Online Promotion of High-Risk Behaviors

The Internet provides countless opportunities to make and maintain friends on social networking sites, learn about endless topics, and explore new territory. However, while the internet can give young people amazing access to elephant habitats in Africa and how to help conservation efforts, the internet is also by teens to promote unhealthy behaviors.

Parents should understand the potential pitfalls of connected technology in order to appropriately help their children steer clear of them. CyberHood Watch identifies these ten dangerous behaviors promoted by teens on the Internet:

  1. Anorexia: Often identified as pro-ana (anorexia) or pro-mia (bulimia), these sites encourage teen girls to become as thin as possible.
  2. The choking game: An activity where teens deprive themselves of oxygen to get a "high" before they pass out.
  3. Sexting: Sending nude photos via cell phones-an activity that is devastating when trust is violated.
  4. Beatdowns: Teens upload videos of fights or groups of teens beating down another teen.
  5. Drinking: Many use the internet to promote drinking and entertain online friends with pictures and videos of their drunkenness.
  6. Drug abuse: These sites promote a culture of misinformation and tell teens there are no harmful consequences from drug abuse.
  7. Racing: Teens upload videos of street racing.
  8. Self mutilation: These are sites made by teens who suffer from mental illness. The sites promote self injury and support for continuing behavior.
  9. Daredevil videos: Teens try to impress other teens and then post videos of their feats.
  10. Sniffing: These sites promote and suggest types of substances to try. 1

Part of raising resilient digital citizens is helping kids and teens identify reliable information online and recognize that some sites host information that is false or dangerous. In addition to installing internet-tracking & filtering software, discuss with your children the sites they visit. Promote the importance of responsible internet surfing.


References:
1 Ballard, Dave & Wardell, Bill. Top Ten Dangerous Behaviors Promoted by Teens Online. The Cyberhood Watch. Retrieved from http://thecyberhoodwatch.com/CHW/Risky-and-Dangerous-Behaviors.pdf