New technology brings new ways to stay in touch and guard your child's safety but it also brings new ways to steal, cheat, bully, act irresponsibly, and harm others.
1. Bullying via camera cell phones and Internet is an international problem.
A January 2004 article in Canada’s Globe and Mail says cyber bullying is already “common” in North America, and gives examples from Europe, UK and Japan, as they anticipate problems to come from huge number of Internet-connected camera cell phones given to teens and preteens over holidays.
The London Free Press subtitled an article, “Educators describe cell phones as fastest-growing method of tormenting children.”
One in six workers in UK reports having been bullied via e-mail.
2. Misuse starts younger than you can imagine.
BBC News reports that one in nine five to nine year olds has a mobile phone and predicts this will rise to 20% by 2006, making this fastest growing group of mobile phone users.
A British survey found that more than a third of primary school children with mobile phones have received name-calling text messages, and 10% have received serious levels of threats which could be classified as “bullying”. Here is how an obscene message to a 4th grader was handled - http://www.gsn.org each/articles/email.ballad.html .
3. Preteens and teens use cell phone cameras to photograph peers and humiliate them over Internet.
For instance, photographing a student naked in locker room and then sending it into cyberspace. Text messages are also being used for harassment, and for cheating on exams.
4. The ability to distribute photos on Internet adds a new level of threat.
Using cameras for surreptitious photographs is not new, according to Douglas Thomas, associate professor of communication at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who says a camera that fits in button of a shirt and costs only $35 has been available for years. What’s new is cyber possibilities. [Christian Science Monitor, fall 2003]
5. Teach your children that with privilege comes responsibility. One middle-schooler given her grandmother’s hand-me-down cell phone for two months quickly racked up a bill over $1,500.
6. Legislation is starting about privacy aspects of such photography, beginning with restrictions on federally-owned lands.