Is Your Teen an #Instafamer?

looking for community in all the wrong places

Is Your Teen an #Instafamer?

teens, social media, instagram, twitter

Teenagers aren't that much different than they were in the days of Bueller and the Breakfast Club. Being popular is still paramount, but how some teens go about making that happen has changed dramatically. And as parents, we ought to be concerned; very concerned.

A Centennial College study into “selfie culture” has uncovered the lengths to which some adolescents are willing to go to win friends—real and virtual. All it takes is a suggestive tweet, a provocative photo or video, and teens can become “#Instafamers.”

But at what cost? Kids see celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian peeling off their clothes and all the ensuing fanfare, and they decide they want that kind of attention, too. (Case in point: Kardashian's partially naked magazine cover won over 700,000 likes almost immediately.) 

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“We have a culture that conflates celebrity kinds of attention with being important and being heard,” said Aimée Morrison, an associate professor of English and new media at the University of Waterloo.

After studying the social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, and Vine looking at the demographic of North American kids between the ages of 13 and 18, researchers noticed some serious oversharing going on. Add monetizing to the equation, and some teens are pushing the envelope, exposing more and more of themselves in return for ad payments or freebies. Without the right role models, kids risk being seduced by that kind of popularity.

“A lot of them were really concerned that kids are looking in all the wrong places for community and for friendship,” said Debbie Gordon, director of Centennial's Kids Research Centre.

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There's the hope that virtual popularity will translate into popularity at school. But not all attention is positive, and by revealing too much of themselves and their personal lives online, some teens find themselves being vulnerable to bullies. 

Researchers urge parents to get in the know about all the platforms their kids are using, as well as how they're using them. 

“We’re not saying that these tools and platforms are evil or dangerous—they’re not,” Gordon said. “We just want kids to be thinking about… what kind of messages they’re saying.”

Should you follow your kids on social media? Here's what our editor has to say.

Welcome to Science, Girls! Do You Like My Naked Lady Shirt?

Philae Researcher taken to task over shirt worn for probe landing

Welcome to Science, Girls! Do You Like My Naked Lady Shirt?

twitter, science

A very nifty thing happened in space this week, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that Philae robot spacecraft has to do with fashion instead of a probe landing on a comet after last night. You see, the big scientific victory was overshadowed by a scientist wearing an hideous shirt.

During a live feed from the European Space Agency (ESA), Matt Taylor, one of the researchers involved, thought it would be funny to wear a shimmery shirt covered in lingerie-clad women. Of course following masses of Twitter outrage, Taylor performed a swift wardrobe change. But the damage had been done, and just like that: one major leap "for mankind" turned into one giant misstep. With STEM programs having trouble attracting and keeping girls in the fields of math and science, it this how we encourage enrollment? I'd say, um, NO.

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It's just a shirt, you say. But the incident is more than a silly clothing choice like a CEO wearing a tie festooned with light-up reindeer at the company Christmas party. This act - a "naked lady" shirt - is someone demeaning women in a very public, jocular fashion. Astronomer Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) wasn't shy about leading the backlash on Twitter - and many agree. And here we wonder why women don't pursue careers in STEM!

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Frankly, I wouldn't even think Taylor wearing a reindeer tie would have been funny. Beyond overt sexism, the immaturity and unprofessional clothing detracted from the entire mission. If I were the ESA, I'd be shamefaced.

Sexism isn't cool, bud—not even when it's done in an offbeat, offhand way. Whether it was *intentionally* sexist is beside the point.

You tell me: Is the shirt sexist, or are we just hypersensitive?

Image Source: Twitter



When Does Healthy Eating Turn Harmful?

Know the warning signs of Orthorexia

When Does Healthy Eating Turn Harmful?

Apple, orthorexia, healthy eating

Healthy eating is something we all strive for—for ourselves and for our children. But taken to the extreme, healthy eating can turn into a disorder. All this pressure to "eat clean" and eliminate so many foods from our diet, like gluten, sugar, dairy, can actually leave some people malnourished.

“People are getting so strict with their health choices that they’re not getting the nutrients that they need,” said David Rakel, director of integrative medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Though you won't find the term "orthorexia nervosa" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), doctors and dietitians are increasingly recognizing signs of obsessive-compulsive behaviour similar to that of anorexia.

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Researchers in Colorado have published guidelines in the journal Psychosomatics to help clinicians spot the disorder. Among some diets that can be "dangerous" are raw vegan, as well as those that boycott dairy and gluten (except in cases of allergy) because people often fail to supplement lost nutrients.

“There are people who become malnourished, not because they’re restricting how much they eat, it’s what they’re choosing to eat,” said co-author of the article and psychologist and psychology professor at the University of Northern Colorado, Thomas Dunn.

“It’s not that they’re doing it to get thin, they’re doing it to get healthy. It’s just sort of a mind-set where it gets taken to an extreme like what we see with other kinds of mental illness.”

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In order to meet the criteria for orthorexia, someone would have to spend hours a day obsessing about what or where they eat to the extent that it interferes with daily living. It's not the food itself, but the preoccupation and anxiety that gradually turns healthy eating into a form of mental illness.

Orthorexia isn't not always easy to spot as say, anorexia, because it doesn't always lead to extreme weight loss. And because orthorexia isn't an official condition, patients are typically treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Image Source: WikiCommons

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