Susan McLean - Presentations at John XXIII College September 2014

Susan McLean provided us with a very powerful presentation about the dangers inherent in uncontrolled internet usage by children. She kindly provided us with several easy-to-read handouts which she recommended we make available on our College Website.

Susan McLean's website is Cyber Safety Solutions

Cyberbullying Fact Sheet 1

Cyberbullying can be described as any harassment, insults and humiliation that occurs through the electronic mediums such as email, mobile phones, social networking sites, instant messaging programs, chat rooms, web-sites and through the playing of online games.

Forms of Cyberbullying can include:-

• Harassing and threatening messages
• Sending nasty SMS, IM's pictures or prank phone calls
• Using person's screen name or password to pretend to be them
• Forwarding others' private emails, messages, pictures or videos
• Posting mean or nasty comments or pictures
• Sending sexually explicit images - 'sexting'
• Intentionally excluding others from an online group

What can I do if my child is being cyber bullied?

• Do not be angry with your child - remember that they are the victim and it is someone else doing the wrong thing
• Praise them for coming to you - this is a big step as most children are frightened to tell a parent about cyberbullying
• Save and store the emails, chat logs or SMS's in case of Police investigation
• Help your child to block and delete the bully from all contact lists
• Do not respond to nasty emails, chats, SMS or comments - this is what the bully wants so ignore them. (They will need your help to do this)
• Use the 'report abuse' button which all websites/applications have. Tell them the problems you are having and they are obligated to investigate.
• Have some 'down time' without computer or mobile (do not do this as punishment, rather as some peaceful time where they are not being bothered)
• If unwanted contact continues, consider deleting email, msn, hotmail etc and start a new account. Only give your new details to a small list of trusted friends.
• Get a new phone number if being harassed on your phone. Report the problem to your phone company and insist on a new number for free.
• Inform your child's school. It is important that they know what is going on so that they can monitor any issues at school.
• If ongoing report to Police. Each state has laws that prohibit online bullying and stalking. You don't have to put up with it.

Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2011

CyberBullying Fact Sheet 2

Signs a child may be being cyber bullied?

  •  Change in mood and/or behaviour
  •  Lowering of grades at school
  •  Not wanting to go to school / sport etc
  •  Not feeling 'well', headaches, stomach-aches
  •  Being extra secretive in online activities
  •  'Jumpy' when text messages arrive
  •  Not putting their phone down
  •  Wanting to be online all the time....or never
  •  Changes in their online habits
  •  Upset, angry, teary......rebellious when not previously
  •  Change in friendship groups
  •  Spending more time with family instead of friends

What can I do if my child is the cyber bully?

  •  Support the child, they are probably feeling awful too
  •  Talk to them about their actions
  •  Try and find out why they behaved in this way
  •  Ask them to imagine they were the would they feel (empathy)
  •  Work together to improve the situation....apology etc
  •  Work towards preventing further incidents
  •  Enlist the help of school, welfare staff, local GP or child psychologist

Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2011

Sexting: Sending a 'sexy text' or posting a 'naked selfie'!

Sexting, is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones, but can include internet applications such as MSN, email, or social networking sites.

Once photos are sent, there is no way to get them back, and once in cyberspace, they become a permanent part of a person's digital footprint. This means that they can forever be linked to that person and without doubt will resurface when least expected such as a job interview. Whilst the immediate fallout is usually amongst the persons peer group, school and local community where they can then be used to cyber bully and harass the victim. These images will then most likely fall into the hands or onto the computers of those with the predilection to sexually offend against children and young people. They will also be shared around a local school, community or wider which is very embarrassing and which can lead to further cyberbullying.

Safe texting - mobile phone use for young people and their parents

What many young people and their parents often don't know is that sexting can have serious consequences and lead to bullying, public humiliation and even sexual assault. In most cases involving people under the age of 18 year it is illegal.

You could be charged with a criminal offence if:

• You take a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photo of a person under the age of 18, even if they agree to the photo being taken or you take the photo of yourself.
• You take a photo or a video of a person under the age of 18 involved in sexual activity or posing in an indecent sexual manner, even if it is of yourself.
• You are found to have this kind of photo or video on your phone or other device eg: PC, iPod
• You forward this kind of photo or video onto others

There are some things that both young people and parents can do to make sure mobiles are used safely.

Safety tips for young people

• Don't send nude or semi-nude photos of yourself to others and don't forward any sent to you
• If you receive a sexually explicit text or photo, delete it immediately and don't forward to anyone else. Tell the person who sent it you don't want any more texts like this. If the texts keep coming report the situation to your telco who must act to warn the sender. If this does not work go to the Police.
• Think before you act - remember that once you've sent something you can't get it back or control who sees it, and that the photo or message might become public and be available for people to see for many years to come
• Remember that drinking and/or taking drugs can impact on your ability to make a safe decision ie taking a photo or sending a message you wouldn't normally take/send if you were sober. Be aware of your behaviour in these situations as others have phones too!
• Think about your future and how you want people to see you - a picture taken now can have the potential to damage relationships and your career down the track. Your digital reputation is very important.
• Don't feel pressured into sending texts you don't feel comfortable with - as with any sexual behaviour, you have the right to say 'no'.
• As a general rule, don't have anything on your phone you would be embarrassed about

Safety tips for parents

• Talk to your children about the consequences of sexting, including warning them about the danger of sexual predators
• Remind them that sending, receiving or forwarding sexual images is illegal, and that respectful behaviour is just as important when using mobile phones
• Give children clear rules about what they can and can't do with their mobile phone
• Become familiar with the technology your child is using ie Facebook, Tumblr Twitter, Skype etc and talk to them about privacy/security settings to help protect themselves from bullying/predators. Remember that most phones have instant access to the internet and social networking sites.
• Encourage your children to talk to you or another adult they trust if they have any problems or concerns around texts they have sent, received or forwarded, and reassure them this won't necessarily mean they will be asked to stop using the technology

Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2012

Online Grooming

Online grooming is conducted in a similar fashion to grooming in the real world and is often a preliminary step to procuring, where the adult through the words and actions attempt to loosen the child's inhibitions regarding sexual activity or heighten their curiosity by sending pornographic material or talking about sexual matters. The aim of the predator is to eventually meet the child in person for the purposes of sexual activity. The process often starts with the sending to the child of pornographic images so as to normalise the requests, and then moves to requesting the child send naked images of themselves or perform a sex act on a web cam.

There are risks for all children who use the Internet or online services. Teenagers are particularly at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised and are more likely than younger children to participate in online discussions about more personal issues such as sexual activity. Young people are naturally curious and will engage in online discussions about things that they would not openly discuss in the real world.

Online predators use all forms of technology in order to connect with children. E-mail, instant messaging programs, bulletin boards, chat rooms, social media and gaming sites are all used to connect with a child and gain their trust. They are supremely clever and have an ability to connect with those who are vulnerable or who make poor online decisions about whom they allow into their online lives. Children believe that those who are 'nice' online will be the same in the real world and of course this is not always the case. Young people firmly believe that they have the ability to identify a paedophile online and would never talk to one. The reality sadly is very different. Children take risks and can be quite naive. It can be exciting for them to chat to people they did not know before. Many are on social networking sites where they like to share personal information, which provides a fertile hunting ground for those waiting to identify a victim and gain their trust. Online offenders are increasingly adept at 'targeting' those who were making themselves vulnerable online, by not having for example, privacy settings.

Talking to your child about these issues is very important so that they know that you are aware of the issues that they may confront in their online lives. Let them know that they can tell you about any problems that they are having or if someone online makes them feel uncomfortable. Let them know it is OK to trust their instincts and if something feels odd or strange then it probably is. 'Good friends' don't make them do things that make them feel uncomfortable and check that your child has all the security settings in place for social networking sites to protect their online privacy.

Signs your child could be at risk

• You find pornography on your child's computer. Online Paedophiles will often send pornographic images in order to 'normalise' their requests for pictures
• Your child is receiving or making calls to numbers that you don't recognize
• Your child is spending an increasing and / or an excessive amount of time online
• Your child is receiving unexplained gifts (mobile phones or extra credit vouchers are common)
• Your child is becoming withdrawn and there is a distinct change in their behaviour
• Your child is becoming more secretive in what they are doing online and is trying to 'hide' what they are doing online
• There a people on your child's 'friends' list that you do not know and your child does not really know in the real world.

I f you are at all concerned about the possibility of your child being a victim please contact your local Police Station for advice and assistance. If you believe your or any child is in immediate danger please phone 000.

Internet Safety Tips for Teachers, Parents and Carers

• All internet enabled devices (iPad, phone, iPod, Xbox) SHOULD be in a common area of the house NOT IN THE BEDROOM! Need an alarm - buy a clock radio!
• Parental monitoring is vital - walk past and see what your child is doing, who they are talking to and what sites they are on .... be aware if their mood changes. This is NOT invading their privacy at all ... it is parenting in the digital space
• Make sure there is no response to rude or harassing comments. (keep a record in case of further investigation)
• Advise your student/child to immediately exit any site that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried. Basic protective behaviour principles apply.
• If harassment continues….the current accounts can be deleted and a new one started. The new account details should only be given to a selected few.
• If receiving harassing messages on social media - have the sender blocked & report to the site.
• If you have found inappropriate content about your child or one in your care on a website or are informed about this situation please contact the ISP and or Police or advise the parent to do so a.s.a.p.
• Have a family internet contract and set house rules about what information your child can put onto websites or share with others, where they go online and what they do. You (adult) need to be in charge.
• Be aware the majority of children WILL NOT tell a parent/teacher if bullied or harassed online for fear that they will loose internet access!! NEVER threaten total disconnection!
• Make sure that your children understand that they will not get in trouble if they tell you about a problem.
• Parents must learn about the internet with their child - get students to share their knowledge of the internet with their parents in a fun environment
• Spend time online with children, just as you would with many other activities such as sport, board games and walking the dog - learn and explore together
• Install filters and other monitoring/blocking software to minimise dangers. This is already done in schools but homes should have up to date filtering software installed at home.
• Know the sites they are accessing to ensure suitability. Filters CAN sometimes fail to protect and can be bypassed by a 'tech savvy' child.
• Learn the lingo so that you can decipher some of the content if required. Advise parents to do the same.
• Children Under 13 ARE NOT ALLOWED on Facbook, Instagram, Kik, SnapChat, iTunes and many more. Don't support your child to break the rules & they won't be the only one without these accounts. Learn to say NO!
• Social Networking Profiles MUST BE SET TO PRIVATE. Use all the security settings available to make the site as safe as possible.
• Social networking site friends should be people that your child knows in real life. This is one way to reduce possible risks. Anyone can be anyone online.
• Teach children that information on the internet is not always reliable.
• Very close supervision for young children is recommended. There should be a limit to the number of people kids talk to online and the parent/carer should know who they are too. approved.
• Whatever your children use, you must use as well. Set up accounts on the same sites to ensure that they are suitable and the interactions appropriate. Engage with them online. This also allows you to know how these applications work.
• If your child is playing online games it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that YOU know how to play the game too in case of problems. Play online games together.
• Do not let young children 'google' aimlessly with no supervision. Children need to be taught about search engines and how they work.
• The internet and the various applications are a lot of fun and a wonderful tool……maximize the benefits and surf safely together!

Pleas e note that this list is by no means exhaustive and that there is no guarantee that adherence to these tips will provide 100% protection or safety for those using the various applications of the internet.

Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2013

What is Problematic Internet Use?

"The Internet appears to be capable of altering the mood, motivation, concentration, and producing a dissociating and disinhibiting experience for users; for some individuals, patterns of use can transform to abuse, taking on a compulsive quality..........Many of the daily spheres of behaviour, including work, appear to be effected by this powerful technology." Dr David Greenfield, Centre for Internet Behaviour USA.

Problematic Internet addiction or excessive Internet use is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges, or behaviours regarding computer use and Internet access that lead to impairment or distress. The problem of excessive Internet use is something that is more common in adolescent males than females and nearly always linked to online gaming sites. In severe cases, the gaming takes over the person's life to the exclusion of all else.

Whilst 'Internet Addiction' is not currently included in DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition IV) it appears to be a common disorder that warrants inclusion on DSM V. What this means is that currently, as the disorder is not recognised, it cannot be 'diagnosed'. This can pose a problem for patients trying to access medical treatment rebates. It is of course a well-documented problem around the world, often with tragic consequences. In Asia for example, there have been many deaths attributed to the continual and excessive playing of online games.

Computer games are very different to what you as parents may remember when a 'disc' was inserted into a computer and you played with no more interaction than the screen. Computer games now involve connecting to the Internet (Online) and the player is interacting with other 'gamers' around the world. This can also be a concern when young children connect with people that they do not know. (See Online Grooming fact sheet)

Risk Factors

• You suffer from anxiety
• You suffer from depression or are depressed
• You have been diagnosed with an ADHD type illness
• You have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome
• You lack social support
• You are an 'unhappy' teenager
• You are bored
• You are less mobile (you have a physical disability)
• You are lonely and have few friends in the 'real' world
• You are stressed (you use games as an escape from your problems)
• Anomie (a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community).


• Losing track of time online
• Having trouble completing tasks on time (homework / chores)
• Isolation from family and friends (replacing real friends for only online friends or other gamers)
• Feeling guilty or defensive about the time you spend online - "I don't have a problem, you are the one with the problem"
• Feeling only happy when in the 'gaming' environment.
• Withdrawal from daily activities (school refusal / withdrawing from sport teams)

Physical Symptoms can include:-
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pain and numbness in hands and wrists), dry eyes or strained vision, back aches and neck aches, severe headaches, sleep disturbances, pronounced weight gain or weight loss

What can you do?

Acknowledging that your child has a problem around their use of online games can be very confusing. It often moves from a manageable stage to one that appears hopeless. Making sure that from the very first game your child plays online you play too. You need to see the content of the game to ensure suitability and also to understand the way the game works. Make sure the content is age and developmentally suitable for your child. The fact that others in your child's grade play the game is not a good guide as to its suitability for your child. Check not only the

'rating' of the game, view the content as well. World of Warcraft or WOW for short, is noted by researchers and practitioners around the world as the most psychologically damaging and addictive game on the Internet. Set very clear rules about your child's online gaming and have strict time limits. If you see you're child continually trying to push the boundaries, staying online for longer than allowed or logging on when you are out or asleep, then do not ignore these signs. There are four defined levels of Pathological Internet Use or PIU and corresponding treatment options: -

Level 1 - Mild impact / early problems
Treatment - in house efforts, family support, self-help

Level 2 - Increased impact /social circle notices (school, peers)
Treatment - Associates, school counsellor

Level 3 - Clinical impact, specific interventions indicated
Treatment - Clinical Psychologist

Level 4 - Addiction or PIU, major or whole social role impacted (takes over their life to the exclusion of all else)
Treatment - Psychiatric / inpatient plus medication considerations

For further information please visit which, is the only organization in Australia devoted to the issue of Problematic Internet Use (Internet Addiction). You can download a self-assessment tool called i.m.p.r.o.v.e. that will help you to identify the level of problem you may be experiencing within your family.

Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2012

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