posted by on Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Internet Privacy, Online harassment, Online reputation, Parenting, Parenting Teens

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What is sexting?

According to Merriam-Webster, sexting is “The sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone.”

However, that definition can easily be expanded today. Cell phones aren’t the only medium for sexting. On the contrary, all forms of social media can be used for this purpose. In the digital world — where our children and teens spend so much time — the playground for sexting is growing. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and even YouTube, a child is able to engage in sexting.

Sexting among youth on the rise

In a recent JAMA Pediatrics study, sexting has become more common among adolescents. Of particular concern, the researchers say, is that about 12 percent of sexts were forwarded without consent, which they called “troubling.” When sexting is coerced, or when sexts are shared without consent, it can lead to harassment by friends, cyberbullying or blackmailing.

It’s also important to note, according to this study, the prevalence of sexting increased as the teen gets older. With this factor — we need to step up our conversations earlier and more frequently.

The role of sexting (online and offline)

When young people sext, they often lose control of the situation quickly. Messages can easily be intercepted or forwarded to unintended recipients, which is a nasty form of cyberbullying.

The consequences of sexting also extend offline. When something that was intended to be a private communication ends up in public, the shame and humiliation can drive our kids to the point of self-destruction. Another consequence of sexting: Experts have found children and teens that sext are more likely to engage in real-world sexual activity  than students who don’t sext.

The issue is compounded when adults aren’t setting the right examples. The media often reports on sexting cases that involve public figures. “10 Cases of Sexting Gone Horribly Wrong“ discusses politicians, teachers and even a talk show host who were caught committing sexting crimes. These adults should have been role models for our youth. Instead, they provide examples of what not to do.

The sext chat

For years, many parents have cringed at the thought of having the “birds and the bees” conversation. Now, we have to open the door for the “sext talk” with our kids at an even younger age. Jessica LoganHope WitsellAudrie Pott and Amanda Todd are all names that have become linked with the aftermath of sexting and cyberbullying, which go hand-in-hand. As a study in Pediatrics reveals, we have to realize that we’re dealing with even younger emotional lives.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. But how can parents approach “sext education”?

  1. Talk about it. Frequently and start early! Use age appropriate language, however stress the importance of safe sharing online. When your kids hear news of sext crime cases, initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults.
  2. Make it real. Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable.
  3. Address peer pressure. Give your kids a way out – blame it on us. Tell them to let their friends know that their parents monitor (and/or spot check) their phones and social media, and you can’t risk losing your devices.
  4. Discuss legal and online consequences. Depending on your state, there can be legal ramifications when you send sexual content or even participate in forwarding it. What goes online – stays online. This is your digital landscape.
  5. If you receive a sexual message, never engage in it or forward it. Tell your parent or trusted adult immediately. If necessary, contact the authorities or your school.
  6. Know that your parent is only a call away. Let your child know they can always come to you without judgment. These conversations are about building trust — our kids may always be an “app” ahead of us, but we will always be the adult in the family – lead by example and be there for them.

Has your teen been a victim of sextortion or revenge porn? Maybe involved in a sexting scandal? Know there is help and resources available:

Order Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) book for more valuable digital parenting resources.

posted by on Civility, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Security, Oversharing

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Life is full of potential addictions; you don’t have to look too far to find them. When teens consider the concept of addiction, they likely think about cigarettes and substance abuse, but oversharing on social media doesn’t always register as a cause for concern.

Oversharing is difficult to self-diagnose, so it takes support from friends and family to bring the problem to light. Investing an excess amount of time on social media can compromise a teen’s real-life interactions, and it’s been shown to impact social and emotional development, as well as certain personality traits.

According to a Pew Research Internet Project survey from titled “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy,” although a majority of teens guard their Facebook profiles with adequate privacy settings, “25 percent have a partially private profile, set so that friends of their friends can see what they post. And 14 percent of teens say that their profile is completely public.” Among the millions of social networking teenagers, 39 percent amounts to a considerable population.

Advertisers have been known to target teens on social networks to promote their brands and glean important business data — which is a concern for some parents. Despite the positive trends in teens managing online privacy, “Teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-party access to their data; just 9 percent say they are ‘very’ concerned.” With the multitude of high-profile data breaches over the past year, it’s shortsighted to rule out even the slightest chance of social profile data leaking out.

To help shed light whether or not your teen’s level of social media sharing is unhealthy, here are five direct and indirect questions to ask (adapted from SmartSign’s digital detox quiz):

1) Do people in your life complain about how much time you spend on your phone when you’re with them?
2) Has your job/school performance suffered due to time spent using social media?
3) When you wake up in the morning, is the first thing you reach for your smartphone?
4) Is no meal complete without it being Instagrammed?
5) Do you check your email or social network while using the restroom?

Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you have an account on at least one or two of the following social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram. However, the list of platforms for oversharing doesn’t stop there.

Countless teens are active on newer social apps, like Snapchat. With all of the social spaces available today — and the desire to have a constant pulse on everything that’s trending locally and globally — there comes a time when the amount of time you’re spending on social media hurts more than it helps.

Remember that a dependence on social media doesn’t just include scrolling through friends’ statuses or new photos on Instagram. Posting too much, too often can have an unfortunate impact on the development of our youth.

Parents: Do you overshare your children online?

The @KidsForPrivacy campaign is to make parents aware that the cute or funny photos they share of their children, especially when they’re posted along with certain hashtags (think, #pottytraining, #nakedchild, #bathtimefuntime, and the like), can overexpose their kids, possibly even making them a target for pedophiles and sex offenders.

The Child Rescue Coalition notes, for example, that 90 percent of children have a social media presence of some kind by the time they are 2 years old, and a 2015 poll by TIME and SurveyMonkey of more than 2,000 parents in the United States found that millennials were far more likely to share photos of their kids online compared to previous generations (only 19 percent of millennials said they’d never done it, compared to 30 percent of Gen X parents).

Safe-sharing guidelines from Shame Nation book:

  1. Sharing too much.
  2. Sharing inappropriate content.
  3. Sharing with the wrong people.
  4. Sharing in haste.
  5. Sharing without dignity.

posted by on AT&T, Distracted driving, Parenting Teens, Safe Driving

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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Help Put a Stop to Smartphone Distractions Behind the Wheel

Distracted driving is NEVER OK. You’re never alone on the road, even when you’re alone in your car. That’s the simple message behind AT&T’s IT CAN WAIT campaign against distracted driving. Research by AT&T shows smartphone distractions behind the wheel have grown beyond texting to social media, web surfing, selfies, and video chatting. With this being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AT&T is urging drivers to take the IT CAN WAIT pledge — and research has shown the power of the pledge matters.

Here is what AT&T has learned through its research:

Power of a Pledge:

  • Research shows pledging matters and makes a difference.
  • According to the findings, almost half of people who pledged said they now don’t use their smartphones while driving.
  • Those who share their promise or pledge with others are even more likely to stop, and more likely to speak up to others.

o   4-in-10 asked a friend or family member to not use their smartphone while driving.

o   One-third asked a driver to not use their smartphone while driving when riding as a passenger.

o   4-in-10 asked a passenger to operate their smartphone while they are driving.

You’re Never Alone on the Road:

  • Research shows that only 36% of drivers look at their smartphone with passengers in the car, compared to more than 6-in-10 (64%) without a passenger.
  • People look at their phone even less when the passenger is a child.

Habit Stats:

  • For 1-in-3 drivers, distracted driving is a habit.
  • Habitual distracted drivers have a false sense of security in their actions. Only 58% feel that using their smartphone behind the wheel is “very dangerous,” compared to 78% of non-habitual distracted drivers. Ironically, they’re also twice as likely to have been involved in a near crash or a collision.

Smartphone Distracted Driving Stats:

  • 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.
  • 62% keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
  • Nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And 1-in-10 video chat!
  • Facebook tops the social platform list — more than a quarter of those polled use the app while driving.
  • About 1-in-7 said they’re on Twitter behind the wheel. 30% of those who post to Twitter while driving do it “all the time.”
  • 22% who access social networks while driving cite addiction as a reason.
  • Of those who shoot videos behind the wheel, 27% think they can do it safely while driving.

Smartphone activities people do while driving:

  • Text (61%)
  • Email (33%)
  • Surf the net (28%)
  • Facebook (27%)
  • Snap a selfie/photo (17%)
  • Twitter (14%)
  • Instagram (14%)
  • Shoot a video (12%)
  • Snapchat (11%)
  • Video chat (10%)

 AT&T DriveMode:

  • AT&T DriveMode is free to customers of all wireless carriers for iPhone and Android users.
  • It is now available in Spanish.
  • It helps curb the urge to text and drive by silencing incoming text messages.
  • Its auto mode feature automatically turns on the app when you reach 15 MPH and turns it off after you stop.
  • AT&T DriveMode can help keep young drivers safe by sending a message to a parent if the app is turned off.
  • The campaign has resulted in more than 14 million downloads of the app.

AT&T launched IT CAN WAIT in 2010. Since then, more than 23 million people have taken the IT CAN WAIT pledge.

AT&T has also added a virtual reality experience component to the campaign to show the potentially deadly consequences of glancing at your smartphone while driving. You can download the free AT&T VR app and buy Google Cardboard at www.ItCanWait.com/VR to use with your smartphone to experience the IT CAN WAIT driving simulation.

TAKE THE PLEDGE.

Don’t forget to Tweet this!  Use hashtags: #ItCanWait, #StopDD and #EndDD

You may be saving a life – including your own.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Online bullying, Social media, Social Networking

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Almost half of 1,089 11 to 25-year-olds questioned for the Safety Net report had experienced threatening or nasty social media messages, emails or texts.

Two-thirds said they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.

In the last 2017 PEW Researchsurvey, 66 percent of adults witnessed online harassment, while 41 percent of us have been victims. Almost two-thirds, 67 percent of young people in this same survey, said they have experienced some form of online abuse.

There are no boundaries.

From parents to teachers to doctors to celebrities to politicians — no is immune from being the target of online abuse.

When adults are the targets, but they are also the ones throwing the insults, how do untangle this web of digital hate to viewers, especially children? Aren’t the grownups supposed to be the role models? In some cases, aren’t they supposed to be people we respect?

In today’s world, your online reputation can dictate your future. Whether you’re applying to colleges or interviewing for jobs — your name will likely be put through the Google rinse cycle.

It’s not only your social media content that will be reviewed, more importantly is your online behavior. How do you interact with others in cyberspace? Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

Never doubt your you don’t a second chance to make a first impression — today that first impression is likely your digital one.

6 Ways to improve our digital responsibility as role-models:

  1. Become an up-stander when you witness cyber-hate.
  2. See something—say something. Discuss offline about online inappropriate behavior.
  3. Think twice, post once. 15 minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation.
  4. Guidelines for safe sharing online.
  5. Be constructive with your comments, not combative. (Hate can perpetuates hate, click out if you can’t control yourself). Anger is temporary, the Internet is forever.
  6. Report, flag and talk about harassment. (Make sure your kids know these features).

Learn more about preventing, surviving and overcoming digital disasters, cyberbullying and other forms of incivility in Shame Nation book.

posted by on #iCANHELP, Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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Students and industry come together to celebrate student voice and digital leadership in social media.

(San Francisco, CA – March 12, 2018) – On Monday, September 17, 2018, #ICANHELP will host the second annual #Digital4Good event in San Francisco, CA and it will be live streamed to a global audience. #Digital4Good will be a major gathering of highly-engaged students, industry, and educators that are focused on empowering positive tech and media use–digital for good. This exciting event will celebrate student voice and digital leadership, featuring a fast-paced mix of presentations, panels, videos, and the first ever #Digital4Good awards. Unlike typical youth recognition, the #Digital4Good awards are nominated by students for students.

#Digital4Good is being spearheaded by #ICANHELP, a non-profit organization committed to empowering students to play an active role in improving the online environment. The event on September 17th is #ICANHELP’s second national event, and is meant to raise awareness of the power of student voice for social good in social media. Co-founder Kim Karr explains that, “#ICANHELP has worked with thousands of students to be the digital change they want to see. This is an unprecedented opportunity to honor students, showcase the power of student voice and empower even more students to be a positive influence online.”

Kicking off the campaign this year is the music video produced in collaboration with musician Lisa Heller. Serving as an #ICANHELP ambassador, Lisa worked with students to plan and film the music video at #Digital4Good in 2017. “I’m excited to partner with #ICANHELP in promoting positivity online,” said Lisa. “Hearing the student stories at Twitter this past fall was powerful. It was students inspiring students, and that is what ‘Light the Fire’ is all about.”

In addition to bringing students together to share their stories, #ICANHELP is thrilled to be offering the first #Digital4Good awards. “We are soliciting nominations for the awards, which we’ll present at the event,” says co-founder Matt Soeth. “Our goal is to recognize and grow awareness of the great work students and schools are doing, as well as show that there is so much good happening in social media and bring it to light. The focus is always too much on the negative, and we have some amazing youth out there making a difference. We want students to inspire students to be digital leaders.”

The form to nominate students for the first annual #Digital4Good awards can be found here. Nominations will be accepted till April 30, 2018.

More information can be found at icanhelpdeletenegativity.org.

Press contact for #Digital4Good:
Matthew Soeth, co-founder of #ICANHELP
925-237-1056
matt@icanhelpdeletenegativity.org

posted by on Cyberbullying, Online bullying, Online harassment, Online Shaming

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Celebrities—males and especially females—are perhaps the biggest targets for online shaming. Generations of stars have endured the sniping and scrutiny of gossip rags, from that of Louella Parsons (America’s first Hollywood gossip columnist) to modern versions like PerezHilton.com and TMZ. But today’s online epidemic of hate has left them directly exposed to their millions of fans—or rather, their anti-fans, whose comments can be fanatically brutal.

Women in Hollywood are routinely criticized for looking too old—or turning to extreme plastic surgery to stay young. They are shamed for being too heavy (think Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson), for being too thin (like Tara Reid and Keira Knightley), or even for having, allegedly, recently eaten a hamburger (like Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson, and Anne Hathaway). CNN’s website has featured a running slideshow tallying celebrities who have been body shamed, which as of this writing stands at twenty-nine and counting. Even across the pond, a British TV show dedicated to the genre, called Celeb Trolls: We’re Coming to Get You, hunts down those who harass celebrities online.

Although some would dismiss this bashing as the price of fame, many stars have revealed that these words do have the power to wound. “I’ve never been more verbally abused in my life than on Twitter, and specifically in the last few months, having come on this show,” observed actress Candace Cameron Bure, after she joined The View during the 2015 reboot of her sitcom Full House. “You don’t have to verbally abuse me and rape me. That’s what they do to me on Twitter.”

When Twitter comments were made about how the late Carrie Fisher’s body had aged between the original and current Star Wars films, she responded fiercely, revealing how she felt.

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris vented her feelings in a video she posted to Instagram, blaming a past suicide attempt partially on Internet trolls. “I’ve tried sticking up for myself,” she said. “I’ve tried the whole ‘blocking the haters’ thing, not reading the comments…ignoring it. But it’s hard…when there’s so much of it.”

Even celebrity babies are not immune from coming under attack. After Beyoncé and her four-year old daughter, Blue Ivy, walked the red carpet at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, Twitter users trashed the child’s looks:


 

 

Those who once found social media a welcome place to connect with fans are increasingly turning sour on the experience. Singer Carrie Underwood has become accustomed to online trolls, who wrote “fake” and “drag queen,” beneath a selfie she posted (and later deleted) on Instagram, and tweeted that her look at the Country Music Awards was “satanic.” She told Redbook, “I used to feel like I could go through social media and talk to people, really have that communication. But you get to a point where there are too many mean people saying mean things—probably just to get a reaction from you—and eventually I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ You have to have a barrier
up, which is sad.”

During the 2016 holiday season, talk show host Wendy Williams shared a Christmastime “throwback” photo of herself on Instagram as an “awkward twelve-year-old,” and was likely disheartened to find herself slammed and the subject of mean memes. Some celebrities have taken to protecting themselves by outsourcing their social media accounts to their underlings.

“It truly wasn’t a safe space for me,” Girls creator Lena Dunham said in a podcast interview, reporting that she would no longer personally look at her Twitter account but have assistants handle that unpleasant task. “I think even if you think you can separate yourself from the kind of verbal violence that’s being directed at you, that it creates some really kind of cancerous stuff inside you.”

Refusing to be shamed

Another downside of being a female celebrity: you’re more likely to have your naked photos hacked and posted online, as stars from sportscaster Erin Andrews to actress Scarlett Johansson have discovered. In 2014, the infamous news broke that a ring of hackers was trading noods of female celebrities, including Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, and Jennifer Lawrence, stolen off of Apple computers using a “sophisticated phishing scheme.”

One Pennsylvania man was eventually caught and pled guilty to “unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.” 29 The scandal was called “The Fappening,” after its sub-reddit thread name. “For their victims, it is no laughing matter,” Edward Lucas wrote of the scandal in his book Cyberphobia. “Even the most energetic and expensive legal response cannot scrub the stolen photos from the Internet. As fast as you persuade or order one site to take them down, another puts them up. You can never be sure that they will not appear again—someone, somewhere, has them on his computer, and publishing them takes just a couple of mouse clicks.”

In a Vanity Fair interview, a defiant Jennifer Lawrence refused to carry the mantle of shame for taking the nude photos. “I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for,” she said. “I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” She blamed the hackers, as well as those who looked at the photos, for what she rightly called a sex crime. “I can’t even describe to anybody what it feels like to have my naked body shoot across the world like a news flash against my will,” she said. “It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around for a profit… Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”

These are excerpts from Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) with a featured foreword by Monica Lewinsky. Order today and learn more about how you can prevent, survive and overcome online shaming – no matter who you are.

Women may be the targets of the majority of cyber-abuse, online harassment and other forms of digital hate, but with the power of ‘togetherness’ and learning that we are not alone, slowly but surely, this cruelty will be part of history.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Social media, Social Networking

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In a recent PEW Research survey, Facebook and YouTube landed in the top spots as the most popular social media sites. The young people (18-24 years-old) are more likely to use Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter as well as make more frequent visits per day compared to older adults.

Facebook continues to grow with 68% of adults that are now users. Other than the video-sharing platform YouTube, none of the other sites or apps measured in this survey are used by more than 40% of Americans.

We’ve read a lot about smartphone addiction and social media obsession, yet according to this survey over half of Americans (59%) said it would not be difficult to give up social media.

Majority of users say it would not be hard to give up social media
By contrast, 40% say they would indeed find it hard to give up social media – although just 14% think it would be “very hard” to do this. At the same time, the share of social media users who would find it hard to give up these services has grown somewhat in recent years.

Other takeaways from this survey:

  • Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women (41% of whom say they use the site) than with men (16%).
  • LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.
  • Some 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media.

Social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are especially popular among those ages 18 to 24

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Uncategorized

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It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty, youth dying and the rise of incivility in our country today. Whether it’s offline, as in the school cafeteria or online, in the palm of your child’s hand, hate is hate and it’s killing our society.

Dr. Michele Borba is a leading bullying prevention expert as well as a best-selling author. In her most recent book, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy (Free Spirit, February 2018) she gives us a road-map to bring back civility for our young people.

Let’s start with understanding cyberbullying terminology that parents and educators should know:

  • Sexting: electronically sending or posting a naked, sexualized, or compromising photo of a person
  • Flaming: posting angry, rude comments in an online forum
  • Harassment: repeatedly sending offensive messages to someone
  • Denigration: attacking someone online by spreading rumors or posting false information
  • Outing and trickery: electronically disseminating intimate private information about someone or tricking someone into disclosing private information, which is then disseminated
  • Impersonation: pretending to be someone else and posting material online to damage that person’s reputation
  • Exclusion: intentionally excluding someone from an online group
  • Cyberstalking: creating fear by sending frequent threatening messages to someone

Is your child a victim of bullying or cyberbullying?

Dr. Borba offers insights and warning signs in her new book as well as the 6R’s of prevention.

Bullying:

Most bullying signs go unreported or undetected. Many students are uncomfortable telling adults they were bullied for fear it will make matters worse, because the parent or educator will confront the bullying child. Fear of retaliation is a major concern of targets, and rightly so. Most bullying occurs in areas and times when adults are not present to protect targets. That’s why it’s crucial that educators learn specific warning signs of bullying so they can support potential targets. Every student can have an “off” day and display a sign or two, so look for a sudden unhealthy behavior that is not typical of the student and endures. Of course, the signs might also indicate other problems, but any signs warrant closer examination and discussing with other staff members and the child’s parents.

Cyberbullying:

A perpetrator uses digital media (such as texts, emails, IMs, website posts, tweets, videos) to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail, or otherwise target another child. Though it is most common during the middle school years, the problem is making its way into the younger set. It is not surprising that cyberbullying has the potential to cause severe psychological damage in targeted children. Though most electronic bullying happens off school grounds, many students carry cell phones or tablets to school, so the staff should be aware of these signs. In addition to many of the signs just listed, a child who is being cyberbullied may:

  • be hesitant to go online, or act nervous when an IM, text message, or email appears
  • act visibly upset after using a computer or cell phone, or suddenly avoid electronic devices
  • hide or clear the computer or cell phone screen when a peer or adult approaches
  • spend longer hours online in a more tense, pensive posture

End Cruelty, Build Empathy is a must-own for every parent and teacher. It offers step-by-step valuable and practical solutions — as well as information to help you navigate through a generation of “mean.” From elementary school to middle and high school, no one escapes the scars of bullying, but with education and awareness we are on the way to helping to combat it.

How will you help your community become a kinder one – offline and online?

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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It’s been over a decade since I received my online Scarlet Letter that nearly destroyed my career and emotional well-being. Until you become a victim of online harassment or abuse, it’s difficult to understand the darkness, loneliness and fear that you can feel. Being humiliated to death is not a joke — it’s sadly a reality when we read the headlines of many youth today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Finding Online Support

A decade ago, there were few resources for those suffering online harassment, but today, there are many groups providing help to victims of digital attacks, from harnessing simple messages of support to full-on legal aid. When Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas received hate tweets during the 2016 Olympics over her hair and even her lack of a smile, a Twitter campaign—started by Leslie Jones—sprung up with the hashtag #Love4GabbyUSA, to rally support from a herd of fellow celebs. Everyone from Shonda Rhimes to Monica Lewinsky jumped in to bolster the gold medalist.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a high-profile friend who could do the same for you?

Enter HeartMob. The online platform was started by Hollaback so that individuals being harassed online can create a report and, within an instant, rally teams of people who send messages like “Stay strong!,” “I’m with you,” “We have your back,” and “You are not alone!”

The Cybersmile Foundation , an anti-bullying nonprofit founded in 2010, offers Total Access Support, where trained advisers give guidance to those being cyber-harassed. “We help thousands of people each year,” says co-founder Dan Raisbeck. “Our trained advisor teams work around the clock answering inquiries from all over the world. Our advisors are mostly made up of volunteers who want to help others or offer their time in some way.”

Online SOS is a California start-up that provides free legal referrals and counseling services to people suffering online harassment. Co-founder Samantha Silverberg, a licensed clinician, began it in 2016 with a pilot program helping thirty victims, and she aims to have a therapist and a legal resource established in all fifty states.

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Are you a victim of revenge porn? The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has created an excellent “Online Removal Guide,” which offers step-by-step instructions for requesting unauthorized images or videos to be removed from sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Reddit, Tumblr, Yahoo, Google, and Bing.

Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit that provides free, twenty-four-hour therapeutic assistance for victims in need of support, handling issues from depression to bullying (if you’re in crisis,text START to 741741). In March 2017, it was announced that Crisis Text Line was joining forces with Facebook. “We want to be wherever people are in crisis,” said Nancy Lublin, Crisis Text Line CEO, in a prepared statement. “And we’ll continue to be on the leading edge of technology, supporting people everywhere they are.”

The STOMP Out Bullying™ HelpChat Line is a free and confidential online chat that helps youth ages 13-24 ONLY with issues around bullying and cyberbullying; as well as providing support to youths who may be at risk of suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

For more resources, advice and tips on surviving, preventing and overcoming cyberbullying, order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks 2017).

posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety

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Since 2004 we’ve been recognizing Safer Internet Day as an initiative of the European Union.

The 2018 theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you” is a call to action for every stakeholder to play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, in particular the youngest users out there.

In my latest book, Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) we interviewed contributors and experts from around the globe that shared their stories of digital disasters, some were victims of invasion of privacy and some fell prey to online hate.

One college student’s nightmare is a lesson we can all learn from (an excerpt from Shame Nation):

Around the time of the protests following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, one twenty-year-old criminal-justice student in New York discovered that several racist slurs had appeared on her Facebook page. The trouble was, she hadn’t posted them. Still, they had been reposted to a Tumblr page called “Racists Getting Fired,” devoted to exposing alleged racists to their employers, and the rest of the world. The AMC movie theater where she worked started getting calls from people branding her a racist and demanding that she be fired.

Eventually, the true story was revealed: her page had been hacked by her ex-boyfriend, a Miami man who wrote the slurs to set her up, most likely by logging into her account. “I said none of those horrible words of hatred and racism,” she hurriedly wrote on her Facebook page. “Anyone who knows me, knows I would never in my entire life say anything like that.”

Sadly, it’s not just virtual strangers who can come along and humiliate you. It can also be someone who knows you better than anyone else. Friends today may be foes tomorrow. It’s better to never share your passwords with others, no matter how much you want to trust them. Even your boyfriend? I’d say, especially your boyfriend. As many women have learned with revenge porn, betrayal by a former partner is not uncommon. Also, don’t leave a public computer logged in to a social media site, giving access to someone unsavory looking to make comments via your profile. Have you ever left your phone unattended? Near a friend who has your passcode and a twisted sense of humor? That’s an oops moment you don’t want to have. Lock ’em up, your phone and your other gadgets. Those few free minutes occupied by someone else’s keystrokes could create years of scrubbing your digital landscape.

The takeaway: Never share your passwords, and change them frequently.

Staying safe online start with making good decisions offline.

  1. Create strong passwords.
  2. Don’t share personal or sensitive information.
  3. If you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t type it online.
  4. Quality over quantity. (Surround yourself with people you respect).
  5. Lead by example.