Teen Communication & Social
Children’s Mercy Hospital
May 5, 2012
Kathryn Stefanowycz, LCSW, LSCSW
Director, Intake Services
Crittenton Children’s Center
10918 Elm Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64134
• Crittenton Children’s Center
– We offer 54 pre-adolescent and adolescent acute
– We offer 64 adolescent residential treatment beds
– We served a total of 2171 (1592 unique) children
and adolescents in 2011; we turned away ~350
– We also offer CD-IOP for adolescents.
What’s to come:
• Teens and tweens
• Teen slang
• Social media types
• Developmental tasks
The teen species….
Generally ages 12-17
And then there are the tweens….
Generally ages 10-12
Communication - a generational thing
• 1950’s - Elvis • Gyrating, non-
• 1960s -Interracial dating • Change in social order
• MTV – 8.1.1981 • Wow! Freedom!
• Tattoos • Individualism
First, the numbers:
• 93% of teens use the internet.
• 59% of ALL teens (12-17) use at least one of the following: Facebook, blogs,
webpages, videos/photos/artwork, remix info found on other pages into their
• Girls use social networking resources than boys; younger girls are outclipping older
boys at the rate they use social networking.
• Boys more likely to upload videos from YouTube.
• 70% of teens talk on cell phones
• 60% send text messages
• 47% send messages over social network sites.
9 or CD9 or POMS 99
And what they are saying, is:
• 9, CD9, POMS • Code 9, parent watching/over my shoulder
• I<3U • I love you
• 99 • Parent no longer watching
• IDC • I don’t care
• BBFN • Bye bye for now
• IMGC • I might get caught
• BTD • Bored to death
• LHU • Let’s hook up
• CU46 • See you for sex
• mlm • Electronic middle finger
• DKDC • Don’t know, don’t care
• TDTM • Talk dirty to me
• FCFS • First come, first served
• WAYD • What are you doing?
• ?^ • Hook up?
Cell phones & texting
• My mothers asks, if you want to talk to someone, why don’t you just call?
• From 12/96 to 12/11 from 44 to 333 million wireless subscribers – in the US only –
87% of the US. And we’re number 3 in rank (behind China and India).
• Wireless households now at 32% - up threefold in 5 years.
• Estimated 193 billion texts per year!
• How young is too young? Sexting.
• Legislation about texting and driving – common sense, anyone?
• Facebook – more than just a movie – a permanent cultural change. Launched
2004. Does MySpace still exist (launched 2003)?
• As of 4.2012, 900 million registered users vs. MySpace 33 million.
• 73% of 12-17 year olds have at least one networking profile.
• Youth under 13 are not supposed to be allowed on FB. Really?
• ANYONE can create a Facebook page –thanks Mark Zuckerberg.
• The “new” version of journaling.
• Entails user profile, “friending” friends, tagging, commenting, “like,” list interests,
contact information, and PRIVACY SETTINGS.
• Tweets, < 140 characters ( short message service).
• 140 million active users as of 2012, since launch 2006.
• One of top 10 most visited websites.
• Helped change political landscape – the Arab Spring, 12.2010, civil protests and
revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Governments overthrown (Hosni
Mubarek, Egypt, and Muammar Gaddafi, Libya.
• Televisions allow for reading tweets – who knew!
• Twitter: instantaneous speaking with minimal reflection.
• aka “web log”
• Personal journal
• Emerged in 1990’s
• Most are interactive, allowing for the building of social
• Not just Martha Stewart – my pastor blogs!
Social Media, ugh or woo-hoo?
• In and of itself, not a bad thing. SET LIMITS. No disclosure of identifying
• Not supervised, not a good thing; no substitution to supervision.
• To friend your child or not to friend?
• Do you read your child’s blog?
• Limits on time spent? Where is the computer/iPod/phone used?
• “Spyware” software and/or educating and supervision?
[Cybersitter, CyberPatrol, Net Nanny, Safe Surf]
• Developmental task of individuation
– Spiritual development
– Social identity
– Sexual identity
• Life skill development
– Professional interests
– Support systems outside of family
– Demonstrating independence and accountability
What this looks like:
• Increased independence from parents
• Increased concerns about body image and clothes
• Increased influence from peers
• Desire to ‘fit in’
• Figuring out who they are
• Less overt affection/time spent with parents
• Cognitively routed in THE PRESENT; developmentally tweens and adolescents have
no concept of “forever” and yet what is posted on Facebook/Twitter lives FOREVER
and EVER with endless numbers of people being able to view posts.
• Rule and limit testing
• Experimentation with drugs and alcohol
• Exploration of sexual attractiveness
A word more on tweens:
• Kids are developing faster:
– menarche (earlier onset for the past century)
– peer pressure
– print and television media
– You Tube
– cell phones & sexting
• Set up a ‘contract’ with your child:
My Rules for Online Safety
• I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, my parent's work address
or telephone number, or the name or location of my school without my parent's permission.
• I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
• I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If
my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and will bring my mother or
• I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
• I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. If I do, I will
tell my parents right away so that they can contact the Internet Service Provider.
• I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide on the time of day
that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not
access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
• Tormented, teased, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or targeted.
• “Don’t write it, don’t send it.” Impulse control – needs practice.
• Extreme cases (Megan Meier, a St. Louis girl suicided after cyberbullying
by a classmate’s mother) make the news (2006).
“Everyone in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life.
The world would be a better place without you.”
Lori Drew was sued for violating Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA); convicted then overturned.
Federal Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act introduced in Congress 2009; still pending.
• Everyday hurts don’t make the news, but they pile up.
• Zero tolerance – lead by example! Set consequences – “liking” or adding
to comments = loss or suspension of account.
Finally, the answers are yours to seek:
• If your adolescent/ tween is exhibiting:
– Inability to self-regulate
– Loss of sense of self; self-esteem
– Lack of positive peer group and role models
– Risk of substance use and abuse
– Self-injury (a way to cope, feel better) vs. Suicide
– Increased risk-taking
– Dating violence (1:3 Psychological, 1:6 Physical) RTI on behalf of RWJF 3.29.12
Get help. Please.
• www.aacap.org [American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry]
• www.ctia.org [The Wireless Association]
• Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Prevention in Middle School Matters, March 29, 2012.