Warning signs of troubled teens on social media

GREEN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Events like Monday's shooting at La Salle high School always spawn the conversation about warning signs, specifically on social media.

Dr. Jennie Noll at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has done studies on the impact of social media and kids. She says whether like it or not, this is the way that kids communicate, and it's important for parents to have a dialogue about what their kids are doing on these sites.

"Almost every kid you talk to has access and is engaging in social media," said Dr. Jennie Noll.

It's unclear what sparked the incident at La Salle High School, leaving a student in critical condition after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but much like other school tragedies, the question 'why' remains at the top of the list.

Dr. Noll says often times troubled kids will turn to social media before the incident to express themselves, but don't fully realize the consequences or the impact their post may have on themselves or others.

"The adolescent brain is not fully developed, and it's not fully developed in ways that are really key to decision making, impulse control, things like that," said Dr. Noll.

Knowing full well the speed in which information travels on social media, the parents of the La Salle junior made a request through a hospital spokesperson to prevent any speculation on today's incident.

"We also ask friends of our son to please not post anything on Twitter or Facebook," said Diana Lara with UC Health.

Dr. Noll says there are sometimes warning signs that family and friends should be aware of.

"Language like I can't take it anymore, or I have a means to hurt myself, or on this day or that time I'm going to hurt myself. Those are all real red flags that something really should be intervened on," said Dr. Noll.

But Dr. Noll stresses that just monitoring your children's accounts isn't enough.

"You can snoop on your kids all you want but it's really easy to hide your profiles on Facebook. You can make 2,3,4 profiles," explained Dr. Noll.

So what's the most important thing parents can do? Well according to Dr. Noll, it's staying in touch with other parents with what's going on and having a routine dialogue with their kids.

"Constantly keep ahead of what they're doing and ask what are the kids doing at school, what's on your phone, show me how that works, show me how I can get that on my phone, how do I follow you, how do you do your privacy settings. I'll never know as much as they do about it," said Dr. Noll.

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