New sexting laws for Victoria

The Herald Sun is reporting that:

ELECTRONICALLY sharing sexually explicit images of another person without their consent – also known as sexting – will become illegal in Victoria.

The government tabled its response to an inquiry into sexting in parliament on Tuesday and the legislation will also ensure youths found sexting do not end up facing child pornography charges.

Legislation will be introduced into Victorian Parliament in 2014, with penalties to be decided then.

The Herald Sun have also promoted the Australian Federal Police video warning young adults of the dangers of sexting.

It’s complicated by danah boyd

iQ was fortunate enough to hear internationally recognised social media researcher danah boyd speak back in 2012 (click here to access all of iQ’s resources on danah boyd). Now boyd has a book coming out entitled It’s complicated. The blurb from the book (via Amazon) explains what it’s about:

What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens’ use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers’ ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Yet despite an environment of rampant fear-mongering, boyd finds that teens often find ways to engage and to develop a sense of identity.

Boyd’s conclusions are essential reading not only for parents, teachers, and others who work with teens but also for anyone interested in the impact of emerging technologies on society, culture, and commerce in years to come. Offering insights gleaned from more than a decade of original fieldwork interviewing teenagers across the United States, boyd concludes reassuringly that the kids are all right. At the same time, she acknowledges that coming to terms with life in a networked era is not easy or obvious. In a technologically mediated world, life is bound to be complicated.

This is not an advertisement for the book, just a pointer to a resource that many people may find useful. Public libraries may stock this book.

Social media app winning over kids, but police warn of its nasty Kik

On Sunday, The Age published a report about the social media app Kik.

NSW Police have described it as ”the number one social media problem involving teenagers” – but most parents would barely have heard of messaging app Kik before this week.

Kik’s popularity among young people was highlighted by the disappearance of Sydney teenager Krystal Muhieddine, who left her house early on Tuesday morning in a car with a stranger before being found in country Victoria on Friday.

The app can be installed on iPod touch and iPad devices as well as smart phones. Instead of using phone numbers or real names to contact each other, each Kik member has a user name. Conversations and images can’t be viewed publicly, which makes it much harder for parents to monitor Kik than Facebook or Twitter.

Cyber safety expert Ross Bark said Kik and Instagram were a ”dangerous combination” for teenagers, who post photographs publicly on Instagram and then invite viewers to ”Kik me” privately to chat.

”They’re literally promoting themselves, saying ‘come and talk to me’,” Mr Bark said. ”They can randomly chat with somebody and send images, and they don’t understand the consequences of who is using that information.”

Read the whole story here.

Hey, you with the phone, listen up!

Have you ever been a victim of ‘phubbing?’ I know I have. Maybe you were the perpetrator. What is phubbing? Wendy Squires wrote in an article in The Age on 2 November that phubbing is:

snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.

She continues

here’s what’s not justified: checking what some friend you barely know said about a message you posted while bored on the cab trip over. Neither is digesting whether a text message from a new beau reading ”cool” means yes or maybe, or learning that your 17-year-old can’t find the Milo in the pantry.

Then there’s texting during a film (Madonna was recently booed by cinemagoers for this), while eating (manners, please!) and before or after sex (never a turn on – even if the phone is switched to vibrate).

Because what those things are is rude. Damn rude. As in ”do you think I’m so boring that reading inanities on a tiny screen is somehow better than my company?” inconsiderate.

Sometimes we all need to do a quick check of our phones for important messages, but what I’m talking about is extended distraction from the people in front of you – perhaps 10 or more minutes. We need to be mindful that if we make a commitment to see people in a social setting, then we need to spend time with them, not the people in our online world. They’ll still be there when you get back home. But your f2f friends may not.

I know that when I was phubbed, I was angry and annoyed that I’d bothered to go out with my friend. If she would have preferred to be online than see me and my friends, then perhaps she should have stayed home.

Read the whole article here.

Teenagers’ anti-sexting app launched

Recently the BBC reported that a new app, Zipit, has been launched to help teenagers politely and wittily deflect requests for intimate pictures.

The free app from (UK charity) Childline offers users a choice of what the charity says are “witty responses” to send instead

Although Zipit is a free app, sending responses Zipit provides may incur mobile carrier costs. Zipit is available through iTunes and Google Play.

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.

School to monitor students’ social media posts

In an interesting development, CNN is reporting that a California school district is spending over $40,000 on monitoring students’ Facebook posts, comments, tweets and the like for  a year.

The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year.

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student “who was speaking of ending his life” on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.

Do you think this is a good way to keep students safe or an invasion of privacy? Read the whole story and see the video here.

Like, post, share

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published the final version of the report Like, post, share: young Australians’ experience of social media.

Some of the results include:

  • Two thirds of 12-13 year olds (67 per cent) used a social networking service (SNS) in the last four weeks on a computer, 85 per cent of 14-15 year olds have done this, as have 92 per cent of 16-17 year olds.
  • The younger age group (eight to 11 years) are active social network users – 78 per cent of eight to nine year olds and 92 per cent of 10-11 year olds have used a social network. The most popular social network amongst this younger age group was YouTube—more than half of the eight to nine year olds surveyed (53 per cent) and the majority of 10-11 year olds (69 per cent) had used this site.
  • The majority of 12-17 year olds reported having used a social network,– especially those aged 14-17 years (97 per cent of 14-15 year old and 99 per cent of 16-17 year old internet users).
  • Facebook was the most popular social network service for 12-17 year olds. The majority of Facebook users use the site at least daily and in some cases, more often. For example, the majority of Facebook users aged 14 and over in our study were more likely to use Facebook more than once a day (47 to 50 per cent) than daily (32 per cent). (page 8)
  • Twenty one per cent of 14-15 year olds reported having been cyberbullied, compared with four per cent of eight to nine year olds. Reported experiences of cyberbullying amongst 10-17 year olds appears stable since 2009, but has marginally increased for the youngest age group (eight to nine year olds).
  • The children and young people who reported that they had been cyberbullied were also asked who they told, and the majority did tell someone. All the eight to 11 year olds who had experienced cyberbullying told someone, and the majority of the older children did so as well (89 per cent of 12-13 year olds, 93 per cent of 14-15 year olds and 87 per cent of 16-17 year olds told someone).
  • Thirteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that within their group of friends, either they or someone else has sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of themselves to someone else. Eighteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that they or someone within their group of friends had received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of someone else. Parents underestimated the extent to which their children were exposed to sexting.

Read the whole report here.

Online behaviour fact sheet

The Line, an Australian government website that helps young adults decide where they draw the line in lots of areas of their lives, has developed an online behaviour fact sheet designed for parents. Included are ten tips to protect kids online:

  • Limit the time they spend online – set clear boundaries and stick to them
  • Get protector software on your computers that blocks access to risky sites.
  • Get involved with, and understand the technology your child is using
  • Direct your kid to age-appropriate sites and find out about the sites they are visiting
  • Allow internet use only in shared family areas at home
  • Explain that they must not give out their phone number or address online at any time
  • Encourage them to report behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable or afraid.
  • Without scaring them, explain that stranger danger also works online.
  • Ask your child to let you know if someone your child has met online wants to get in contact or meet face to face.
  • Make sure they understand what behaviour is acceptable online, both from them and others.

Read the whole fact sheet here.

The bins have ears

In another blow to privacy, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that shopping centres and street side rubbish bins are tracking us.

Rubbish bins tracking pedestrians as they walk along the street sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. But a few weeks ago it emerged that recycling and rubbish bins installed along London’s Cheapside Street were monitoring pedestrians through millions of smartphones.

However, it’s not just the residents of London that need to be aware of this.

Australia’s Westfield already uses this technology to track smartphones at three shopping centres. ”Westfield is capable of using the MAC identifier system in its centres but cannot collect any data other than to know smartphones are moving within,” a company spokeswoman said.

Westfield offers free internet access in three centres across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Visitors can opt in to the service but Westfield can also monitor the movements of smartphones without the owners logging in to its wi-fi network.

Its privacy policy states it collects information ”where devices are able to connect to, or are identifiable by, in-centre infrastructure” and that it uses ”this information so that we can tell … where shoppers spend most of their time”.

Read the whole article here.