Children caught in online blackmail

A concerning story from the United Kingdom a few weeks ago involving children being blackmailed. The Independent reports:

The blackmailing of children has emerged as a fast-growing new method employed by sadistic abusers who operate behind fake profiles on social networks to take advantage of youthful sexual experimentation and snare their victims, driving some to self-harm and even suicide.

…grooming often starts on open chat forums before moving to private areas where the talk swiftly becomes more explicit. The threats usually start after children have been tricked into posting compromising pictures of themselves that they fear could be distributed more widely.

Although this story concerns the United Kingdom, it’s a timely reminder for us all to ensure we know who it is we’re communicating with online and not to share intimate photos and/or videos online.

A Letter To Parents Of Digital Age Children

This letter to parents of digital age children has three specific pieces of advice:

1. Teach your children how to cross the digital street

2. Help your children pursue their passions online

3. Help your children manage their digital “brand”

It continues

We need parents to act as important models and supports in their childrens’ explorations online. We need, parents and schools alike, to get past the fear that holds us back from connecting with young people when they need us most. Only then can we help them travel far and learn from the journey once they cross the street to encounter the world.

Read more here.

Who’s chatting to your kids?

Queensland Police has developed a resource for parents entitled Who’s chatting to your kids: surviving social media use with your children. Covering the topics of:

  • social media
  • smart devices and phones
  • other internet capable devices (gaming consoles, smart televisions)
  • sexting
  • signs your child could be at risk
  • suggestions to help protect your child on the internet
  • family safety internet agreement

The most important piece of advice they give is:

Maintain direct and open communication with your child.

This is a useful resource, however, I’d like to see more emphasis on children and young adults being encouraged to build a positive digital footprint.

I need to know about location based services

Continuing on with the resources provided by the Australian Communication and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website, the information on location based services is must read information for everyone with a smart phone.

Smartphones have a built-in feature called geolocators that can pinpoint your exact location. This data is often published online through social networking sites, or used by location-based services such as maps, public transport apps, retail services and so on. It can also be embedded in images you take with your smartphone camera. Sometimes, you might want to think twice before you check in and tell the world where you are.

For more information, click here.

How do I deal with unwanted contact?

Today the Australian Communications and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website is looking at how to deal with unwanted contact online. Advice includes:

  • Don’t respond and leave the site or chat session.
  • Report it to an adult that you trust or to the police, if there is a threat to your safety
  • Block the contact or remove them from your friends list.
  • Change your profile settings so that your personal details are kept private.
  • Don’t open messages from people you don’t know.
  • Keep the evidence. This can be useful in tracking the person posting unsuitable material.
  • Contact your ISP and/or phone provider, or the website administrator, there are actions they can take to help.

See more here.

How do I deal with trolling?

Today’s focus is the Australian Communications and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website is trolling. Wikipedia defines a troll as

 a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2]extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5]

Cybersmart advises people having difficulties with trolls to:

  1. Ingore
  2. Block
  3. Report
  4. Talk to family and/or friends
  5. Assist friends if they’re having the same problems.

Read more here.

How do I deal with offensive or illegal content

This time the Australian Communications and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website is looking at how teenagers can deal with offensive or illegal content found online.

  • Know how to ‘escape ’ – hit control-alt-delete if the site will not allow you to exit.
  • If you want to talk about a problem with offensive or illegal content, you can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or visit their website.
  • If you have found material on the internet or your mobile phone that is offensive or you believe may be prohibited you can report it to the ACMA.  – See more here.

Read more here.

How do I deal with cyberbullying?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Cybersmart website has some excellent information on how to deal with cyberbullying. Topics include:

  • What does cyberbullying look like?
  • How do I deal with it?
  • What if a friend is being bullied online?
  • Am I a cyberbully?

Useful tips, links and resources.