Sexting legal reforms need to be acted upon

Earlier this month, The Age reported on the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform Committee on the issue of sexting. The government has 6 months to implement the 14 recommendations which include:

The two major changes are that an offence be introduced for non-consensual sexting, and that young people have a defence against child pornography charges if the two people involved in the image – the subject, and the sender – are legally allowed to engage in sexual activity, and that ”they are not more than two years older than any minor depicted in that image”.

In response to the report, psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg tweeted:

 Great move to ensure sexting teens are not treated like paedophiles.

Read the whole Age article here.

Bullying and cyberbullying interactive learning modules for parents

The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has developed online interactive learning modules for parents that focus on bullying and cyberbullying.

The bullying and cyberbullying module

developed in partnership with Andrew Fuller, (clinical psychologist and student wellbeing specialist), has been developed to help parents understand, recognise and manage bullying and cyberbullying behaviours.

The cybersafety and social media module

developed in partnership with Susan McLean (cybersafety expert), has been developed to help parents address standards of behaviour in the context of cybersafety and social media.

Two excellent resources for parents.

Snapchat and sexting

Snapchat is an app for iOS and Android that lets the user send a photo that can self destruct after a set period of time. Snapchat explains:

You control how long you want your friends to view your messages. We’ll let you know if we detect that they’ve taken a screenshot!

Recently I read in The Age that Cosmo magazine says Snapchat is the safe way to sext as the photos can’t be kept. However, as the snapchat FAQs explains, anyone can take a screenshot or screencast of your pic before it disappears. The only difference is you can control who sees your original upload and you can be alerted as to who has saved your picture.

However, once someone has saved your pic, there’s no way of controlling where and when it is reposted. Also as snapchat explains, without enacted privacy controls,

By default, anyone who knows your username or phone number can send you a message.

Read Mashable’s take on snapchat here and Common Sense Media’s view of snapchat here.

The lowdown is that anything sent digitally has the ability to be redistributed at a later stage. The ‘think before you send’ mantra still applies.

Malware found in Android apps

The Australian government’s Deaprtment of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy‘s Stay Smart Online site has published a concerning post regarding the possibility of apps in the Google Play store containing malware.

The post explains:

Google has removed 32 apps from Google Play after the apps were discovered carrying a new form of malware (BadNews).

Globally, the apps have been downloaded millions of times.

Although the apps are no longer available from Google Play, if you have already downloaded any of these apps on your device you will need to uninstall them, they contain malware which may access your personal information or introduce further costly malware.

Read more here. It’s worth considering subscribing to the Stay Smart Online alerts service, where items of concern are emailed to all subscribers.

How much internet is too much?

Dr. Philip Tam, a Child/ Adolescent Psychiatrist and President/ Co-Founder of niira, the Network for Internet Investigation and Research Australia has written a post on internet addiction for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (cyber: smart) blog.

Some of the questions I am asked when assessing a child or teenager with problematic internet use are: How common is this problem in the community? How can parents try to manage or control their child’s heavy (or even extreme) computer use? Can it cause lasting damage and harm to a developing individual?

There have been a number of studies done internationally and in Australia looking at just how big an issue problematic internet use might be. There is an emerging consensus that around five to 10 per cent of all regular computer or internet users (including those who enjoy gaming) might have a problem with excessive use.

Parents have a key role in managing their child’s internet use. Talk to your child, and monitor what games, apps and devices are bought or used by your child. Look out for warning signs that a problem may be emerging, such as reduced school performance or attendance, lack of sleep, not eating and becoming withdrawn from friends and family.

In an upcoming post, Dr Tam will look at available treatments.

Privacy concern for children as apps share personal data

Late last year, the Sunday Age reported about the instance of smartphone and tablet apps sharing uer information, including location and phone numbers with third party sources.

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told Fairfax Media he was “very concerned” following the release of a US Federal Trade Commission study on children’s apps this month, which reported that hundreds of the most popular apps failed to provide parents with basic information about their data collection practices.

The report said the apps often transmitted the precise location and unique serial code of a mobile device as well as the phone number and other personal details to app developers, marketers and advertisers. This information could be then used to find, contact or track children across different apps or websites without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Read the whole report here.

Sexting resource

The South West Grid for Learning (UK) has developed a resource for young adults and their parents relating to sexting.

Topics include:

  • What is sexting?
  • Can it happen accidentally?
  • Trust and friendship – considering what is appropriate to share and with whom
  • How images or videos can be shared online and what websites they might end up on
  • What are the first things to do
  • Will you get into trouble
  • How to ask your parents for help
  • Will this affect your online reputation and your future

The ‘Where to seek further advice and support’ section will not apply as this resource was developed for the United Kingdom. However, the rest of the information is very useful for young adults and their parents. Download the resource here.

Cybersafety help and advice

The Australian Government’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has an online help page where users who need to talk, report or learn about unwelcome behaviours can do so quickly and easily.

As Australian students prepare for the summer holidays, it is a great time to introduce them to or remind them of this type of support.