Cyber Bullying and Internet Safety:

What do your kids know that you don’t?

Are your kids on social networking sites?
Are you aware that there are 16 plus social networking sites where youth are communicating with other…youth?
Do your kids post pictures online?
Do they have their locations attached to everything they post?

If you can’t positively answer these questions then stay alert to the following information that will be shared with you.

The purpose of this article is not to scare you but to educate you of the dangers of the internet and ways to educate and teach youth about how to be safe online, and how to take a stand against cyber bullying.

The kids of today are connecting with friends and family online, they are downloading apps, and accessing content, they are sharing what they’re doing, and where they are, they are sharing photos and videos from their mobile devices, and also building online profiles and reputations. When thinking about all the activities your child partakes in while on social networking sights, keep in mind that when something is posted it can’t be taken back, and what they say could have a bigger audience then they think. Do you recognize the following app logos? 
app-logosIf not you may have some research to do.

These are some of the apps that youth are using to network, connect, build profiles, post pictures, statuses, locations, cyber bully and build reputations. Some other social networking sites include: AIM, hi5, Tumbler, Vine, Fess, Ask.fm, 9gag.com, and many more. Take a second to think about whom your children are communicating with and how they are communicating with them. Many of these sites have age requirements, and many of these sites are anonymous. Social networking can be used for many things but it is always important to teach your kids to be polite, do not impersonate another people, speak up if they see something online, and not to stand for bullying whether it is on or off line.

In addition to all these social networking apps, do you know where the MOST dangerous part of the internet is for predators to watch and monitor children? If you guessed chat rooms then you’re correct. Chat rooms are websites people access to meet and talk to other people from around the world. A child could log onto these chat rooms and think they are talking to someone their age when in reality they could be talking to a predator whose main goal is to manipulate them and gain their trust. Once trust is gained the predator’s next goal is to ask for pictures. Why would they ask for pictures? Well to make sure they are talking to a real person and not someone pretending to a child. The next goal is to make the child confide in them and to ask for more innocent pictures at first, but will want more revealing pictures later; and the last goal is to ask to meet the child face to face. These sexual predators come from everywhere. They are all ages, all races; all socio-economic classes i.e. Janitors, Lawyers, Teachers, Police, and Coaches etc… The internet provides access to children and it is also easy access to child pornography.

So what can we do to keep our kids safe?

In 1998, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was established by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice, and Delinquency Prevention. It consists of 61 Task Forces Nationwide. ICAC program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. This help encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, and community education. The program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child sexual abuse images available electronically, and heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims.

When thinking about cyber bullying, which is willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text, there are currently 49 states that have legislation making cyber bullying a crime. For the bully, the consequences can be suspension, expulsion or juvenile hall. For the victim, the consequences are often isolation, depression, or suicide. In order to stop it there needs to be a change in school culture, social norms, and values of the school. Bullying needs to no longer be acceptable to staff or to students, which means youth need to stand up for other youth, and take a stand and say this isn’t ok.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. If you as a parent have a smart phone, and your child has a smart phone there are apps out there you can download to monitor certain apps, messages, and usage of your child’s phone. For more information about this app follow:

Android devices http://www.mymobilewatchdog.com/ 

Apple devices https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/from_topapp.net/id432107185?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

 

Things to keep in mind when using Social Networking sites:

  • Every photo that is taken and posted on social media, or that is sent contains EXIF data. This data can tell you everything about the picture from what camera type was used, what program was used to edit it, and even the location. In order to find the location, the photo that was sent or posted online must have been taken with the location settings on with the device that was used. In most cases these photos are taken with smart phones which have the capability of tracking your location.
  • If your child is bullied online:
    1. Help by keeping records in case you need proof, delete current accounts, and contact Internet Service Providers, Schools, and Police. Also print all incidents of cyber bullying.
    2. Make sure the school has an internet safety program.
    3. Monitor child’s activities.
    4. Use filtering and blocking software.
    5. Cultivate and maintain open, candid communication.
    6. Look for warning signs of Isolation, Depression, and Suicide.

For more information visit:

Source:  Rapp, S., Jhaveri, A., & Grossman, L. A. (n.d.). INTERNET SAFETY AND CYBERBULLYING: KEEPING KIDS SAFE. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from https://www.nttac.org/index.cfm: www.nttac.org/index.cfm?event=trainingCenter.Hmepage

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