In this present day and age, those born after the year 2000 are considered to be Digital Natives. These natives to the digital age were raised in a digital and media saturated world. Even though teenagers are thought to be tech savvy natives to the current form of mass communications, there are many threats to them on the Internet. With the advent of social media such as Twitter, Snap Chat, and Instagram the threat to teen cyber security is greater than ever.
Teens tend to not realize that certain behavior online can put them at risk of being a victim of things such as cyber bullying, stalking or targeted attacks by predators.
- These risky behaviors may include:
- Posting personal information
- Interacting with online strangers
- Placing strangers on friend’s lists
- Sending personal information to strangers
- Talking about sex with strangers
- Posting threats to harm others or themselves
Cyber bullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the Internet or other digital technologies.
The forms of Cyber bullying
- Flaming: A hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users, often involving the use of profanity. It can also be the swapping of insults back and forth or with many groups teaming up on a single victim.
- Cyber Harassment: The use of email, instant messaging, and derogatory websites to bully or otherwise harass an individual or group through personal attacks. Cyber harassment is often difficult to track as the person responsible for the acts of cyber harassment remains anonymous while threatening others online.
- Denigration: Used in both classic and cyber bullying, denigration is a term used to describe when cyberbullies send, post, or publish cruel rumors, gossip, and untrue statements about a target child to intentionally damage their reputation or friendships.
- Impersonation: Impersonation or “imping” as a tactic in cyber bullying can only occur with the “veil of anonymity” offered by digital technology. Cyber bullies impersonate the target child and make unpopular online comments on social networking sites and in chat rooms. Using impersonation, cyber bullies set up websites that include vitriolic information leading to the target child being ostracized or victimized in more classic bullying ways.
- Exclusion: Exclusion is a cyber bullying tactic that is highly effective and indirectly sends a provocative message to the target child without the need for actual verbal deprecation. As its well-known children and teens are developmentally fixated on being recognized by their peers, the process of designating who is a member of the peer group and who is not included can be devastating to the target child.
- Outing: Outing is a term that includes the public display, posting, or forwarding of personal communication or images by the cyber bully personal to the target child. Outing becomes even more detrimental to the target child when the communications posted and displayed publicly contains sensitive personal information or images that are sexual in nature.
While Cyber bullying may include some of these threats, Cyber stalking can be enacted by an anonymous person you have met online. Cyber stalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group, or an organization. It may include false accusations, defamation, slander and libel. It may also include monitoring, identity theft, threats, vandalism, solicitation for sex, or gathering information that may be used to threaten, embarrass, or harass.
When teenagers go online, be it through a PC or their smart phones, they have direct and immediate access to friends, family, and complete strangers. This access to complete strangers can put unsuspecting teens at great risk to online predators. Sexual predators have easy and anonymous access to teens online where they can conceal their identity and prowl without limit. Today’s sexual predators no longer hang around school, now they hide behind computer screens.
- Approximately 95 percent of all Americans between 12 and 17 years old are online and three in four teens access the internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices (as of 2012)
- One in five U.S. teenagers who regularly log on to the Internet says they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give out personal sexual information. (only 25% of those told a parent)
- About 30% of the victims of Internet sexual exploitation are boys.
- Internet sexual predators tend to fall between the ages of 18 and 55, although some are older or younger. Their targets tend to be between the ages of 11 and 15
- In 100% of the cases, teens that are the victims of sexual predators have gone willingly to meet with them.
- There are 799,041 Registered Sex Offenders in the United States (2015).
- Teens are willing to meet with strangers: 16 percent of teens considered meeting someone they’ve only talked to online and 8 percent have met someone they only knew online.
- 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services.
- 33% of teens are Facebook friends with other people they have not met in person.