What do you think about boosting your social media with fake followers?

 

 

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Real-life friends.

Have you read the stories about people paying for fake Twitter followers? Doesn’t that sound sad to pay for “friends?” Apparently many celebs, famous people do it as well as everyday folks. Somehow upping their numbers in followers makes them feel secure or more popular?

I was talking to my daughter this morning about social media and she told me she has real-life friends that obsess over Instagram. They work to have a perfect image and the photos she sent me of them are so ridiculous. Perfect make-up, poses, backgrounds. It looks like an incredible amount of time and effort went into these pictures. And I know these girls and in real life–they barely resemble the image they are promoting. I don’t get it.

 

I’m so thankful we didn’t have social media when I was a kid. It was nice to have a break from your “public image” and lounge around in my bedroom or in front of the TV and not worry about what everyone else was doing. There was social pressure to fit in and be popular when I was in junior high and high school. That was enough in itself without having to keep up appearances on Facebook and Instagram. I wonder how many kids today are resorting to fake followers or obsessing over their social media image?

Here’s an excerpt from “Paying to be popular: inside social media’s black market for fake followers” by Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris and Mark Hansen that appeared in the New York Times and Seattle Times:

“The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio, the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real-estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high-school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted pornography.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure U.S. company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social-media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

Several Devumi customers acknowledged that they bought bots because their careers had come to depend, in part, on the appearance of social-media influence. “No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.

More than 100 self-described influencers — whose market value is even more directly linked to their follower counts on social media — have purchased Twitter followers from Devumi.

After reading countless articles of how social media is adding to our children’s stress, anxiety and depression, I’m beginning to think of it as more evil than good. Yes, I’ve enjoyed reuniting with friends I’ve lost touch with. Yes, I like the updates from my second cousin about her chemo treatments. Other than that, I think I might be happier without it. I used to get birthday phone calls each year and look forward to talking to my friends who bothered to call. Nowadays, I get a string of “happy birthdays” on Facebook. It’s not the same thing. I think we avoid talking and interacting in person, thanks to social media. It’s so much easier to text or PM rather than the give and take, patience and time, an actual phone call can take. I find I don’t like talking on the phone as much as I used to, and I often am the one to end the call first.

I pity the people who feel they have to have “followers” and buy friends. Especially if they feel their success depends upon it. I worry about this extra persona our children feel the need to create.

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Hanging out in our back yard with real live friends.

What are your thoughts about buying followers on social media?

Do you know what apps are on your teen’s phone?

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You can’t use social media underwater–yet.

Most parents want to know what our kids are doing on social media. We’ve been aware of the dangers out there—from sexual predators to cyberbullying. Our kids who spend too much time on their phones are more prone to anxiety and depression. Suicide has doubled for girls from 2007 to 2015 reaching a 40-year high, according to new analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

A decade ago our kids were on MySpace. Then they moved to Facebook. They’re on Instagram and Snapchat now, but are we? The problem I see with social media is that as soon as we figure out how to use a platform, our kids have jumped onto a new one.

In the article called “Got teens? Four popular apps you need to know about” by Amy Morganroth, she details four apps I’ve never heard of. Have you?

“If you’ve got tweens or teens who are on phones or iPads or similar devices, you need to stay vigilant about the latest “hot” apps.

“Many are targeted at kids under the age of 18 and are wildly popular because they are free and easy to use.

“But most also have pretty frightening features that could put your kids at risk if they connect with the wrong person.

“On the flip side, we also highlight one app that’s designed to help parents make sure their child responds to their text messages.”

The apps she mentions are Yellow, musical.ly and Sarahah that can be platforms for cyberbullying or meeting up with strangers. Yellow is called “Tinder” for kids. It’s a meet-up app and there are no controls on it. The app musical.ly allows users to create music videos with their friends. That may sound harmless but one dad reported that his seven-year-old daughter was asked to post topless photos of herself. Sahara is a messaging app and the problem is it’s all anonymous, hence the cyberbullying. The app ‘Reply ASAP’ allows parents to remotely lock their kids’ phones if they don’t respond to their text within three minutes. I’d like that one. I hate it when my kids don’t respond to my texts.

I haven’t found the answer to the dangers of social media for our kids mental and physical health. My only suggestion is to get your kids into an environment where they have to put their phones down. Like in the swimming pool, a hike in the mountains–or a day at the beach.

Are you fluent in knowing what apps are on your kid’s phones? How do you monitor their social media?

 

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Another place there’s no social media because our cell phones have zero bars.

 

Would you sign the no-cellphone pledge? Are smartphones ruining a generation?

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Before cell phones were so prevalent, friends got together to hang out.

Today I found several sources talking about a pledge that thousands of parents are signing–the “Wait Until 8th” pledge to hold off giving kids cellphones until they are 13 or 14. Apparently, it’s hard for parents to say no to their kids and they don’t want to be the only family in the neighborhood to ban smartphones. By banding together and signing a pledge, they aren’t alone and they are getting more parents to support this idea.

I heard about the pledge here at a CBS station online:

SUMMIT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Making your child wait to get a smartphone could feel impossible, but it might be a huge relief, and many parents are doing it.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, thousands have signed the ‘wait until 8th pledge’ — agreeing not to give their child a smartphone until 8th grade.

The Chicago Tribune covered it as well in “What age is too young for a smartphone? ‘Wait Until 8th’ pledge asks parents to delay tech for kids” by Kate Thayer:

Oak Park mom Keri Lucas doesn’t like how her smartphone seems to take hold of her young daughter’s mind when she lets her browse through digital snapshots.

“I do notice it impacts her behavior in a negative way,” said Lucas, describing how it’s hard to pull her 7-year-old daughter away from the cellphone.

It got Lucas to thinking about when she’ll give her daughter her own smartphone — a device many adults didn’t have a decade ago but now seems ubiquitous, even among children. “This is new territory,” Lucas said. “As parents, we’re navigating something our parents didn’t navigate. Trying to figure it out as we go is hard.”

As kids head back to school, many parents are wrestling with a relatively new rite of passage: when to give their kids a smartphone. While the average child gets his or her first smartphone at 10, according to research firm Influence Central, some parents in Chicago and across the country are bucking the trend by promising to wait until their children are in eighth grade — when they’re typically 13 or 14.

 

You may ask what the point is in not giving your child a cellphone? They are a great convenience, they give you the ability to check up on your child at any time and know where they are. But in a lengthy article from The Atlantic Magazine called “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” author Jean M. Twenge cites decades of her own research that shows cellphones are negatively impacting our kids. Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen. I’ve posted a few paragraphs of the article below:

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens.

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.

If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.

I find it interesting that Prof. Twenge cites the years 1995-2012 as the iGen—because my youngest falls in that group and is on her phone all the time. My oldest is a couple years older, and although he’s always been into technology, my daughter makes fun of him for “being too old” for social media. He’s more comfortable on FaceBook like us old folks and doesn’t use SnapChat and rarely Instagram. It’s fascinating there’s such a big difference in their connection to their phones. In high school, he was spending time hanging out with his friends as often as he could–just like we did back in the day. My daughter spends time communicating with her friends over her phone. She does get together with them, but her downtime is spent tapping away on her iphone.

 

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Friends climbing rocks, jumping through waves–no cell phones around.

What do you think about the 8th grade pledge? Does the research about increased depression and anxiety affecting the iGen kids who grew up with cellphones alarm you? What type of rules do you have with your kids about cellphones?

 

 

What’s Going to Happen to Our Kids Raised on Selfies? :)

The first Halloween for my kids together.

The first Halloween for my kids together.

I have a question for you. This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. What do you think the long term effects will be to our kids for us posting everything they do on FB?

I’m not pointing fingers, because yes, I’m guilty of this myself. Do you remember when once a year your relatives and close family friends would come over and the slide projector and screen would come out? Or, when you sat with a bowl of popcorn on the carpet with the cousins at your grandparents house, bored watching old slides of your parents?

I took a lot of photos of my kids when they were babies and toddlers. I took less and less as they got older until our phones got mixed up with cameras. Now, I’m guilty of taking photos whenever I get the chance. And posting them on FB.

First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl.

First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl. ‘Kat in the Hat.”

But, I didn’t have FB when my kids were young. We barely had internet. We had a modem and I could send files of work to a printer. There was no way to share every minute detail and selfie of our day. Instead, I took my film downtown to the photo shop and got double prints made. Then I wrote a card or letter by hand to my mom or dad and inserted the photos and mailed them the old fashioned way. Here’s the result of that! A closet with shelves filled with photo albums.

A few of my photo albums, filled with real live pictures.

A few of my photo albums, filled with real live pictures.

My fear is that we are raising kids who think they are more self-important than they really are. Their every move is recorded and shared with the world. Maybe they’ll be confused and want to share as much about their lives as a Kardashian. As they grow older and have their own Instagram, Snapchat etc. will they try harder and harder to get noticed? Will the photos get more outrageous and provocative? Look at me????

Christmas photo shoot 1996.

Christmas photo shoot 1996.

I’ve been reading articles about this phenomenon. Here’s a related article I wrote on whether or not our kids get too much glory. Following are some excerpts and links from CNN and US News. Some report skyrocketing anxiety and depression as a result of too much social media.

“The 2014 National College Health Assessment, a survey of nearly 80,000 college students throughout the United States, found that 54% of students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past 12 months and that 32.6% “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the same period. The study also found that 6.4% had “intentionally, cut, burned, bruised or otherwise injured” themselves, that 8.1% had seriously considered suicide and that 1.3% had attempted suicide.

Ease up on the pressure. Do we really have to be noticed all the time? Does every second have to be a beauty contest? Our kids need to stop feeling that they have to outperform their peers every minute of every day. They need to know that they don’t have to market themselves constantly, and that social media can be a mechanism for fostering collaborative relationships — not a medium for fueling competition, aggression and irresponsible behavior that contributes to anxiety and depression.” More from CNN here.

Here’s another article with an interesting point of view on selfies and a teen’s self worth. Read more from US News here.

“Social media use can turn into a problem when a teen’s sense of self worth relies on peer approval, Proost says. Whether they’re posting from the football game bleachers or on a family vacation, teens can access social media anywhere and at all times. And because of the constant connection, it can be dangerous for young people overly concerned with others’ opinions. They may feel like they can never escape the social environment and are constantly faced with peer pressure.

“The mental health outcomes that we’re starting to look at now are things like body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety,” Proost says. “We are starting to see those things creep up and be related conditions to excessive [social media] use.”

If we know an overuse of social media can be fun, but also have consequences that negatively impact our children—why are we leading and feeding them down this road? 

Grandma on the swings with Robert.

Grandma on the swings with Robert.

Don’t get me wrong. I love FB. I’m learning Instagram. I LOVE that I’ve reconnected with friends and family and get to share in their lives. I say to keep an eye out for when it gets out of hand.

What are your thoughts on a generation of kids whose every move has been recorded and shared? Do you think there might be negative consequences, too?

A new toothy smile.

A new toothy smile.