Course reveals what teenagers are up to

19:42, Jun 05 2014

Parents were given a "crash course" in teens and technology at the Teenagers' Toolkit Evening held at Timaru Girls' High School last night.

James Beck, from the organisation Attitude which is dedicated to creatively teaching life skills to assist teenagers, was on hand to teach parents about what their teens were up to on their technological devices.

He helped parents understand youth culture, taught them how to protect kids using the internet, and how to take back the power in the household by changing the wifi password.

Manager of the South Island Attitude office, Beck joined Attitude seven years ago and is seeing changes in the way teenagers are using technology.

When he first started giving presentations at schools, it was "super progressive" to talk about myspace, a social media site that doesn't exist anymore.

A recent study showed 76 per cent of young people were communicating more on electronic devices than any other form.


Teens now have a variety of social media sites to choose from including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tinder.

An increase in technology is also changing global trends in the risky behaviour teens are involved in.

Beck said recent studies showed a 50 per cent drop over the past 10 years in risky behaviour such as drugs, sex and drinking, because they were spending more time at home on their devices.

However, he said, that was replacing one set of risky behaviour with another.

While teenagers were able to use the technology, they were often naive about the consequences and permanent implications it could have.

For example, Snapchat was not as temporary as they thought, and what was on Facebook could potentially harm employment prospects.

"There is a quote by Eric Schmidt that says 'young people will have to change their names in order to escape their digital pasts'." There was also a trend in the sites different age groups were using. The no-age limit on Instagram meant it was popular with younger kids, as facebook was with 13s and older.

Older teens were starting to use twitter and snapchat, staying away from facebook when their parents joined the site.

"They're getting off Facebook, as soon as mum and dad join, it's not cool."

The Timaru Herald