If Facebook, Twitter, The Vine, UTube and Instagram were not enough, here we go again with yet another free downloaded application. This application can be downloaded for free on almost any devise, and yes Mom and Dad; it has become the new outlet for our tweens and teenagers. This application is actually not brand new; however, it has become one of the biggest outlets for our teenagers to find dates, hook-ups; and even worse, it is yet another means of social media torment and anguish. Imagine being rated “Not,” or rated as “Hot” with its addicting quality of being “liked or wanted” yet not realizing who is on the other side of the computer screen. “Hot or Not” is real, and it is rampant within the teenage culture today.
In my work, I see many youngsters who have fallen into this world of “Hot or Not.” Most of them come to counseling due to being tormented and/or victimized, when using this site, by faceless perpetrators who rate them as “Hot” or “Not.” Rejection in middle and high school is difficult enough for adolescents to deal with without the addition of social media. However, social media in its many forms has become a way to intensify the feelings of rejection and intimidation. “Hot or Not” has become another avenue for this, and it is a free downloaded application. Parents need to be made aware of this application. This application is not monitored as closely as Facebook or Twitter or other popular dating websites for adults. Think of “Hot or Not” as the Tinder (tinder is a location-based social discovery app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users and is used for dating and other forms of networking, Wikipedia) of our generation.
A bit of history and education related to this site is important due to its widespread use by adolescents today. More and more young people who use this site are experiencing depression, low self-esteem and self-worth, and increased anxiety which can lead to other detrimental health issues if ignored. Please read on and give this information your careful consideration.
“Hot or Not” is a rating site that allows users to rate the attractiveness of photos submitted voluntarily by others. This site also offers a matchmaking engine called Meet Me and an extended profile feature called Hotlists. “Hot or Not” has significant influence on the people who frequent social media sites. For free, “users” (this includes our teenagers) submit photographs of themselves to the site for the sole purpose of being rated by other users as to attractiveness on a scale of 1 - 10, with the cumulative average acting as the overall score for a given photograph (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_or_Not).
If a photo is liked or rated high enough for other users, that allows for open communication between our teenagers and whomever is rating them, therefore, increasing their vulnerability, especially if they choose the option “choose to meet.” This may lead to cyber bullying for tweens and teenagers. Some signs to look for are the following:
- appears sad, moody, or anxious
- avoids school
- withdraws from or shows a lack of interest in social activities
- experiences a drop in grades or decline in academic performance
- appears upset after using the computer or being online
- appears upset after viewing a text message on a cell phone
Parents, this type of thing is happening to your teenagers on a daily basis. Please know that all cell phone companies will authorize parents the ability to monitor their children’s phones and devices as needed. Teenagers’ phones need to be checked more often than not. This is not a matter of privacy; it is a matter of parenting and protecting. Will they resist at first, absolutely! However, resistance does not mean that you should not be a responsible parent. Ultimately, your teens will feel loved, protected and cherished (even if they don’t express it).
If you notice any of the warning signs listed above, it is important as parents to open up discussion with your teens and investigate what could be occurring. Often, teens will talk to their parents if parents approach them. If you determine and or suspect that cyber bullying is occurring and believe you need outside input, please seek professional help. The Village Counseling Center has therapists who specialize in working with tweens, adolescents and young adults. Seek help if needed.