Teens and Internet Safety

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Teens and Internet Safety
The teens and children of today are influenced by technology and networking. People now communicate not only face-to-face or by telephone, but also via text and the Internet. Currently, the most popular way of communicating with friends is through social networks. These networks include Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Social networking is a great tool for chatting with friends and sharing thoughts any time without having to call friends on the phone. It is also used for catching up with old friends or meeting new people. Since our current generation is quickly adapting to new technology and evolving social networking, spending some time with friends online is important. Many teens use Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter because it’s their chance to be social with other people. However Internet and social network usage carries special dangers for young people. To prevent these dangers, parents should control their children’s use of social networking, carefully monitor and teach responsible Internet use, and increase independent use over time as the child matures. There are many dangers of being online. From cyber-bullies to sex offenders, the Internet and social networks are not always safe. The average age of children and teens beginning to use social networks is 12 years old. A good situation to keep children safe is to monitor their actions on the Internet until they are mature enough to handle the risks of social networking. Although the main purpose of a social network is to connect with friends, some people see it as a way to “attack”, or cyber-bully, other people. Cyber-bullying is one of the most dreaded dangers of being online. It can begin as simple comments or posts insulting the recipient, but cyber-bullying can get worse, escalating to sending flame mail. Flame mail is an “email blast designed to agitate or embarrass the recipient. ‘Flaming’ typically involves copying the flame mail to as many people as possible” (Arterburn 64). (Deleted paragraph)

It is common for bullies to enhance the harassment by publicly naming their targets. They send messages that include posts of name calling and teasing to other people. With the digital technology advances, cyber-bullies can use videos and photographs as weapons. Some may make snapshots and alter them to insult the victim. One example is the victim’s face on a cow with the caption: “___ is a fat cow!” Other bullies may create “viral videos.” These videos are then uploaded to a public network such as YouTube, allowing the world to watch. Some bullying has extended to video gaming, phone calling, or texting. Cyber-bullies are often in the age range of a preteen, teenager, and young adult. As of 2007, 63% of girls and 60% of boys have been cyber-bullied by another student in their school. 46% of children try to fight back (Rosen 196). Some cases of cyber-bullying have resulted in suicides. Four major cases leading to suicide have peaked national awareness: Tyler Clementi, 18 (2010), Ryan Halligan, 13 (2003), Megan Meier, 13 (2006), and Phoebe Prince, 15 (2010) (“Cyber-bullying”). A tragic incident based on harassment via the Internet was the suicide of Tyler Clementi in 2010. When Clementi arrived in college, he was openly gay. One night, Clementi asked his roommate to have time alone in the dorm. His roommate, Dharan Ravi, agreed and then went to another student’s dorm. There he set up a webcam connection to his computer via Skype. The video, revealing Clementi kissing another boy, was streamed online live. On Twitter, Ravi posted: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." A second incident followed and Clementi wrote the next morning on his Facebook page saying he was going to jump off into the Hudson River (Friedman). Social networks are reacting to cyber-bullying. MySpace provides options on their page if one feels in danger of being bullied. These...
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