Risky behavior too common via networks

School halls, once home to note passing and whispers of rumors, are now filled with teens who can text and tweet gossip and photos instantaneously.
Mar 26, 2013


Risky behavior is the result.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department recently showed the dark side of social media at a meeting with parents and educators.

Although teenagers might think a cellphone picture sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend will only be seen by one pair of eyes, they’re dead wrong. These photos frequently spread well beyond the recipient’s eyes.

Take, for example, the underage girlfriend who takes a suggestive photograph of herself and sends it to her boyfriend. What happens if the couple gets into a fight and, in an act of revenge, the boyfriend sends these photos to all of his friends? Those friends then post it on Facebook and Twitter, or forward it on to their friends.

What was once thought of as a “private” photo now turns into a problem that could have far-reaching consequences. Embarrassment is just the tip of the iceberg.

Teenagers and young adults alike are facing criminal charges across the country for pandering obscene material, possession of child pornography (many "sexting" cases involve young teenagers) or other charges related to this risky behavior.

Then there is also the concern of self-esteem issues and the need to share these kinds of photographs with others. What kind of values are teens placing on themselves when they freely share these types of photos?

In the age of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media, we strongly urge parents and educators to make sure their children, teens and young adults understand that a few seconds of fun might turn into a lifetime of pain.

We can only hope that the more young adults know about the risks and dangers associated with social media and electronic communication, the less likely they’ll be to participate in risky behavior.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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