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Keeping Families Safe: Internet Safety

Kids on a LaptopWhen your child spends time online, do you know what they are doing, what websites they visit or who they interact with? There are many benefits to using online resources, but it’s important to teach children about the dangers and risks associated with being online.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is harassment and intimidation that takes place online through digital devices. It can include sending, posting, or sharing harmful, humiliating, or embarrassing comments or sharing someone’s private information online. While social media platforms are the most common places for cyberbullying to take place, harmful text messages, emails, or phone calls can also be used to bully someone.

Cyberbullying can be relentless when the person being bullied is unable to find a safe space and relief. Once something is posted online it can be difficult to report and remove since it may be reposted several times, by numerous people. Anonymity is another factor that makes cyberbullying much harsher as it removes empathy usually experienced when someone is bullied in person.

Long-term cyberbullying can increase the likelihood of negative mental health effects including anxiety, depression, and increase the risk of suicidal behaviors.

Common Cyberbullying Tactics

  • Posting negative comments under someone’s photos.
  • Sharing someone’s private information, such as their phone number and address.
  • Pretending to be someone else online to solicit personal information.
  • Posting and sharing inappropriate photos of someone online. (see below for more information)
  • Commenting on hateful messages focused on someone’s race, religion or ethnicity.
  • Directly sending physical threats, including encouraging self-harm or suicide.

Warning Signs

  • Online usage increases or decreases and is associated with an emotional response.
  • Drastic social media posts and messages.
  • Completely deleting or creating new social media accounts.
  • Significant changes in behavior or mood swings.
  • Lack of interest in school, sports, friends, and social activities.

It’s important for parents, teachers, peers, and mentors to consistently respond to cyberbullying and make it known that it’s not acceptable. Intervening publicly in these situations can create a positive influence and shift the conversation. Learn about other ways you can help support youth who’ve been bullied online.

How to provide support

  • Let them know it’s not their fault. Actions meant to put someone down are commonly a reflection of the bully’s own emotions and situation.
  • Learn more about the situation; ask questions about how it started, what was communicated, who is involved, etc.
  • In any situation, it’s important to document what has happened. Take screenshots of any harmful content including social media posts, text messages, and photos.
  • Report the situation on social media to school administrators and local law enforcement if needed.
  • Seek support from guidance counselors or mental health professionals.

School districts in Arizona are required to adopt policies and enforce procedures that prevent harassment and cyberbullying on school property and at sponsored events and activities. Depending on their severity, certain types of cyberbullying and harassment may be considered criminal activity.

Inappropriate photos

  • AZ Revised Statute Section 8-309 states that it is illegal for a minor to knowingly use an electronic communication device to view or transmit photographs or videos of a juvenile that depict explicit sexual material (revised in 2010) 1
  • It is also against the law to possess explicit sexual material involving a juvenile.
  • The only time these actions aren’t a crime is if the minor didn’t solicit the material or if the minor reasonably tried to delete or destroy the material.
  • This could result in a petty offense charge if the material is shown to even one person.
  • If it is shown to more than one person, it’s a Class 3 misdemeanor.
  • A second or third offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • Punishment for these offenses can range from community service to several months in a juvenile detention center.
  • Someone possessing this material can also be charged with possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor, both of which would require the person to register as a sex offender.
  • Is your image out there?
  • Contact local law enforcement and the CyberTipLine if your child receives inappropriate emails, texts, and instant messages.
  • If you want to talk to someone, individuals can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They are available 24 hours a day at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)
  • Social media platforms (FB, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube) also have a mechanism to report any images, threats, or messages.

Prevention Tips

  • Develop a family usage plan to promote healthy online use. Be specific, include duration, content, and location limits. Kids should limit their online usage to one hour a day.
  • Learn what apps are currently being used by young people and if you agree to let your child use an app, make sure you know why they will be using the app.
  • Avoid apps that are location-based, promote anonymity, allow random connections to strangers, and lack age monitoring, privacy settings or a report function.
  • Take advantage of parental control apps and privacy settings. Set expectations with your child early on about what they can do online and what you will monitor.
  • One of the best ways to monitor your child online is to follow or friend them on social media.
  • Teach your child about privacy and what information and content should never be shared online.
  • Emphasize the risks of sharing their name, address, school, phone number, and inappropriate photos online.
  • Talk about scenarios your child might experience online, such as cyberbullying. Help them practice reporting, blocking, and asking for help if they encounter something that makes them feel scared, sad, or nervous.
  • Contact local law enforcement and the CyberTipLine if your child receives inappropriate emails, texts, and instant messages.

Statistics

  • 95% of teens in the U.S are online and have access to a cellphone. 2
  • 60% of teens have witnessed online bullying and the majority did not intervene. 3
  • In a survey of 5,700 students, 30% said that blocking someone was the best way to stop online bullying. 4
  • Girls are more likely than boys to be both victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying. 5
  • About half of LGBTQ students experienced online harassment. 6
  • More reports of cyberbullying occur on Instagram than any other social media platform. 7
  • 88% of images posted online end up on a different location. 8
  • The average age of children who report being blackmailed for explicit photos are 8-17 years old. 9

Resources

More Information

Sources

  1. Arizona State Legislature. “Unlawful use of an Electronic Communication Device by a Minor.” Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 8-309. Accessed November 2019.   https://www.azleg.gov/ars/8/00309.htm
  2. Hinduja, Ph.D, Sameer and Justin Patchin Ph.D. “Cyberbullying: Identification, Prevention, and Response.” Cyberbullying Research Center. Accessed November 2019. https://cyberbullying.org/Cyberbullying-Identification-Prevention-Response-2018.pdf.
  3. Anderson, Monica and Jiang, JingJing. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center. Accessed November 2019.  https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
  4. Patchin, Justin W. “Teens Talk: What Works to Stop Cyberbullying.” Cyberbullying Research Center. Accessed November 2019 https://cyberbullying.org/teens-talk-works-stop-cyberbullying
  5. Marcum, Catherine D. et al. “Battle of the Sexes: An Examination of Male and Female Cyberbullying.” International Journal of Cyber Criminology. Accessed November 2019. http://www.cybercrimejournal.com/marcumetal2012janijcc.pdf
  6. Kosciw, Joseph G. et al. “2015 National School Climate Survey.” GLSEN. Accessed November 2019. https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2019-10/GLSEN%202015%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%20%28NSCS%29%20-%20Executive%20Summary.pdf.
  7. “The Annual Bullying Survey 2017.” Ditch the Label UK. Accessed November 2019. https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Annual-Bullying-Survey-2017-1.pdf.
  8. Smith, Sarah. “Study of Self Generated Sexually Explicit Images & Videos Featuring Young People Online.” Internet Watch Foundation UK. Accessed November 2019. https://www.iwf.org.uk/news/self-generated-image-study-final-paper-published
  9.  "Sexting and Sextortion: By The Numbers.” National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Accessed November 2019. https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz/topics/sexting