Admitted social media addicts, Jen Proce and Kaely Johnson are checking in online an average of 30 times a day.
It’s not an unusual number for teens, who nowadays have the internet at their fingertips, with smart phones equipped with quick access apps to their favourite social media sites.
“It’s so addictive, so highly addictive,” said Johnson of checking status’ and updating their own on sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter.
Parents struggling to understand the wide world of web that their kids are immersed in have a chance to learn from the very experts.
Proce and Johnson will present a parents guide to social media Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Vernon Secondary School.
“We’re not claiming to be specialists on this but we have the insight, we’re part of the generation,” said Johnson. “So we want to share that.”
The two Kalamalka Secondary Grade 12 students made a similar presentation to their school’s PAC a month ago. But Wednesday’s talk will be more in depth.
For many parents, there are concerns about young people sharing too much information online or inappropriate content.
Proce warns: “It’s never private, once it’s out there, it’s out there.”
While there are those that use social media inappropriately, Proce and Johnson say for the most part it’s about staying connected, having a place to express themselves and it’s fun.
“A lot of it is entertainment,” said Proce. “A lot of it is so innocent.”
Social media can also be a useful tool for school.
“You can use so many of them for homework and clubs to communicate,” said Proce, who recalls her teacher tweeting updates from their trip to Panama.
The sites can also be a place where one’s self-esteem can be boosted or brought drastically down (depending on the number of likes or comments one gets from a photo).
“It can be positive or negative,” said Proce, adding: “People take it too seriously.”
But hiding behind a screen also presents an opportunity for some frightening circumstances.
The 17-year-olds explain how a girl they know added someone who she thought was a friend on Snapchat. The ‘friend’ invited her to meet up in the McDonald’s parking lot, where she discovered it was not who she thought it was, but luckily she was smart enough to bring a friend with her which scared the impersonator off.
“People can impersonate and pretend they’re someone they’re not over social media,” said Johnson, adding that the variety of sites also allow people to ‘creep’ others (snoop out their pictures, profiles and private information).
“I’m being a lot more careful and aware,” said Proce.
The pair of local teens hope the information they share at the presentation will help parents better understand the sites, along with the lingo, and how to approach their kids about it.
“I think it’s a balance between complete control and ignoring it,” said Johnson.