Internet Safety and Technology
Attempting to keep up with ever-changing technological advances is difficult, especially when your child is way ahead of you. Below are some resources that can help to close the gap.
The following are websites and phone aps that should be closely monitored:
The website: ask.fm is gaining popularity. Similar to Formspring and Spillit, Ask.fm is a site where you create a page and individuals can anonymously post questions. A majority of the questions that I have witnessed have been inappropriate in nature and very personal. This website has already been cited in the suicides of at least two teenagers in the past few weeks.
Tumblr.com is a blogging website that allows multimedia. Users can follow others users' blogs and can also make their blogs private. This website is often used as an online diary where students tend to put a lot of personal and private information. Another aspect of tumblr that is frightening is that it allows pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and pro-mia (pro-bulimia) information. It provides "thinspiration" which tend to be pictures of extremly thin women, tequnies on how to be ana/mia, and how to hide it. Likewise, tumblr accounts also provide techqnuies for cutting and other self-harming behaviors.
Another new trend to alert you all about! It’s called, “Shaming”. Teens have been posting silly photos of themselves that are then altered to include blunt advice to each other, about things like how to dress more appropriately. But some of the photos have then gone viral, and led to what some are calling a new form of teen shaming. You can google examples by using the phrase “Hey girl did you know?” This is a practice of making fun of someone by using a series of pictures with captions. Some of them are harmless and can be seen a jokes, but some of them get quite specific and can be not only hurtful but explicit.
This site is similar to facebook in that there is a “wall” where people can post comments however, on this site the postings are anonymous. I have had several very upset students over things that others are anonymously posting on their Spillit wall. Please take notice of this site and remind your children the impact that their words can have on others. There are no privacy settings. As long as your have a spillit account you can look up any individual, searching by last name, and post on their walls anonymously. One student who has an account told me that the most painful part of the hurtful words people wrote on her spillit wall is that “it could be from my best friend, and I’d never know”. I have seen students become obsessed and in some aspects, paranoid, over who is saying what on their spillit walls. Despite being a social, emotional, and educational distraction, students are not willing to deactivate their accounts because they do not want to be seen as “weak”. I have had multiple students come into my office extremely upset after being bullied on this site. Since there is no way to track where the comments are coming from, I strongly encourage you to speak with your kids about deactivating their accounts.
Formspring is a interest-based social Q&A website that allow users to relate their ideas and opinions on any topic. The site allows its users to set up a profile page, follow other users and ask questions. The questions and their given responses are then published on the user's profile page. It is a forum that can be used anonymously or they can be visibly sent from other accounts. Users can disallow anonymous questions and have the ability to block selected people from asking further questions. Formspring has been linked to several widespread bullying incidents.
A new app has come to my attention: “Snapchat”. It is an application that allows real-time picture chatting. It advertises to be the fastest way to share a moment with friends. You are able to control how long the person you send the picture to is able to view your message before it “disappears forever.” Essentially, students are taking inappropriate pictures, sending them, and because the receiver only has 10 seconds to look at the photo after opening it before it “combusts forever”, they believe their images are safe. However, because the iphone has screen-shot capabilities, these images are being saved before they delete. I would strongly recommend blocking this application from your child’s phone.
The website called “Kik”. This site enables you to text- message cell phones. While parents are doing their part by monitoring or reading their children’s texts, this site is a way that kids can get around that. Users are able to text-message either anonymously or with identification, and there is little to no tracking. By using this, kids are able to say things to each other that they would not want their parents to read.
If you have Microsoft Office 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) at home, click here for
directions on how to make your child"s work compatible with the software we use here at Mt. View.
From the University of California at Berkeley website.
"A Guide to Understanding Online Chat Acronyms & Smiley Faces" from Webopedia.com
"Tech products reviews, news, and videos"
Federal Bureau of Investigation
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