Social media specialist Adam Crouchley blames parents for a lot of the cyber bullying that we’re seeing online recently, and he warns it’s going to get worse before it gets any better.
Crouchley says there are a few issues that are coming up within social media. There is a great sence of security online, kids forget about stranger danger and their own safety when chatting online. Bullying is also a huge problem online, it’s far more of an issue now than we have ever seen in the past. Kids and teens are posting content to social networks that they will regret in a few years time, they don’t understand that this is still going to be online in years to come, available for all to see.
Stranger danger is something we’ve always grown up to think about, but now the man in the Bedford van offering candy outside the schools is online, not just on the streets. They are pretending to be other people. They look like a teenager, act like a teenager and become friends with teenagers. They learn where their new ‘friends’ are and are careful to cover their tracks.
Facebook is becoming less popular. It’s filling up with advertisements, applications and businesses trying to be clever. As people give up on Facebook, more teenagers are spending their time exploring other platforms like Twitter and YouTube (amongst others). These platforms have no age limits but they are very commonly used for cyber bullying.
This makes it a vulnerable time that we’re in. A lot of New Zealand kids are just starting to use Twitter and YouTube now, where they’re trying to make friends and build a following like their role models.
Role models like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga post pictures of themselves to social network sites, but kids forget that these people have security teams. Kids and teens are posting similar images, trying to impress people or get more followers and friends. They fail to understand how wrong this could go. Privacy settings are always changing on the social media platforms, it’s hard to keep up and keep your information private from the rest of the world.
With the use of mobile phones, the internet is no longer just in the family lounge, it’s on their phones, in their pockets, where ever they are, 24/7. Kids can post photos to the internet within a matter of seconds. If they are unhappy with something or something, it’s very easy for them to post a message on the internet without thinking of the consequences.
Advice for parents;
- Know what platforms your kids are using (Facebook, Twitter etc), talk to them about it and show them that you are interested.
- Know how to use the networks that they’re on. Join the networks and set an agreement with your kids that they must ‘friend’ you, but promise them that you won’t talk to them online. This embarrasses most kids.
- Get your kids to show you what they do online. Try and be apart of their life’s online so they don’t have to hide it from you.
- Talk to them about bullying online, have they seen it happen? What did they think of it? Did they say anything?
- Use software like K9 Web Protection (which is free) to block websites and set time limits for sites like Facebook and YouTube.
Some advice for kids;
- Everyone is a stranger and they all have feelings. Don’t say something to someone that you wouldn’t say in person.
- Don’t check-in to public places. If you really want to use platforms like Foursquare, check-in to locations as you’re leaving them.
- Don’t publically post where you are or where you are going.
- Don’t upload images of yourself that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. Nothing is private, even private messages
In the next month Adam Crouchley is running seminars around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty for parents that want to know more about keeping their kids safe, check out www.socialmediaseminars.co.nz for more info about these.