Online Video posting and Cyberbullying

My friend shared an article titled ‘Star Wars’ kid breaks silence on cyber bullying. With increasing consternation, I read about this teen who had been playfully mucking around the TV studio in his Quebec high school one day, wielding a pretend light sabre, imitating a Jedi knight from Star Wars. Something all our Star-War besotted boys do at home every day. But his innocent fun was turned into a matter of global contempt when a friend uploaded a video of this footage without his knowledge, spawning a massive cyberbullying attack.

The poor boy went through a dark phase in his life. Can you imagine the effect of that on a vulnerable teen? The boy lost a few friends in the process and had to change schools.

In the teen’s own words, “No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living.

What a terrible experience for any kid, wouldn’t you agree?

There are checks in place that you need to know about, if you already don’t. We will discuss those in a later post. Today, I would like to offer some tips on what to do if a child you know, or maybe you, face such harassment on a social networking site.

Even though you can set privacy and security settings to your video posts, sometimes errors occur and unwanted comments are posted for all to see.

If this happens to your child, block the abuser and report it as an abuse. Ensure the child does not have a phone or laptop handy to go back and check frequently on the mean comments being posted till the video is being pulled off. But the most important thing to do is to comfort the hurt and bewildered child. Give the child a lot of love, confidence and encourage them to hold up their head and face the world. If needed, rope in the school counsellor, teachers, the child’s good friends and their parents and together create a support group for the child.

This is the message I would give to a child who has faced cyberbullying, “You are a wonderful and courageous person. Remember, there are some strange people in this world who get their kicks by demeaning others. Don’t let them succeed by being affected in any way by their words. Ignore them, laugh it off-nothing annoys an abuser more than when the victim refuses to get provoked.

You may have your own message to give to a victim, perhaps a better one. Why don’t you share it here so that we can discuss how best to counsel a cyberbullying victim?

Finally, consider using McAfee All-In-One or Total Protection on all your internet-enabled gadgets to receive alerts when abuse terms are exchanged when your kids go online. Sometimes, kids suffer silently and don’t want parents to learn about their humiliation. In such cases, the consequences might be worse. So  a bit of supervision is necessary in this cyber age.

May all our kids stay safe online and get the best of the cyber world.

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Digital Natives and Digital Deceptions- What The McAfee Survey Indicates

The latest McAfee Digital Deception survey of US kids shows that kids have better awareness than their parents of the potential online dangers but still they end up committing errors that might cause them harm.

The aim of the study was to arrive at a better understanding of the potentially dangerous online behaviours among young people aged 10-23, as well as a parents’ knowledge of these behaviours.

I know that my Indian friends might argue that these statistics are for the US but just think a while on this. The world today has become a global village, thanks to technology, and no trend can stay limited to a particular part of the world. So what’s true of the US today might become true of India tomorrow. Moreover, the parent-child tech gap there appears to be the same as it’s in India.

Hence, let us concentrate on the takeaways from the McAfee Digital Deception survey that can help us better monitor our kids online. Once we are aware of the extent of the divide, we can take concrete decisions as to our approach to internet safety for kids.

The McAfee survey throws relief to  some glaring parent-child digital divide facts:

Þ     Young people believe that their parents trust them to make smart decisions online; yet they often endanger themselves by posting personal or objectionable content; engaging in online spats and bullying; or spreading malicious content. Parents are mostly clueless about this

Þ     As a result of their behaviour, some young people have lost friends, been punished, or have felt fearful for their safety. Again, parents come to know of this very late, or may be never

Þ     Over 25% of the youth have witnessed cruel online behaviour; and some have been victims themselves. Typically, parents remain clueless

Þ     The young people don’t agree with the contention of parents regulating and monitoring  their child’s online behaviour

Þ     While the youth take to social media and new technology like a duck takes to water, parents mostly feel out of their depths. The overwhelming feeling among parents is that they are outsmarted by their children and they don’t have time to keep up with online progress

Þ     Young people use their parent’s limited tech acumen and time constraints to their advantage, finding ways to hide their participation in risky and sometimes illegal activities.

What is the lesson for us parents? Parents must realize that the youth know of the dangers online but will still continue to engage in this behaviour. So what should they do to safeguard their kids?

 The findings of the McAfee survey imply:

Þ     Besides implementing parental controls to monitor online activities and supervising kids when they start surfing, parents have to act as a guide  to their child

Þ     They must engage their child in online safety dialogues on online safety and what the potential  implications of unsafe online activity could be

Þ     Parents should ensure that these safety dialogues start early and occur often –starting in their preteens, before they begin experimenting in their teen years, when they are most at risk

Þ     This will ensure that kids treat parents as experts and confidants, as they navigate and create their presence in the online world.

There, you have it in black & white. All you need to do is be the parent in the digital world too.  For this you need to exude confidence and authority and earn their trust.  I think that’s implementable, don’t you?  Plus McAfee Security Centre and Cybermum India will be there to solve all your queries.  🙂

Happy Parenting folks! Keep your kids safe online.