Cyber Safety

The links below offer information and resources to help students stay safe in online environments. 

NetSmartz: A great site recommended by the Sunnyvale Police Department. This site covers many of the issues facing teens on the internet including, cyberbullying. Watch videos about the real life experiences of other teens and obtain information that both teens and parents can share.

WiredSafety: A 501(c)(3) charity made up of volunteers who provide information for parents, teens, children, and educators about internet safety. According to their site, WiredSafety provides, "Assistance for online victims of cybercrime and harassment, Advice, Training and Help for law enforcement worldwide on preventing, spotting and investigating cybercrimes, Education for children, parents, communities, law enforcement, and educators, and Information and Awareness on all aspects of online safety, privacy, responsible use and security

SafeTeens: A great place to start for information on blogging safety. Has tips for teens on blogging as well as tips sheets for parents.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

iSafe: A leader in online safety. There are materials for parents, kids, and educators.

NetLingo: Provides the most common internet acronyms every parent should know.

Cyberbullying

"Cyberbullying is just what it sounds like - bullying through Internet applications and technologies such as instant messaging (IM), social networking sites, and cell phones. It can start easily—with a rumor, a photo, or a forwarded message—and just as easily spiral out of control" (Netsmartz, 2010).

Signs of Cyberbullying

Common forms of cyberbulling include:

  • Flaming and Trolling: sending or posting hostile messages intended to “inflame” the emotions of others
  • Happy-Slapping: recording someone being harassed or bullied in a way that usually involves physical abuse, then posting the video online for public viewing
  • Identity Theft/Impersonation: stealing someone’s password and/or hijacking their online accounts to send or post incriminating or humiliating pictures, videos, or information
  • Photoshopping: doctoring digital images so that the main subject is placed in a compromising or embarrassing situation
  • Physical Threats: sending messages that involve threats to a person’s physical safety
  • Rumor Spreading: spreading gossip through e-mail, text messaging, or social networking sites

What to do if you are being cyberbullied

If you are being cyber bullied, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

1. Don't delete the text, post, email, etc. Save it as evidence.

Click here to see how to save it on different sites (Youtube, Facebook, etc.)

2. Don't reply. Sending an angry response will only make it worse.

3. Contact an Adult:

  • Your counselor
  • An assistant principal
  • Health Center counselor
  • A trusted teacher
  • Your parents

4. If the bullying includes a specific threat to yourself or someone else, contact the police.

How to prevent cyberbullying

If you see a friend sending a mean message, don't be an accomplice:

  • Don't encourage them.
  • Ask them how they would feel if they recieved that message.
  • If they won't listen, tell a trusted adult.

Cyber Predators

Signs of predatory behavior

Predators take advantage of [your] natural vulnerabilities, such as the need for attention. “Grooming” is the process through which predators play on these vulnerabilities by offering gifts and attention.

It does not happen overnight. Grooming can be a long process that a patient, tenacious predator has planned and perfected to gain your trust. This grooming may lead you to meet the person with whom you are chatting. Offenders will try to encourage a face-to-face meeting by:

  • Exploiting natural curiosity about sex
  • Lowering your inhibitions by gradually introducing explicit images and child sex abuse images
  • Using his or her adult status to influence and control your behavior
  • Offering attention and affection
  • Betraying your trust by manipulating your emotions and insecurities

What to do if you are being targeted by predatory behavior

If you think you have a cyber predator stalking you, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

1. Don't delete the text, post, email, etc. Save it as evidence.

Click here to see how to save it on different sites (Youtube, Facebook, etc.)

2. Don't reply. Sending a response will likely encourage more unwanted attention.

3. Contact an Adult:

  • Your counselor
  • An assistant principal
  • Health Center counselor
  • A trusted teacher
  • Your parents

4. If the predator threatens to approach you or hurt you, contact the police right away! Telling the police about a predator will help others avoid getting into a dangerous situation.

If you think a friend is being stalked by a cyber predator, there are some things you can do to protect your friend. Encourage them to: save the evidence, not to reply, and to tell a trusted adult.

How to prevent becoming a victim

  • Don't give out personal information to people you don't know.
  • On your profile, choose security settings that keep your information private.
  • Don't accept friends that you don't already know.
  • Don't flirt with people you don't know.
  • Stay on trusted sites.

Online Identity Safety

Web 2.0 lets users share information online as easily as they download it. Unfortunately, people of all ages often reveal too much. [Youth] can be made especially vulnerable by sharing personal information, such as home addresses and phone numbers, private thoughts and feelings, and pictures." (Netsmartz.org, 2010) Avoid posting information or pictures online that you might regret later.

Why it's important to keep your identity safe

Predators

Predators are always looking to collect information about their ... victims. This information may be used to identify, connect with, or manipulate... For example, if a [you] blogs about being misunderstood, a predator might provide a sympathetic ear in order to create trust and form a relationship. Predators may also try to encourage [you] into a sexual relationship by talking about sex, so [you] should avoid talking about provocative subjects with people they do not know.

Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies take their targets’ personal information and use it against them. They may copy and alter photos; share private e-mail or instant message conversations; and taunt their victims with emotional insecurities revealed in blogs.

Scammers

Scammers want to use [your] personal information to manipulate them. [If you] post e-mail addresses and phone numbers, [you] may be the target of spam, telemarketers, and e-mail scams.

College and Career

It is also becoming more common for coaches, college admissions officers, and employers to screen applicants by checking their online profiles and postings. An admissions officer’s decisions may be negatively influenced by a teen’s posts - for example, rude comments about teachers or inappropriate photos.

(Netsmartz.org, 2010)

Resources for Teens

How to keep your identity safe online

  • Use privacy settings on social networking sites.
  • Make sure any photos or videos you use are ones you wouldn't mind parents, teachers, colleges seeing.
  • Don't post your e-mail or home address or your phone number.
  • Don't share your passwords
  • Don't respond to any e-mails requesting personal information and to delete e-mails from unknown senders.
  • Don't reveal your name or gender in your screen names or email address.

(Netsmartz, 2010)

Texting

“Sexting” is a term used to describe the sending of sexually explicit text or picture messages of minors by minors. What most young people do not realize is that the production, possession, and distribution of explicit photos of minors, even if they are self-produced, may be illegal. Furthermore, if these explicit photos end up on the Internet, [you] risk embarrassment and could jeopardize scholastic, athletic, and employment opportunities." (Netsmartz, 2010)

Think about the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture of someone underage, even if it's of you. You could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law.

Never take images of yourself that you wouldn't want everyone - your classmates, your teachers, your family, or your employers - to see.

Before hitting send remember that you can't control where this image may travel. What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend could easily end up with their friends, and their friends, and their friends ...

If you forward a sexual picture of someone underage, you are responsible for this image as the original sender. You could face child pornography charges, go to jail, and have to register as a sex offender.

Report any nude pictures you receive on your cell phone to an adult you trust. Do not delete the message. Instead, get your parents or guardians, teachers, and school counselors involved immediately.

(NetSmartz, 2010).