Roundup: This Week’s Top Digital Parenting News

Get the latest and greatest on the top digital parenting news and stories of the week!

This week: cyberbullying escalates during the transition from elementary to middle school (shocker!), parents are encouraging kids to pursue careers in digital fields, and a texting-while-driving tracking device is in production. Check out the news roundup and join the conversation in the comment section below.

Students Experience Increase in Cyberbullying During Elementary to Middle School Transition

A study that was recently published in School Psychology Quarterly found that students increasingly become targets of cyberbullying during the transition from elementary school to middle school. The study took place in the Midwest and examined three semesters of data following 1,180 students.

The study categorized students who were bullied into 4 groups:

  • 29% were occasional victims of traditional bullying (verbal or physical bullying)

  • 10% were occasional victims of traditional bullying and cyberbullying

  • Half of bullied students were infrequent victims

  • 11% of bullied students were frequent victims

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Taking a Stand: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Long gone are the days when bullying solely consisted of having your lunch money swiped, receiving "swirlies" in the bathroom, having a "kick me" sign taped to your back, and being tripped in the hallway. With the big part that social media now plays in our daily lives, bullying continues past the ringing of the 3:00pm school bell. Though many instances of bullying are no longer face-to-face, it is becoming more severe and parents need to become aware of this. 

With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, now is the perfect time to talk to your children about bullying. Some parents may think that with better security systems being implemented in schools across the nation, bullying is becoming less of a concern. However, that is far from reality.

According to Harrison Daily, "An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually."

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Subtweeting: Inside the Harmful New Social Media Trend

One of the more insidious digital trends for tweens and teens has been the development of subtweeting. While this may sound like an innocent social media fad, this impression could not be further from the truth. Among digital trends for tweens, this is one of the worst because it is a form of cyberbullying that can be difficult to pin down and combat.

What is Subtweeting?

Subtweeting consists of using social media (Twitter being one example that inspired the name) to talk negatively about or gossip about a person without naming that individual specifically. All that people involved have to do is use descriptions, characterization or some sort of code to discuss the person with impunity. In some cases, this happens without the participants even realizing what they are doing.

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Why Yik Yak is the Most Dangerous App You Have Never Heard of

Mobile smartphones and the internet have changed the way we interact in unprecedented ways. While there is no denying the many benefits of this, the drawbacks are also clear. This has especially become apparent in the world of teenagers and younger children. Cyberbullying is one of the worst culprits, and has spread through the country's cities and schools at an alarming rate.

Social media has taken the age-old problem of bullying and turned it into something even worse than it already was. No child is immune to this problem, and although it seems to be at its most prevalent in high schools, middle-school and even elementary school kids are impacted.

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The Phenomenon of Cyberbullying: Are We Paying Enough Attention?

Cyberbullying, despite being a serious crime today, is a popular phenomenon among kids of all ages. Despite its severity, cyberbullying has largely gone under-punished because parents, teachers, and authorities were late in deciphering the needs of children when it came to information technologies. Even when caught, it’s often difficult to prosecute. Today’s newest technologies have morphed into anonymous dangers.

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The Prevalence of Cyberbullying: It Happens More Than You Think

We see it in the news, we read about it in articles, we occassionaly hear about it happening in our communities. Cyberbullying may seem like a problem that happens at a distance from our own lives. However distanced you may feel from the issue, it is important for parents to know that cyberbullying is quite prevalent and happens in the shadows more often than we all realize.

Is This Problem Far-Reaching?

In a word, yes. All that you have to do is take a look at some of the statistics about Internet usage and accessibility as it relates to teens. In fact, DoSomething.org pulled together a list of statistics on the matter:

  1. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out

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Rihanna Joins Cyberbullies in Mocking Fan on Twitter

Many celebrities and public figures have experienced cyberbullying in the past. Ciara once wrote an angry letter to her cyberbullies, Minnie Driver recently quit Twitter after being taunted about her vacation photos, and even Olympic athletes have been ridiculed online. A story we don't hear about often: a celebrity participating in cyberbullying.

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Carter was excited to dress up as one of her favorite celebrities Rihanna for a Hollywood-themed prom. Before the event, she posted photos of her dress, which mirrored a previous dress worn by Rihanna. She had a great time taking the pictures and was complimented throughout the night.

However, since prom other kids have been making fun of her outfit relentlessly through social media site Twitter. The hashtag #PromBat began trending and, before she knew it, Rihanna herself had commented negatively about the teen's outfit.

Fox Baltimore reports,

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Survey Discovers High Rates of Teen Cyberbullying & Oversharing Online

Even though state laws and parents are making efforts to combat cyberbullying, the number of teens who have been cyberbullied appears to remain high. Additionally, teens don't often seek out parents to help them when they encounter digital dangers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Cox Communications have released a survey about teens, technology, and cyberbullying. The survey finds are startling to say the least! Here is an excerpt of major findings of the survey outlined in a NCMEC article:

Key trends among the teens surveyed include:

  • Three in 10 teens claim to have been bullied online (31 percent)

  • One in 10 admits to have bullied someone online

  • Of teens who admit to being bullied online, only 41 percent have told an adult

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In Case You Missed It: Man Charged in Amanda Todd Bullycide Case

One of the more pernicious aspects of cyberbullying is that, due to the nature of the Internet, it can cross international lines. Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old living in British Columbia who committed suicide in 2012 after being extorted online by a stranger. Before Amanda committed suicide, she left behind a heart-wrenching YouTube video describing the horrors she suffered as a result of her cyberbully. 

For many months, it was unsure if the cyberbully behind her suicide would be charged, or even identified. At one point Anonymous, an anarchist hacker group, got involved and fingered a Vancouver man as the culprit. The man turned out to be innocent and ended up accusing another man living in New York.

Now, 35-year-old Aydin Coban, who was living in Holland, has been arrested and charged with child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and Internet luring.

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Introducing the Latest Anonymous App: Truth

The anonymous app fad continues with the release of a new app called Truth. The ThirdParent Blog recently released an article discussing the new app and how it may be used mostly for cyberbullying and sexting. All parents need to know about the potential dark side of this new app in order to shield tweens and teens from digital dangers. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Well, parents, a new app called Truth launched this month and it has a shot at being the worst cyberbullying platform out there. Yik Yak and Ask.fm may pale in comparison to how few socially redeeming qualities Truth ends up having if it takes off with teens.

The concept behind Truth is an interesting one. After downloading Truth, users can anonymously message anyone who is already in their phone’s contact list. If the recipient has also downloaded the app, the recipient can view the message but has no indication whatsoever who the sender is. If the recipient is not yet a Truth user, he receives a text message showing part of the message and prompting him to download the app to see the full message. Again, the recipient will have no indication of who sent the message.

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Colorado Anti-Cyberbullying Law Rejected by State Legislature

One of the vexing problems brought about by the Internet and social media is the phenomenon of cyberbullying. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying does not involve actual physical confrontation. Indeed the cyberbully who posts harassing and threatening messages on Facebook and other social media is often not even identified. As a result, some victims of cyberbullying have been driven to suicide, so powerless do they feel to stop it. Many states have attempted or are currently attempting to invoke real change for cyberbullying victims by passing anti-cyberbullying laws.

Earlier today we published a blog post about a new anti-cyberbullying bill sweeping through Florida's legislature. A few months ago, a similar bill in Colorado received massive support and approval from the state's House of Representatives. However, the Colorado cyberbullying law was recently rejected by the Colorado Senate. 

The Colorado legislature was striving to equip the state’s law enforcement agencies with tools to combat cyberbullying. According to Channel 7 News in Denver, HB 14-1131, was a bill that would have specifically made cyberbullying a crime. Initially, the bill was successful, as it passed the Colorado House Education Committee unanimously and passed the state Senate in a 54-10 vote.

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New Anti-Cyberbullying Bill: Will it Change How Bullies are Charged?

Recently, the state of Florida is moving to extend and add some teeth to its anti-cyberbullying law. The new legislation is inspired by the suicide of a 12-year-old girl Rebecca Ann Sedwick after having been alleged to have been cyberbullies by two other girls, who remain unidentified because they are minors, in the town of Lakeland. The Florida state Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice has advanced the bill.

Currently cyberbullying is a crime in Florida, but there are no criminal penalties attached. The proposed legislation would align cyberbullying with the physical kind. It would make both cyberbullying and physical bullying a second degree misdemeanor and aggravated cyberbullying a first degree misdemeanor, subject to a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

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How to Navigate Formspring, the Question-Asking Site

What is Formspring?

Formspring is a social network for asking and answering questions. Questions and responses range from funny to insightful to thought-provoking. It can help friends get to know each other in a new way, but it can also enable cyberbullying through its anonymous question feature.

How do you sign up?

People sign in with their Facebook account or register with an email and birth date. Formspring is open to users 13 and over, but any minor's account will be removed if requested by their parent.

Who can ask/answer questions?

Questions might be asked of only one person, a group of friends, or the entire Formspring community. People who ask questions can choose to include their identity or hide it. Both questions and responses can include photos, videos, and links.

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A Safe Selfie App that Promotes Positivity? Introducing: Shots

With all of the negativity that can generate in so many apps (cyberbullying from Ask.fm, anonymous secret-sharing apps), it's about time that an app that encourages positivity takes the headlines. This article was originally published on Yahoo Tech by Tech Columnist Dan Tynan.

Don’t look now, but your teenage daughter may be taking Shots. I’m not talking about Jack Daniel’s; I mean Shots, a mobile social network built entirely around selfies. The site is best known for the identity of one of its angel investors, a 20-year-old named Bieber.

Regardless of what you think of Mr. Bieber, the selfie-centric social network his name is attached to is a solid project that can encourage network building and sharing among young people, while at the same time discouraging the most typical of hurtful behaviors seen on many other social services. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Today, the 6-month-old startup announced that it now has 1 million members, three-quarters of them females between the ages of 13 and 24. It celebrated by adding a new feature, the ability to reply to someone’s selfie with one of your own.

Getting Bullish on Bullies

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When an Adult Engages in Cyberbullying Against a Child

Although it is alarming to learn about adults cyberbullying other adults, it is even more disturbing to hear about cases in which adults cyberbully kids. Earlier this month we posted an article about how a kindergarten girl was cyberbullied following a trip to Walmart. More details on the incident have since been released.

Cyberbullying most often manifests when children, especially teens, use smart phones, the Internet, and social media to torment another child. However, cyberbullying is not exclusively conducted by kids, targeting kids.

One of the first cases of an adult cyberbullying a child took place recently in Seneca, South Carolina. The incident began when an unnamed six year old girl, who appears to be on the heavy side and has some health issues related to her weight, had her picture taken and posted online as a joke. The man who took the picture posted it on his Facebook page with the caption “Honey Boo Boo at Walmart.” The cyberbully in question: Walhalla High School Assistant Principal Charlie Fowler. 

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Adult Bullying: Harassment By People You Respect

Social media etiquette starts at home. Read on to learn about how cyberbullying is not conducted just by kids and teens. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by writer, author, and blogger Sue Scheff. Check out her blog here.

Adult bullying is more prevalent than many want to admit. If you're old enough to pay a mortgage or raise a family, shouldn't you be able to handle anything that comes your way? But bullying doesn't come to a standstill after graduating from the playground, and giving grown-ups a pass on aggressive behavior only sets a bad example for our children still on the playground.

A while back, I discussed the case of a parent who felt the need to air her laundry (dirty and clean) all over her Facebook timeline. Her thoughts were broadcasted publicly, even for her children to see. Additionally, a group of mothers recently took to Facebook to bash pictures of toddlers. These behaviors make kids think: if my own mother can bully, then why can't I?

In case we needed another reminder that no one -- not even 300-pound offensive linemen -- is immune to being victimized look no further than the Jonathan Martin case earlier this month. Bullying is entrenched in the NFL, as is the idea that what goes on in the locker room, should stay in the locker room -- including hazing. The incessant tormenting from Martin's teammate, Richie Incognito, forced him to take leave from the team and admit himself to a hospital for emotional distress.

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Superintendent Viciously Cyberbullied By Students

Clearly, the negative effects of cyberbullying are not limited to just teens and kids. Find out what happened when students cyberbullied their Superintendent following his decision about having a snow day. This article was originally published on the Washington Post and is written by Donna St. George and Jennifer Jenkins.

Forecasts for snow in Montgomery County often means a bit of “cyberpleading” — e-mails or tweets that vigorously urge officials to close schools for the day.

That happened during last week’s winter-like weather, but a number of messages to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr did more to offend than persuade. Some used racial epithets. Some used curse words. One threatened to slash Starr’s tires. A few messages mentioned Starr’s family in inappropriate ways, he said.

In all, Starr said, perhaps 10 tweets left him thinking: “Whoa, this is going too far.”

Hoping to spark a conversation across Maryland’s largest school system, Starr e-mailed a letter Friday to the parents of Montgomery’s 151,300 students.

“We need to talk about ‘cybercivility’: how we can help our children grow into responsible and caring adults who interact with one another in a civil, respectful way,” Starr wrote in his letter, which schools officials tweeted, e-mailed to newsletter subscribers and posted online.

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Cyberbullying More Strongly Related to Suicidal Thoughts

Children who are bullied are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than children who are not bullied, and cyberbullying is more closely linked to suicidal thoughts than in-person harassment according to a new study published in JAMA pediatrics. 

Conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, the study analyzed data from 34 other studies involving almost 300,000 participants. Researchers found that students who were bullied were almost twice as likely to consider killing themselves and two and a half times more likely to actually attempt suicide. The higher risk was found among various age groups and affected both genders.

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No Such Thing as a Bully: Shred the Label

Here's an article coming from our friends Kelly Karius and Sue Scheff! Kelly Karius elaborates on a previous article written by Sue Scheff and shares insight about where bullying labels develop and how to change our way of thinking regarding the issue.

I was drawn to Sue Scheff’s Huffington Post article “Grownup Bullying and Monster Moms”Immediately. She had me from Hello. “I know bullying and cyberbullying is a topic that many people are becoming immune to.”

We are. And I believe I know why. Two reasons:

  1. We are currently labeling everything bullying.

  2. Adults don’t acknowledge their behavior. So why should children?

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Cyberbullying Facts and Resources for Parents

Cyberbullying has become a hot-button issue in the past decade. As children and teens of all ages use the Internet in larger numbers, it has become a tool that can be used to harass and intimidate other children even when they are not in the classroom. What should parents know about cyberbullying and where can parents find cyberbullying facts and resources?

Go Online

There are many resources that you can use to gather cyberbullying facts to equip youtself into becoming more educated about the issue. When you educate yourself on the true scope of cyberbullying, it makes it easier to deal with the problem as a parent. If you discover that your child has been bullied online or is bullying others online, you can discuss cyberbullying facts that you have learned to help your child escape the abuse or stop abusing others.

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