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When I was working on this project, I set up a Google alert for news stories about social media use by teens. The result has been an occasional helpful or interesting link, such as this one about teens’ changing attitudes toward Facebook. More often than not, though, the alerts tend toward the sensational, suggestive and sometimes horrific. Here’s a recent sampling:

“Restaurant implements new rules to cope with teenage shenanigans”

“Child-lurer allegedly defies social-media ban”

“Online posts over teen pregnancy worry local dad”

“Abusers of social media may face felony in Texas”

“Tragic teenage love drama news stirs local social media”

“Teenage ‘flash robs’ on the rise

You get the idea.

It ties in with a complaint I heard often during my years as a reporter and teen editor: Why do the media always seem to focus on the negative aspects of teen life? Well, that’s not always the case, and my former teen program provided plenty of positive examples. Negative ones, too. Teens are human, after all, and humans are complicated.

Still, I’m thinking seriously about discontinuing the Google alert and relying more on digests from Mashable and other social-media resources that focus more on practical aspects and less on extremes. If/when I need bad examples, they unfortunately won’t be hard to find.

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