I have a confession to make, I don't spend a lot of time on Instagram. This week I thought I would do some "research" and spend a bit of time exploring. By the end of it I was sick of looking at perfect bikini-clad bodies, perfectly cute couples, perfect families, perfectly styled hair, perfectly applied make-up, perfectly styled homes... you get the picture. Don't get me wrong - I love my life, but it doesn't seem to stack up against these immaculately staged snapshots. But that is just what most of them are - staged. Life is not perfect - it's messy and hard sometimes. There are plenty of apps, filters and editing programs that can erase blemishes and other imperfections. It's important to remember that what you're looking at, and comparing yourself to, is not real. Instagram use has been linked to low self-esteem. Psychologist, Dr Marny Lishman, suggests that we cull who we follow in Instagram every few months. She said we should ask ourselves, "does this account make me feel inspired, or does it make me feel bad?"
Hugh van Cuylenburg spent a few months living and volunteering in India in 2008. Despite the fact that the villagers didn't have very much the were very happy. When Hugh got back to Australia he continued his studies and worked out that the key to the villager's happiness was gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. He wrote a book called The Resilience Project and now there is an app. It is only $4.49 and is available on android and iTunes. You can find out more about it in the video below.
New Zealand has produced a series of advertisements about staying safe online. This one about online grooming is funny but creepy at the same time. You can find out more at https://www.keepitrealonline.govt.nz. If you are in Australia, you can report online grooming at https://www.accce.gov.au - the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. The safety commissioner has information on cat fishing (someone pretending to be someone they're not) at https://www.esafety.gov.au. If you suspect that someone is catfishing or grooming, talk to a trusted adult. Take screenshots of conversations as evidence. Stay safe.
This app has been in the news a lot lately so I thought I'd check it out. While I was scrolling through Tik Tok I saw a lot of teen guys and girls who know they're hot showing off, some bad lip-syncing, some good dancing, some average dancing, some dangerous challenges, some illegal street racing, some rich kids showing off their bedrooms and homes, a lot of swearing and a really cool pool shot.
My verdict: While there is nothing wrong with the idea of the app, sharing 15 second videos, there are some issues with how it is being used. When you sign up the privacy setting is set to public. If you change it to private you will avoid 40 year old men sending inappropriate comments. You can also turn off the comments facility, otherwise it's just another avenue for trolls to do what they do. Any platform that is used by young people attracts pedophiles. One scantily clad girl had the message on her screen, "I'm fifteen, if you're over 18 and tell me I'm hot, that's creepy." You can't actually delete your account - you have to provide your phone number to the app so they can send you a code to delete your account. Finally, you can waste a lot of time on Tik Tok so maybe set a timer.
It's easy to spend an hour or more scrolling through social media at bedtime (I know I've done it myself on occasion). Do yourself a favour and use that time to sleep instead - teenagers need between 8 to 10 hours a night!