Archive for the ‘Social Networing’ Category

Sextortion: The Newest Internet Ugly

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

What I’m referring to is sextortion:  sexual blackmail of children and teens online just like you.  Because most teens are extremely trusting, especially when it comes to social networks, you’re an easy target, which makes this an even more difficult trend to stomach.                                                                                                                        

Here’s how sextortion works: Online predators, ex-boyfriends or frenemies get a hold of inappropriate photos or videos of you by way of email, text, hacking, social networks or chatrooms, and then threaten complete humiliation if they don’t get what they ask you for.  These criminals threaten they will post or send the inappropriate content to your parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches or bosses, make demands for money, or even threats of physical harm.  SCARRY!

Sextortionists are experts at getting what they want, knowing that teens will be too afraid to tell anyone what’s happening to them, especially their parents, leaving them in the driver’s seat to get exactly they want. Children and teenagers just like you can quickly become trapped in a silent cycle of online sexual exploitation, every parent’s worst nightmare.

From experience, we already know that every teen is vulnerable to the online “ugly” side of the Internet, which comes with being constantly connected.  As an adult and a cyber safety expert, it’s my responsibility to speak openly about what to do should you ever become a victim.

It’s important for you to:

  • Get informed, ignorance isn’t bliss. Understand what sextortion is, and promise yourself that you’ll go to your parents should you ever become the target of a sextortionist – NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Set all security and privacy settings to private & set alerts. Keep all of your profiles on social networks private, even after you turn 18-years-old.  Creeps never get tired of trying, especially when they can hide behind a fake profile on a social network.  Set a Google Alerts for your name, which will let you know the instant something terrible or embarrassing tagged with your name gets posted online.
  • Messages, photos or videos you send by text are never private. They have the ability to be saved, edited, forwarded, posted onto Facebook or uploaded to YouTube in the matter of seconds, where they sit perfectly poised for Sextortionists to use against you.
  • Don’t trust people online you don’t know! Never trust anyone online you don’t know in real life, and to always report any contact you’ve received from strangers to a trusted adult.
  • Don’t text anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see. I often hear stories from teenage girls about the sexy photo that was sent without a single thought of where it might end up.  And sure enough, the photo was inevitably forwarded out to friends, strangers, predators, parents and teachers for people to pass judgment on and potentially use against them.
  • Be aware. Criminals, online predators and backstabbers can use your private pictures against you.  If you think your sext is only going to be seen by your intended recipient, think again. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for everyone to see.  It’s no fun to be embarrassed or belittled, threatened, or coerced online – especially by those you know, let alone those you don’t.

It’s a fact that social media has become the focal point of your life, and it’s time that we adults face it.  Sextortion is not only the newest Internet “ugly,” but it’s a trend that requires all teens to take seriously, and become aware that Sextortionist experts are out they looking for teens and young children to prey on.

Remember, promises get broken, boyfriends become ex’s, and friends become frenemies. Unfortunately it’s the reality that you live in today, so be careful with who you trust, and don’t record or send anything that can come back to bite you.

The Sugary Sins of Social Media

Friday, July 1st, 2011

The buzzing’s of social media harmonize through symphonic typings of text messages, late night tweets, and clattering clicks on red notification tabs. This technologic tune hacks into Facebook bars, and regenerates the Twitter-sphere’s teasing and toxic rotation. Teenagers dance along to the beat of stumping statuses, and become pleasurably distracted by streaming entertainment. The zooming gushes of high speed access, and innovative inventions have charged the social media’s powerhouse, ultimately creating an empire that reigns supreme and unsurpassed.

Over 350 million users spend twenty minutes navigating Zuckerberg’s social networking site daily. 25 million of his Facebook fans engage in polyamorous relationships with Twitter, Tumblr, and Myspace for an additional 2,400 seconds throughout the duration of the week. This savvy time sinker is primarily booming due to its accommodating convenience.  There are more than 180 mobile operators in 60 different countries that promote social networking products, including downloadable apps.

Leaving teenagers free to suppress their superficial needs, while becoming professional prowlers of the World Wide Web can be cause for concern. Although social media has proven to be reliable in terms of defeating chronic boredom, blogging, chatting, instant messaging, texting, emailing, surfing, and streaming are temporary fixers that often result in the sabotage of daily responsibilities.

 “Facebook and texting help me feel connected with my friends. Without using it, I feel like I’m estranged from the world. It’s like withdrawal from a medication.” For some, keeping in touch with friends outside of school provides a sense of internal security, and exterior connection.  The use of Social Media sites create opportunities for unlimited interactions with peers, contrived self disclosure, dissemination of information, provocation with others, and indirect contact through third parties due to generalized postings. In severe cases, excessively accessing social networking sites will result in mental counseling from a psychiatrist. Dealing with an addiction primarily based on compulsivity can be swiped out with mental health consultations. At first, codependency on inter-web connection may seem harmless, but when mood alterations occur, and distressed demeanors become apparent without the accession of social sites, seeking professional help is ideal.

Positively speaking, Internet use has been reliable and sufficient for those who manage it with responsibility and caution. When the privilege is neglected and abused, havoc will follow closely behind. For those who can monitor their daily use on social networking sites, the outcome will most likely shine in a positive light due to self disciplined actions. If losing track of time is an issue, constrain the limits, and lay off the added hours. Productive procrastination is not advised or acceptable when putting work before play. Therefore, log off of Facebook, shut down the phone, and take care of tomorrows tasks. Addictions can easily rob seconds on the clock, and runaway with your sanity. Please be aware, and access with caution.

Written by Intern for Shawn Edgington: Elyse Hill is a 17-year-old aspiring fashion journalist who resides in the Lone Star State. When she isn’t writing, reading Teen Vogue Magazine, working at Ralph Lauren, and spending quality time with her family consume the remains of her day.

Facebook: A Teens Perspective

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Hey, if your reading this my name is Joel, unlike other teenagers that are my age I choose to not have a Facebook. Everyone my age at one point has been asked the inevitable question, “Can you add me as a friend?” Status, friendship, the family gossip mill and wanting to share our thoughts constantly, what is it that makes social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook so appealing to teenagers?

To find out why teenagers find Facebook and other social networking sites are so popular, I went straight to the source and interviewed some of my friends at my high school.

I go to a relatively small private Christian school in Kissimmee, Florida called Life Christian Academy. With around one hundred and twenty kids in my high school, the social scene is pretty much the same as any other high school, rumors, drama, the usual. So to find out better why teens use social networking I put on my best Bryan Williams impersonation and headed off. In total, I interviewed twelve people, each one of them of a different background, status and age.

One of the funniest interviews of my day was when I got to talk to a girl who is a lot like a tom-boy, always the first one to jump into a dare. She was very blunt and explained that Facebook was her “bad habit.”  I thought it was really interesting when she said, “Its weird how you can get sucked up in it, no matter if you’re a gothic kid or a kid from the hood.”

Another fun interview was with one of my guy friends; he is loud, to say the least. Throughout my questioning he kept asking me why I didn’t have a Facebook, and kept trying to turn the questions back to me. But one of the questions I got him to answer was if he knew anyone that had been negatively affected using the social network giant. With a funny expression on his face, he answered, “Well if you really wanna know, I knew this girl named Cindy… last year she made a fake profile to find out about a guy that she had a crush on so she could talk to him. Ultimately, a friend of Cindy spoke about what she was doing behind her back. Eventually the boy found out and now makes fun of her with his friends whenever she’s near.

Another girl that I interviewed told me that she is using Facebook, to talk to her friends. I asked her if her parents had a Facebook and she told me that they do, but she blocks them on her page. As I started to think about what she said, suddenly it hit me. I was noticing a pattern.                                      

Ultimately I came to this conclusion, for teenagers we feel the need to express ourselves. We feel that we are not heard so we turn to the Internet and other outlets of expression. Any way that we can let our voice out to the world, to have others know how we feel at a certain instance in life we’ll do it, and that is why it is so easy to get in trouble using social networks.

I’ve noticed that some of the ways teenagers can get in trouble using these websites is when they start to gossip or let their negative emotions out in comments or blogs. Some of their emotions negatively impact people. Like the saying goes, what you post on the Internet is there to stay; you already posted them and cannot take them back. Teens get in trouble when they post on their wall or “tweet” when they are trying to “vent” out their emotions. Sure you can delete a post afterwards, but once you press send, you can not take back what your friends have seen.

What’s worse is when job recruiters look at your page or family members see it because once something is said, your entire reputation or perception of you can be tarnished in an instant. As teenagers, we don’t think about the future.  We mostly just think about the “now”. We forget how posting certain things can affect us down the road, and need to be reminded – often.

Another way that teenagers get in trouble is when they start to obsess over their profile and it gets in the way of normal interaction. An example of this are some of my friends, everyday at lunch my two best friends let nothing get in the way of checking up their Facebook. I watch them at lunch and instead of actual talking they prefer updating their status or tweeting about their day. So to put it simply, when social networking or texting takes up all of your time and distracts you from daily tasks like studying for a big exam, or from time with the family, you know you have a problem. As with everything, we need to keep it in moderation.

So what is the best way to stay out of trouble when networking online? There’s the option to not to have a Facebook at all, but we know that that’s just too unrealistic for teens in our digital age…

 -Joel Rodriguez, Age 16  Intern Writer for Shawn Edgington