Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Protecting Privacy on Facebook

Earlier in the month, Facebook changed its privacy settings and gave users more control over how they keep their information on the widely popular social networking site private. It is important for students (and adults) to understand what type of information they are making available about themselves online in social networks. It can be very easy to inadvertently share information, photos and videos about yourself that can lead to negative consequences in both your personal and professional life. eSchool News posted a great article that gives information on things to look for when determining the type of privacy settings you put on your Facebook profile. I would share these tips with students and anyone else you know that has an account on Facebook:

How to protect your privacy on Facebook

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FTC Launches Cyber Safety Booklet

The Federal Trade Commission's cyber safety website, OnGuard Online, has just released a free internet safety booklet aimed to inform parents and teachers on how to talk to kids about cyber safety. The booklet, entitled, Net Cetera, covers a variety of internet safety topics including, cyberbullying, sexting, phishing, digital citizenship, file sharing, social networking and protecting your computer. One interesting thing about this new resource is that it gives parents advice on how to talk to their kids based on age group. It has a section on how to approach internet safety with young kids, a section on tweens and a section on teens. The booklet also has a glossary section, which is very helpful to parents who do not know some of the technology terms their children use on a daily basis. One other very cool thing about this booklet is that you can order them in print, for free, from http://bulkorder.ftc.gov./. You can order them in bulk, so the next time you have parent conferences or an open house, this might be a great piece of information to have on hand to give out to families!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Digital Abuse Study

MTV and the Associated Press recently released the results of a digital abuse survey they administered online to 1,247 participants. The report sheds some light on the digital behaviors of males and females ages 14-24. Some of the key findings of the survey are that 50% of the respondents report that they have experienced some sort of digitally abusive behavior including spreading lies, violation of trust, and digital disrespect. One conclusion of this study finds that more than half of the people who claim to be victims of cyberbullying report that they were "very" or "extremely" upset by it. The survey also found that there is an association between digital abuse and mental health, reporting that young people who have been cyberbullied are twice as likely to report that they have received treatment from a mental health professional (13% to 6%) and three times more likely to consider suicide.

The survey also asked participants questions about sexting behaviors. The report found that while only about 10% of respondents (13% female vs 9% male) reported sharing a naked image of themselves, 30% of all respondents say they have been involved in some type of naked sexting whether it be receiving, sending, or forwarding naked images. The most popular reasons given for forwarding sexts were that respondents thought other people would want to see them (52%), they had a desire to show off (35%), they did it as a joke (31%), and they were bored (26%).

One alarming finding of the survey is that a good number of participants revealed that they do not think about the consequences that their online behavior could have in their lives. Only 51% of young people surveyed say that they have thought about the idea that things they post online could get them in trouble with the police. Only 28% have considered they could get in trouble at school and just 29% with jobs considered that they could get in trouble with their boss for what they post online. It continues to be very important to teach students that what they put online can have negative consequences in their daily lives. The study also found that digital abuse targets young people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. The executive summary of the report can be read here.

MTV has launched a new website in conjunction with the release of this survey. The site is called a thin line and contains resources on digital abuse, including digital harassment, cyberbullying and sexting. The site also contains strategies for young people on how to avoid digital abuse as well as discussion forums on these topics.

Cell phones and texting technology can also be used for positive things as evidenced in this article published by eSchoolNews last week. The article reports how police in communities across the country are accepting anonymous text messages from tipsters to help solve and prevent crimes. Boston was specifically mentioned as the first city to heavily promote a Text-a-Tip program and which is credited for for providing key leads in at least four murder cases. It is also a great way for young people, who might otherwise fear being targeted for snicthing, to let police know about threats and other crimes anonymously.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Technology and the Law

There was a fascinating article on CNN.com the other day that asked the question, "Can Technology Keep up With the Law?" This is a very thought provoking article about real life cases of libel, slander and freedom of speech. The article explores some of the reasons why the law is usually about five years behind developing technologies and talks about how we have started to enter a "world without anonymity" in which the details of our lives are put online through social media sites. This is a great article to stimulate a classroom discussion or debate about freedom of speech and internet law.