#SELFIESAFETY

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A search for the word ‘selfie’ on Instagram returns over 217 million results! A selfie is defined as ‘a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically on a smartphone, with the intention or sharing on social media.’ Unfortunately, the pursuit of the perfect ‘selfie’ has become somewhat of an obsession that has resulted in people placing themselves and others in great danger. There has been an increasing number of cases over recent years where individuals have ultimately lost their lives attempting to take selfies in unsafe location and situations. Here are our top ten tips for staying safe while you selfie!

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Make sure you have a chat with your child today about how they can #selfie SAFELY! For more information on how to keep your child safe online be sure to visit The Cyber Safety Guru!

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TOP TEN TIPS IF YOUR CHILD HAS INSTAGRAM

If your child does have an Instagram account and you are concerned about their safety, but don’t want to force your child to deactivate their account, there are many ways that you can still protect them online. As we have mentioned earlier there is an increasingly notable pressure for children to have social media accounts and to be actively posting on them. Many children feel they will be isolated or will ‘miss out’ on something if they do not have social media accounts. Here are our top 10 tips on how to keep your child safe on Instagram:

  1. LAY DOWN THE LAW

Remind your child that social media use is a privilege that will be revoked if you deem their conduct online to be unsafe or unacceptable. Set guidelines for your child to follow when using social media such as don’t talk to strangers, only interact with people you know in real life, do not use social media in private or for prolonged periods of time, don’t give out personal information etc. It is important however to ensure your child feels comfortable to tell you if something goes wrong online. Many children withhold information about things troubling them online out of fear their parents will revoke their internet privileges, remind your child it is important they tell you if something or someone is bothering them on Instagram.

  1. MONITOR WHO THEY ARE FOLLOWING AND WHO IS FOLLOWING THEM

Children feel pressured to have a large number of followers on Instagram, which often results in them accepting follow requests from people who they do not know. Go through the lists of followers and following on your child’s Instagram page and ask your child how they know each person.

  1. CHECK DIRECT MESSAGES

Make sure you know who your child is speaking to on Instagram Direct Messenger, as it is possible for ANY Instagram user to contact them find out more here.

  1. CHECK RECENTLY LIKED

This provides a good insight into who your child is engaging with on social media, simply follow these steps on the images below. You have to be LOGGED IN to your child’s Instagram account to access this.

Access setting by clicking the wheel icon on the top right hand corner.

Access setting by clicking the wheel icon on the top right hand corner.

Click 'Posts You've Liked'- third option under ACCOUNT heading.

Click ‘Posts You’ve Liked’- third option under ACCOUNT heading.

You will then be able to see all the posts recently liked by your child.

You will then be able to see all the posts recently liked by your child.

5.CHECK POPULARS PAGE

This is a great way to see who is in your child’s network on Instagram. Photos that feature on the popular page are determined by an algorithm that includes photos from users who your child follows, photos from users who are following your child, photos that are popular in the country you are accessing Instagram from, photos that have been liked or commented on by people who follow your child or who your child is following. If you don’t like a certain image featured on your child’s popular page, click the image, go to that person’s profile and BLOCK them.

Click the magnifying glass on the bottom left to access the populars page.

Click the magnifying glass on the bottom left to access the populars page.

  1. SET ACCOUNT TO PRIVATE

Make sure your child’s account is set to private, everything you need to know about Instagram privacy settings can be found here.

  1. VIEW THEIR POSTS

Go on to your child’s profile and check the images they have been posting. Ensure they do not give away to much information about your child’s life such as school uniforms, sporting club uniforms, photos geographically tagged to certain locations etc.

  1. CHECK LIKES AND COMMENTS ON THEIR PICTURES

Check the users who have liked photos your child has put on Instagram. Do you know them? Does your child know them? Also check who is leaving comments on your child’s posts.

  1. CHECK INFORMATION IN BIO

Everything you need to know about protecting your child’s Instagram bio information can be found here. This is accessible to ANY Instagram user so ensure it does not provide detailed information about your child such as age, postcode, school etc.

  1. MONITOR REGULARLY

Ensure you make a habit of regularly checking up on your child’s Instagram account. Recently a father from WA was left devastated after discovering his daughter was being targeted by a predator on social media!

OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM ADVERTISING

Yesterday we posted about sponsored posts on Instagram and identified ways advertisers deceptively promote their products to your child on Instagram, today we are looking at the more overt form of advertising on Instagram. In June this year Instagram rolled out its paid advertising service. This service allows businesses to pay Instagram for their content to feature in the newsfeeds of Instagram users. Vivid Sydney, Kathmandu and Crown Resorts were some of the first organisations to sign up to the service. Any company with sufficient funds has the ability to advertise on Instagram, therefore there is a whole range of advertisements your child is exposed to. Brands such as Smirnoff and McDonalds have both advertised on Instagram in the past.

Whilst scrolling though my newsfeed this morning I came across this advertisement:

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As you can see, this is an advertisement for a photoshopping app, where the company have paid Instagram to feature their post in the newsfeeds or Instagram users. The advertisement could easily appear in your child’s newsfeed as well. The ad encourages users to download the app so that they will be able to alter and Photoshop their images before publishing then on Instagram. What are your thoughts on an advertisement like this appearing on your child’s newsfeed?

10 Accounts your child should NOT be following!

Have you ever taken a look at some of the accounts your child follows on Instagram? You should! There are very limited regulations about what is allowed to be posted on Instagram, and many celebrities and brands are notorious for pushing the boundaries, publishing photos that are overly sexualised or inappropriate for a younger audience. Most of these celebrities/brands, as well as Instagram itself, justify the publication of this content due to the fact that Instagram is only for users of the age of 13, however this is quite often not the case, with repeated surveys finding children as young as SEVEN with Instagram accounts. Take a look at some of these accounts that are popular with tweens, and find out how easily your child is exposed to explicit content on Instagram.

Kim Kardashian-West- TV Personality: 49 million followers

42 mil

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Candice Swanepoel- Victoria’s Secret Model: 6.2 million followers

#regram @haremrenaissance 😈💜 #90'sperfection #hipsdontlie

A post shared by Candice Swanepoel (@angelcandices) on

Cara Delevingne- Model/Actress: 21 million followers

SUPER WOMEN 🔥 photo taken by Miss Moss 📷 #KateMoss #selfieswap @mertalas

A post shared by Cara Delevingne (@caradelevingne) on

Ariana Grande- Singer/Actress: 45 million followers

🐇🐇🐇 | pc: @jonescrow

A post shared by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on

Rich Kids of Instagram: 179k followers

HAM. by yertayev #onfleek #rkoi #richkidsofinstagram

A post shared by Rich Kids Of Instagram (@richkidsofinstagram) on

ROXY- Clothing Brand: 1 million followers 

Bronzed and beautiful @monycaeleogram in the livin' free bikini #ROXYready roxy.com/swim

A post shared by ROXY (@roxy) on

Victoria’s Secret- Lingerie Brand: 24 million followers

It's #PantyMixer time! Cotton panties are 7/$27.50, now thru Sunday.

A post shared by Victoria's Secret (@victoriassecret) on

Miley Cyrus- Singer/Actress: 30 million followers

Dessert is served mi lady ❤️

A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

Justin Bieber- Singer: 41 million followers

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Kylie Jenner- TV Personality: 39 million followers

👸🏻

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Children, Social Media and Mental Health

We know that there are many different threats your child is exposed to when using Instagram, including cyberbullying and exposure to predators. But have you ever thought of the psychological risks involved when young people use Instagram?

A recent American study, which analysed over 150,000 social media posts made by 200 children over two years, has provided a worrying insight into the mental wellbeing of children using social media. Here is just a brief look at some of the worrying excerpts taken from interviews with 13 year olds who use social media:

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Many children reported a HIGH DEPENDANCY on social media, checking their newsfeeds up to ONE HUNDRED TIMES A DAY! Participants also reported feelings of ANXIETY when they are not on social media, some causes of this anxiety included:

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Instagram users carefully select photos they wish to post, and then edit, filter and Photoshop these images, eventually posting them at a strategic time when they believe most followers will be online, therefore increasing their potential to receive likes and comments. The curated images featured on an individual’s Instagram page provide a very inaccurate reflection of their real life, in the words of British Supermodel Alexa Chung, who has over 1.9 million Instagram followers, ‘nobody is as happy as they look on Instagram.’

Alexa Chung believes nobody is as happy as they appear on Instagram.

Viewing filtered, curated, and strategically posted images of peers, as well as posts about friends hanging out without them, can leave children feeling like their peers live better lives than them, and that they are not attractive or popular enough to be included. Social media leaves children vulnerable to feeling anxious, lonely, and socially isolated. Nearly 50% of research participants reported that they feel excluded when they see posts of friends hanging out without them online. Even more disturbing than this, is the fact that ONE THIRD of research participants reported that they had made posts on social media that would have made other users feel excluded!

Research revealed the great emphasis that children place on the number of followers they have on social media, and how many likes and comments that they get on their posts. Children use these numbers as a form of barometer of measuring popularity, and determining their social network status. Of the 200 children who participated in this survey, 80% believed that you could tell how popular a person was by looking at their social networks. Children using Instagram appear fixated on the number of followers and likes they receive, and it is not uncommon for children as young as TEN to have an excess of 300 followers.

Worryingly, this research showed that the ranking of social media status is often a case of rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer. Children who were popular amongst peers at school reported the highest number of followers, likes and comments. Children who were not quite as popular reported less followers, likes and comments, these children also reported feelings of depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem.

Whilst active supervision is the key to preventing majority of risks posed to your child on Instagram, there is also a need to acknowledge the less obvious ways in which Instagram can impact your child’s development and wellbeing. The younger the Instagram user, the more likely they are to be caught up in the ‘social ranking’ aspect of Instagram, which is proven to have serious impacts on a child’s self esteem and wellbeing. It is time to rethink attitudes towards young children on Instagram!

#being13 What is life like for children on Social Media?

Last week CNN America aired #being13, a special program exploring the results of the first large scale study analysing what children say and do on social media, and why it is SO important to them.

The study was run over two years, and involved over 200 12-13 year olds, whose parents consent to having their child’s social media behaviour on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram archived and studied. Over the two year period over 150,000 posts on social media were analysed, children and their parents also participated in questionnaires. The study made many interesting findings, which will certainly be an eye-opener to any parents with young children on social media.

Researchers found majority of teens were heavily dependant on social media, with some children’s dependency levels drawing comparisons to that of an outright addiction. Many children in the study admitted that they check their social media feeds MORE THAN 100 TIMES A DAY! When children were unable to check their social media feeds, they reported feelings of anxiety and isolation. Many children admitted that they say things online that they would never say in person, with one child reporting, ‘I don’t like dealing with things face to face, because it is much easier to hide behind your phone.’

Children also admitted they use social media to study where they stand in the social networks of their peers, revealing that they examine the number of likes/follows they have, and use these numbers as some sort of barometer to measure social status.

Researchers were disturbed by the amount of profanity, sexually explicit language, and references to drug use that appeared in the social media posts they examined. Common examples included:

  • Telling other children to ‘go die’
  • Criticising appearance/outfits
  • Accusing others of trying ‘too hard to be popular’
  • Threatening other users, saying they are going to ‘get bashed’
  • Other examples too explicit to publish!

Another major concern drawn from the study was the prevalence of sexually explicit content on social media. 15% of children in the study reported that they had been sent inappropriate content on social media. Children who had been sent inappropriate content on social media were almost 50% MORE DISTRESSED than the other children in the study. There was also a worrying prevalence of revenge porn, where children post sexually explicit photos of ex boyfriends or girlfriends after they break up.

This study certainly provided many new and similarly disturbing insights into social media use amongst young children. Researchers interviewed the parents of the 200 children involved in the study, and found that 94% of parents underestimated the amount of fighting and bickering that occurs on social media! The study highlighted the importance of parental supervision and involvement when it comes to younger children using social media.

For more tips on keeping your child safe on Instagram, check out some of our following posts:

INTRODUCING THE OFFICE OF THE CHILDREN’S eSAFETY COMMISSIONER

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner was recently established by the Australian Government, and has now been operating for six months. The commissioner aims to create a safe environment for Australian children online.

On top of providing accurate and up to date information about all things cybersafety, the Office has also established a comprehensive complaints system that aims to help children who are experiencing cyberbullying or harassment online. If your child is experiencing such difficulties online, the Office of the eSafety commissioner is an invaluable resource, but unfortunately it is not well known by most parents. Here is Australia’s first eSafety Commissioner, Alastair MacGibbon, discussing the vision and aims of the office.

As mentioned in the video, the office has established a cyberbullying complaints system. This system, which is backed by legislation, aims to remove offensive material within 12 hours. Participants in the program are notified of offensive material present on their sites by the commissioner, and are asked to have the content removed within 12 hours or face further action. An extensive number of social media services, including Ask.fm, Flickr, Twitter, Yahoo!7 Answers, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and YouTube, are all participants in the program.

In the first six months of operation, the office has made tremendous progress in dealing with cyberbullying, having resolved over 40 complaints about serious cyberbullying, completed over 2000 investigations into illegal online content, and referred over 600 children to the Kids Helpline.

So, how can the office of the eSafety commissioner help you? One in five Australian children experience cyberbullying each year, this can have a dramatic impact on their safety and wellbeing, and the office of the eSafety commissioner is here to help protect your child. If your child is under the age of 18, and is being bullied online, you can lodge a complaint to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. The following video provides you with more information about what to do before you lodge your complaint, and how your complaint will be dealt with.

Where are we at with Cybersafety Education?

It goes without saying that every parent and teacher wants young children to be educated in online cybersafety and have the ability to make safe choices online. When it comes to who should be responsible for this education the answer is not quite as clear.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that whilst 93% of parents wanted to learn more about how to keep their child safe online, only 13% had attended a cybersafety presentation. Parents lead busy lives, and the option to attend a presentation in the evening is not always practical or convenient.

A survey of Australian teachers found that 85% of those surveyed felt that parents see cybersafety education as a responsibility of the school. On top of this, 80% of teachers believed that cybersafety should be a compulsory element of the education syllabus. So why is this not the case?

The Australian Government provides numerous resources for students, teachers, and parents to encourage awareness about the Internet and promote a safer online environment for our kids. The government also provides outlines for schools to follow to help implement cybersafe policies and information programs within the school community. Despite the availability of these resources and programs, they are only to be implemented at the discretion of each individual school. Unfortunately, whilst cyberbullying and other missuses of social media a rife throughout primary school aged children, it is not uncommon for children to go through primary school and receive little to no education on the consequences and dangers of poor online choices.

What can you do to ensure your child is well educated in cyber safety?? Visit the Australian Government website Cybersafety In Schools for some links to great cybersafety programs and resources that you can use to educate yourself and your child on cybersafety and online awareness. If you believe your child’s school is not providing enough cybersafety education, contact the school principal/parent liaison/ family educator, to discuss how cybersafety programs can be better promoted within the school community.

Hidden Dangers of The Instagram Bio

What seems like a few innocent lines is actually one of the most underestimated threats to your child’s online safety. The humble ‘Instagram Bio’ is a major threat to privacy and cybersafety, as it remains public regardless of your privacy settings. Whether your account is private or public some elements of your child’s Instagram page remain available to ALL users, this includes

  • Name
  • Bio
  • Profile picture
  • Number of followers and number of people following (names of people your child follows or is followed by are NOT accessible to other users if their profile is set to private.)

Australian police are making an increasing number of arrests of predators who have been caught grooming or attempting to groom children on social media services, including Instagram. It is important to remain diligent in supervision and not to underestimate the risks children can be exposed to on social media.

If your child’s Instagram account is set to private, here is how it would look to an online predator:

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When an account is private, followers and following lists are not accessible, however direct messaging is still possible!

If your child’s Instagram account is set to public, here is how it would look to an online predator:

 

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Predators would simply need to click followers or following to gain access to a list of every user that follows or is followed by your child. Even if your child’s account is set to PRIVATE, their page can still be easily found if any of their friends have PUBLIC profiles.

Obviously the best way to protect your child’s safety is to not allow them to create an Instagram account, however, if you wish to allow your child to create an Instagram account, there are ways to reduce the risks. Generally, young people like to include some information about themselves in their bio, and whilst it might initially seem harmless, especially to a child, it does not take long for an online predator to piece together little snippets of information to create a bigger picture. Some examples of information commonly placed in the bio’s of young people include:

  • Full name
  • Birth date/ year
  • Age
  • School
  • Names of friends
  • Post codes or suburbs
  • Sporting clubs or dance groups etc
  • Links to other social media accounts such as Kik, Snapchat and Skype

REMEMBER! Online predators are becoming increasingly technologically advanced, and innocent information unwittingly placed in an Instagram bio can lead to identification. Here is in example of how easily information about your child can fall into the WRONG hands!

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Reputation Matters!

Everything you do, say and post online is all part of your digital reputation.

The concept of a digital reputation includes:

  • Content your child has posted online
  • Content your child has liked, shared or commented on
  • Users your child interacts with online
  • Content that your child has been tagged in à this is the most difficult aspect of digital reputation has users have NO CONTROL over content other users tag them in

Many children, and adults, are unaware of the permanency of their digital reputation, and the impact that it can have on their future. Information that has been posted online is extremely difficult to remove, and also incredibly easy for others to share.

There are a number of ways in which you can help your child manage their digital reputation

  • Encourage them to STOP and THINK before they post
  • Ensure their account is set to PRIVATE and continue to monitor this in case they change their settings without you knowing
  • Regularly check what your child is posting to their Instagram page, as well as posts they have been tagged in
  • Check their Direct Messenger Feed
  • Talk to your child about the permanency of the Internet and the ease with which others can share what they have posted
  • Encourage your child to talk with you about what they are seeing online, it is important that they feel comfortable approaching you if they do see something which troubles them
  • LIMIT the time your child is allowed to access Instagram, and ensure they only ever use it when you are able to closely supervise them, do not let them browse Instagram alone in their room
  • Tell your child you are monitoring their page, they are less likely to post something inappropriate if they know you have direct access to their page and are regularly checking it

The Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner’s Office produced this short video which can help explain to your child the importance of managing your digital reputation, and they ways in which it can impact their future.