I've found myself saying this more and more lately, (in fact, i'm starting to get on my own nerves – i'm only 22!) the way technology is advancing and the amount of different ways people can communicate with each other is getting crazy!
I suppose, if I think it's bad for me, I can't fathom how different everything is for my parents since they were younger. back in their day:
There were no emails, just letters, so if you happened to do something wrong and wanted to tell a friend about it, then that would be the only convicting evidence you'd have. There were no camera phones, or digital cameras so if there were ever any inappropriate photos taken, they would most likely only stay with the intended recipient – it would have taken more of an effort to try and get copies to pass around!
I recently watched a programme on BBCthree called “Websex: what's the harm?”, it's no longer available on the iPlayer, but i'm sure there will be clips on YouTube or somewhere on the internet as most things are these days (see, there I go again!). The programme followed Nathalie Emmanuel (@missnemmanuel) as she investigated the youth culture's attitude towards online sex and also a trend among young people called “sexting”.
Nathalie spoke to one young girl who said that she had been picked on in school because of her looks, and although she was a naturally pretty girl, it still knocked her confidence significantly. The only place she found solace was online where she could meet new friends and boys would tell her that she was beautiful. Talking online with someone can sometimes create a false feeling of security with another person and over time this can develop into the passing on of phone numbers and this is generally where sexting occurs.
Sexting is worrying trend that more and more young people are taking part in. It involves sending illicit messages or photos/videos of yourself to share with another person. Sadly, more and more young girls are sending these sort of images to new boyfriends only to split up a few weeks later and then the image is passed on (if it hadn't already been) to others or even posted online. Once online the images can be very difficult to remove.
Uploading images and videos to websites aren't just exclusive to mobile phones either, Nathalie also visited a lady who makes a living out of “performing” on webcams and she explained that on quite a few occasions, she has found her performances on pornographic websites without any knowledge she was being recorded. There are certain software programmes available to download, which records the screen without the person you're video chatting to knowing they are being filmed.
A lot of children will end up stumbling on websites such as ChatRoulette with their friends as a bit of fun or even just chatting with their new online friends via webcams. The danger of this can be explained with this video:
The young girls in this video wouldn't have known that they were being filmed, and thought they were genuinely talking to their idol, Justin Bieber – however this was just a loop of film.
This could be potentially done with anyone though. What if the purpose of the loop of film wasn't just for a laugh? What if it was being used to trick young kids into doing other things on webcam by pretending to be someone else? As seen in the video above, the whole thing can be recorded and posted online for everyone to see. Sometimes there are dedicated websites to these sorts of videos, although they're normally disguised as something else.
Last year CEOP took down a paedophile ring who were doing just that:
I know I seem to be repeating myself a lot on these blogs at the moment, but the only way to tackle problems like these with your kids is to be a lot more active within their online lives as well as their offline lives.
- Keep internet use confined to a family room if possible, or turn internet routers off during times when they are supposed to be in bed to limit their activity.
- Check what websites or programmes your child are visiting or using so you can monitor their use and check their friend lists if possible. Some programmes such as Skype will also keep a log of messages sent and received as well as any video calls sent/received. Check these regularly to see who your child is chatting to and the content (bear in mind they may use acronyms so visit my other post to see a list of common acronyms used).
- Chat to your kids and explain the dangers of whatever they do online can be seen by more than the intended recipient and can be very difficult, if not impossible to remove.
For more information on ways to speak to kids of different age groups about this subject or for other hints and tips to keep your kids safe online – visit CEOP's ThinkUKnow website.
Thanks for reading!