If you are a fan of CSI, then you have probably seen the new addition to the CSI family – Patricia Arquette. Arquette plays the head of the cyber crime’s unit on CSI-Cyber. The unit is called in on cyberstalking, identity theft, and even cases involving hacked baby cams!
It is very hard to commit a crime these days without the utilization of some cyber element. This blog is not meant to incite fear. It is meant to increase your awareness that the online world, especially the Dark Web, is hard to infiltrate and it is up to parents to take precautions and use logic when allowing their children to use the internet. Young people also need to be educated on the dangers of internet use.
Young people’s mental health is a topic that has been widely explored, but how many studies have been done regarding sexting, harassment, and mental health? Not many. Gone are the days when talking on the rotary phone to connect is the norm (do they even sell rotary phones anymore?) Texting and connecting via social networks have replaced the phone. Sexting is not new to today’s adolescents, but they still need to be reminded that one’s teenage innocence can be gone with the tap of a finger. It’s just that simple. Or is it?
The Internet is a 24/7 communication tool. With sexting becoming more popular, how do we keep our young children safe? This pastime is harming young people while also providing easy ammunition against an already vulnerable, isolated young population.
Several years ago, teens ages 12-17 were surveyed about sexting, and the results may surprise you. According to Pew Research Centers Addiction & American Life Project (2009), 4% of cell- owning teens surveyed admitted to sending sexual images via their cell phone, 15% of this population said they had received sexual images on their phone. Older teens were much more likely to send and receive sexting images; 8% of 17-year-olds with cell phones had a sexual photo via text. 30% of 17-year-olds had received a sexual image on their phone. Interestingly, the teens who paid their own cell bills were more likely to send “sexts.” Imagine how this number has risen in the past seven years. Enough to warrant CSI creating an entire spin-off show based on this concept!
The results of this study concluded three main scenarios for sexting:
Sexting, even if the goal is to share it with only one individual, can lead to massive sharing across the web. In one tragic instance, a young woman who had what she thought was a private picture shared across a mass email list ended up committing suicide just three weeks later. Sexting, even if normalized in some environments, should be widely discouraged for this reason alone.
A steady stream of Internet availability has the potential to increase a young person’s stress and also gives them the opportunity to connect with others in similar distress. Social networks from tumblr to vine have pages dedicated to self-harm, sexualization, and inflicting violence on others. With triggering content like this, one wonders how to get through to these impressionable minds.
Shaming and humiliation from one’s peers during adolescence is damaging. Bullies that would at one time have cornered you on the playground are a thing of the past. Nowadays they follow their victims far beyond the confines of the classroom or school yard. Thanks to the internet, they can now inflict pain on their victims all the time.
In many instances, individuals are cyberbullied because of a sexting incident. Sexting can even happen to the most moral and conservative of teens. Once we add a cute boy or girl to the mix, all reason and rational can go out the window.
3 ways to keep our children safe from sexting cyberstalking, and harassment:
While children in today’s world use the internet and technology for everything from homework to sports to catching up with friends, we adults still need to be vigilant in keeping them safe from the dangers of the technology world. It is our job to help teens understand the consequences of their actions, which includes abusing technology. There are programs out there for both teens and parents to educate themselves on internet safety. Having an open discussion with our children and the community at large can help teens know what is safe to post on-line and off-line. Don’t forget to tell them, sharing is forever.
Pew’s Research Centers Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2009/12/15/teens-and-sexting-major-findings/#fn-486-10