Teen trouble: parents open up about fears

Recently The Age and Sydney Morning Herald published an article detailing parents’ fears about their children.

Experts say parents grapple with internet-related issues and mental health problems that did not feature in previous generations. Parents have always worried about their children’s friendships but family therapists say those concerns now centre around social media and cyberbullying.

Family psychologist Collett Smart says a lot of parents assume their teenagers are more socially and emotionally aware on the internet than they are. She says teenagers are also reluctant to tell their parents they are having issues online because they are afraid they will take away access to the internet.

Ms Smart advises parents to keep technology out of the bedroom so it is easier to monitor use, to talk to teenagers about what’s happening on social media and to know their children’s passwords.

Read the whole article here.

NZ cyber bullies may face jail

The Age is reporting that the New Zealand parliament is working on a law where cyber bullies could face imprisonment of up to three years.

… the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, backed by New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins, [is set] to crack down on bullying via social networking, email, mobile phones and websites.

It creates a new criminal offence for sending messages or posting material online with intent to cause harm – including threatening and offensive messages, harassment, damaging rumours and invasive photographs – with penalties of up to three months’ imprisonment or a $NZ2000 ($1766) fine.

It also creates a new offence of incitement to commit suicide – even in situations when a person does not attempt to take their life – punishable by up to three years’ jail.

Read the whole article here.

Too much, too soon

The Age recently published an article looking at how parents can stop their children inadvertently viewing pornography online.

Statistics on pornography:

• 70% of boys and 53.5% of girls have seen porn by age 12; 100% of boys and 97% of girls have seen porn by age 16. (Source: The Sex Lives of Australian Teenagers by Joan Sauers.)

• 67% of teens have cleared out their browser history or cache to make sure their parents can’t view their online activity; 64% of parents do not use online parental controls or filtering software. (Source: Microsoft, 2011.)

• 88% of scenes in mainstream pornography contain some sort of physical or verbal aggression. Significantly, 94 per cent of that aggression is directed towards women. (Source: Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-selling Pornography Videos, University of Arkansas.)

• Porn sites account for 30% of all internet traffic. (Source: Google DoubleClick Ad Planner 2012.)

• The most popular porn site on the internet attracts 4.4 billion page views per month. (Source: Google DoubleClick Ad Planner 2012.)

Tips for parents include:

• Create individual logins, passwords and security settings for each family member. Microsoft recommends that passwords contain at least eight characters and be a combination of upper-case and lower-case characters, punctuation, numbers and symbols.

• Employ security filters, such as Net Nanny or Norton 360 Multi-Device.

• For Apple iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch) you can change and control settings in just three clicks. For more information on parental controls go to support.apple.com/kb/HT4213.

• The Parents, Tweens and Sex iPad app is available on iTunes. For more information, see ptsapp.com.au.

Read the whole article 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.

A social profile is not a CV

Recently The Age published an article stating that a social media profile is not a CV. Year 11 student Olympia Nelson states:

Young people need to be protected from cyber-spying by prospective employers.

It’s creepy to think that you’re being stalked. But how much creepier is it that a group of people sit around a long table analysing information on your Facebook profile in order to decide whether you’re worthy of a job in their organisation?

The government is not going to protect you from people looking at what you publish. It’s up to you to portray yourself as you’d like to be seen. She continues:

When teachers say: ‘‘Do you know that employers will actually search you on Facebook’’, they are implicitly condoning, rather than condemning, this despicable and illogical intrusiveness. Why aren’t they devoting their energies to berating search companies for cyber-stalking?

Like it or not, what you put out to the public domain via social media is going to be viewed and used by others. Whether it’s a prospective employer or worse, what you publicly publish is open to all. We aren’t condoning it, we’re just telling it like it is. A reminder to think before you post.

The future of passwords

An Age report into the future of passwords is interesting reading.

Looking for a safe password? You can give HQbgbiZVu9AWcqoSZmChwgtMYTrM7HE3ObVWGepMeOsJf4iHMyNXMT1BrySA4d7 a try. Good luck memorising it.

Sixty-three random alpha-numeric characters — in this case, generated by an online password generator — are as good as it gets when it comes to securing your virtual life.

But as millions of internet users have learned the hard way, no password is safe when hackers can, and do, pilfer them en masse from banks, email services, retailers or social media websites that fail to fully protect their servers.

Security experts widely agree on two core principles: make your passwords as long as possible, mixing up words with some numbers and symbols, and never ever use the same password for more than one website.

Beyond that, just cross your fingers and pray that the website you’re using is doing all it can at its end to protect the mental keys to your virtual world.

As someone who had their account hacked recently, I believe that password security is something that we don’t really take seriously until our account/s are compromised. Don’t wait for it to happen to you.

Read the whole report here.

Teenagers are anonymously posting cruel remarks about themselves on social media

The Age has recently reported that in a bizarre cry for help, some teenagers who appear to be victims of cyberbullying are actually using social media platforms to self harm.

Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Centre found that up to 10 per cent of first-year university students had ”falsely posted a cruel remark against themselves, or cyberbullied themselves, during high school”.

For the ”digital self-harmer” the presence of an audience appears to serve other purposes too. Anonymously calling oneself a ”loser” online allows them to test out other people’s attitudes: do other people see me this way too? Is my perception of myself shared universally?

Read the whole article here.

How to stay private on Facebook (yes, again…)

Last week, The Age reported that controlling your privacy on Facebook is about to become a whole lot easier.

If you’ve never played with your Facebook privacy settings, the first thing you’ll want to do is safeguard your future. On Facebook.com, click the little padlock on the top right, then under “Who can see my stuff” make sure “Friends” is selected – unless you want all your content to be public by default. As a further precaution, if you have a particular Facebook friend who you want to hide stuff from – a relative or a boss perhaps – add them to a “restricted list”. This will keep them as a friend but hide anything not set to “Public” from them, without their knowledge. To restrict a friend, go to their profile, hover your mouse over the “Friends” box, select “Add to another list” and then select “Restricted”.

The article also explains how to untag yourself in photos and how to see what your profile looks like to other users. Read the whole article here.

Twitter to add ‘report abuse’ button

This week The Age reported that Twitter will finally add a ‘report abuse’ button to all versions of their site.

It follows an online petition for a crackdown on abusive tweets after hundreds of rape threats were directed at Caroline Criado-Perez, an activist who campaigned to keep women on UK banknotes.

The petition on the website change.org has attracted nearly 70,000 signatures, and says abuse on Twitter “frequently goes ignored”.

Twitter introduced an abuse-reporting button to its iPhone and mobile versions three weeks ago. Ms Harvey said the company plans to “bring this functionality to Android and desktop web users”.

This is great news for those who tweet. Read the whole article here.

Keep it nice

A few days ago, The Age reported about a Facebook parenting page that had been the site of cyberbullying by mothers towards other mothers:

After a sharp increase in negative, personal and mean comments, Babyology’s managing editor Mandi Gunsberger advised ”we have made the decision to remove at our discretion any negative or abusive comments … Unless you would make a comment face-to-face, then this negativity does not have a place in our online space,” she said.

What is of huge concern is that adults, who should be role modelling positive internet use to their children, are the perpetrators of cyberbullying. As Babyology’s editor Mandi Gunsberger says, ‘ unless you would make a comment face-to-face, then this negativity does not have a place in our online space.’

Read the whole article here.