We appreciate your support of loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These monthly newsletters will update you with the latest news, informative blog posts, and messages from our advocates about issues affecting teens and 20-somethings.
Tools for Teens
February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. On our blog and website, teens can learn more about how to show respect in relationships:
What has our team been up to?
- Check out the Respect Week 2014 Recap on the loveisrespect blog
- In this article from The Washington Post, National Domestic Violence Hotline president Katie Ray-Jones discusses how cell phones and social media can be tools in teen dating abuse
We receive regular updates from our advocates about issues, websites, and apps that are currently affecting teens. This month, we’re hearing from advocate Alea about a new site called Whisper:
Whisper is a social media app and website that first became popular among college students and is now also commonly used by teens. The app store has limited its use to people over 17, due to “Mature/Suggestive Themes,” among other things. Whisper’s tagline is “Share Secrets, Express Yourself, Meet New People.”
Users anonymously share their secrets by superimposing text over either a stock or uploaded photo. Whisper allows users to anonymously and privately contact other whisperers. In the best possible circumstance, this could represent a safe space for people to confess secrets, also enhancing a sense of connection with other people who have similar experiences. It’s an opportunity to share things that you might not say if your name was attached. This could be liberating for many people, but there are other times when this same freedom to speak without repercussion leads to what is considered cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is a risk almost anywhere on the internet, but this is heightened when associated with the anonymity provided by sites like Whisper. Incidents of cyberbullying have led some to be concerned about the site’s privacy and safety policies. Whisper does use a 70+ person staff to monitor postings, and its creator claims that anonymous social media can actually bring people together, level the playing field of popularity, and reduce cyberbullying.
Whisper shares locations which, in some communities, may make secrets more easily identifiable. The site also reserves the right to use postings in whatever way they like, sell data, and save all messages and posts in their servers. Ultimately, it’s good to discuss with teens that whatever is shared on the internet is not guaranteed to stay private or anonymous, no matter how comfortable or safe an app might feel.
In her new book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Yale University Press), youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens’ use of social media. This book presents a fascinating in-depth study into the areas of identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. A must-read for parents and educators! Be sure to check out boyd’s recent webinar with EdTechTeacher co-founder Justin Reich.
If you know a teen who might be experiencing abuse, we are here to help. Our advocates are available by phone 24/7/365 at 1-866-331-9474. They can also be reached through online chat at loveisrespect.org. All contact is free, anonymous and confidential.