Establishing Safeguards to Prevent Legal Trouble Online: A guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich

As parents, we know excessive screen time and online mischief can impact our kids’ physical and mental health, grades, spirituality, and values. What we often forget or don’t realize, though, is getting into trouble online can have legal consequences for our kids. Today’s guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich offers their legal perspective on why we need to keep our kids safe online.

 

Today’s children are the first digital natives. They were born into a world surrounded by digital devices- the perfect tools for education, communication, and entertainment. Unfortunately, the internet is also a dangerous world with issues ranging from cyber-bullying to inappropriate content. Here are a few ways parents can keep their children safe online and help them avoid legal trouble.   

 

Begin by limiting online time. The longer a child is exposed to digital media, the greater the chance of being exposed to its harmful effects. Several of the harmful effects of lengthy screen time include obesity from a sedentary lifestyle, sleep problems, and behavioral problems like bullying, learning developments, and violence. Additionally, more screen time means more time to find inappropriate content or get into other trouble online.    

 

So, just how much screen time is too much? According to the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 18 months should not be exposed to any. Those between 18 to 24-months can be exposed to very limited amounts, while those between 2 to 5-years can handle just one hour of supervised exposure. Beyond the age of 5, an allowance of no more than two hours per day is recommended.

 

Next, parents should monitor online time. Besides exposure time, parents need to determine the quality of the content their children consume. They should help their children choose positive educational content and talk about how to make good choices online. This could entail helping kids discern what is “fake news,” putting in place parental controls to ensure kids aren’t looking at overly-sexualized or other age-inappropriate content, or just talking about things online that might interfere with their emotional, physical, or mental well-being. Moreover, parents should watch programs with their children and discuss what they are watching. This will not only help parents monitor what their kids are doing, it will also help teach their kids the boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate.

 

Consider installing protective software. Given that adults aren’t available 100% of the time to monitor what kids are watching, protective technology can be really helpful. There are a myriad of technologies that can protect them from potentially harmful content. One such tool is Clean Router. This enables parents to manage and monitor all digital devices in their home. As such, it blocks internet pornography, filters Youtube, enforces time restrictions, and logs all activity.

 

Finally, when it comes to your kids’ online time, be consistent with rules and consequences. One of the negative effects of online exposure to inappropriate content is violence, which includes physical and emotional bullying.

 

Cyberbullying is on the rise, especially among teenagers. It is bullying carried out via digital technologies, such as texts, emails, and social media. Among other things, bullying can cause low self-esteem, drugs and alcohol abuse, poor grades in school, and physical and emotional health issues. Moreover, cyberbullying has serious legal ramifications.   

 

Kids also may not realize the danger of sharing personal information or photos online. This is especially true when it comes to sexting, which involves sharing sexually explicit content via digital devices. Your teenager may think they are just sending a cute picture to their significant other, but in some states, sexting between teens can be legally considered the distribution of child pornography. In fact, several states have specific laws on teen sexting. In Missouri, for example, distribution of a minor’s sexually explicit content can attract a one-year jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

 

With serious risks like this, it is critical that parents establish safeguards to protect their children online. Though the internet is an incredible resource, it also opens the door to emotional, physical, and legal risks, especially for kids and teens.

 

 Carver, Cantin & Mynarich are a team of criminal defense lawyers in Springfield, Missouri. The firm specializes in Internet crimes, along with serious felonies, criminal tax, death penalty prosecutions and a wide-range of other criminal cases. The firm is a 2017 and 2018 U.S. News & Best Lawyers Best Law Firm in America.

 

Thank you, Carver, Cantin & Mynarich!

 

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Cyberbully or victim? Here’s what research says about kids who bully (or are bullied) online

Which kids will be bullied online? Which kids will become the bullies? According to this study, it all comes down to why they log into social media.

 

Researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Iowa examined data from 340 teens in a national survey. The teens had been asked about their social media habits, including why they use social media, if they’d ever been bullied online, or if they had ever bullied anyone else online.

 

The results were very interesting: the bullies and their victims were using social media for slightly different reasons. The bullies used social media for romantic relationships and social comparisons, but they were less likely to log on for information or entertainment. Their victims also used social media for romance and social comparison, but they were more likely than the bullies to use social media to have a community or place they belonged.

 

This study highlights two important lessons for parents. First, online dating is now a completely redundant term– teens are starting, developing, and ending their romantic relationships online as often as not, and all teen romances now have a digital component. Some relationships even take place entirely through smartphones. If your teenage daughter isn’t driving off to the movies every Friday night with a boyfriend, it does not preclude the possibility that she’s seeing someone.

 

Perhaps more significantly, however, is that there is overlap between the motivations between the cyberbullies and the cyberbullied. This makes perfect sense for the simple reason that they are often the same people. What too many people don’t realize about emotional pain is that it’s essentially a game of hot potato– hurting people hurt people. When people don’t cope with emotional pain, it explodes out of them.  Give a hurting teen a smartphone and the illusion of anonymity, and the temptation is too much to handle.

 

You can read the study by clicking here.

 

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Rebecca Black Writes About Cyberbullying in NBC Essay: “It was open season and I was the target.”

Rebecca Black was only thirteen years old when her music video, “Friday,” went viral. A deluge of scorn and mockery followed. Six years later, she opened up about her experience in an essay on NBC: “What I Learned from Being a Target of Internet Hate at Age 13.”

 

As parents, when we read about cyberbullying, our first impulse is to protect our children, to keep them from becoming targets. While understandable, this knee-jerk reaction is unhelpful, because our first impulse should be to prevent our children from becoming bullies.

 

Surely not our children, though. Never ours! And yet, as Ms. Black points out in her essay, “It is increasingly obvious to me that every single one of us is experiencing pain, and trying to deal with it in one way or another.” No matter how privileged or pampered our children may seem, each one has disappointments and hurts he or she is trying to emotionally metabolize. When we don’t properly handle emotional pain, we can’t contain it, and we end up weaponizing our pain and hurting others. Ms. Black calls this cycle “the chain of pain.”

 

When the internet became accessible to all, suddenly all hurting individuals, all of us, gained an outlet. We could rant and rave, mock and threaten, all from the safety and anonymity of our computers. We could tear another person to shreds without ever seeing his face. In a few short decades, the chain of pain has become infinitely broader. Research shows that cyberbullying is more destructive than face to face bullying because the victims can never escape. They open their laptops and find hate. They turn on their phones and are told they are worthless. Is it any wonder teen and tween suicides frequently appear in the headlines?

 

Obviously, we should all keep careful tabs on our children’s digital communications– read texts, follow social media profiles, and periodically check private messages. However, this is the not enough. We must teach our children to end the cycle– to break down and digest hurt, disappointment, and rejection instead of passing it on. Rather than insisting “My child would never,” we need to make sure our children have healthy outlets and coping mechanisms for stress and disappointment. We also need to teach them to intervene if they ever witness or learn of online or offline bullying.

 

It was easy to make fun of Rebecca Black’s music video. The lyrics were uninspired, the singing heavily autotuned. We all forgot on the other side of the screen there was a thirteen year old girl with a dream. She didn’t deserve our unkindness, and neither does any other victim of cyberbullying.

 

To read Rebecca Black’s essay, titled “What I Learned from Being a Target of Internet Hate at Age 13,” click here.

 

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Cyberbullying– The stats say it’s affecting YOUR kids

Is your family looking for a meaningful New Year’s resolution with far-reaching consequences? Check out these statistics about cyberbullying to spark a conversation in your family about why cyberbullying hurts and what each person can do to end it!

 

*58% of kids admit someone has said something mean to them online. Almost half of kids say it’s happened more than once.

*Over a third of students have been threatened online. One in five students have received multiple threats.

*21% of students have received a hurtful or threatening email or private message.

*Over half of kids admit to have said something mean or threatening online. More than one in three kids have done so repeatedly.

*Over half of kids have not told their parents about a cyberbullying incident.

 

These statistics are from STOMP Out Bullying at stompoutbullying.org

 

What can parents do to influence kids to stand against cyberbullying! Dr. Meg Meeker, M.D. and parenting expert, recommends encouraging empathy by asking kids about others and their feelings:

 

“Talk with your kids about what life must be like for their best friends, for someone you meet at a ball game, etc. Take the time to ask your kids questions about others by saying, ‘I wonder if Johnny sees his parents much’ or ‘I heard that Ellie’s father passed away a few years ago, I wonder how she’s doing.’ Simply by asking thought provoking questions, you can help your kids begin to see how other kids live.”

 

You can read the full article on Dr. Meeker’s blog by clicking here!

 

Encouraging empathy in children of any age is one of the best ways to prevent desensitization to cruelty and bullying both online and off. The internet in particular seems to encourage unkind words and behaviors, especially when individuals can act anonymously.

 

To read more about teaching children healthy internet habits and cyberbullying in particular, click here!

 

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What is Yik Yak?

Yik Yak is a social media phenomenon that has received some media coverage lately. So what’s all the hype about?

 

Yik Yak is an online forum where anyone can post anonymously on a local messaging board. Users then give the message positive or negative votes to increase or decrease its rank. Any message that receives five “downvotes” is deleted, and the user’s “Yakarma” is docked.Users can “peek” at another area’s board.

 

Yik Yak has shown up in the media for several cyberbullying incidents. In one particularly nasty incident, college students posted degrading messages about a professor during her lecture. Other public and private figures have also been demeaned and harassed on Yik Yak.

 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Yik Yak; it is a fun idea. However, Yik Yak has become a cesspool of bullying, profanity, and graphic sexual and drug related language. Part of it is the anonymity– users can post anything without fear and without reprisal. Yik Yak has also become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more a social media forum develops a reputation for bullying and profanity, the more bullies and profaners will flock to it.

 

Yik Yak is only intended for users seventeen years and older, but not confirmation is needed to create an account. Younger teens should be counseled to avoid this app, and hopefully older teens will have the good sense to stay away.

 

To learn more about protecting your family online, visit our website at CleanRouter.com!

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The Four R’s of Cyberbullying

As you introduce your children to the Internet and to social media, it won’t be long before they encounter cyberbullying. While your child might not be involved directly, he will see it. Whether the bully and victim are friends, acquaintances, or strangers, here’s what you can teach your child to do when she sees cyberbullying.

 

1) Respond

If your child is being bullied, the best response may be no response. However, if your child is only an onlooker, he could be in a position to stop the cyberbullying. According to Common Sense Media, 80% of bystanders do nothing, but when they do intervene, the bullying stops over 50% of the time.

2) Record

This step is applicable whether your child is the victim or the bystander. To prevent a “He said, she said,” scenario, it is important to have a record of what exactly occurred in case the bullying continues or escalates.

 

3) Report

Cyberbullying is receiving both legal and scholastic attention these days. If your child sees or experiences severe cyberbullying, it needs to be reported. At the very least, she needs to come to you, her parent or guardian. The bullying should be reported to the social media app, site, or forum. Together, you may also want to report the bullying to a school principal or the police.

 

4) Retreat

If your child responded to the cyberbullying, tell him not to revisit the conversation. Bystanders intervening in cyberbullying have the advantage of being able to act but not have to face a possible response from the bully. An attack can not hurt if it is not read. Blocking the bully on social media is probably a good idea as well.

 

While cyberbullying can be even more painful than face to face bullying, there are advantages for the victims and bystanders who want to intervene. Computers and mobile devices are equalizers; there’s no need to be intimidated by physical size or strength. Those who are cyberbullied can block and delete the bullies from their online lives easily and effectively. In short, cyberbullying can be fought! Teach your children to join the fight against cyberbullying, and help everyone have a fun, safe online experience.

 

Here at Clean Router, we believe that online peace of mind is not just possible– it is essential! Protect your family today with Clean Router Pro!

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6 Costly Social Media Mistakes Teens Make

The teenage years may seem like a time to get away with being irresponsible and carefree. However, many teens and even parents forget that life-changing decisions are just around the corner. Most high school students submit college applications at sixteen or seventeen and begin applying for scholarships soon after. High school athletes face scrutiny during their junior and senior years as well.

 

College admissions personnel and college scouts are scrutinizing these teenagers. They examine personal essays and resumes, ask for interviews, and read letters of recommendation. They are also examining social media profiles; and, if they don’t like what they see, offers of admission and scholarships are withheld.

 

With the price of college tuition increasing every year, a teen’s social media blunders could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Meanwhile, teens continue to obliviously post, message, and tweet away opportunities. What mistakes are they making?

 

1) They post revealing pictures (in more than one sense)

A suggestive profile pic might seem fun at the time, but colleges are unlikely to be impressed by a bikini shot. Keep in mind that all but the strictest social media privacy settings allow anyone to see a profile picture.

Skin aside, other kinds of pictures can turn off professionals. Images of drinking, partying, drug use, or bullying will destroy a teen’s online image too.

 

2) They post too often

While surprising, this social media habit was specifically listed by a Big Ten recruiter in the Chicago Tribune as a mistake. When teens post at all hours of the day and night, admissions advisors may ask, When is this kid studying?

 

3) They post extreme content

Your teen’s political ideology may be a little outside of the mainstream, and that’s ok. However, posting extreme left- or right-wing content might make some people think your teen is too “out there” to match their team, campus or workplace culture. Others might worry that your teen may not know how to work with those with other value systems. A good rule of thumb is if you would not talk about it at a real-life social gathering, you probably should not post it online.

 

4) They post insensitive or unkind messages

No one likes a bully, and in recent years, schools and the law cracked down on harassment both on and offline. Combine that with the fact that behavior on college campuses is subject to increased scrutiny these days, and it’s not surprising that colleges are being extra careful whom they invite to represent them. Each college student has the power to build or injure their alma mater’s reputation for the rest of his life– colleges don’t want to take any chances.

 

5) They use unprofessional profile names

No email, handle, user name, or profile name should include profane, suggestive, or violent content. While a goofy online moniker may have been funny or cute twenty years ago, an online presence should now be as clean-cut and inoffensive as behavior at Grandma’s house.

 

6) They don’t Google themselves

If someone Googled your teen, what would they see? While your teen may have sky-high privacy settings and immaculate posts, his or her friends might have less discretion. Make sure you know what any online searches will turn up, and clean up the results if necessary.

 

Don’t let your teens lose thousands of dollars and countless opportunities because of their online profiles! Have the social media talk again and again, and clean up their profiles. Your teens will thank you later, and they will learn valuable lessons about presenting themselves online and in real life.

 

Clean Router is committed to protecting your family on the internet.

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A Psychologist’s Tips for Talking to Kids About Internet Safety

Dr. Tracy Bennett, a psychologist that specializes in internet safety for kids, published two companion articles discussing the teen and tween sexting phenomenon. These articles, titled “Hey Dad, Your Twelve Year Old Daughter Has a ‘Nude Out'” and “Mom, Your Fifteen Year Old Boy Might Be Acting Like an Internet Predator” provide parents with insight into this trend and what they can do to discourage their kids from getting involved. Dr. Bennett also explains how teens’ brain development factors into the equation.

 

Among other tips, Dr. Bennett encourages parents to cover the following points:

 

  • “People are far more than a body part. Behind every text, image, and idea is a human being with thoughts, feelings, and value. Treating yourself or others as an object instead of a person is demeaning.”
  • “Screen media is a powerful tool. Once your hit ‘send,’ that text, image, or video can never be taken back. Consider if it would be OK to show it on the screen in a school assembly before you send it to anybody. And parents, if you need help don’t hesitate to reach out to the school administration or the police. They are well versed in these issues and have specially-trained personnel. It’s rarely a good idea to approach the other children involved or their parents for that matter.”
  • “Save private interactions for face-to-face relationships. If it’s on screen media, it’s unlikely to stay private.”
  • “Collecting ‘likes’ is not love. Sometimes it’s even the opposite.
    Represent yourself online just as you would offline. Character matters.”

Note: Clean Router may block one or both of these articles. While they discuss mature themes such as sexting, sexuality, bullying, and sexual predators, the articles contain no explicit content.

 

To learn more about keeping your family safe online, visit our website at Cleanrouter.com!

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Education World publishes anti-cyberbullying tips

Kids may be kids, but cyberbullying can inflict both short term and long term trauma.

 

“Cyberbullying is proven to have a range of serious and negative mental, physical and behavioral effects in young people, which can include and lead to problems such as anxiety, substance abuse, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts or actions,” said the YMCA of Greater New York.

 

Because October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Education World has assembled some advice for parents to help them know if their kids have been cyberbullied, and how to prevent cyberbullying.

 

Among other tips, parents of cyberbullied children are counseled not to blame the kids for not standing up to the bullying. Instead, it may be helpful for the parent to share a bullying experience of their own.

 

Experts agree that one of the best ways to prevent and cope with cyberbullying as a parent is to have daily face to face conversations with their children– no technology allowed.

 

See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/tips-identifying-and-preventing-cyberbullying-83673064#sthash.NZIFMhWT.dpuf

 

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Kids who watch more TV at two are more likely to be bullied at twelve

 

A new study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that two year olds who watched more television were more likely to be bullied at twelve years old.

 

Researchers followed about two thousand two year olds for ten years. For every extra hour more than average of television (1.5 hours per day), a child was 11% more likely to be victimized by peers at age twelve.

 

While the study limited its focus to time watching television, it’s not hard to imagine that the effects could extend to time playing games on mobile devices or surfing the web. Two year olds are often active and demanding, so it is tempting and convenient for parents to entertain their little ones with screens.

 

However, the results of the study indicate that electronic babysitting is an emotionally nutritionless option. The children who are glued to a screen are missing the opportunity to watch and engage in social interactions. Their emotional intelligence does not grow, because it is not being fed.

 

The more time children spend in front of screens, the more time they will continue to spend in front of screens. If toddlers do not learn the nuances of social interaction, they grow into school aged kids who are not at ease in social situations. Their social anxiety motivates them to withdraw to their comfort zones, technology, which increases their social isolation, which leads to more screen time.

 

And, of course, no child asks to be bullied, and certainly no child deserves to be bullied. However, as every adult knows, children know when other children are uncomfortable and uncertain. The ruthless children will exploit this knowledge.

 

This is just another reason for parents to unplug themselves and their families.

 

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