Teens & their secret social media world

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Parents, a new CNN study says 60% of you don’t realize how lonely, worried and depressed social media makes your kids. It also says 94% of parents underestimate the amount of fighting done online. WGNO Anchor Jacki Jing spoke with three New Orleans-area teens about the real impact social media has had on their lives. They asked to remain anonymous, but their revelations were shocking.

It’s tough being a teen, especially these days.

"Oh god – this is where a lot of cyberbullying happens. Rude comments, too much skin in photos. People use Instagram as a competition. I am so popular look at how many followers I have or likes. The amount of 'likes' determines how good a photo is," said a teen girl we interviewed.

"They want people to focus on them. They want to be the center of attention," said another teen.

28 Internet acronyms every parent should know

Apps and websites, with few rules or regulations, leave teens vulnerable to harassment and exploitation.

“I got on and there’s some cute guys my age, and I am like ‘hi, you look beautiful’ but then you can come across an 80-year-old man who is like yo girl. Show me bosoms. Or something really creepy," said one teen we spoke with. "There are tricks. I didn’t’ know of one of these. [He asked] 'Do you want to play a game? Let me guess your shoe size.' I am like 'ok, ok that’s not bad.' Then he says, 'show me your feet.' So, if you raise your legs, you can kind of guess what it looks like and I was like, 'oh my gosh!' I was completely not thinking about it at the time, then I was like pervert, pervert alert!”

But predators aren’t always enticing them into dangerous situations. Many times, the teens make provocative posts.

“Someone will post a picture of themselves in a bathing suit. With a push-up bra, just expose their hips or something. And it will be the middle of winter and they’re like, 'I really miss summer.' And it’s like, can you post that during summer? At least, when it makes sense because then you really just know they’re looking for attention," said one of the teens interviewed.

And they might think their privacy settings will protect them or photos taken on the app will disappear. But be careful, once it’s out there, it’s fair game.

“They think that if I send this picture for just three seconds, they’ll only see it for three seconds, but you can screen shot it and then you realize -- and then you’re panicking," said one teen.

Another trend: “To Be Honest”, where you put #TBH on a photo, asking people to really tell you what they think about you.

“They find it’s easier to be mean online because you’re not facing them, you’re not in person. Because if you’re in person it’s just harder.”

This brutal honesty is taken up a level on ASK FM, an app where people post anonymous comments about others, that are often hurtful and offensive.

“One person says, 'Oh my gosh, she’s so ugly," and then another person can be like, 'oh, yes.' So, it’s like people are ganging up on you when you did nothing wrong. You might come on and say 'stop', but no one’s going to listen to you," one teen told us.

“I don’t even know why people use it because they get bullied so much on it. It’s addicting to see what other people say. Why? I don’t even know. There’s just something about it that makes you want to see if your name pops up, for something good or something bad," said one teen.

A cruel online world captivating kids.

Monday, on Good Morning New Orleans, a cyber crime expert reveals dangers lurking online that you and your kids need to know about, how you can protect them from online predators, child pornography, exploitation and more.