Yik Yak app controversy [TigerTV, by Kamyn Stelly, 18/11/2015 ]

Yik Yak, a social media app is giving cyber bullying a new meaning by bringing online threats to reality.

Olivia Appel says, “I have a friend that I knew freshman year that had things that were posted about her that were so negative that she had to get local law enforcement involved because it was to such extremes.”

Yik Yak is used within a 1.5 mile radius of college campuses where students can post anonymously.

Seandra Cosgrove, LSU Psychology grad student says cyber bullying on social media apps is a problem.

She says, Cyber bullying can be very psychologically damaging, one study found that 93 percent of cyber bullying victims had negative psychological effects, so either depression, anxiety or hopelessness.”

Summer Steib, Director of Women’s Center on LSU’s campus says holding people accountable for cyber bullying is the best way to combat the issue on campus.

She says, “How do we encourage action from students and then how do we empower them to become active bystanders and to intervene and to shut those types of conversations down and say you know that’s not my LSU.”

LSU student Olivia Appel knows the effects of being cyber bullied.

She says, “I know how hard it can be to deal with these things and that Yik Yak really is a form of cyber bullying.”

Despite the negative impacts of Yik Yak, there may be hope on LSU’s campus because advocacy groups are pleading with legislators for censorship on college campuses.

Cyber Bullying: The effects and the signs [ Kulr8News, by Samantha Harrelson, 14/11/2015 ]

The face of bullying is changing and with that even more severe consequences. Cyber bullying is becoming more prevalent in our schools, and is not starting to effect children at a younger age.

Social media has given parents and schools a whole new issue to be concerned with. The effects of online bullying can be detrimental and long lasting, especially since comments made online can last forever.

Karen Kietzman, a clinical psychologist, she said it is important to talk to your kids about what bullying means. An open dialog will help them understand when it is happening to them and when to ask for help.

“It is almost like the schools have inherited this problem, because parents have turned around and given their kids all of the technology possible, thinking that it is going to make them more successful in life. In retrospect, what it is doing is distracting them and causing them mental health issues that we never could even imagine,” said Officer George Zorzakis, a school resources officer.

While it is not face to face, bullying online gives the attacker a sense of security and allows them to say things they would not say in person.

“Some of the bullying is, you know, ‘you are such a bad person, you should just be dead’. That is very severe verbal abuse so you have to help them correct that internally and help them realize that that was a lie, that it is wrong. But they don’t have that internal voice sometimes and you need to provide it,” said Kietzman.

Experts say it is important to keep tabs on your children and keep open communication to help know when there is a change in their behavior and when something may be going on.

Kietzman says signs can include behavior change, isolation and even obsessive behavior about social media.

“The ability to just to know your child and be involved with your child in their events and being open about media and so you can maybe catch it. Even if you catch it ‘late’, you can still get your child help,” said Kietzman.

If you notice signs of depression, go to a doctor or school counselor.

One-in-four teens are bullied on internet. [ Irish Independent, by Katherine Donnelly, 24/9/2015 ].

This is higher than in other countries, where one in five 13-to 18-year-olds reported being the target of online harassment, on average.

Almost half of the Irish teens said they felt helpless when it happened to them, with three in 10 admitting to feeling completely alone.

As many as 25pc, one in four, of those who had been cyberbullied went so far as to experience suicidal thoughts as a result.

The figures have emerged in a global survey of almost 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries, including Ireland.

It was conducted by pollsters YouGov on behalf of telecoms company, Vodafone.

Nine in 10 Irish teens said they would find it easier to cope with cyberbullying if they received support from their friends on social media.

However, four in 10 admitted that they would find it hard to find the right words to support a friend who was being bullied online.

The findings were released at the launch of Vodafone’s #BeStrong anti-cyberbullying initiative, which aims to build emotional resilience amongst teens online, and includes the creation of ‘support emojis’.

These can be used to convey compassion, sympathy and support when friends are being bullied online.

The emojis were designed by a panel that included Berkeley University, California, Professor Dacher Keltner, the psychologist who advised on characters for Pixar film ‘Inside Out’.

Depression linked to rise in sexting and cyber-bullying, says psychiatrist. [ www.bbc.co.uk, Emily Thomas, 14/05/2015 ]

Dr Natasha Nijlani says a growing number of her adult patients have depressive or anxiety disorders linked to earlier online experiences.

Charities working with teenagers have told Newsbeat they’re seeing a rise in cases of cyber-bullying and sexting.

Dr Nijlani says the consequences of that are “very worrying”.

“Things that happen to adolescents carry on emotionally to their early adulthood and I’m seeing the repercussions of cyber-bullying and online harassment with patients who are over the age of 18,” she says.

Dr Nijlani works for The Priory, which runs mental health rehabilitation services.

It has seen a rise of nearly 50% in four years of 12 to 17-year-olds admitted for serious depressive order, anxiety disorder and stress-related issues.

In 2014 there were 262 admissions, compared with 178 in 2010.

Dr Nijlani says the number of adult patients has grown in this time by 25%.

Although she says it’s good there is increased awareness of mental health issues and people seeking help, she’s also worried there’s a rise in the number of adults experiencing mental health problems.

She says in years to come there could be “an epidemic”, caused in part by “what happens online as teenagers”.

“Negative online experiences can lead to mental health problems if people are vulnerable.

“Social media makes it easier for bullies and gives us new ways of abusing each other.

“If you get bullied at that crucial stage in your development, when your character is being formed, there is good evidence it can affect your self esteem and confidence – and your whole life for many years,” she says.

Sexting is often seen as harmless, but it can lead to shame and embarrassment.

“The permanence of life online mean it’s hard to move on – there are things you can’t delete.

“More people will be depressed in the future. In the past we didn’t have this record of our lives that is indelible.”

Last October the charity Ditch the Label found 37% of a group of just under 1,000 13 to 25-year olds had sent a naked photo of themselves to another person and 13% of them felt pressured into doing it.

Cybersmile, which works to tackle digital abuse says it has seen an increase of around 20% in the number of inquiries it’s received about cyber-bullying and sexting in the past year.

The charity’s co-founder Dan Raisbeck says although awareness of the risks is growing amongst parents and teenagers, access to smart phones is also growing.

“Flirtatious messages online, are now seen as part of growing up and how you form relationships,” he says.

“When relationships break up we can see content that’s been sent online – ‘weaponised’ – with revenge porn and that kind of thing. It becomes extremely complex and damaging.”

Childline has seen an increase in cyber-bullying too. The charity says there’s been a 73% increase in counselling sessions about online abuse and safety between 2012 and 2014.

The charity launched an app called Zipit in October 2013 which helps children and teenagers deal with requests for explicit photos by giving them a series of joke images to send back.

It’s now been downloaded more than 60,000 times.

Supervisor Rosanne Pearce tells Newsbeat: “Cyber-bullying and sexting can cause great trauma for young girls in particular. We can’t change the fact we live in an online world – what we can do is support young people.”

Online bullying: We Must also Consider Children who Bully Others [HUFFPOST TECH, by Deanna Neilson, 10/2/2015]

Online bullying among children is rife and while the potentially life-long impact on those targeted by bullies must be addressed, we cannot ignore the needs of young perpetrators either.

Action for Children recently polled 2,000 eight to 17 year olds about their internet activity and a startling one in seven told us they had bullied others online. It’s shocking that this harassment is so prevalent, but equally concerning is the fear expressed by those who said they act out on others. Nearly 60 per cent of children responded that they bullied others to fit in with a certain social group, while 40 per cent said they did so to prevent being targeted themselves.

These reasons don’t account for other issues that may also be present in children’s lives – such as low self-esteem, stress at school or being victimised themselves by peers or adults – which can contribute to a child lashing out at peers.

The best source of help for children in these situations is usually their parents. Whether your child is being bullied or bullying others, it’s important to know what’s going on in their lives you so can help address the issue and any potentially larger problems behind it.

Young people increasingly socialise on digital platforms, so parents should ask about their time online just as they ask about their day at school. Keeping a comfortable, open dialogue about their activity – not just diving in when you’re concerned about something – will not only keep you in touch with this part of their lives, but also encourage them to come to you if they’re ever concerned about issues such as bullying or strangers contacting them. Action for Children’s survey revealed that nearly 50 per cent of children did not tell anyone when they read or saw something online that made them feel uncomfortable, with one in seven saying they worried they would get in trouble if they did. This finding shows that assuring young people they can come to you is key.

Action for Children works with 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year and concerns about young people online come up time and time again. Many parents aren’t confident about talking to their children about their worries, sometimes because it could raise awkward conversations, sometimes because they simply don’t know very much about the platforms that young people use.

To keep children safe, adults must educate themselves about the online worlds that young people inhabit. A good way of doing this – and to open that comfortable, open dialogue – is to ask you children about it. Let them teach you about their activities and how they interact with peers. They are, after all, the experts.

Parents also need to ensure they help children keep themselves safe. Here are some tips our frontline workers share with parents:

• Discuss and agree parameters before your child joins a social networking site. Check the minimum age requirements.

• Consider whether a trusted adult should be added as a ‘friend’ and ensure your child has a ‘private’ profile.

• Talk about the potential dangers of sharing personal data.

• Remind your child that the same rules about bullying and stranger danger apply online as they do in public places and at school.

• Ensure your child knows how to report and block people online.

• Tell them they can talk to you about anything that upsets or worries them online – you’re on their side.

There’s no way to stay on top of all your child’s activity online – access at school and friends’ houses, as well as tablets and smartphones mean they are often unpoliced in the digital world. But with just a little communication, and letting children show you their expertise, parents can help children keep themselves safe online. Who knows? It might be a lot of fun.

Decoding teen sexting: what do the abbreviations mean? [Local12, by Sheila Gray, 10/2/2015]

Sexting or texting? Do you know what your children are typing when they’re hunched over their phones?

The lingo they use might not make sense to many parents, but Local 12’s Sheila Gray has some tips on how to decode what’s become almost like a secret language.

BRB (be right back) and LOL (laugh out loud) are innocent enough, but have you heard of KPC (keeping parents clueless)?

Some texts aren’t for kids, yet guess who’s sending them?

Debbie and 13-year-old Gabby Shaw are your average mom and daughter duo, and no surprise, this 8th grader loves to text.

“[How many texts] a day? I’d say about 50,” said Gabby. “I am concerned of what she may receive,” said Debbie.

We showed gabby some PG-13 acronyms, and the fact that gabby had never seen some of these is a good thing.

Head of Child Psychology at Dayton Children’s Dr. Gregory Ramey has seen it all but he says that “As a parent and a professional, I wouldn’t know what these [texts] mean.”  

We’ll keep it PG-13 and decode some of the acronyms we can actually say.

IWS means “I want sex.”

GNOC means “get naked on cam.”

GYPO  means “get your pants off.”

Also, mom and dad, kids are talking about you too…

PIR means “parent in room.”

POS means “parent over shoulder.”

H4Y means “hot for you.”

TDTM means “talk dirty to me”

Words aren’t the only tools at your disposal either.

Emojis can be strung together to depict some pretty R-rated stuff.

They’ll become one of the 40% that will have sexual intercourse during their high school years. That’s what sexting is.  

Dr. Ramey says one-third of kids sext. Be proactive and make sure your kids aren’t among them.

If you want to decrease the likelihood of your child sexting, begin at an early age to have a very open conversation with your children around junior high, that’s the best thing you could do.  

“We have a trust factor, an open relationship where we’re communicating about it,” said Debbie. “I do go through the phone periodically but it has been pretty innocent so far.”

Experts say it’s wise to check up on your teens but advise parents not to do it behind their backs.

Internet safety – The apps parents need to know about [Irish Examiner, by Helen O’Callaghan, 07/2/2015]

Protecting children online is now more difficult than ever due to the rise in popularity of photo-sharing apps, writes Helen O’Callaghan.

“It’s one of the best ways of getting them thinking about the issue,” says Simon Grehan of Webwise, the Internet safety initiative of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), which promotes Safer Internet Day in Ireland.

For parents, protecting their kids online is more challenging than ever. Just as they thought they’d got on top of Facebook, young people are moving towards photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

“Many parents aren’t as aware of these,” says Grehan.

We’re long past the days when keeping the computer in the kitchen meant you could monitor your child’s online activity.

Young people are accessing the Internet much more through mobile phones and tablets than they did two years ago.

This finding emerged through interviews with 1,000 students aged nine to 16 and one of their parents conducted by Dr Brian O’Neill of DIT.

The research is just about to be published. And while online activity is still mostly done at home, the fact their devices are personal means they’re free from parental supervision and mediation, points out Grehan.

So what’s the attraction of photo-sharing apps?

“Smart phones don’t have a keyboard — it’s difficult for kids to type and they don’t have as high literacy skills to communicate through language. They use images to communicate — instead of ‘I’m at the cinema with my friends’, they take a picture to show it,” says Grehan.

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat also provide more tools to be creative.

“With Instagram, they can edit photos — add filter effects to make it look like the photo was taken in the 1920s. With Snapchat, they can draw over the photo and paint little messages.”

On the surface, Snapchat looks like it has advantages. “It’s more private — you send pictures to a specific person as opposed to a public you’ve never seen.

“The unique thing is the photo disappears five seconds after it’s opened — eliminating the concern that your employer might see it in 10 years time.

“But you actually can’t be sure it’s gone, never to be seen again, because it’s easy to get a screen grab of it. A lot of kids would know how to do this,” says Grehan.

These new apps pose the usual cyber-bullying risks — possibility of sharing embarrassing or compromising photos and of posting nasty comments about someone’s pictures.

Grehan advises parents to communicate regularly with children about their online activity.

“Have them show you how they’re using apps and sites. Explain your concerns and listen to theirs. It’s very easy to use technology. It requires life experience to decide what’s appropriate to share and what isn’t.”

Laura Cullen, 17, is in fifth year at St Clare’s Comprehensive, Manorhamilton.

“The app I most use is Instagram, otherwise YouTube and art-sharing websites. I used to be on Facebook but there’s limited privacy.

“I don’t like the way social networking sites perpetuate the idea that you need to have a say on whatever you like and that there’s no consequence to what you say online.

“I’m very much in favour of technology. Websites don’t bully people —other people do. I’m involved in the Webwise youth panel.

“It’s mostly around raising awareness through competitions and sending posters to schools.

“It’s difficult to say how many hours a day I spend online. I feel it’s a very continuous thing — even though you have your phone down or in your pocket, it’s continuously picking up information online.”

Oisín Bowyer, 14, is in third year at Carndonagh Community School. “Here in Donegal we’ve had two suicides related to cyber-bullying.

“It’s important to do something. I’m an ambassador for Safer Internet Day. I spend two hours max a day online — below the average.

“I like Facebook — I think it’s more mature. Some young people are very naïve. The internet is a very open space.

“Everything you say can come back to haunt you. It’s important to think before you post that picture or hit that send button.”

A transition-year student at Deele College, Raphoe, Co Donegal Sean Murphy is 16. “I use Facebook a lot and Snapchat. I like that I can talk to my brothers in Australia or someone down the road in an instant.

AS we gear up for Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, 15,000 students in 100 schools across Ireland are running awareness-raising events around cyber-bullying.

“I’m not particularly a fan of the selfie — I don’t have the chiselled face other guys would envy!

“I use an alias to get around [future] employers seeing stuff about me. I’m definitely aware around cyber-bullying — I’d be pretty abrupt about stopping talking to people who’d consider taking an aggressive or mocking manner with me.

“I’m on the Webwise panel — I’ve always been an activist around keeping others safe and getting involved in school mentoring programmes.”

On Monday, Webwise will launch ‘MySelfie – Primary Anti-Cyber Bullying’, a curriculum resource targeted at fifth and sixth class primary students.

“It’s a series of short animations that provide starting points for classroom discussions around emotions driving bullying, emotional impact on victims and how children can be agents for positive change in relation to bullying.

Be safe online

* Be the one to introduce your child to the Internet. Together, find exciting, fun websites — makes it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in future.

* Agree with child rules for internet use in your home. Discuss when and for how long; how to treat personal info (name, address, telephone, email); how to behave towards others when online; what type of sites/activities are OK/not OK in your family.

* Teach social networking teens how to use privacy or security settings of a site. All responsible sites have a safety centre and a block and reporting system.

* Talk about risks of meeting online ‘friends’ in person. Children shouldn’t meet strangers they’ve met online without parental approval and without accompaniment by adult, friends or others they trust.

* Teach child about evaluating and being critically aware of online information. Not all is correct, accurate or relevant.

* Avoid being over-critical of your child’s internet exploration. If they come across adult material, open discussion about the content and make rules for this kind of activity.

* Encourage respect for others — being polite, using correct language, not yelling (writing in capital letters) or harassing others.

* Let your child show you what he likes to do online.

* Positive aspects of the internet outweigh the negatives — there are millions of age-appropriate sites for younger children. Encourage child to use these.

Teens urged to ‘think twice’ before posting online [Independent, by Nicola Anderson, 10/2/2015]

Teenagers working on a cyber-bullying project have told how ‘nearly everybody they know’ has been subject to online abuse of some description.

A new report reveals that young people are experiencing greater bullying on social media platforms and are encountering more harmful images and content because they are spending increasing amounts of time online on their smartphones and tablets.

One-in-five children in Ireland say they have been bothered by something online in the past year – double the figure reported in a survey in 2011.

The new Net Children Go Mobile report, launched to mark Safer Internet Day finds that Instagram is the most popular media-sharing platform, with some 42pc of 9-16 year olds using it to share their photos.

Brian O’Neill, Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services at Dublin Institute of Technology, who compiled the report along with Thuy Dinh of DIT, said that young people are doing more of everything online.

“Because internet use is now a much more private experience with less direct parental supervision, parents more than ever need to communicate with their children about their online experiences,” he said. Speaking at the launch at Dublin Castle, Damien English, TD urged young people to “think twice” before they acted on an urge to post something online that might be hurtful.

“Just hold back – think of the impact it might have on somebody’s life,” he said.

Teens from the Dublin City Comhairle na nÓg youth council told the Irish Independent that almost every young person they know has been subjected to some form of online bullying.

Irish Independent

Protect your cyber teen this Christmas. [Irish Independent, by Deirdre Reynolds, 28/12/2014].

From neknominations to ice-bucket challenges, 2014 was undoubtedly the year of the cyber teen.

And as teens and preteens throughout the land rapidly run down the battery on their brand new tablet or smartphone this festive season, it’s only a matter of time before the next viral craze sweeps the nation in 2015.

A staggering 48pc of kids aged six to 12 implored Santa to bring them an Apple iPod this Christmas, according to a recent Nielsen survey. And 60pc of 13 to 19-year-olds were also hoping to find some kind of tablet under the tree on Thursday morning.

But while thousands of students here spend the rest of the holidays glued to internet-enabled gadgets, many of their parents will enter the New Year feeling more disconnected from their children than ever, experts warn.

“A lot of children will have received their first tablet or smartphone on Christmas morning,” says social media expert Aoife Rigney. “It can be quite scary for parents.

“For those who have younger kids, it’s easier to say: ‘Don’t do X, Y or Z online.’ For parents of teenagers, it can be more daunting – especially if they’re not IT literate themselves.”

With new research this year showing that the average Irish seven-year-old now has a smartphone, with their older teenage siblings typically checking social media 125 times a day, it’s little wonder Irish parents are still worried about the dangers that lurk online.

In September, Ireland’s first ever national cyberbullying conference, Understanding and Managing Cyberbullying, took place in Dublin Castle after a survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found that 16pc of Irish students have experienced bullying online – a 33pc increase on 2013. While in February, Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged teenagers not to accept neknominations after the extreme drinking game – which went viral on Facebook and Twitter – was linked to the death of 19-year-old Jonny Byrne from Carlow, telling Galway Bay FM: “This is not a game and young people irrespective of their connection with social media should just give this up.”

Avril Ronan, head of internet safety at Trend Micro, told Weekend Review in April: “You wouldn’t give a child the keys to your car, so why would you let them do anything they want online. When it comes to teenagers, parents don’t have to understand every aspect of the technology because there’s no way they can try to keep up with every trend.

“What parents can do is teach their children about issues such as bullying, good behaviour and etiquette online. The principles are the same, even though the apps may change.”

One survey by parenting site Mumsnet nonetheless found that 30pc of parents allow their children unsupervised access to the internet.

“When it comes to the internet and what teenagers are exposed to, most parents really don’t get it,” says Dublin psychotherapist Joanna Fortune. “It’s not enough to say you don’t understand that stuff and you’re not into it.

“You have to adjust your parenting style in line with their development. At the same time, parents can’t be their cool friend who allows them to do everything.”

For parents who gifted their child a gadget two days ago, it’s not too late to set the ground rules, explains Aoife Rigney.

“Every Christmas, I get worried tweets from parents asking things like: ‘How do I turn off the wifi?’,” she says. “In this day and age, many kids know more about technology than their parents, so it’s important for mums and dads to catch up. Technology is not necessarily a bad thing for young people. For instance, there are loads of apps and games that are great for learning. What’s important is parents get involved in the conversation from the outset.

“Casually reminding teenagers not to give out personal information, checking in online when they’re walking home, is likely to be more effective than lecturing them about the dangers of the internet.

“For younger kids, setting out the limits from the beginning, like that they can use their tablet for an hour in the evenings after they’ve done their homework, and maybe giving them more freedom as they get older, is key.”

Certainly technology and the internet hasn’t harmed Cork teenagers Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow.

The Kinsale Community School students bagged the top prize at the Google Science Fair 2014 in California in September for their ground-breaking project on seed germination which could help tackle world hunger.

“There’s no point in telling parents not to buy the devices because they’re only going to be even bigger next Christmas,” says Rigney.

“It’s a bit like crossing the road, kids know from a young age that there are cars on the road – it’s up to the parents to help them cross safely.”

VIDEO Fine parents of children who cyberbully- counsellor [Irish Indipendent, 02/09/2014]

Kevin Deering, senior facilitator with Bully4u, said he would welcome “some form” of financial penalty being introduced.

He stressed that its main focus should be to curb the “insidious” nature of cyberbullying.

Mr Deering, a counsellor and a retired garda with over 30 years service, said the scale of the problem was such that “severe sanctions” for repeat offenders were required.

He suggested the introduction of financial penalties would “focus the minds” of those pupils and parents who refuse to meaningfully engage with school authorities.

He proposed penalties of between €50 and €100.

“You have to up the ante with reoffenders; somebody has to take responsibility,” he told the Irish Independent.

He said the long-term effects of cyberbullying on mental health must be considered.

“It’s about learning from behaviour – if somebody doesn’t learn, there has to be sanctions. Parents are responsible for their children if they’re under 18 so educating the parents is crucial,” Mr Deering added.

VIDEO