Victim of Cyberbullying
It was reported this week, a 13-year-old Scottish school boy, Ben McKenzie took his own life as a result of being bullied online. MP Paul Masterson described the young man’s experience online, as a campaign of cruel online abuse. On the 1st of October 2018, Ben McKenzie was found dead at home. A victim, and one of growing number of young people who have suffered as a direct result, of their interactions with others online. Parents are asking the question, what can we do?
Cyberbullying and WhatsApp
It should come as no suprise, that WhatsApp is a platfrom people use to target and cyberbully others. Internet Matters, a UK based online child safety organisation, surveyed 2000 parents. The survey revealed, 8 out of every 10 parents expressed concern regarding closed messaging groups. Some use Group Chats to share hurtful images, or content about others. Parent can see what children post on WhatsApp by likning a mobile account to WhatsApp PC. This can be enough to prevent Cyberbullying.
It will have come as a shock to many this week, to see a young 24-year-old Dublin woman charged with the defilement of a child, a teenage boy. This is something we have not really seen in Ireland up to now. A very young woman, who if convicted of the alleged offence, will be registered Sex Offender. The reported allegations involve a student from the school she worked in, who was under 17.
The use of Anonymity Apps are on the rise again, with Irish teens installing and using an App called Tellonym. From the outset #COTDAge are issuing a strong Cyber Safety Warning to parents, check younger children’s devices to see if they are using this App or, if they are receiving messages on their Social Media from their own contacts or other people using this App. It is also really important to discuss the use of this App with teens and young adults. We would strongly advise, both children and teens do not use this App.
Tellonym, initially launched in 2016, both as an App and a platform it is similar to Sarahah, which was known as the Honesty App. Saraha was removed due to concerns the App was being used to target and Cyberbully people. Tellonym permits it’s users to send messages to others whilst remaining anonymous. However, unlike Sarahah, upon receiving the anonymous messages you can choose to reply to the comments, which have been posted on the App.
This App currently boasts over 5 Million users and is available both on for Android and IOS devices. The App is being targeted at teens 16 years and older, however this is easily bypassed by selecting the Yes I am over 16 tab. Once signed in with an email address or your contact number, a user is invited to permit the App to access the devices contacts list. The App can also be linked to the users other Social Media platforms such as their Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram accounts. We would also have Privacy concerns for the Personal Data gathered by the App and its use.
The setup of the App is really simple and the navigation through the App is pretty basic. Once you create a profile you can search and follow other users, leave comments, or even just read comments which have been posted. The random content we viewed appeared to be interactions, which lead to the suggestion of moving to another platform and also requests to share sexualized imagery. For a parent, we suggest you install the App yourself and view the content. It will not make for pleasant reading. The App does not permit posting of images other than a profile picture, or imagery in the content feed.
While the developer’s web page does host advice for parents and has features such as reporting content, blocking users, reporting users, our main concern here is what people inevitably end up doing under the guise of being anonymous. While the App promotes itself as “The most honest place on the Internet”, users posting a question, then forwarded to their contacts who can answer the question anonymously, the user may not like the replies they receive. Given that children and teens afford access to themselves by accepting Friend and Follower requests from complete strangers, this enables strangers now to engage with children without even having to identify themselves.
We ask, why is there a need for a platform that permits a user to seek validation from others in this way? Essentially asking other people to judge and then comment on you anonymously. If people wish to post positive commentary, why would they need to hide who they are from the user the content is directed at? Parents also need to consider the amount of sexualized content on the App. The App affords anonymous access to a child, who could be groomed in to the exchange of explicit imagery or worse. There was considerable requests for the exchange of imagery on the pages we visited. An uncomfortable amount to be honest.
When people are afforded the ability to conceal their identity online, the comments and posts generated are generally not the most positive. This App is the perfect forum of targeting and harming young people through Cyberbullying and Online Sexual Exploitation. Already we have been made aware of a teen who has received horrific comments on this platform. Parents need to be aware of the Apps existence. For children and teens, are we would strongly recommend against the use of this App.
Today we would like to discuss, how harmful it can be for children to share inappropriate images of themselves, with others when using their devices. Incredibly we have found that children in Irish Primary Schools in 5th and 6th class, are very aware of this behaviour. What some children can believe is a just a funny image or photo of themselves, can have really serious long negative effects if shared with others.
What is Sexting ?
This video is aimed at young children to teach them what can happen if they were to take or share an inappropriate image and how quick it can spread
This is a series of videos aimed at teens
This series of videos are aimed at parents who discover an image of their child has been shared
This week, it was revealed that Blennerville National School, near Tralee in Co Kerry, agreed with parents in the school, that it was time to put a ban on digital device access for students. There had been a number of incidents revolving around the access and sharing of inappropriate content and Cyberbullying. The ban on devices at home, is an 11-week pilot programme. What we would describe as a Digital Detox, only for the children in sixth class. This decision is similar to one we have been promoting in National Schools for some time now that children should never be given a ‘Smartphone’. We had been anxiously waiting to see a community who would come together and formulate a plan such as this in Ireland. A first step on this path has been publicly taken by a school and parents. We would hope that all parents would look with great interest upon it, and follow-up and try this themselves.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying takes place using electronic technology, digital devices. This includes devices and equipment such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets as well as social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Cyberbullying in some ways is similar to the traditional forms of bullying parents of today are familiar with. It has a number of different forms. Some examples of cyberbullying are, sending threatening messages, spreading lies or rumours online, pretending to be someone else online by creating a fake social media profile, or taking control of a person’s account. Tricking people, to accept a person as Friend or Follower, just to access a targets Personal Information. Then posting or sharing the content online. Posting embarrassing hurtful images or videos of someone online.
The main difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying is that cyberbullying is a 24 hour 7 day a week experience. There is no longer a safe zone for the victim to retreat to. Even in the safety of their own home the bullying continues through digital devices. What makes Cyberbullying particularly hurtful in an online environment, is knowing a very large audience witness it. This can have a dramatically negative effect on a person’s mental health.
Who are Cyberbullies ?
We think of a bully as being the big strong child in the yard. The cyberbully may be the most unassuming child in the school. We have often found that the cyberbully may have been a victim of cyberbullying or the traditional physical or verbal bullying. A cyberbully can use the anonymity that a digital device provides to target a child. Children can engage in this behaviour without realising the damage and harm that they are causing to the victim. There is an emotional disconnect between the cyberbully and the victim. The cyberbully sees only the content on the screen, not the actual impact the content is having on the victim.
Victims of Cyberbullying
For victims of cyberbullying, this can be a very upsetting experience. Sometimes, it can be even more distressing for them to reach out to an adult. Thare are times when victims do not want an adult to know what has been posted about them online. Parents and teachers should learn how to recognise the signs of a child experiencing cyberbullying. Research has shown, that children are not always inclined to report it is happenning. It is hugely important to stop cyberbullying the moment it is discovered and steps taken to deal with it. There are only three occasions where we advise patents to remove a device from a child. This is one of them. As cyberbullying can have a life long impact on a victim, their protection is paramount. Access to a device is not. Especially if the device is used to cause harm to others.
Advice on Cyberbullying
- A child should never place themselves in a position of vulnerability. Posting or Sharing images permits others the ability to Comment or Judge the image and the person. In general children will post what they believe is the best version of themselves online. A public attack on this online persona can have devastating and long lasting effects
- Know what signs to look out for and if you see them you may need to have a conversation with your child.
- Has the child suddenly become uninterested in digital devices and chooses to avoid them
- Is you child upset, angry or frustrated while using a digital device
- Unwilling to discuss their experiences online
- Beginning to withdraw and unwilling to go to school or socialise with friends
- Does a child react with sadness or anger after receiving a call or message
- Quickly switching screens when a parent enters the room
- It is important to maintain an open line of communication with your child. This can be a very distressing and upsetting experience for the child. It may also be an uncomfortable experience for a parent because you may have to issues which are awkward to deal with
- Parents should approach the child in a non-judgmental and understanding way
STOP, SAVE, BLOCK, REPORT
- Contact should cease between the child and the bully immediately, neither a child or a parent should ever have a public engagement with a bully online outside of sending a clear message to STOP
- Save all the harmful content the child receives, screen captured etc
- BLOCK the sender on the platform
- REPORT the matter to the social media site, School, Club or Gardai
- Cyberbullying should never be tolerated. Alweays encourage children to report, if they see others being cyberbullied online
- Parents also have to realise that it may be their child who is in fact the bully. Very often, especially for younger children they may cyberbully another without realising that they are even doing it. What they may see as a bit of fun or slagging may in fact be harmful cyberbullying. In this instance parents should
- Acknowledge that there is a problem
- Discuss with the child their online behaviour to see to understand that they are cyberbullying
- Help the child understand how it feels for the victim of the cyberbullying
- Ensure that it stops and if necessary remove the child’s access to the digital device
Take a look at our Parental Control Guide
Children of the Digital Age, was created to deliver Cyber Safety, Online Privacy and Data Protection information to people of all ages all over Ireland. We also now provide educational courses on Pornography and Gaming Addiction. Our goal is empowerment through enjoyable education seminars. Cyber and Internet Safety issues, such as Cyberbullying, Screen Addiction and Sexting, and Pornography Addiction and access, are now only part of the changing and rapidly expanding Cyber landscape. Patents no longer want to attend presentations, to hear the same message repeated year on year. Getting parents to attend to these incredibly important information evenings is essential for successfully educating both young and old, about the existing and constantly emerging new threats we all face in the online world.
Our focus at Children of the Digital Age, has never been about specific Social Media Apps or Privacy Settings. We strongly believe this information is readily available from a variety of sources online. Knowing this, we chose to identify the real hazards and current dangers which are making people susceptible online. Often, it is down to simple human nature. The issues we highlight have a direct impact on everyone, not just children. This is what makes us unique.
We do not rely on a single presentation format, rather, our content dynamic and constantly evolving, addressing new potential risks the moment they arise. Since our inception, we have highlighted, the invasive nature of Apps and potential hazards of Social Media and Pornography. A core element of our Cyber Safety presentations is the misuse of Personal Information and Data through Apps installed on digital devices. Our primary function is always focused on the protection of children online.
5 Star Quality Content
We pride ourselves on being able to deliver very humorous, eye-catching presentations, which have captivated audiences all over Ireland. Regardles of the audience age, we consistantly receive incredible feedback from all those who attend. Children of the Digital Age have a 5 star rating on Facebook from those who have attended our presentations. We also are one of the only companies in Ireland capable meeting the educational Online Safety needs, of those with intellectual disabilities. We can design specific Cyber Safety content, programs and information evenings on almost every online issue on request.
If you are considering an Online Safety Workshop, Parents Evening, Community Group Meeting, Staff Presentation or looking for a Keynote Speaker, give us a call. We can guarantee our style, approach and content is second to none in Ireland at present.
For more information
Contact : 087 – 7485152
: 087 – 9175014
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