on a Facebook platform urged shareholders today at the company’s annual meeting to delay plans to move ahead with end-to-end encryption that would see Facebook “become one of the world’s most dangerous ’playgrounds’ for children.”

That warning was delivered today by Sarah Cooper, who was approached as a teenager through Facebook Messenger, met a predator in Boston and New York City, and was sold into sex slavery.

The following is Sarah Cooper’s full statement: 

“My name is Sarah Cooper and I am a member of the Survivor’s Council of ECPAT-USA, the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the United States.

I am here this morning to present resolution #6 asking the Board to report on the risk of increased sexual exploitation of children as the Company develops and offers additional privacy tools such as end-to-end encryption.

One year ago, I told my personal story publicly for the first time, of being groomed and trafficked by a predator that I met on Facebook. He seemed to be my age but was actually decades older. I was groomed starting when I was 15 until just after my 18th birthday. It seemed innocent enough at the beginning. I received a Facebook friend request from someone I didn’t know.  

We exchanged messages back and forth and after some time I sent photos to my predator, then more images to him. He groomed me for over two years.   I thought he was a friend, someone I could trust. I didn’t really know anything was wrong until I met him in person, and saw his face, I finally realized he was closer to 40 than 18.  Once I stepped into his car it was too late… When I was trafficked, given drugs, sold into sex slavery and held against my will at gunpoint… my instinct was to survive.  I was lucky enough to have been rescued by a friend and thankfully survived my ordeal, some are not as lucky and never make it home.

For years, I was unaware of the dangers lurking on the internet, until I myself became a target.  Today, as an advocate working to prevent child sex trafficking, I’ve come to understand that law enforcement in the field relies extensively on tips from Facebook to bring predators to justice.  But what will happen when you go to end to end encryption on the Messenger app? 

Facebook admitted that in going forward with implementing end-to-end encryption it will not be able to see child sexual abuse materials online, and the number of these reports will go down.  Therefore, the number of children’s lives that could be saved or helped, will be less.

Facebook made nearly 21 million reports of child sexual materials last year, and it has been estimated that 75% of these will become invisible once it applies end-to end encryption.

Those reports are not just ‘reports’ – they are children. Children who are scared and hurt, children who need our help, children who believe Facebook would never hurt them. They are someone’s daughter, sister, grandchild and neighbor. 

Facebook needs to immediately improve age verification, increase human monitoring of content, work in tighter cooperation with law enforcement – and it should absolutely delay expanding encryption on its platforms until it can protect children.

Privacy is important, but we need a balance of privacy and protection of the most vulnerable members of society, our children.  

Facebook is a great platform, but it is not a safe platform. And with encryption it will become one of the world’s most dangerous ’playgrounds’ for children.

Thank you.”

Ms. Cooper spoke in favor of Proposal 6 at the Facebook annual meeting, which calls on Facebook to conduct a study of its central role in online child abuse and  “assessing the risk of increased sexual exploitation of children as the Company develops and offers additional privacy tools such as end-to-end encryption.”  The resolution was filed by Proxy Impact, Lisette Cooper, the Maryknoll Sisters, the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, NJ, and the Stardust Fund. In 2020, the same resolution attracted the support of 43 percent of non-management shares of the company that is tightly controlled by Mark Zuckerberg.

How bad is the child abuse and exploitation problem at Facebook? And how much worse could it get? 

Transgender illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original Photo Credit: Pixabay) for 360 Magazine

Parents Open Letter to Lawmakers

1,500+ Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth Condemn Anti-Trans Bills in Open Letter to Lawmakers

More than 1,500 parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth — from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — signed a letter imploring elected officials to oppose anti-transgender bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country.  

The letter — organized by the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council — was sent to elected officials Monday morning.

The letter comes in response to a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are currently more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of these discriminatory bills, 106 directly target transgender people, including efforts to ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity and prohibit evidence-based, life-saving health care for transgender youth.

“Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: ‘You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power and you don’t,’” the parents wrote. “Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society.”

“Transgender children are children. They deserve the ability to play organized sports and have access to medically necessary care, just like all children. These bills are cruel — and parents are not going to be silent when elected officials attack their children through discriminatory legislation,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “Transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth impacted by these bills are among the most vulnerable to experience depression and engage in self-harm, including suicide. Legislators must realize the seriousness of this issue and remember that they were elected to lead — not call into question whether certain children have the right to exist, to be happy, or to live authentically.”

“As a trans person, I know what it means to have lawmakers try to write me out of existence — imagine being a trans child trying to cope with this reality. There is a coordinated attack on transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth being waged in state legislatures across the country and it is having a devastating impact on the mental health of kids, who just want to be kids,” said Jay Brown, Senior Vice President, HRC Programs, Research & Training. “Parents will not back down when it comes to protecting their children, and they will not tolerate their elected officials using their positions of power to harm and further oppress them. We will never give up hope that if people — including elected officials — hear from people at the center of the policy debate, and their loved ones, that their hearts will open, and their minds will change.”

The full letter is below.

April 12, 2021

Dear Elected Officials,

Many of you are sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for legislation that would force transgender children to participate in sports based on a letter on their birth certificate rather than who they are – or not participate at all. Some of you are also sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for bills that would criminalize best-practice, evidence-based, life-saving health care that transgender youth need (and deserve!) to thrive. 

Parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth like us have called you, sent you emails, and have showed up in the midst of a global pandemic to testify about how devastating these bills are…not only if or when they pass and become law, but also right now because, by whipping up a firestorm of attacks on our kids, they have already caused damage to our families.

Parenting during a pandemic is hard enough. The fact that these bills exist at all—that the lives of our children are up for debate in any state in this nation—adds a layer of worry to an already fraught time. Let’s be clear: the impact of these bills goes far beyond sports and medical care; they call into question whether our children have the right to exist, to be happy, to live authentically. The answer is yes. They absolutely do.

We have shared studies with you explaining that trans youth are more susceptible to struggle with anxiety or depression, not because they are transgender but because of stigma and discrimination. You have heard that being able to participate in sports and being on a team with friends and classmates can improve their mental health. You have heard adolescents tell you how afraid they are of experiencing the wrong puberty or how terrified teenagers are of having their medically-prescribed hormones denied to them. 

This isn’t the first time. We tried telling you all of this a year ago before the pandemic thankfully cut many legislative sessions short and these bills floundered. After hearing some of these concerns last year, a senator in Missouri was quoted dismissively saying “We can’t be responsible for everyone’s mental health.”

We are pointedly telling you now that you actually are responsible for the mental health of these kids. We are holding you personally responsible for the amount of stress, anxiety, and fear our precious children are currently struggling with. We are holding you responsible for how some of our children are crying themselves to sleep every night, asking why so many people hate trans kids and want them to suffer. You are the reason they are asking to move somewhere where they will be protected, because their home doesn’t feel safe anymore with you in charge of creating its laws.

You were elected to your positions to lead. And leaders understand that in our great but imperfect system of government, we favor the concept of “majority rule, minority rights.” Leaders do not use their positions of power to harm and further oppress a struggling and hurting minority.

Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: “You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power, and you don’t.”

Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society. 

Here is a powerful quote from Nomi Ruiz, a Puerto Rican trans woman, artist and performer, that we’d like you to take time to think about…

“The outside world will never truly understand the magnitude of the trans experience, especially that of a child who has an undying need to live in truth despite being ostracized for it. The only way for trans children to thrive is to allow them to live freely in the face of a society that abuses them for it.”

Stop abusing our kids by creating legislation that targets them. Kill these bills now and leave our kids alone.

Justifiably angry,

Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth

Award illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NYC Scholastic Art × Writing Awards

New York City Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Exhibition

Now on View at The Met

Art and Writing by 2021 Gold Key Winners on Display in The Met’s Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education

The nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and The Metropolitan Museum of Art have announced the opening of the seventh annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: New York City Regional Exhibition at The Met’s Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. This special exhibition is now on view and is free to the public through May 21, 2021.

The exhibition features more than 200 works of art and writing by New York City based Gold Key recipients participating in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the country’s longest-running and most prestigious award and recognition program for creative teens. This year, students from all five boroughs in grades 7-12 submitted more than 10,000 works in 28 categories to the New York City regional program of the Awards, representing more than 300 schools.

Education has been at the heart of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s mission since our founding in 1870, said Heidi Holder, the Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education at The Met. Now, more than ever, we are committed to investing in education and supporting the creativity of New York City’s young people. It is an honor to present the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: New York City Regional Exhibition in partnership with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. This annual exhibition demonstrates the power of art to transform, uplift, and challenge us.

All works were blindly adjudicated by accomplished creative and literary professionals based on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision or voice. This year, the exhibition will present framed prints of students’ work, due to ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure equitable access for all the student artists.

The artworks on display at The Met received top regional awards and were eligible to receive national honors through a second round of judging, which can open further opportunities for exhibition and publication, as well as access to scholarships. The Awards have honored distinguished artists since 1923, including Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Kay WalkingStick, John Baldessari, Luis Jimenez, and Catherine Murphy, whose works are in The Met collection.

Chris Wisniewski, Executive Director, Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, said: The creativity of our city’s teens has continued to flourish despite a year of unprecedented challenges. It has never been more important to celebrate diverse student voices and encourage the artistic expression of a generation of rising leaders. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers is thrilled to partner with The Met to showcase the exceptional young winners of the 2021 New York City Scholastic Awards.

The Alliance partners with Parsons School of Design at The New School and Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School to present the regional New York City Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: New York City Regional Exhibition at The Met is presented with generous support from The New York Times, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Maurice R. Robinson Fund, and Scholastic Inc.

To learn more about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, visit the Scholastic Media Room online.

About the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, identifies teenagers with exceptional creative talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Founded in 1923, the Awards program is the longest-running, most prestigious initiative of its kind, having fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students through recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.

About The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens, businessmen and financiers as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day, who wanted to create a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. Today, The Met displays tens of thousands of objects covering 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City: The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since its founding, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

Digital Divide illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digitally Disconnected

DIGITALLY DISCONNECTED

13 TIPS FOR HELPING BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

While social, racial, and economic disparities have always existed within the educational system, the COVID-19 pandemic is exasperating these inequities and widening gaps between students at a drastic rate. For families who can’t afford home computers, laptops, or high-speed internet access, remote learning is nearly impossible, and for students who already found themselves struggling before the pandemic, the prospect of more than a year of lost classroom time is a devastating blow. However, there are steps parents can take to shrink this digital divide, and there are resources available via schools, non-profits, and government initiatives that can help children access the technological tools they need to succeed. Indeed, Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder of Children and Screens, notes that “the inclusion of 17.2 billion dollars for closing the ‘homework gap’ in the recently passed American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment for digital equity.”   
 
Several of the leading figures in the fields of public health, education, psychology, and parenting have weighed in with their suggestions on the best ways to combat the digital divide, and many will participate in an interdisciplinary conversation and Q&A hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on Wednesday, March 24, at 12pm ET via Zoom. Moderated by the Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center Lee Rainie, the panel will engage in an in-depth discussion about the digital divide and actionable steps we can all take to bridge the gap. RSVP here.
 
1. DON’T WAIT, ADVOCATE 

While schools across the country are doing everything they can to make sure that children have access to the technology and connectivity they need for remote learning, the unfortunate reality is that many families still lack adequate resources. If your family is among them, says author and MIT Assistant Professor of Digital Media Justin Reich, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to advocate for what your children need. “Start with your school staff,” Reich recommends. “They’re often overwhelmed during this challenging time but be polite and persistent. If you run into a dead-end with your school system, consider reaching out to school libraries and youth organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA to see what kind of support they might be able to offer.”
 
2. SCALE DOWN 

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor Dr. Wayne Journell agrees, pointing out that sometimes, despite their best efforts, teachers and administrators may not always know which students are struggling with connectivity issues. “Let teachers know if you have slow internet at home,” says Journell. “Sometimes detailed graphics and animations that look cute but have little relevance to the actual lessons being delivered can cause problems for students with unreliable internet. If teachers are aware, then they can scale down the ‘frilly’ stuff and still get the important content across.”
 
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF  

While it’s important for parents to speak up on behalf of their children, RAND Senior Policy Researcher Julia Kaufman, Ph.D., highlights the importance of encouraging children to express their needs, as well. “If your child does not have access to technology at home and is falling behind, make sure your child’s teacher knows the obstacles they’re facing and ask what accommodations will make it easier for your child to do assignments offline,” says Rand. “At the same time, help your child feel comfortable expressing any technology concerns or confusion to their teachers, including cases where they have the technology but cannot use it well.”
 
4. CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS 

One critical step that educators and policymakers can take in addressing the digital divide is to check their assumptions. They cannot – and should not – assume that students do or do not have access based solely on demographics such as family income level. “In addition, they cannot assume that providing access alone creates equity,” adds Dr. Beth Holland, a Partner at The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Digital Equity Advisor to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN). “This is a complex and nuanced challenge that needs both a technical and a human solution to ensure that students not only have access to sufficient high-speed internet and devices but also accessible systems and structures to support their learning.”

5. SURVEY AND MODIFY  

For teachers who are on the ground and in the classroom, checking your assumptions can be as simple as asking a few basic questions at the start of the term. “Survey students to determine the percentage of your population that doesn’t have home Internet access,” recommends former AAP President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Once you know the divide, you can address it,” adding, “When planning 1:1 projects and choosing devices, for example, you can consider a device’s capacity for offline use. For those without Wi-Fi, a public library in the child’s neighborhood can also be an excellent resource.”

6. VOTE FOR CHANGE 

That parents and teachers need to worry about the digital divide at all is a failure on the part of our elected leaders, says Bates College Associate Professor of Education Mara Casey Tieken. “Contact your elected officials—local, state, and federal—and complain,” she suggests. “Write letters, call their offices, attend their legislative sessions, and make your voice heard. Join with other families whose children are impacted by this divide to amplify your message and use your vote to support lawmakers who understand the impacts of this divide, have a clear plan to address it and are willing to take action.”
 
7. MAKE BROADBAND A UTILITY  

Reich agrees, reminding those families who already have their needs met that they share in the responsibility to advocate for the less fortunate. “It’s our job as citizens to demand that we as a society give families and children the tools and resources that they need for remote learning now and in the future,” says Reich. “We need to advocate for a society where broadband is treated as a utility rather than a luxury good, and young people enrolled in schools and educational programs have access to computers for learning.”

8. CONCRETE INITIATIVES  

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, advocates four concrete initiatives. “Establish a permanent broadband benefit, increase access to affordable computers, digital literacy and technical support, improve broadband mapping (including residential cost data), and support local and state digital inclusion planning.” By implementing these changes, Siefer says, policymakers can start to mitigate the digital divide. 

9. USE TECH FOR GOOD 

There are many reasons to consider equitable solutions along a “digital continuum” rather than the “digital divide;” a binary description leaves less room for nuanced and customized interventions. It may be imperative to fortify existing institutions, implement new governance structures and promulgate policies to confront disparities regarding working families. Antwuan Wallace, Managing Director at National Innovation Service, suggests that legislators consider a Safety and Thriving framework to increase family efficacy to support children with protective factors against the “homework gap” by utilizing technology to train critical skills for executive functioning, including planning, working memory, and prioritization. 
 
10. LEVEL THE FIELD 

Emma Garcia of the Economic Policy Institute emphasizes that guided technology education will be of great value after the pandemic. She says, “it will need be instituted as part of a very broad agenda that uses well-designed diagnostic tests to know where children are and what they need (in terms of knowledge, socioemotional development, and wellbeing), ensures the right number of highly credentialed professionals to teach and support students, and offers an array of targeted investments that will address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on children’s learning and development, especially for those who were most hit by the pandemic.”
 
11. APPLY FOR LIFELINE 

Research also shows that the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino, Black, and Native American students, with the expensive price of internet access serving as one of the main obstacles to families in these communities. “Eligible parents can apply for the Lifeline Program, which is a federal program that can reduce their monthly phone and internet cost,” suggests Greenlining Institute fellow Gissela Moya. “Parents can also ask their child’s school to support them by providing hotspots and computer devices to ensure their child has the tools they need to succeed.”
 
12. GET INVOLVED 

Learning remotely can be difficult for kids, even if they have access to all the technological tools they need. Research shows that parental encouragement is also an important aspect of learning for children, notes London School of Economics professor and author Sonia Livingstone. “Perhaps sit with them, and gently explain what’s required or work it out together.” She adds that working together is a great way that parents with fewer economic or digital resources can support their children. “And if you don’t know much about computers, your child can probably teach you something too!”
 
13. NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

When it comes to encouraging your children, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Reflect on the more nuanced ways your children learn and leverage accessible resources (digital and non-digital) to inspire their continued curiosity,” says University of Redlands Assistant Professor Nicol Howard. Leaning into your child’s strengths and interests will help them make the most of this challenging time.
 
While the move to remote learning may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for families that can’t afford reliable internet or dedicated devices for their kids, there are a variety of ways that parents can help connect their children with the tools they need. For those privileged enough to already have access to the necessary physical resources, it’s important to remember that emotional support is also an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to children’s educational success, especially during days as challenging as these. Lastly, it falls on all of us to use our time, energy, and voices to work towards a more just world where the educational playing field is level and all children have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their social, racial, or financial background.
 
About Children and Screens
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness. For more information, visit Children and Screens website or contact by email here.
 
The views and opinions that are expressed in this article belong to the experts to whom they are attributed, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, or its staff. 

Mina Tocalini illustration for mental health article inside 360 magazine

Non-Immigrant Kids Respond Differently When Immigrant Children Are Bullied

A recent study finds that, while youth think all bullying is bad, non-immigrant adolescents object less to bullying when the victim is an immigrant. However, the study found that the more contact immigrant and non-immigrant children had with each other, the more strongly they objected to bullying.

“We know that bystanders can play a key role in stopping bullying, and wanted to better understand bystander responses to bias-based bullying,” says Seçil Gönültaş, first author of the study and a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University. “What role does a victim’s background play? What role does the bystander’s background play? Are children more or less likely to intervene if they come from different backgrounds?”

To explore these questions, the researchers conducted a study with 179 children, all of whom were in either sixth grade or ninth grade. Seventy-nine of the study participants were of immigrant origin, meaning that at least one of their parents was born outside of the United States. Researchers categorized the remaining 100 participants as non-immigrants for the purposes of this study, meaning both of their parents had been born in the U.S.

Study participants read three different scenarios and were then asked a range of questions to assess what they thought of the interactions in each scenario and how they would have responded in each situation.

In the first scenario, a non-immigrant child socially bullies an immigrant child because of his or her immigrant status. In the second scenario, a non-immigrant child socially bullies another non-immigrant child for being shy. And in the third scenario, a non-immigrant child socially bullies an immigrant child for being shy. Social bullying involves verbal or emotional abuse, rather than physical abuse. Immigrant youth in the fictional scenarios were born outside of the U.S.

“In general, the kids thought bullying was not acceptable,” says Kelly Lynn Mulvey, co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at NC State. “But non-immigrant youth thought bullying immigrant peers was more acceptable than bullying of other non-immigrant peers. Immigrant origin youth thought bullying any of the kids was equally wrong.”

“On a positive note, we found that there were two things that made a difference,” Gönültaş says. “First, we found that the more contact children in one group had with children in another group, the less accepting they were of bullying and the more likely they were to intervene to stop the bullying. That was true for immigrant origin and non-immigrant youth.”

“We also found that children who scored higher on ‘Theory of Mind’ were more likely to intervene,” Mulvey says. “Theory of Mind is an important part of understanding other people’s perspectives, so we suspect this is likely tied to a child’s ability to place themselves in the victim’s shoes.

“Ultimately, we think this study is valuable because it can help us develop more effective anti-bullying interventions,” Mulvey adds. “For example, these findings suggest that finding ways to encourage and facilitate more positive interactions between groups can help kids to understand that all bullying is harmful and to encourage kids to step in when they see it.”

The paper, “The Role of Immigration Background, Intergroup Processes, and Social-Cognitive Skills in Bystanders’ Responses to Bias-Based Bullying Toward Immigrants During Adolescence,” is published in the journal Child Development. The work was done with support from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’ Grants-In-Aid Program.

Abstract

This study examined how intergroup processes and social-cognitive factors shape bystander responses to bias-based and general bullying. Participants included 6th and 9th graders (N=179, M=13.23) who evaluated how likely they would be to intervene if they observed bullying of immigrant-origin and nonimmigrant-origin peers. Adolescents’ grade, intergroup attitudes, and social-cognitive abilities were evaluated as predictors of bystander responses. Nonimmigrant-origin adolescents reported that they expect they would be less likely to intervene when the victim is an immigrant-origin peer. Further, participants with more intergroup contact and higher Theory of Mind were more likely to expect they would intervene in response to bias-based bullying. Findings have important implications for understanding factors that inform anti-bullying interventions that aim to tackle bias-based bullying against immigrants.

Computer illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Over 32% Of TikTok Users Are In Their Teens

Social Media platform TikTok has continued its meteoric rise since an important merger in 2018 that took the platform globally, permeating the mainstream. The platform is especially popular among the younger generation with a majority of teens using Tiktok in the US. According to data presented by Stock Apps, over 30% of Tiktok users are in their teens which is the biggest among all age groups. More data indicates that 7 in 10 American teens use Tiktok at least once a month.

The Early Days of Tiktok

Tiktok is a social media platform that originated in China and is locally known there as Douyin. Douyin was started by ByteDance in 2016 and aimed to spread globally once it gained popularity in mainland China. In 2017 ByteDance launched Tiktok which was the international version of Douyin.

In 2018, Bytedance reportedly spent up to $1B to acquire Musical.ly, another Chinese social media startup based out of Shanghai that was founded in 2014. Musical.ly already had a large following, especially among the younger generation. This became the foundation for Tiktok’s global rise. Since their merger, Tiktok has been made available to download in over 150 countries and 75+ languages.

Tiktok Widely Popular Among Younger Generation

Tiktok allows users to record a short 15-second clip that usually features music in the background and can be edited through filters. A popular kind of clip that originated with the Musical.ly app are short lip-sync videos to trendy songs.  The video can also be sped up or slowed down to the users liking allowing for creative little clips that easily go viral. The platform clearly appeals to the younger generation and has surpassed many other social media platforms in terms of usage among teens. In the fall of 2020, a survey of almost 10K teens indicated that TikTok was the third most popular social media platform behind only Snapchat and Instagram with over 7 in 10 teens indicating that they used the platform at least once a month.

More Than 30% Of Tiktok’s Android Users Are In Their Teens – Largest Share By Age Group

TikTok’s popularity among the younger generation is no secret and is in fact the backbone of the app’s success. As of the midway point of 2020, 32.5% of Tiktok’s Android users are from the 10-19 age group, the largest share of any group, followed by the next youngest generation, the 20-29-year-olds who comprise 29.5% of Tiktok’s Android users. That means over 60% of Tiktok’s Android users are under the age of 30.

This important share of the market has not been lost among celebrities who seek to expand their reach with stars such as Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk among those to join the Tiktok party relatively early in 2018. Since then other megastars such as Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and Will Smith have joined the party, among many others.

In the fall of 2019, Tiktok also announced a multi-year partnership with the National Football League which included the launch of the official NFL Tiktok account giving teams, players and the league as a whole new marketing avenue. Partnerships such as these are what help catapult Tiktok to become one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, already boasting 800 monthly active users in less than four years of existence.

Allison Christensen, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery

10 Times Teen Movies and TV Shows Portrayed Mental Illness in a Helpful Light

By Shay Siegel

The importance of learning about mental health and debunking the stigmas that come along with it has been expressed more and more in recent years. Mental illness is a valid struggle in the everyday lives of people from all different backgrounds and circumstances—it does not discriminate. Representation of mental health is especially important for teenagers who already deal with issues of identity and belonging simply as part of growing up and all the external pressures they are exposed to. Art and entertainment forms that explore mental health and real societal issues are contributing to these discussions. 

These ten shows and movies (some of which are based on wonderful books) have explored mental illness in one way or another and shed some much-needed light, helping teens realize they are not alone.

1. Degrassi 

This was my favorite show when I was in high school, and it has done a great job not only shifting to keep up with current times, but it has always confronted a variety of important issues that teens face. I usually think of Degrassi: The Next Generation, because that’s the segment of the show I grew up with, but the new version Degrassi: The Next Class with a different cast for a new generation is exactly what the show has always been about, while keeping up with the current atmosphere. Degrassi consists of a big cast, which is one of the things to love about it and shows a multitude of characters that struggle with different issues, both external and internal. Mental health has always been portrayed in Degrassi and manifested in many ways, from eating disorders, to self-harm and suicide, to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, to identity issues, peer pressure, sexual assault, substance abuse, and so much more. The show is confronting, and it raises awareness and leads to deeper thinking and conversation-starting in a helpful and positive way. Degrassi is my number one pick for a series that shows all the raw and relatable issues teens face, especially mental illness.

2. 13 Reasons Why

I loved the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, so naturally I was excited when it was made into a series. I know it has received a ton of backlash and been accused of glorifying suicide, and yes, the show may definitely be triggering and problematic in areas. There are many positives to be gleaned as well, though. The story confronts the very ugly side of suicide and the lasting effects of trauma like sexual assault and bullying on the psyche. It’s not meant to be comfortable because these issues are uncomfortable, and the show can help in processing tough topics. The story provides encouragement to think about how our actions affect others and how we can’t know what others are going through. And regardless of whether the show is hated or loved, it has absolutely started important conversations and raised suicide awareness.

3. All the Bright Places

I actually have not yet read the book by Jennifer Niven, but I watched the movie recently and thought it was a really realistic, while also heart-wrenching, take on depression. It’s helpful for teens to see two characters with different past traumas coping in different ways, and the idea expressed that some are able to heal while others still struggle. There is no one set of symptoms when an individual has depression and that was clearly portrayed in this film. The message of hope to find the bright places everywhere even when we might not feel like one of those places within ourselves is beautiful.

4. Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska is an adapted series based on John Green’s popular novel from 2005, which I also loved, but the series expands upon the book and incorporates updated ideas and messages that fit our current times and conversations, especially those that address mental health. The story unfolds as a mystery, and at times it’s lighter and a fun coming-of-age tale, but it’s so much deeper as it progresses, especially as the later episodes take on a more ominous tone and Alaska’s inner struggles become clearer. This is another instance of not truly knowing what another person is going through, especially when they don’t reach out for help in a direct way. This is unfortunately a reality of mental illness and one of the reasons is that those struggling don’t fully understand it themselves. The open-endedness of the story is realistic because that’s exactly how life is—nothing gets wrapped up neatly, but we learn about others and ourselves along the way.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This is also one of my favorite books by Stephen Chbosky, and the movie is every bit as emotional. Charlie is an incredibly realistic character. His feelings of loneliness while continuing on day to day with hope are so accurate and relatable for any teen who has ever felt like an outcast. The deeper past issues that we find out he has repressed are heartbreaking, but I think the story does a great job in portraying that past trauma, while contributing to his current situation, might also not have necessarily created it because there are many layers to mental illness and there is no off button once a “reason” is realized.

6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story

This movie is based on the YA novel by Ned Vizzini. We get a look into many of the patients’ lives over the course of a few days in a psychiatric hospital, while Craig, the male lead, learns about himself and his circumstances, ultimately taking steps to heal. One of the most positive messages of the story is that Craig takes it upon himself to seek help, which many (or most) don’t feel acceptable doing. This is so important for teens to see. The idea that others can’t save us, and we have to build our own lives and not look to others to make it all better for us is also done well. The author of the book, Ned Vizzini, committed suicide, but he left a message of hope in allowing Craig to work through his struggles and show readers and viewers what goes on in the mind of someone struggling so deeply in hopes that those who need it may seek help.

7. Eighth Grade

This movie was cringe-worthy at times, which was effective because that’s exactly what this time of life is like. If you feel awkward watching someone, just imagine how elevated those feelings are for them on the inside. Kayla, the thirteen-year-old protagonist, is riddled with worry and anxiety about her every decision and encounter, and many of the times her fears are realized, which I think we all can agree escalates anxiety. It was an accurate and upsetting portrayal of what goes on both inside and outside during this impactful transition in life, maybe not for every single teen but certainly for the ones who feel that specific emotional turmoil.

8. To the Bone

This was an interesting take on how mental illness manifests in eating disorders. The idea of knowing how damaging your behavior is but also not knowing how to stop it or do anything different, or even just not wanting to, is relatable to anyone who struggles with mental illness whether it be an eating disorder or otherwise. This film has also been criticized for misrepresenting sensitive subject matter, but again, it has helped start conversations and it has definitely expressed an important message that recovery is not a straight line.

9. The Edge of Seventeen 

I loved this movie, and one of the best things about it is how “normal” Nadine’s mental health issues are treated. Her mental illness is not necessarily what the movie is about, but a driving force behind her as a character, and an accurate portrayal of depression for one unique person, since everyone experiences it differently. Although her struggles may be heightened by exterior circumstances and “being a teen” the way she views herself and the world are real and heartbreaking, and although she might not be in imminent danger she is suffering, nonetheless. The movie is also quite funny in parts! The balance of humor and despair work to provide light to all the darkness that exists.

10. Euphoria

This new series is extremely uncensored, raw, and even shocking, but it definitely captures the issues and pressures of being a teen in this current climate. A realistic and well-done takeaway from the series is how mental illness can completely take over and suffocate a person, even bringing on a terrible feeling of boredom and monotony. Rue, the main character, struggles with addiction, which first became an issue when she was looking for a way to combat her host of mental illnesses, and of course gives her yet another issue to struggle with when she is already in severe pain, if from nothing else then from being born into this world. The uncomfortable honesty in Euphoria is executed with precision and is a look at mental illness, while it has always existed, now in the new generation. 


Shay Siegel is a freelance writer, poet, and editor. Her debut YA novel, Fractured, is available now. For more information, visit shaysiegel.com, or connect with Siegel on Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.

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Virtual Teens Take the MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will host the first Virtual Teens Take The Met! which will be held online on Friday May 29, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Teens will have the opportunity to digitally immerse themselves in hands-on experiences created by over 30 New York City cultural and community organizations and institutions, who have partnered with The Met for this day-long online festival. This event is free with registration encouraged, and will be accessible through several platforms including YouTube, Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

“Teens Take The Met!” has been held at the Museum bi-annually since 2014 and over the years has brought together over 30,000 young people for what has become one of the most dynamic events in New York City for teens. This spring, while the Museum is temporarily closed, the online event will offer a variety of activities, such as art-making, writing and poetry prompts, dance and movement workshops, as well as opportunities for teens to practice self-care and communication about COVID-19 while in isolation.

Led by The Met (@MetTeens) along with partner institutions, there will be new programming and activities every half-hour throughout the day, culminating with a Zoom party with DJ’s from Building Beats. Highlights include an art tour and talk with New York City Writing Project; a step tutorial with the Panthers Step Team from Bard High School Early College; collage and printmaking with El Museo del Barrio; ‘NamaShakespeare’ yoga with Titan Theatre Company; digital zine-making and an exploration of the impact of COVID-19 on incarcerated youth with Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE); Poetry writing with Urban Word NYC; a fashion party with The Studio Museum in Harlem; and The Met will have a variety of art-making activities including flower crowns and tote bag DIY, ‘Teens Meme The Met’ activity and the Museum’s popular “Balcony Bar at Home,” with the quartet ETHEL, will feature teen musicians. A full schedule is below.

Teens can register

Virtual Teens Take The Met! complements the Museum’s existing selection of online materials, live and interactive programming, performances, and conversations with curators, educators, and artists, as well as #MetAnywhere social media initiatives. The Museum’s Art at Home hub is a resource for MetPublications, Primers, videos, 360-degree gallery tours, and educational materials, and the Virtual Events page is updated regularly. New highlights include a digital exhibition tour of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara and the launch of an innovative AR audio experience with the zemí cohoba stand.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars – Young Designers Competition

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is extending the deadline for entries in its Young Designers Competition to Monday 1 June 2020.

This gives aspiring designers up to the age of 16 an additional two weeks to create and submit their dream Rolls-Royce of the future.

Launched in early April, the competition has already attracted more than 2,000 entries from children in more than 70 countries worldwide. Its aim was to stimulate design talent and provide an educational distraction for children from self-quarantine and social-distancing measures. Although some countries are starting to ease their lock-down restrictions, many children are still unable to attend school, and their normal interactions and activities are likely to remain curtailed for some weeks to come.

The overall winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime prize: a fully rendered illustration of their design. Runners-up will receive a certificate individually hand-signed by Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

“We’re delighted by the sheer inventiveness, vision and detail we’re seeing in the children’s designs. Some of the ideas are truly extraordinary and have really got us thinking; it’s inspiring us as a design team to see things differently and challenge our own notions of what’s possible. We’re really looking forward to the judging process, but it’s going to be a huge challenge to pick our winners,” — Gavin Hartley, Head of Bespoke Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, will be judging the entries together with members of his team.

SUBMIT HERE

Teens and Screens During COVID-19

12 TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS FOR PARENTING TEENS ON SCREENS DURING COVID-19

This week, Children and Screens asked our experts to share their best advice for parents raising adolescents in the midst of the global pandemic. Just when parents thought that their teens couldn’t be on their devices for more hours in the day, initial data indicates that screen time among youth has increased dramatically during this time. Like younger kids, teens need guidance in managing their cognitive, emotional and physical health during this challenging and uncertain time, as well as boundaries and schedules for staying connected both on and offline. This age group is particularly susceptible to developing bad habits and addictions, so it’s more important than ever to continue encouraging a healthy relationship with screens and to give them the support they need.

Read on to learn the best ways to talk with your kids about technology and share beneficial screen time with your family; and, be sure to tune in to the next installment of our upcoming interactive popular webinar series this coming Tuesday, May 12th, at noon EDT, when our panel of experts will chat about healthy screen habits for teenagers and answer your questions via Zoom. RSVP here.

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS

While it’s important to monitor the amount of time your child spends with screens, it’s even more important to monitor what they’re actually doing with that time. Talking with friends? Encourage it. Writing a journal? Experimenting with music? Wonderful. Support your child’s need for friendship and creativity while also helping them understand that time away from distractions, time for solitude and mind-wandering, is something you value. Screens open our worlds except when they take us away from ourselves. Getting this balance right means you and your children are talking, and in my view, if that’s happening, the rest will follow. And what really helps: no screens at dinner. Consider dinner to be a sacred space, a place for conversation. – Sherry Turkle, Professor, MIT. Author, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.

LEAD THE WAY

With everyone cooped up at home, now is a great time for parents to play video games, watch movies and TV shows, and explore the world of social media with their kids. This kind of active media supervision allows parents to guide their children through the world of screens, and it’s been shown to have tremendous benefits in terms of behavior, academic success, and even physical health. This process also allows parents to understand more about the fantasy world of their kids, and it offers the chance for a healthy role reversal, one in which the child becomes the teacher and the parent can model good learning practices. – Paul Weigle, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist, associate medical director of Natchaug Hospital, Hartford HealthCare

TURN OFF THE NEWS

Daily smartphone use has skyrocketed since mid-March, and students have noted that their largest increases come with apps devoted to communication and the news. One makes kids happy; the other scares them. In order to focus on the positive, older children should reach out to others through Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. for at least an hour a day. Neuroscientists say this calms an overloaded brain. In order to limit the negative, try setting limits on their time reading news apps. At a certain point, they’re more likely to raise their blood pressure and increase their anxiety by mindlessly bingeing the news than they are to actually learn anything. – Dr. Larry Rosen, Professor Emeritus of Psychology

ROUTINES FOR TEENS

The world feels like a chaotic and unpredictable place right now. Trying to maintain a routine can give children and families a sense of normalcy.  This is especially important since, by necessity, schools have shifted a lot of the responsibility for education to students and families. Right now, schoolwork and entertainment are often happening on the same devices.  Structure and routine can help kids prioritize schoolwork, so they take care of those responsibilities before shifting to entertainment or socializing with friends.  It’s also important to maintain routines around bedtime and to encourage kids to turn off their electronics at least an hour before bed.  A good night’s sleep does wonders for mood and anxiety.  –  Dr. Dale Peeples, Associate Professor at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

EMBRACE THE ANALOG

More time at home means more time for valuable family activities such as cooking, home repair, spring cleaning, yard work, gardening, and landscaping. Adolescents can also unleash their creativity via painting, making music, or crafts. For those with access, the dearth of cars allows for safer and more enjoyable bike rides and long walks. This is also a special opportunity to learn about family history. Teens can interview their extended relatives and create memorabilia such as scrapbooks or cookbooks. – Kristopher Kaliebe, MD, Associate Professor, University of South Florida

TAKE A BREAK

Don’t feel guilty about the increase in your child’s screen time. As the New York Times recently reported: Coronavirus ended the screen time debate, and screens won. It’s not just children’s screen time that’s surged lately, though. Parents rely on screens to follow the news, buy groceries, teach their children, talk with colleagues and friends, and keep up with elderly family members, who they’re no longer allowed to see in person. That means kids and parents alike face increased risk for physical side effects, including nearsightedness, computer vision syndrome, and neck and back problems. Although it’s difficult to limit total screen time at the moment, parents should insist on regular breaks, both for their kids and themselves. – Professor Patti M. Valkenburg, University of Amsterdam

KEEP SCREEN TIME AND BEDTIME SEPARATE

Don’t let your child’s normal bedtime shift too much later during this quarantine period. One way to enforce bedtime is to shut off screens at least one hour before lights out. When kids (and adults) use screens before bedtime, they’re more likely to want to “watch another episode,” further delaying their bedtime. They also may become psychologically stimulated by something they read or see, which may make it harder for them to fall asleep, even if they go to bed on time. In addition, bright light from screens can suppress the natural release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. In other words, protect bedtime by reducing evening screen time. – Lauren Hale, Ph.D. – Professor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine Program, Program in Public Health, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Both you and your adolescent may find yourselves feeling anxious right now. Emphasize that regular life is sometimes interrupted in unexpected ways, but that things will eventually go back to normal. Help them avoid bingeing on COVID-19 news by steering them toward more healthy and enriching content, and remind them that now is a time for everyone to come together and help each other out. – Elizabeth K. Englander, PhD Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, Bridgewater State University

HIT THE RESET BUTTON

Everyone’s a bit stressed these days, and kids can sense it. Many will turn to their favorite passive activities, especially those involving screens, as a way of managing their fears. If your children suddenly can’t tear themselves away from YouTube, more frequent check-ins with a gradual decrease in daily screen time may help to reset their “digital programming.” – Meredith Gansner, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Cambridge Health Alliance

APPRECIATE THE LITTLE THINGS

Recognize that during this time, you will not be as efficient at your job, and your child will likely not learn as much as they would if they were physically attending school. This is all okay. The greatest lesson you can teach your teen, and learn with them, is that you are resilient. You can take a scary and chaotic situation and find beauty, purpose, and connection. – Colleen Kraft, MD

ASK FOR HELP

Now is a time when those teens who already struggle with their screen use are at risk of seriously losing control. Once an adolescent has fallen into addiction, tremendous family conflict is likely to ensue as parents try to take control. With families confined in their homes without a ready way to ease the tension, the situation may become volatile. Following the suggestions found here to create structure, build connections and encourage creative and social uses of tech and non-tech time may salvage the situation. But, if parents do find themselves dealing with an out-of-control teen and can’t seem to lead them onto healthier ground, there are counselors and coaches who specialize in internet addiction. Telehealth is not an ideal way to begin a helping relationship, but it may be what saves your sanity. – Dr. Hilarie Cash, Chief Clinical Officer and Co-Founder of reSTART Life, PLLC

DANGER AND OPPORTUNITY

Compared to adults, children and adolescents are typically less future-oriented, so present-moment experiences are particularly salient for them. As such, children and adolescents may be more inclined during the pandemic to turn to the internet for immediate gratification. There is potential danger in this: kids can get into patterns of gaming or social media consumption that may involve many hours of screen time, generate habits that may be problematic or difficult to break once the pandemic subsides, or engage in boundary-pushing or risky behavior without parental knowledge. However, there is also the opportunity here to involve youth in more adaptive patterns of internet use. For example, in the coming weeks and months, families may be foregoing in-person meetings in favor of remote holiday gatherings over the internet. Encouraging adolescents to help arrange and organize such events may provide opportunities for empowering youth to engage in more healthy forms of internet use. – Marc N Potenza, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine

As kids get older, their needs continue to evolve, but as our experts point out, many of the basic tenets of parenting in the digital age remain the same. With the independence of college and adulthood on the horizon, it’s important to reinforce thoughtful decision-making and responsible online behavior, and we hope these tips can help guide you and your family towards a healthy future together.

About Children and Screens

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. Children and Screens advances interdisciplinary research, supports human capital in the field, informs and educates the public, and advocates for sound public policy for child health and wellness.