Adults are hurting youth via ADULT abuse of social media

I regularly give talks to parents about youth and social media. Lately, I have been saying that adult use of social media may be causing more harm to youth than youth use of social media. I have a 15 minute video on this topic I made which you might want to view at

Adults hurt young people on social media (and news media) in these ways (and there are more.)

We pass on rumors about teenagers.

We share pictures or videos of young people doing unwise things which expose them to unmerciful treatment by others.

Perhaps you remember the story in the last year prompted by this video.

The young woman who pushed her friend appeared in court recently, which prompted more exposure. On social media, I noted countless adults calling for long prison terms for her. Many referred to her action as attempted murder. In any case, it is hard to imagine that this young woman won’t suffer for many years because of her terrible mistake–and because this was made a national story and a viral video distributed by ADULTS.

(WHY was this a national story? Would anyone argue that the worst thing that happened to a teenager that day was getting badly injured by being pushed into a river? Would anyone argue that the girl who pushed engage in the worst behavior of any teenager in the country that day? On that day, teenagers were murdered and sexually assaulted. And yet, the young woman who pushed her friend is nationally called out, by name. None of the perpetrators of the murder, assaults, or rape of teenagers had this level of national exposure.)

I believe the girl who pushed the other girl made a terrible, impulsive mistake based on a cognitive error. don’t see any reason to believe that she thought to herself, “Hey, I’m going to push my friend off this bridge so that she will hit the water and get badly injured.” Here’s what I suspect was her error. She had seen people jump off the bridge into the river and be just fine. Her error was in not thinking about the fact that being pushed off the bridge is not the same as jumping. For an impulsive acted likely based on that error, people are calling for her to go to state prison.

I bring up this case as an example of the vilification of young people, by name, by adults on news media and social media. There are lots of others.

I’m working on a pledge for adults regarding how they post on social media about teenagers. See what you think of what I have so far.

Knowing that I do not know all the facts (only what I have heard or read from others), I will not pass on rumors regarding teenagers and their behavior, because rumors hurt.

I will not share pictures or videos or accounts of young people doing unwise things which would expose them to unmerciful treatment by others.

Knowing that young people make mistakes, partly because of incomplete brain development, I will reconsider my calls for harsh judgment and punishment.

I will carefully consider not contributing to the public condemnation of minors who are named and whose identity can be determined, particularly mindful of my lack of knowledge of the full facts of incidents involving youth.

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