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Montana forum discusses the effects of social media and the internet



Great Falls, Montana – It is no secret that the internet permeates our daily lives. It’s also common knowledge that social media has grown in popularity, with daily user numbers rising.

Is this a positive or negative omen?

When discussing the effects of teenagers being exposed to internet information, Adam Dodge, founder, and CEO of EndTAB (End Technology Enabled Abuse) were asked about the topic during a public forum at Great Falls College-MSU.

“I’m not here to say that all technology is inherently evil,” Dodge said. “It’s a tool. When people misuse that tool to cause harm, we sort of end up where we are right now, where people are consistently using new and existing emerging technologies to engage in unhealthy behaviors or abusive behaviors online.”

In its 2018 poll of teenagers, the Pew Research Center found that one in six of them has encountered at least one of the following six types of harmful behavior online:

• Name-calling (42%)
• Spreading false rumors (32%)
• Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)
• Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)
• Someone making physical threats (16%)
• Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)

Dodge talked about the possible effects that social media may have on teenagers.

“What’s happening is there are a lot of familiar adolescent challenges, self-esteem, bullying, fear of missing out, body image, all of those challenges become amplified as a result of social media, hyper-connectivity, and just exposure to all these things in ways that we’ve never seen in a 24-hour cycle, and so what we know is in the near term, it’s affecting youth mental health to the point where the surgeon general says we have a national youth mental health crisis. How that’s going to work out long-term remains to be seen, but we know that in the near term, it has become a huge problem and a huge challenge for kids and for parents.” – EndTAB founder and CEO Adam Dodge.

Dodge said that while it’s crucial for parents to talk to their children and inform them about the possible dangers of being exposed to online content, children should also be careful of what they encounter.

One method to achieve this is to behave online like you would in the real world, which includes avoiding interactions with strangers, engaging in activities that could endanger you or another person, and avoiding exposure to explicit content.

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