Experts share social media trends, helpful tips for families

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Thursday, February 15, 2024
Experts share social media trends, helpful tips for families
During the month of January 2024 there were 12 school safety incidents or threats cross North Carolina, report says.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a report obtained by ABC News, during the month of January 2024 there were 12 school safety incidents or threats cross North Carolina. Social media was the number one method of communication either via Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram.

Social media and school safety is a constant concern as adults try and grapple with solutions.

The NC Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the NC Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management report obtained by ABC News outlines of those incidents, bomb threats and shooting threats were the top two issues in the state. The report does not mention where these incidents occurred.

"I will never forget when students would tell us, why do adults stick the word digital in front of everything," said Laura Tierney. "Like your digital footprint, your digital life. And for students, it's just really how they are social and it's their lives. It's kind of like the air they breathe."

Laura Tierney leads The Social Institute, a group helping students navigate their social world. Her group surveyed 30,000 students across the country, noting that a majority get their news from social media -to their online profile being an extension of their character.

"The U.S. surgeon general raised concerns about the impact of social media on youth mental health and well-being," said Tierney. "He called it an epidemic of loneliness. And as a parent, you might hear this and be like, goodness, I have to scare and restrict and helicopter."

Kids are experiencing serious issues on line from sextortion, to mental health issues and violence. When it comes to online threats, local law enforcement said regardless of medium they take school threats seriously. For example, Wake County Sheriff's Office added a school resource investigator position last year. This person works specifically on school related cases and supports school resource officers and deputies.

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The Juvenile Court Counselor's Officer often handles the consequence for students that make threats. Depending on the severity, they could be charged as an adult.

The American Psychological Association recommends a proactive investment in social media literacy.

"So schools are embedding this education into health class, into community time together. They're finding ways to talk with students about media literacy, about misinformation, about how to respond if you see threatening posts online," said Tierney.

She said the earlier the conversations around social media behavior the better.

"Who are they following," said Tierney. "Why are they following them? What moves would they make in different situations? What would you do if you saw something threatening online? Being about a friend that you know, What would happen if you were in a group chat that went off the rails and something mean was said?"