Teens, Dating and Social Media – PediaCast 454

Show Notes 


  • Caitlin Tully is a Community Educator with the Center for Family Safety and Healing in Central Ohio. She visits the studio as we consider teenagers, dating and social media. How are tweens and teens using social media… and what are the various pitfalls and dangers of today’s social media platforms? We have answers!


  • Teenagers and Social Media




Announcer 1: This is PediaCast.


Announcer 2: Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello, everyone. And welcome once again to PediaCast. It is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This is Dr. Mike, coming to you from the campus of Nationwide Children's Hospital. We are in Columbus, Ohio. 

It's Episode 454 for February 25th, 2020. We're calling this one "Teens, Dating and Social Media". I want to welcome all of you to the program. 

So today as evidenced by the title of the program, we are talking about teenagers and their use of social media with an emphasis on some of the more private things that happen within social media platforms, which as it turn out is a large part of the problem because social media by design is not really so private after all.


And despite assurances by many social media platforms, they assure us that conversations and pictures and videos, things that are shared between users, they said they're private. And despite these assurances we know that there are workarounds that kids and teens and parents should know about, should be aware of these things.

And that opens up some important avenues of conversation that should really take place between teenagers and their parents, as you talk about what's out there in the online landscape. Where are the dangers? What are the pitfalls? What can you expect? These are all conversations we should be having with our tweens and teens. 


And then, of course, for you as parents, what do you do should your daughter or son encounter a problem? Obviously, the first thing you want them to come to you, right? But that requires your child trusting you and feeling safe to talk about sometimes difficult maybe embarrassing topics. 

So how do you get there? Well, first of course, as a mom or dad, you need to know what the dangers are, what are we up against? And we'll cover many of those in detail today, including the difficult ones, like exchanging R-rated photographs or videos, extortion, human trafficking because that danger is certainly out there. 

We also have to consider bullying, manipulation. These may not have the same shock value as the other problems I mentioned, but they're still very common and serious concerns and lead to lots of stress and anxiety. Of course, there's also a vast array of benefits and good that can arise as teenagers engage on social media. 


So we're going to consider all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly. And I have a terrific guest joining me for the conversation, Caitlin Tully. She is a community educator with the Center for Family Safety and Healing here in Central Ohio. 

If you are a listener of PediaCast CME, that's our Continuing Medical Education podcast for pediatricians and other healthcare providers. If you also subscribe and listen to that podcast, today's show is going to sound a bit familiar. Caitlin joined me on Episode 52 of that program as we cover teens and screens. 

And one thing I found interesting was the number of pediatricians who took the post-test to claim their Category 1 Continuing Medical Education Credit which you can do after you listen to those programs. And a large number of them said that not only did the information helped them as a pediatrician, it also helped them as a parent. 

So that got me thinking, where can I reach more parents with this helpful content? Oh yeah, this podcast, PediaCast, that's here and you. If you already listened to PediaCast CME Episode 52, you're not going to find anything new covered today. Sorry about that, we have to get Caitlin on again in a future episode and cover some different topics. 


But if you've not listened to PediaCast CME Episode 52, you may want to check that out, because the first half of that episode also featured an interview with Dr. Sandra Brown. She is the vice chancellor for research and distinguished professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UC San Diego. 

She talked about the NIH funded ABCD Study. ABCD stands for Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development which is an ongoing large powerful prospective study that among other things is looking into the effect of screen time on teenagers and their development. 

So if you're interested in checking out that episode, I'll include a link to it in the show notes for this episode, 454, over at pediacast.org so you can find it easily.


Don't forget if you are a pediatrician or other pediatric healthcare provider, you can earn no-cost, ad-free Category 1 Continuing Medical Education Credit after listening to that episode and you'll find all the details over at pediacastcme.org. 

All right, a couple of housekeeping items before we transition to my interview with Caitlin Tully. Don't forget, you can find PediaCast in all sorts of places. We are in the Apple Podcast App, Google Podcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and most mobile podcast apps for iOS and Android.

Reviews are helpful wherever you listen to PediaCast. We always appreciate it when you share your thoughts about the program, doesn't take very long and it really does help in terms of our ratings and reviews and getting the program in front of more people so that there's awareness about this show. 

And we love connecting with you on social media. You'll find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Simply search for PediaCast.


We also have that contact page if you would like to ask a question or suggest a topic for the program. You'll find that at pediacast.org. 

And then, of course, I do always want to remind you the information presented in every episode of our podcast is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals. So if you have a concern about your child's health, always call your doctor and arrange a face-to-face interview and hands-on physical examination. 

Also, your use of this audio program is subject to the PediaCast Terms of Use Agreement which you can find at pediacast.org.

Let's take a quick break and then we will be back to talk about teens, dating, and social media. That's coming up right after this.



Dr. Mike Patrick: My guest this week is Caitlyn Tully. Caitlyn is a training and development supervisor with the Center for Family Safety and Healing. She's a graduate of Tulane University and previously worked in higher education. She currently partners with K12 institutions throughout Central Ohio to educate students, staff, and faculty about child abuse, teen, dating abuse and digital dating abuse. 

Caitlyn is also a certified trainor of the Safe Dates Program to the Hazelden Foundation, as well as an authorized facilitator of Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children. She's here to talk about teens, dating and social media. So let's give a warm PediaCast welcome to Caitlyn Tully. Thanks so much for being here today.

Caitlin Tully: Thank you so much for having me. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Really appreciate you stopping by.


So let's begin with what are tweens and teens using social media for these days? So what are they doing online? 

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. So like all of us, they're using social media to stay connected with their friends, their family and to explore their interest. And so, what we're really seeing is students using Instagram and Snapchat primarily, along with some newcomers like TikTok and Monkey which sometimes parents feel a little bit aware of versus those mainstream apps.

And so, what we're seeing is that teens are utilizing social media in their own specific ways that might be outside of how adults are utilizing social media. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Let's kind of walk through some of those social media channels that you mentioned. Because I think like Facebook and Twitter, I feel like us parents maybe are more on those but those aren't necessarily the ones that our kids are using, right?


Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. So when you think about middle schoolers and high schoolers, Facebook launched in 2004. So most of our middle schoolers and high schoolers either weren't alive or they have no memory of a pre-Facebook world. So to them, Facebook is for old people. 

I made the mistake of asking a roomful of seventh graders what old was, and they told me 24. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Oh, boy.


Caitlin Tully: So it's all relative and I asked why 24? And they say, well, I'm 12, that's double my age. That seems old to me, right? So tween logic there.

But yeah, Facebook and even Twitter to a certain extent are considered for an older generation for a lot of tweens and teens. They may use Twitter to access things like celebrity news or sports, but they're not using it to connect with their peers the way that teens may have in the past. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: And I think that's not only important as we think about what they're doing in those social media channels. But also, if we want to somehow reach the tween and teen audience with health messaging, we really probably have to be in the places where they are, right?


Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: So talk Instagram, what do we need to know about what they are doing on Instagram? 

Caitlin Tully: So there's a lot of pressure to have a perfect account on Instagram. So what we're seeing is sometimes, teens believe that influencers or the other people that are curating content on Instagram as "real life". But we know that oftentimes these images are highly edited and their portraying a life that's just not realistic for most adolescents but it's considered kind of what teens want for their life. 

And so, there's a lot of pressure that teens share with me that they want to have perfect photos. Or they may take a photo and say, "That's not good enough for my main account on Instagram." And so, they responded to all of that pressure to have this perfect curated life by having a second account.


And so, a lot of teens are using something called Finsta. It stands for Fake Instagram. And it's usually a second account in addition to their main account where they can be more real. They can post silly photos, they can post funny photos and typically, they have a restricted followers list. So it's only going to be their close friends or people that they want in their inner circle. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: That actually shows incredible insight, I think, that they recognize that, "Okay, this one is not real. This is the real me. And yet, there are instances when I do need to portray myself." I mean, it's kind of the equivalent of parents saying, "I need a more professional image versus this is my fun family image." So the fact that they see that and they're doing something about it I think is a good thing. 

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. And that's why we really find Finsta to be a creative, fun space where teens can get away from some of the pressures that exist on and offline. One of the challenges is that sometimes, Finstas can also be perceived as safer for inappropriate content.


So I work with teens who will tell me that they believe like nudes or drinking or vaping videos are not going to be viewed by the outside world if they're on Finstas, because they've curated kind of this inner circle of followers. But what we know is that it's very easy for someone to take a screenshot or share that information. 

So a lot of what we do is help educate teens about boundaries. Just because Finstas are your close friends doesn't mean that the same rules of the Internet don't apply to Finstas. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah. And who your friend is today may not be your friend tomorrow. And so, that's a conversation parents really can have with their tweens and teens, too.

Caitlin Tully: About boundaries. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, absolutely. Now, Snapchat, how's that different? 

Caitlin Tully: So Snapchat is statistically the most popular app for teens and tweens. And when I'm in schools throughout Central Ohio, constantly, the one that I hear as the most popular. 

And the reason that it's so popular is that it doesn't any parental controls. So it makes it more challenging for parents to navigate and is also really quick. So the goal is to be able to connect with your friends immediately. You post stories, they last for 24 hours. You send snaps, those are anywhere from three to ten seconds and then the concept is that they disappear. 


But the reality is that we know that nothing on the Internet actually disappears. And so, Snapchat actually reserves the right actually to keep anything that they think is there is a business or legal reason to keep it. That's included in their user agreement policy. Most teens are unaware of that, so we have to do a lot of education about what 'disappears' really means. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Now, the other end could also do a screenshot. But then, there's some notification system that you're notified that someone took that screenshot, is that right?

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely.

Dr. Mike Patrick: I only know this from my son who engages on Snapchat. 

Caitlin Tully: Yes, actually, a lot of teens again have this false sense of security that they'll get a notification of someone taking a screenshot of their snap or their image on Snapchat. But what we know is actually there's tons of strategies to get around that. 

So that only happens when you're in the app and you take a screenshot. There are third party apps that allow you to do it. There's all sorts of tricks including airplane mode and other things like that that teens are aware of, that allow them to get around that restriction.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, you could take a picture with another device. 

Caitlin Tully: Yes. So the old school method is what we call it in schools.


Dr. Mike Patrick: I'm showing my age.

Caitlin Tully: You're actually right though because that's what students will share first, is taking the second device if you're with a friend. And so, again, this idea that if I don't get a notification, then I'm safe. But what we know is that's just not accurate information. And so, helping teens kind of sift through what's accurate and what's perception. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Great things to talk about with your kids. And then, there are streaks, too, right? And I know that my son's got a streak going with a friend. And so, it almost put some pressure on you to continue to perform and engage in kind of an addictive way. 

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. And actually, what we know is that streaks are taking the same thing we know about adolescent brains, about their need for connection and their need to stay aware of what their peers are doing, their status with their peers. And it's really encouraging them to stay connected to social media by taking that knowledge of their brain and applying it to this feature of the app. 


So a streak occurs when followers send you a message and you send one back within 24-hour period. Once that happens for three days in a row, a streak begins. And a lot of parents will ask me like, "My child has a 200, 400-day long streak. Are they making money off of this or are there some other incentive?" 

And what we know is no, it's that social currency. It's, "Where do I stand with my friends? What is our relationship like?" And we know also is that the higher the number of streaks, the more money that Snapchat is making from advertisements that teens are being exposed to either on the discover page or embedded in the images.


So Snapchat has really created that feature as a way to get more advertising dollars and capitalize on teens' needs to stay connected. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: As I think about the strength of that, just with my Apple watch, I have a mood streak. And you do like, it's incredible motivation even for an old guy to keep wanting to meet my mood goal because I've been doing it for 70 days in a row. 

And I can imagine that, especially it become strain in a relationships, it's really another reason you can't necessarily feel like you can step away. And that must have caused a lot of anxiety and stress.

Caitlin Tully: A lot of stress. And teens will tell me things like, "Well, I sent something to keep my streak going even though my friends and I are fighting because what if we're not fighting tomorrow?" or things like that.

And there's all this unspoken rules that parents may have no idea about. So their teens come home and says, "Hey, my friend broke my streak." And you might think, "That's nice, set the table." But basically, what they're saying is, "My friend is telling me I don't have value." That's how it feels to a teenager. 


And so, we want to honor these kind of teen culture elements within social media that are actually being driven by a lot of consumer practices that parents and teens may not fully understand. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Monkey, you mentioned. And Tiktok is another one that I think is just ballooning right now. Talk about those platforms. 

Caitlin Tully: To mention TikTok, it used to be called Musical.ly and then it was purchased by a different company and rebranded. So for a long time, Musical.ly kind of had a reputation for having a younger user base. A lot of elementary school kids were creating short term music videos on Musical.ly. And when Musical.ly was purchased, the company said, "We really want to rebrand this and make it for an older audience." 

Renamed it TikTok, spent millions of dollars in advertising and really bombarded teenagers with this idea that if you want to be cool, you have  to follow TikTok. And there's all sorts of trending videos, they autoplay all sorts of information that really are attractive to teenagers. 


For example, one of the trending videos right now on TikTok is how to get around popular parental control apps. So they call it Life360 Hacks. Life360 is a parental control app that's very popular in the United States and teens share all sorts of ways to get around the app's features. 

And so, that's just one example of the kind of content that you might see on TikTok. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: And Monkey.

Caitlin Tully: And then, Monkey is one of the apps that I think is most challenging for teens to navigate and for parents to fully understand. But basically, how it works is it's anonymous FaceTime videos that you share your age and your interest within the app. And then, it matches you with a random person around the world to have an immediate FaceTime conversation with.

Obviously, there's a lot of safety concerns. Anecdotally, from classrooms, what I hear is that teens will see an adult expose themselves or engage in masturbation or other things like that on the app. And teens are not consenting to seeing these images that is consenting to a FaceTime conversation.


There is a moderator feature and there's lots of other things in place, but one of the features of Monkey is also the ability to have that person follow you on Snapchat. So they may consent to a 10-second conversation and then that person can request to be there to follow them on Snapchat, be their friend on Snapchat. And if they don't have a private account, they're not blocking that person and that can happen pretty much immediately. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, that's pretty scary because you really don't know who this person is or that motivations that they have to be on there. And I think that tweens and teens in those kind of spaces can easily feel that like they're anonymous, like this person can actually figure out who they really are. But that's not necessarily true, is it? 

Caitlin Tully: That's not true, exactly. And a lot of these apps actually market themselves as anonymous. So Monkey is one that markets itself as anonymous. Yolo is another one that plugs into Snapchat and allows the user to send messages that appear as anonymous. 


Sendit is another one that's pretty similar to Yolo. And the whole concept is your identity won't be revealed, right? But that's pretty much it, it won't be revealed, not that it's not being tracked, right? IP addresses are still being pulled, information is still being tracked. It's just teens believe that anonymous means safe and that their identity is not being tracked at all. That's not accurate.

If we want to ensure that data isn't being tracked, we want to look for information that says it's encrypted. And that is an example of something where your data is more secure. So for example, if you purchase something online and it says your credit card information is encrypted, that is a sign that the data is basically being scrambled and that would be really hard for someone to find it. 

So some teens are using encrypted apps, but anonymous apps is ultimately just a marketing tool to get teens to use the product.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And especially if it's someone who has a nefarious intent, they're going to be smart in trying to figure who someone is, by asking the right questions and noticing surroundings and really being able to sort of lure people in.

Caitlin Tully: Yeah, absolutely. And that's where something like Snapchat features something called the Snap Map. And that's where the location is visible to anyone who follows someone on Snapchat. So if a teen may say, "I don't care who follows me on Snapchat. I just post like pictures of my breakfast," for example. They may not be thinking about all that map information that's available that includes where they are, where they go to school, where they are in their home. 

For example, when I'm in the hospital and I pull up the map to show it, to share with physicians or nurses or other medical staff, it will actually show where I am in the hospital, at which wing. That's how specific the GPS location is.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And when you think about looking at your kid's phones and where they're located, I mean, it is very specific and this is the kind of information that folks can get their hands on. 

Caitlin Tully: Right, exactly. And so then, there's a feature in Snapchat called QuickAdd. And what that means is if you have a friend of a friend or some other connections, sometimes it can even be if you've been in somewhere locations with a friend of a friend, then it will offer this as suggested follower.

And so what that means is someone who is not even close to you, could be someone that that person randomly accepted as a follower, could become a follower of a teen and, again, know exactly where they are on Snapchat. 

And so, again, a lot of what we do in schools is helping teens kind of think critically about who has this information, what could happen is somebody who really shouldn't have access to that or could use misuse that information, who should have access and how do we ensure that privacy settings are Internet safety. 


Dr. Mike Patrick: And then, as folks become more seemingly close on social media, and then some nudes and pornography kind of stuff can occur, and then there can be the opportunity for extortion.

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. And unfortunately that we do see that frequently of somebody being told if you go to law enforcement about the fact that I'm blackmailing you, you're also going to get in trouble for the fact that you sent these nudes in the first place.

And so, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office has really thought critically about this. We partnered with one of the prosecutors, Zach Imwalle, who does a lot of education in schools to think critically about what we do when someone is taking these photos and saying to someone, "I have access to this now. You sent them, you're going to be charged with a felony over this?" And so really thinking critically about how they respond to cases like that or teens are experiencing blackmail or extortion.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And so, this is something that if from a parent standpoint, you're talking about it to your kids and just being transparent about what can happen. I think that can only help keep kids from getting into these kinds of situations. 


Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. And a lot of what we tell kids is "Don't do it," right? Which if "Don't do it" was an effective strategy for changing behavior, all of our jobs will be a lot easier, right? We get to tell kids not to do it and to expect them to not experience pressure. 

And so, a lot of what we do in schools is acknowledge and kind of point out how kids think critically about where are these pressures to send nudes? How could somebody manipulate you and identify some of the common behaviors that happen when someone pressures or manipulates for nudes or for pictures or content or changes I want to send?

And then, we talk about interruption techniques. One example is we create funny memes that teens can send to someone who's pressuring them for nudes to really interrupt the predatory or manipulative behavior. And so, what we find is when teens are actually equipped with tools and resources to navigate those conversations that can be really tricky, we're more likely to see teens who feel empowered to make decisions that are the healthiest for them. 


Dr. Mike Patrick: So if you just say, "You aren't allowed to be on Monkey or Snapchat," then they're more likely to try to find a way around it and then not be empowered with strategies for getting out of those situations. 

Caitlin Tully: Yeah. What we found is actually there was a research study at the University of Central Florida that determine that parent who put parental control apps on their children's phones are more likely to use authoritarian parenting styles. And the apps along with the authoritarian parenting styles were associated with teens being exposed to pornography, explicit content, online harassment and actually have this unwanted sexual solicitation than their peers who didn't have these apps.

And most parents will say, "Well, I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was putting this parental control apps on." But what the research shows and anecdotally in classrooms, what I hear over and over again is that teens want to feel trusted. Teens want to feel like they're empowered to make the right decisions. 


And these parental control apps are often very clunky and teens figure out creative strategies. So like those TikTok videos, they figure creative strategies to get around them. 

So we're better off having intentional conversations, creating really intentional agreement about what is okay and what's not okay online, and empowering our kids to make the right decisions. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: When this blackmail type of activity is really gone out of control, we can end up with human trafficking as being because if you say, "Now, I need you to meet with me," or "I'm going to tell your family," or "I'm going to reveal this." And so that really does happen, right?

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. There are many apps that had been associated with human trafficking. And one of the apps that we've seen in the Center for Family Safety and Healing as well as in other spaces in schools is an app called Kik. 


Now, that's no longer popular but five to ten years ago, that was a space where a lot of students I worked with had adults that reach out to them and said "You're beautiful. You're amazing and I want to meet up with you." 

Now, there's a brand new app called Yubo, used to be called Yolo, but the concept is basically Tinder for teens. So Tinder is a popular dating app. You would create a profile and then it matches you with people with a certain GPS range. It does this for teenagers under the guise that it's about friendship.

This app actually just raised $25 million to do a blast of advertising here in the United States. It's very popular in Europe. So even if teens haven't been exposed to Yubo at this point, I would say within the next year, we're going to have teens that are seeing ads for this app that's all about friendship. Only know that it's also an app that could be used in predatory ways for trafficking.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And this something that pediatric providers should also be aware of. What are some signs that maybe trafficking is going on. 

Caitlin Tully: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things you want to look for are teens that are engaging in relationships with someone who's significantly older. They show up to appointments with someone who may not be a guardian or other things like that. 

We also see a lot of teens online that maybe have more than one device. So I've seen a lot of trafficking victims that have like their main phone and then they also have a burner phone that's been provided to them by a trafficker. So those are some of the online pieces or things that we might see as some warning signs.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, there's also upsides and benefits. We've kind of been talking down and there are real dangers, but at the same time, there's really things that tweens and teens get out of being on social media. What are some of those upsides?


Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. So there's actually some research from Common Sense Media, which is a really excellent resource for parents and for anyone passionate about this topic related to teens. But they did a research and kind of asked teenagers, "Why do you like social media? Why is it important to you?" We call that approaching teens with curiosity rather than judgment. 

And what that research found is actually teens are more likely to say they were less lonely and more connected when they were online. So to adults, we think those relationships aren't real. They're online relationships, they're fake. They're not as genuine or authentic as in-person face-to-face conversations. 

But what we know is that adolescents have always been connected to devices. We only think about when Facebook was launched or when the iPhone came out. Most teens have no memory of a pre-Facebook or iPhone world, right? And so, this has always been part of their environment. 

So to them, these conversations, these relationships are very real. And so I think for adults that are interacting with teenagers, honoring that first, saying these are real relationships, I mean what's happening neurochemically in their brains is that these relationships are real, right? 


They get the same amount of dopamine or the same receptors are activated from a like as it would be from chocolate or any other thing that might actually stimulate the happy chemicals, as they call them in classrooms. 

And I think a lot of times, adults don't recognize that because sometimes the same processes aren't happening to brains that have built neural networks where maybe they aren't connected in the same way through iPhones, Facebook, etc. And so for teens, this is real and valuable to them. And so I think starting from a place of honoring that, having empathy for that is really important. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, that totally makes sense. So then, you're really walking a fine line then as we think about monitoring your kids, what they're doing online. Because it would sort of be like parents of my generation kind of going out on a Saturday night, if you're hanging out at the mall or you're with a group of friends, like them tagging along and being in the back seat and watching everything you do and everything you say. 


Caitlin Tully: Exactly.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Or listening in on the other phone line when you're talking to your friends or your boyfriend, your girlfriend at night, just that constant presence. And so you want to allow them to sort of have some autonomy and yet be safe. So how do you walk that line of monitoring but not overdoing it?

Caitlin Tully: And I think one of the things that research really shows is that this is really based on age or the maturity level of your child. So, obviously, a kindergartener is going to have totally different parameters than a high school student about what's allowed, boundaries, other things like that. 

And what we found is that the earlier we have these conversations, we often think we don't need to have them with the kindergarteners because they're not utilizing the content or the devices. But what we know is the earlier we have these conversations and we start to set boundaries and build skills, then we can slowly build that autonomy over time. 


Now, this makes it challenging for parents. They're saying like, "That's nice, but I have a 15-year-old right now. What do we do?" I think one of the best things you can do based on the research is include them in a family media agreement. Decide what is valuable to them, what do they enjoy about screen time, why is it important to them, and then build an agreement about boundaries based on your child's unique needs. 

For example, I have a lot of kids that tell me, "I'm in school every single day. And every single day, I'm told what to do. And I love to come home and be creative. I can build worlds in Roblox, I can play games with my friends. I can be silly and funny on Instagram." And so, for many teens, it's a way for them to be creative and connected. 


And so we don't want to lose that. We want to honor but we want to do that with boundaries. And that's where I think really listening to your children, really listening to the teens in your life and understanding what they value on social media can help you build more autonomy for them in a way that's developmentally appropriate.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And really, even from an early age, talk about the difficult things and let them know that it's sort of a judgment-free zone. Even though we have boundaries and rules, we can still discuss things and talk about it and, "Don't be afraid, I'm not going to be disappointed and not love you if you get into trouble." 

Caitlin Tully: Exactly.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Let me know sooner rather than later. 

Caitlin Tully: Yeah. And  think, ultimately, that's what parents want, is they want their children to communicate but I think teens often fear a punitive or fearful reaction. And so, the more that you can show them that your reaction is going to be more about safety and boundaries, the more you're going to hear. 

For example, I was in a training one time and I had a grandparent shares, she was like, "I'm so worried about my fifth grade grandson. He came home from a sleepover and said that they were looking at pornography. And I have four other grandchildren, no one's ever shared this with me before. I'm sorry worried about this fifth grader. Like what is he doing that's so bad compared to the other kids?" 


And I was like, actually, the fact that he felt safe enough to come tell you about it is what is a buffering or protective factor against these things that kids are going to be exposed to. We know by sixth grade, many teens are exposed to at least one pornographic image, right, whether they stumbled upon it, whether it's viewed at a sleepover, etc. 

And so, actually having a child that feels comfortable enough to come and tell you what's going on is a protective factor. We want to encourage that every place we can.

And so, part of that is also for parents to practice ways that they can respond that are not a fear response, right? It's very scary to have a ten-year-old come and tell you that they've been exposed to pornography. But the more that we can focus on safety and boundaries, then we'll know that teens and tweens will internalize a fearful response as something negative that they have done.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Totally makes sense. What about those difficult situations when a parent does find out that they're child's been doing things that go far outside of the boundaries that they've established? And maybe you feel like you're in over your head. You know, exactly what do you do, where do you go, who do you talk to? 

What are some resources that parents can tap into and that also then pediatric providers can utilize to help these families in these situations?

Caitlin Tully: Absolutely. So like I shared, Common Sense Media I think is one of the best. They received great funding to do an amazing research and collect information that can really help families. They have a really excellent sexting guide, for example, of how parents and teens can navigate this.


They have resources that are designed to be used in classrooms to create healthy boundaries. And then, there's also parent or family information connected to that, and all of this is free for parents. So if it ever get to the point where I'm like, "I don't know what TikTok is and I really need to learn more about it," that's a really excellent resource.

Or, "My child has been engaging in sexting and I don't know what to do." Again, they have that excellent sexting guide that really has sort of steps of how do we do prevention but then also intervention. What are the steps that are available? 

And for providers, I think there's a really excellent way that they can access PDFs and other things that can be printed and actually given out to families. And again, all of those items are free as long as someone signs up for an account.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And that's at Common Sense Media.

Caitlin Tully: Common Sense Media. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: And we'll put a link to that in the show notes for this episode. I know you also were involved in a blog post at the 700 Children's blog, How Open Conversations with Kids Promote Healthy Relationships. That was a fantastic piece and I'll put a link to that as well. 


And then, the American Academy of Pediatrics through healthychildren.org, they have a ton of information along these lines to get informed yourself as a pediatric provider and then also to share with your families. They have one on how to bond with your child through media for parents, why you should limit your child's media use, raising children in the world of media, constantly connected adverse effects of media on children and teens, how to connect with your teen about smart and safe media use, and then AAP advice about sex messages in the media.

And I'll put links to all of these things so folks will have a great number of resources at their fingertips. And then, of course, a link to the Center for Family Safety and Healing and the Teen Dating Abuse Information page through that site just have some wonderful resources.

We didn't really talk about bullying and dating abuse, in particular. I'm sure those are also things that parents, you really do want to know if those things are going on. Having those open conversations with your teenager is the best way to figure out if that's happening or not, right?


Caitlin Tully: And there's actually an excellent website to navigate teen dating abuse, an online resources. And that's called thatsnotcool.com. It's designed for teens primarily but there's an adult ally section. It has access to excellent resources including research, videos, posters, another thing that could be used by providers or parents to really begin the conversation around digital dating abuse. 

Dr. Mike Patrick: And we'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. And then, also, for the darker topic of human trafficking, we really do want to have awareness about that as parents and providers. The Department of Homeland Security has their blue campaign, which is all about human trafficking awareness. 

So if you really want more information about the scope of the problem, how do I identify it, how to prevent it, what exactly is human trafficking, how do you identify a potential victim, and then what do you do, all of those are at that site with the blue campaign. I'll put links to all of those things in the show notes as well. So pediatric providers and parents, there's going to be a lot of stuff to help you through this. 


So Caitlyn Tully, with the Center for Family Safety and Healing here at Nationwide Children's Hospital, thanks again so much for being here today.

Caitlin Tully: Thank you. It's a wonderful experience.


Dr. Mike Patrick: We are back with just enough time to say thanks once again to all of you for taking time out of your day and making PediaCast a part of it. Really do appreciate that. 


Thanks again to our guest, Caitlyn Tully with the Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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Thanks again for stopping by. And until next time, this is Dr. Mike saying stay safe, stay healthy, and stay involved with your kids. So long, everybody.



Announcer 2: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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