Cyber Bulling Statistics:
- Fully 95% of all teens' ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites.
- The average American teens spends more than 5 hours a day online.
- Monitoring online activity is a tough job for parents, especially since the average teenager spends FIVE+ hours a day online – whether it’s at home, at a friend’s house, or on their phone.
- The average teen now has more than 200 online “friends,” and often will accept friend requests from individuals that they don’t even know. This is a cyber-bully/predator’s dream come true.
Negative consequences of online social networking include:
- Cyber-bullying – Nearly 1 out of 2 kids has fallen victim to some sort of online bullying.
- 60% of them have never told anyone about it. Bullying can lead to depression and in severe cases even suicide.
- On the flip side – 30% of teens admit to being a cyber-bully: posting mean info, embarrassing photos or spread rumors about someone else.
- Online predators – An estimated 5 million are online, engaging children in inappropriate activity every day.
- Damaged reputations – Offensive or lascivious comments and photos can result in a child being removed from online school activities, and could impact opportunities for college admissions and future employment.
- According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, each year, 1 in every 25 children receives an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
Signs that your child may be at risk:
- Your child spends large amounts of time online, particularly at night.
- You find pornography on your child's computer or i-phone.
- Your child receives phone calls from adults you don't know, or is making calls to numbers you don't recognize.
- Your child receives gifts from someone you don't know.
- Your child turns the monitor off or changes the screen when you come into the room.
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
The new "facts of life" about cyber predators:
Just like kids have to learn about the birds and the bees … there are new facts of life parents and their kids have to face.
- Adults who talk to you about sex online are committing a crime. So are adults who meet underage teens for sex. Some teens may think it's fun but it is serious trouble and best to report it to the police.
- Posting or sending sexy photos of yourself can get you into big trouble with the law. If you are underage, they may be considered child pornography, a serious crime. You also have no control over where the photos are sent once you send them.
What every parent can/needs to do:
1. Sit down and set boundaries – establish a family tech plan.
It all starts with that heart-to-heart family talk. You need to keep your tone positive or neutral. You're not trying to trap, trick or "gotcha" your kids – you’re trying to protect them – which is your job.
- Who are you talking with online?
- What websites are you using?
- Show me (most kids and tweens actually like showing you what they’re doing, games they’re playing, etc. online.)
- Chat rooms are not allowed.
- For im’s – you need to prove to me (and yourself) that these are really your friends
- Encourage your children to tell you if something they encounter on one of these sites makes them feel anxious, uncomfortable or threatened.
- Insist that your children never meet anyone in person that they've communicated with online only, and encourage them to communicate only with people they've met in person.
- Ensure your kids don't use full names.
- Warn your child about expressing emotions to strangers.
- Teach your children about cyber bullying.
2. Content Filters:
Filters: parental controls: all of your tech gadgets today come with settings to easily filter out inappropriate content.
- The majority of internet browsers (including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer) have an internet options folder where you can easily set up security safeguards and content filters for language, nudity, sex, and violence.
- Windows live family safety, child safe app, set parental controls in your web browser
- Take advantage of your browser's parental controls.
- Use Facebook, YouTube parental controls as well.
- There are specific child-friendly browsers including; KidZui, Zoodles.
NetNanny, WebWatcher, mymobilewatchdog, SafeEyes – all examples of surveillance software.
4. Privacy versus safety – this is a major issue among modern parents – many who feel that surveillance software crosses the line:
- Difference between spying and good parenting: the "gotcha" factor – transparency
- When it comes to online safety for tweens and teens, there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned parental vigilance. And at this age, safety is more important than privacy.
- Statistics show that most teens won't report suspicious online activity to their parents for fear of losing computer privileges, so keep the lines of communication open.
- Privacy comes with maturity — and teens only deserve it when they demonstrate that they're ready.
Special Tips for Teens:
- Be smart about what you post on the Web and what you say to others. It is a lot more public than it seems
- Do not write, post, share, respond to anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see – or that you wouldn’t want put on a billboard right outside the front door of your home/school.
- Provocative and sexy names and pictures can draw attention from people you don't want in your life
- Posting or sending sexy photos of yourself can get you into big trouble with the law. If you are underage, they may be considered child pornography, a serious crime. You also have no control over where the photos are sent once you send them
- Be careful what you download or look at. Some images are extreme, and once you see it it's in your mind forever.
1. Parent must read up on all the documents/links included so they understand the risks and pitfalls and can put together a solid strategy.
2. Require all user names and passwords for all sites and let kids know you will be checking in
3. Gather all smartphones at night and charge them in the parents' room. This way they can't access the devices in their beds.
4. Depending on the level of control you desire, consider setting your router to cut internet during bedtime.
5. The computer will only be used in common areas – never in bedroom.
6. Set parental controls on all gaming devices.
7. Enable YouTube safemode http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57709
8. Use Google safe search http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35892
Source: Some of the above information was adapted, with permission, from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation publication A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety and from McAfee’s 2012 Teen Online Survey.
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