Dr. Shapiro completed his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a B.A. in Political Science. He furthered his education at UCLA where he earned a Masters Degree in Public…
Facebook Now Lets Teens to Set Their Profile 'Public' For Anyone To See
Posted in Parenting Teena... by Dr. Jeremy F. Shapiro on Oct 31, 2013
I certainly realize the important role social media plays in the world today. And while I think the thought that it saves lives is debatable, there is no doubt it changes lives. How can it not when there are 1.2 billion users worldwide on Facebook and half of those are on the site on a daily basis?

While I don’t find much use of it on a personal level, I do believe it serves a wonderful role for me in both a professional and business level where I am able to get relevant pediatric information to the patients and families I care for at a moment’s notice. But at the same time, I certainly have no problem with those who use it primarily for social reasons, as long as it’s being used in a benign and safe manner.

But as a parent and a pediatrician, I do have a problem when I feel the teenage (and even younger) population is being exploited by some of these social media websites for the almighty dollar. Frankly, I’m still not sure why the younger teens (say 13-, 14-, even 15-year-olds) need an account on social media site. I’m still trying to figure out what’s the benefit in having one in this age group. Unfortunately and more often than not, the stories I hear about the younger teens on social media sites are not necessarily uplifting and positive ones.

And so I turn to something I came across in the news just a few days ago where it was announced that Facebook is relaxing its rules for the 13- to 17-year-old age group in order to keep up with other sites that already had lax posting guidelines. Specifically, the teenage population was now being allowed to have the option of sharing photos, updates, and comments with the general public on this site. Why the change in policy? Well, again, for the almighty dollar as this would allow easier access for companies collecting data for advertisers. And more advertising posts means more advertising dollars.

But something not to be overlooked in all this is that this new policy will allow strangers to now follow teens they don’t know more easily, which I’m afraid, will lead to a less safe environment for the teens on this social media site. And frankly, I’m not sure 14-year-olds fully grasp the concern surrounding this.

So what to do? Well, I will leave the legislative discussion for another time, another post. But like I usually do, I turn to the parents and caregivers of teenagers and particularly the younger teens and I ask all of you to please do your best in keeping the communication line open with your teenagers.

And while teenagers are not always the first to discuss things with their parents, beginning with a simple conversation can often lead to meatier discussions. And do your homework on these social media sites as guidelines change so rapidly these days, what may be true last week may not be the same for this week.

- Dr. Jeremy


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