NetFamilyNews Flags Cyberbullying Stats; ConnectSafely Forum Helpful

nfncube.jpgI’ve been so slammed on time that my whiteboard of slated interviews has left Anne Collier & Larry Magid’s names sun-baked into permanence.

I’ve been meaning to snag some time ever since I met them at the CyberSafety Summit in Sacramento last fall and found they were co-directors of BlogSafety, which has a fabulous “must-read forum” for real-time cyberbullying solutions.

I send panic-ridden parents and kids struggling with various types of cyberbullying issues directly to Anne’s NetFamilyNews Blog then on to the BlogSafety Forum, because Anne and Larry’s direct access to the main social networking players and timely teen “how-tos” have peer pertinence that help correct situations far faster than any tech support line.

They also bring sanity to the Chicken-Little-Sky-is-Falling hysteria created by media shows like To Catch A Predator and fear-mongering school visits from local law enforcement officers that can stress out students and send parents into a tizzy. Instead, they offer a balanced view of media mindfulness and internet safety when it comes to online social networking. (much like their book does with MySpace Unraveled)

The teen talk on their forum always adds perspective and balance, much like Ph.D. candidate Danah Boyd’s blog tips me off to ‘trends’ in subversive cyberbullying tactics like ‘text bombs’ to use up cell minutes or paste bombs.

Anyway, here’s Anne Collier’s feature on NetFamilyNews, (any family with online media mavens should subscribe for this freebie!) and also check out these YouTube video PSAs and cyberbullying tip sheets from a great site: Do

I’ll add WiredSafety’s cyberbullying site, Anne’s article, and this new piece from Edutopia to my own social networking profile of resources at Andy Carvin’s insightful StopCyberbullying network on Ning.

For one-stop ease, since Anne and I are clearly like-minded in our desire to use social networking for positivity sans peril, I’ll include her full feature below, too:

Anne Collier of NetFamilyNews Writes:

Worried parents may find some comfort in seeing the list of teen-safety improvements MySpace has made (see Business Week). The article even moves on to a social-Web risk that will affect a great many more youth: cyberbullying. It’s one of the first in the mainstream media I’ve seen putting predation and peer harassment in perspective. But parents also must be aware that there are many social sites besides MySpace, some showing little to no corporate responsibility – if there are even corporations behind the latter type of site.

Take for example, a public wiki (mocking where public and private individuals are being parodied and bullied. Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe & Responsible Internet Use emailed me and other child advocates this week about a person she’d heard from who’d been victimized in this site, which says in its disclaimer, “We take no responsibility for any of this.”

Not just the parody site it purports to be, it encourages trolling (inciting insults, flaming, bullying, defamation, etc.) and jokes about rape. Referring to this site and the page someone created about her, the person who emailed Nancy for help wrote, “There are hundreds of offensive and hurtful pages on there…. 99.9% of the information is obviously ridiculously false. What really kills me is the portrayal of my having been sexually assaulted as a big hilarious fabrication. That doesn’t belong in my life….”

It’s an understatement to say there is no quick fix for bullying on sites that take no responsibility at all for what happens to their users (or the users’ victims). [Even DreamHost, which hosts EncyclopediaDramatica takes no responsibility, pointing to the part of the Communications Decency Act that frees Internet service providers from responsibility for what their customers post as with phone companies and what their customers say on the phone.]. But parents should know that there are responsible and irresponsible social-networking sites (and wikis and discussion boards and IM services and video-sharing sites, etc.) where bullying occurs, and we would much rather have out kids spend time on the responsible ones!

Related links
· “Cyberbullying: Our Kids’ New Reality” – a just-released national survey of teens in Canada,” which found that over 70% of Canadian teens have been bullied online; “44% said they’ve bullied someone online”; and over 38% reported having experienced cyberbullying within the last three months,” the CBC reports. Notably, the study’s authors said one of their takeaways is that “kids are really looking for a way to help them navigate this whole new world. It’s their world.”

· US cyberbullying figures: In “Predators vs. cyberbullies,” I linked to a 2006 US study that found more than a third of US online teens (some 6.9 million) have been victimized by cyberbullying.
· Smaller sample, but… WebMD reports that 90% of students in three schools in Arizona and California who were recently surveyed “reported being bullied, and 59% said they had bullied other students.”

Anne’s NetFamilyNews also lists all of her latest MySpace contact addresses for intervention and support, great articles and links to the latest major Pew Internet study on teen social safety and online privacy, and more.

NetFamilyNews is invaluable…As I tell parents in a retro variation of Karl Malden’s kitsch commercial, “Don’t sign on without it…”


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