Teen Guides to Health & Wellness Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorders Diets, Cleanses, and Fitness Drugs and Alcohol School and Your Health Sexuality and Gender Identity Sleep and Hygiene Smoking and Vaping Social Media and the Internet Suicide and Self-Harm Tattoos, Piercings, and Body Modifications

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness

H.W. Poole

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Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-4419-7 Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4222-4427-2 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4222-7390-6 Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file with the Library of Congress

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CONTENTS Introduction. ...................................................................6 Chapter 1: Social Media Basics. .......................................9 Chapter 2: Social Media and You.................................... 31 Chapter 3: Some Pitfalls of Social Media........................ 47 Chapter 4: What Do I Do Now?. ......................................69 Organizations and Hotlines............................................84 Further Reading and Online Resources...........................86 Series Glossary of Key Terms..........................................88 Index. ............................................................................ 92 About the Author / Credits. ............................................96 K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

Think back: Can you remember the first time you used a digital device? Try to remember a moment when you were a person who had never used a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Can you do it? If you’re a high school student, you probably can’t. That’s because you are what’s known as a “digital native.” Digital natives are people who were born into an Internet-connected world. You don’t know any other way to live, because you’ve been around electronic devices since you were born. Your parents (maybe) and grandparents (definitely) are not digital natives—they were around before the Internet was part of our daily lives. That’s why they might seem a little clueless when it comes to using their phones. What seems entirely natural to you can be strange and even alienating to them. But while technology changes very fast—there are always new apps, new slang, and so on—human nature changes very slowly, if at all. We may have shiny new ways of communicating with each other, but we are still, at the end of the day, the same people, struggling with the same challenges, insecurities, and heartbreaks as previous generations. So the question is, how do we incorporate new technologies into our very human relationships? How can we interact with social media in ways that emphasize what’s good about it, while reducing negative effects? This book will try to take on these questions. It’s important to point out at the start that this book is not anti–social media. We are more connected, with more access


to interesting people, useful information, and new ideas, than ever before—and that’s a great thing! But any new technology has both upsides and downsides. The invention of the car was an amazing achievement, but we also needed to invent traffic laws, stop signs, and seatbelts in order to be safe. Along the same lines, we need to understand the ways in which social media could put us at risk, and use that understanding to make our interactions with it as positive as they can be. You don’t need to fear the Internet, but you do need to understand it. After you are done with this book, check out the resources and organizations listed at the back. They will help you continue exploring the ways we can use social media to our benefit, rather than letting it use us.

More and more people are letting their lives be consumed by social media.


Instead of actually enjoying moments, we can be too concerned with documenting them so other people can see what we’ve done.


facilitate: to make something possible or easier intuitively: something that you sense without needing to think about it monetize: to earn money from something (for example, to sell personal data is to “monetize” that data) revenue: a company’s income; the money it makes from whatever the company does server: a type of computer that houses large amounts of data VoIP: acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol ; refers to using the Internet to transmit voices instead of using a traditional telephone line


There’s a story about two young fish swimming in a river. An old fish swims by and says hello (yes, the fish in this story talk). Then the old fish says, “The water is very nice today, isn’t it?” After the old fish has swum away, one young fish turns to the other and says, “What’s water ?” As a digital native, social media is the water you and your friends all swim in. It’s all around you, all the time. This creates an interesting sort of paradox. On the one hand, you are likely an expert in how to use social media; flicking around on a phone is a totally natural experience for you. On the other hand, you may not have given much thought to what social media actually is or how it works behind the scenes. But the more you know about the “water” you’re in, the better a swimmer you will be. What Is Social Media? First things first: What do we mean when we say “social media”? The term refers to networked websites and apps that use the Internet to facilitate communications between users. These days, the most important social media platforms are Social Media Basics


MySpace was a popular social media site in the mid-2000s.

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Social Media and the Internet


Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Of course, this list may have changed by the time you read this—such is the fast-moving nature of the online world, where “Internet years,” like “dog years,” are much shorter than regular human years. When people talk about the history of social media, they often point to 1997 as the starting point, because that was the year that the site Six Degrees was created. The name is a reference to the concept of “six degrees of separation”—the idea being that every person on earth can be connected to another person by six or fewer personal contacts. Users of the Six Degrees site could post profiles of themselves, make connections (“friends”) with other users, and send themmessages. If this reminds you of Facebook, you’re right; Facebook was an evolution of concepts pioneered by both Six Degrees and another early player in social media, Friendster. These sites—as well as MySpace, which was popular in the mid-2000s—all centered on creating an online profile and connecting with other users who share your interests. But in another sense, social media is a lot older than Six Degrees. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, certain universities began offering Internet connections—albeit primitive ones by today’s standards. Almost immediately, users began finding ways to communicate with one another. In 1973, computer engineers at the University of Illinois created PLATO Notes. Initially, it was simply a way for users to notify engineers about problems with the computer system itself. But it wasn’t long before people were using it to chat about all manner of topics. The greater public got into the act beginning in 1979, when engineers in Chicago

Social Media Basics


released the first bulletin board system (BBS), which was named CBBS. The original BBSs were a bit like the site Reddit today, in that they were centered around threaded discussions; unlike Reddit, they had no graphics. The same year, graduate students in North Carolina created USENET, an online bulletin board system, while computer scientists in the United Kingdom built the first online role-playing game, a Dungeons & Dragons –inspired, text-only game called MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). As time passed, Internet speeds got faster, and sites became more complex. Today we can send sound files, pictures, and videos at rates that were unthinkable back in the PLATO Notes days. Still, the basic activities of social media—making your own posts, reading others’ posts, making comments, and responding to comments—have not fundamentally changed since the 1970s. Some Key Social Media Platforms Facebook. As noted above, Facebook improved on the basic concepts developed by earlier social media platforms. Since its release in 2005, users have been creating personal “home pages” and then “friending” others to connect. About three quarters of Facebook users check the site at least once a day, and many users check it more than once. Since 2016, American users have been drifting away from the site for a variety of reasons, most notably due to concerns about privacy and how Facebook monetizes the information shared on the site. Facebook has also suffered from a perceived lack of hipness; many teens think of Facebook as “your mom’s social media.” Nonetheless, Facebook had well over two billion users in 2019—nearly a

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Social Media and the Internet


Today there are many popular sites on the Internet.

third of the earth’s entire population, and far more than any other social platform. Instagram. Far more popular with American teens than Facebook, Instagram is an image-centric social media site that was launched in 2010. A key feature of Instagram is the “story,” where users can post photos and short video clips that are highlighted at the top of users’ feeds but only stay up for 24 hours. The site announced that it had hit one billion active users in June 2018. Instagram has also been cited as the worst social media site when it comes to mental health, perhaps because the image-centric app creates an

Social Media Basics


WhatsApp enables voice and video calls, text messages, group chats, and also lets users share images and documents.

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Social Media and the Internet


immediate way for users to compare their possessions, vacations, bodies, and lifestyles with other users. Snapchat. A multimedia platform that was released in 2011, Snapchat was originally used for audiovisual communication between specific users—you could send someone a “snap” that would disappear after no more than ten seconds. These days, the ten-second limit has been removed, and Snapchat is more of a typical social media site where users can follow one another’s posts. (When Instagram released their Stories function, critics complained that the company had essentially just incorporated Snapchat into its own service.) Twitter. A “microblogging” platform, Twitter was founded in 2006. At first, users were limited to only 140 characters per post. This limit was raised to 280 in fall 2017. A central feature of the site is the “retweet,” where people can share other users’ tweets and comment on (or, frequently, mock) them. Twitter has a far smaller user base than either Facebook or Instagram, but it tends to have an outsized cultural influence, in part due to the number of celebrities and social commentators who use it. Political talk is very popular on Twitter—the app was the primary form of communication by former President Donald Trump—and users often turn to the site for breaking news and commentary. Tweets about TV shows, films, and sports events also take up a lot of bandwidth on the site. WhatsApp. Both a VoIP app and social media platform, WhatsApp enables voice and video calls, text messages, and group chats. It also lets users share images and documents. WhatsApp connects users to everyone in their contacts’ lists who uses the app, and it also suggests new contacts.

Social Media Basics


WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and is wildly popular both in the United States and abroad. It has all but replaced the old-style SMS (short message service) texts; SMS used to cost money every time you used it, whereas WhatsApp has always been free. Reddit. Using the slogan, “the front page of the Internet,” Reddit is an aggregator of news, images, and discussions on a seemingly limitless number of topics. Certain threads (called “subreddits”) became infamous during the 2016 election for their far-right, often racist content, but that is just a small part of the site. One especially popular post format is called an AMA, short for “Ask Me Anything.”

“With social media we’ve created a stage for constant artificial high dramas. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It’s all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people.” —Jon Ronson

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Social Media and the Internet


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