10 Ways Parents Can Prevent Cyberbullying

I've seen lots of material online and from my daughter's school about how to respond to cyberbullying. But if I can prevent it from happening in the first place, that's even better. All parents should know the top 10 ways we can prevent cyberbullying.

  1. Promote self-esteem and confidence. Encourage them to find activities they enjoy and develop skills to be proud of. Confident kids are less likely to be picked on, and they're also better able to shrug off bullying if it does happen

  2. Let them know it's okay to confide in you. Kids need to know that they can tell you anything – good or bad – and you won't over react.  

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Why Snapchat Should Terrify You

Children have more ways than ever before to communicate with their friends and family. While living in the digital age has its advantages, parenting in the digital age can be a difficult and confusing process. Each day many apps are added to digital stores. Whether your child is using an iPhone, a tablet, and iPod or an Android device, he or she has access to thousands upon thousands of applications. While many of them are harmless, there are a few apps that pose a significant risk to your child. Snapchat, is one app that, on the surface, may seem innocent enough, but can be extremely harmful.

What is Snapchat? 

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Sexting Is Just the Beginning

With the relatively new ability to send images and videos through technology, people of all ages are taking advantage of this ability to connect to others. Unfortunately, it has also led to the evolution of “sexting.” While this is legal for adults (but still risky), it is not for minors and can have serious consequences on a minor’s emotional state, not to mention their professional and academic future.

Depending on the minor, the situation in which the sexting occurs, and how it is handled, the ramifications can vary greatly. However, it almost always leads to some negative effects for the teen.

What It Can Lead To

While parents may be aware of certain repercussions of sexting, there are a wide variety of consequences that even the most conscientious parents may not be aware of. Regrettably, it can lead to the following negative effects: 
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Is My Child Watching Pornography Online?

When we think of people who are consumers of online porn, we automatically picture grown adults. However, with access to pornographic sites becoming increasingly widespread, a large number of tweens and teens are believed to have viewed some kind of online porn.  

How Many Children Are Watching Porn?

Today, it's reported that at least 90 percent of kids between the ages of 8 and 16 have watched pornography online at least once. Not only have most tweens and teens seen porn, but boys ages 12 to 17 are actually the largest consumers of online pornography. With this statistic, pornography has even been compared to being the drug of choice for youth.

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Teaching Children About Internet Security Right From The Start

There is never a time too early in the life of a child to start thinking about Internet security. Children of younger and younger ages are starting to get a glimpse into the world of the Internet, and many are potentially at risk if they are not informed of what they should and should not do. 

Have A Conversation

Before you ever get into the technical aspects of what you can do to keep your child safe online, it is a good idea to simply have a conversation with them. You can explain to them the steps to take if they are confronted by someone online that they do not know.

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How To Approach Punishing Your Teen For a Digital Slip-Up

From catching your teen sexting, to finding out that they violated your phone contract, digital slip-ups are never fun to deal with. It is not surprising that teens and parents often experience power struggles over digital rules and privileges. Teens are often given such high responsibility with technology at such young ages, that it is natural that there are going to be some problems. Digital rule-breaking is still a relatively new avenue of parenting that requires specific attention and action. 

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7 Consequences of Teen Sexting

If you think the trend of teen sexting is troubling, just listen to some of the attitudes teens have about it.  Many teens shrug and say it's no big deal, nothing could really happen. A recent study on teens and technology reported that 90% of teens who had sexted said that no negative consequences ever came from it.

Teens think they are invincible, that nothing bad would happen to them. If this describes your teen, talk about a few of 7 consequences of sexting that could make them regret hitting “send.”

  1. It could be shared with people you don't intend to share it with. The person you are sexting

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Internet Security Could Save Your Child From Crime

Protecting their child is the number one objective of any parent. This is the primary role and responsibility. Unfortunately, it is becoming a role that is more difficult with the Internet around. Although the vast majority of people use the Internet for harmless everyday tasks, there are some who use this medium to commit crimes.

Worse yet, many of these crimes are committed against children. Take this headline from the Calgary Herald for example:

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Digital Parenting: Understanding the Risk of Snapchat

Snapchat started as a college course project, but has grown exponentially in the last year. Now available, for free, through app stores, the application allows people to send and receive pictures and videos directly to their phone.

The "Snap" is only available for a set period of time (about 10 seconds), then it is deleted from the phone and the server. Snapchat seems like a fun enough venture, but for those trying to parent in the digital age, it can be problematic. 

Potential for Sexting

Because Snapchat only keeps photos for 10 seconds or less, parents have no way of really knowing what content their child is swapping. For many years, Snapchat has been dubbed the "sexting app". Although not every person using Snapchat is sexting away, the app didn't get their nickname for no reason.

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Major Florida Sextortion Case Serves as a Warning For Tweens

A Florida child porn case is making headlines because of its sheer magnitude. Lucas Chansler, 31, was sentenced to 105 years in prison for his coast to coast sextortion of young girls. Authorities found around 80,000 child porn pictures and videos on his computer and amongst his possessions.

Chansler used video chat to convince 350 girls between the ages of 13 and 18 to send him explicit pictures and videos. The images were sent between 2007 and 2010. Chansler admitted that he extorted the young girls to send nude pictures by threatening them. He pleaded guilty on 9 counts of producing child pornography. He'll likely spend between 15 and 30 years in prison and he'll be forced to pay a quarter of a million dollars in fines for each of the 9 counts.

Chansler didn't target girls in his home state of Florida or any other specific region. He went for anyone and everyone he could ensnare. His victims were spread out across 26 states. Chansler used video chats to weasel his way into conversations with the girls by pretending to be an acquaintance. He used multiple screen names to alter his identity with his victims.

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Why Sexting Through Apps Will Never Go Away

Smartphones are amazing devices which have opened up so many opportunities for people ages three to 100, unfortunately they have also brought their own challenges. One such challenge is the issue of teens and tweens sexting through apps

We would like to think this is a phase, but the safe bet is that this type of behavior will never disappear. The good news is that there are ways to inform your kids about the dangers of sexting and hopefully they will make the smart decision to abstain from such actions. 

First of all, it is important to understand that sexting will always continue to be a smartphone risk, and waging a war on it will just be a waste of time and resources. When a child receives a smartphone they are given more power than they know what to do with and unfortunately teenagers can be very persuasive (especially when hormones are involved).

While there are surely measures parents can take to keep track of what their kids are texting, sexting can occur through so many devices and apps that it's difficult to monitor. A mixture between raging hormones, at-hand technology, and the perception that this behavior is cool guarantees that sexting will remain as common place in our society as make out spots were in the 1950s.

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Daughter of Police Sergeant Victim in Sexting Scandal

Parents, teens and tweens across the world can learn a lesson from Michaela Snyder's story. Michaela, 15, is the daughter of a police sergeant and she is making her story known in an effort to make a positive impact on teens who are tempted by peer pressure.

When Michaela was 12 years old, she grew interested in a boy in her same grade. This crush turned out to be a tragedy that all parents and youngsters should know about. Michaela admits that she was so infatuated with her new boyfriend that she would do just about anything to maintain the relationship.

Oftentimes, tweens and teens lack self confidence and will do unhealthy things for the affection of others. Michaela's boyfriend asked her to send semi-nude pictures from her cell phone. At first, Michaela refused but then felt pressured into sending the pictures as the boy gave her an ultimatum. She had to either send him the salacious shots or he would leave her.

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Common Mobile and Internet Child Safety Dangers to Avoid

The moment that a child logs on to the Internet is the moment that they are exposed to a number of risks. While the Internet is designed to help us all accomplish tasks, learn new information, and even do business, there are potential threats that lurk as well, particularly for children. Mobile and Internet child safety is an important topic to learn about. 

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Recent Study Finds Sexting is the New "Norm" Among Teens

Sexting is the transmission of sexually explicit images through smartphones or other Internet connected or cellular devices like tablets and laptops. Until recently, it was considered a behavior that was limited to "at-risk" teens and a sign of potentially problematic behavior. New research, however, suggests that it may actually be a part of normal sexual development in teens.

Like virtually any controversial subject, however, there are two sides to this argument. Here is the first one:

In the journal Pediatrics, research found that thus far there is a total failure for anyone to prove a link between sexting and any sort of risky sexual behavior. There is also no link yet between sexting and diminished mental health. This was all part of a study that polled over one thousand high school students, and was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas.

Now that you have the "sexting is normal" side of the argument. Here is the counter-debate:

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Snapchat Breach: Sexting Through Apps Is Still a Risky Practice

In some instances, cell phones offer parents a lot of peace of mind. When your teenager has a cell phone, you know you can get ahold of them and that they have a resource to turn to if danger arises. In this regard, cell phones offer security to today's parents that previous generations of parents would have loved.

However, teenagers can also use their phones to get into trouble, embarrass themselves or even put themselves at risk. As a parent, you have probably already talked to your children about the kind of information they should and shouldn't put online, but sexting through apps has become such a trend in youth, as many believe that these apps are guarding their privacy.  

We have all heard about the dangers of the popular teen app Snapchat, which is an app that allows users to send a picture of short video that allegedly automatically disappears within seconds. With Snapchat, recipients of photos or videos can still screen shot and save images from a Snap. The app is widely believed to be used as an app for sexting, even amongst younger users. 

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Sexting Facts and Statistics: Why Parents Should Be Concerned

From all of the news we hear about the span and scope of digital dangers available to youth, it's clear that parents have every right to be worried about the types of activities teens are engaging in online and through phones. It's natural for any parent to be concerned about what their child could be getting into. Although teens may be disgruntled by it, parents have a responsibility to be aware of what is going on and prevent mistakes from being made in kids' digital lives. 

The Rise Of Sexting

If you haven't heard of sexting already, you probably will in the near future. Sexting is sending or receiving a sexually graphic or descriptive text message. Studies show that teen sexting is on the rise and many parents are wholly unaware of it.

Quick facts about sexting:

  • 11% of teens admit they’ve sent pictures to strangers (Cox Communications)

  • 80% of teens who have sexted are under the age of 18 (Cox Communications)

  • Over half (57%) of teens from a 2012 survey reported that they had been asked to send a sext (JAMA)

  • 12% of teen girls feel pressured to sext (The National Campaign)

  • 38% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say they have had sexually suggestive text messages or emails—originally meant for someone else—shared with them (The National Campaign)

Plus, according to research, those teens who are sexting or propositioned to send a sext are more likely than their peers to have sexual intercourse.

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Is My Teen Falling Into the "Hooking Up" Trend?

Although underage sex is an uncomfortable topic to broach, the truth is that plenty of teenagers are “hooking up”. This term refers to having "no strings attached sexual activity" with a partner. Many sociologists argue that the hooking up trend is part of a larger societal movement toward obtaining immediate gratification.

While most parents will argue that it is unacceptable for teens to be having sex, some have accepted it as inevitable. Yet this doesn't mean that the teens should be engaging in sexual activities with people that they hardly know. Herein lies the underlying problem with hooking up.

Today's teens often speak of “friends with benefits”. This is a term that refers to two people engage in sexual intercourse or sexual activity without passing through typical courting rituals or even becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. Research conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions shows that almost one in four sixth-graders and one in three seventh-graders have engaged in sexual behavior. More than three in four twelfth-graders report the same.  Simply put, teens are jumping to dessert without eating their appetizer and main course.

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Audrie's Law Moving Through California State Legislature

Legislation has been introduced in the California state legislature that would make it a felony to share sexually explicit images of young people or images of their body parts on social media or smart phones for the purpose of bullying them. It is part of a package of legal changes that would close a legal loophole that makes it a less serious crime to rape someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated than to rape someone who is of clear mind.

The cyberbullying part of the bill is called ”Audrie’s Law” after a young woman named Audrie Pott who died as result of a sexually inspired act of cyberbullying.

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Two Teen Sexting Incidences Reported in New Jersey This Week

New Jersey is one of the few states that has a somewhat "lenient" sexting law, which punishes most minors caught sexting with mandatory educational programs. The state is having quite a trying week, with the recent news of two sexting incidences reported in separate New Jersey schools. 

According to ABC7 Eyewitness News, nude photos of several students were discovered on multiple students' phones in Somerset County's Basking Ridge Middle School. Superintendent Nick Markarian sent out a letter about the incident to parents, informing them on the events and providing them a chance to "clean things up" before criminal charges are soon filed. Markarian is encouraging parents to have their kids delete and cease distribution of the viral nude photos.

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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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