As the new school year begins, along with reading, writing and arithmetic, these days it’s also important to have a refresher of prevalent cyber safety issues that impact our kids. In particular, for parents of a child entering high school for the first time. We’ve outlined the Top 5 cyber safety issues for parents to be mindful of.
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This has been prevalent among children and teens for a long time now. However, the ways in which bullies utilise the internet to target their victims is ever changing and sadly becoming increasingly more harmful to victim’s self-esteem. Some common examples our Cyber Expert and Clinical Psychologist Jordan Foster has mentioned include;
- Setting up Instagram accounts with images of victims and nasty comments, designed to publicly shame and berate the victims.
- Setting up group social media chats – with the intention of including and then excluding victims to make them feel small.
- Screenshotting their ‘friends’ Snapchat posts with the intention to then make fun of them in separate group chats. Victims can see that their Snapchat has been screenshotted which then leads them to stress and panic as to what the bully will then do with the image.
Cyberbullying and the introduction of social media has led to the same types of people that have always bullied others to have access to a usually anonymous vehicle to act out this behaviour in a wider setting. This exacerbates the impacts felt by victims as once the bullying may have been contained within the school it is now widespread amongst other schools and social circles. The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner website provides excellent advice for managing this issue.
The multitude of offensive and inappropriate content available online leads to many difficult and awkward conversations with our children. And this is only the content they’ll openly ask us about. As children become older, they’re less likely to consult with a parent on what they have seen and don’t understand, out of fear of devices being taken away from them or parental controls applied. As social media has come into play, there is also an increase in the amount of inappropriate and illegal content made available to kids without them even having to seek it out. Lately, since Facebook released their “Live Video” feature there has been a frequency of young people live streaming themselves self-harming. These videos, when viewed in real time are unmonitored and can take weeks to be removed by Facebook.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of Sexting behaviour amongst even the brightest and most sensible teenagers is incredibly common. Jordan Foster has found that some teens use this as a gateway between more innocent behaviour and putting themselves at risk of developing a reputation by engaging in sexual activity. Teenage girls feel that by sending a nude image without their face they can satisfy the requests of boys without having to do anything else. Teens are also more likely to utilise messaging or social apps like Snapchat or Whatsapp rather than text message to send these images which means they’re kept online forever. There are also Decoy Apps available which enable users to message their friends without their parents being able to find them.
When it comes to the online world, where there are children there are predators. With an increase in the availability of live streaming apps and public messaging apps, there is an increased opportunity for predators to readily target and groom their victims. Sadly, it is more difficult for younger children to understand that a person posing online as a child may be someone much older attempting to groom them. Because of this, they’re more likely to readily share information about themselves. Live streaming apps present a very great risk as children don’t realise how easily they can be found in real life, just from posting videos in their school uniform.
With the increase in Sexting behaviour, Revenge Porn is not more prevalent than ever. Revenge Porn describes the act of forwarding nude or inappropriate images of someone without their consent. Often those who commit the act of on sending images without the subject’s consent are the ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend of the subject. However, despite the person being found out quickly, the damage has already been done. The easiest way to avoid these situations is for teenagers to not engage in sexting behaviour in the first place. But if your child has found themselves in this situation the best solution is to contact the Office of the eSafety Commissioner who will work towards having the image removed online, if your child is under 18.
Family Zone and our team of Cyber Experts can help you sort out what content is appropriate for your child, and provide you with the tools and resources to help you navigate this journey.
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