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Instagram Hate Pages – More Tools for Cyberbullying

For most teens, Instagram is the “go to” app for communicating (72 percent  of teens use it according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center), so it is no surprise that many are finding a whole lot of drama, bullying and gossip on the platform. Unfortunately, due to its widespread nature and size of the app’s distribution mechanism, rude comments or harassing images can go viral within hours. Like Twitter, Instagram also makes it easy to set up new anonymous profiles, which can be used specifically for trolling. Most importantly, interactions on the app are often hidden from the watchful eyes of parents and teachers, many of who don’t understand the platform’s intricacies.  

The company has recently announced a set of new features aimed at combatting bullying, including comment filters on live videos, machine-learning technology to detect bullying in photos, and a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity”, but their effectiveness is yet to be seen. Instagram is many teens’ entire social infrastructure and some may argue that it is inevitable for bullying to happen in any social environment.

Parents Sign A Pledge to Restrict Social Media Access of Kids Under 13

A Monmouth county New Jersey school district has asked parents to sign a pledge barring students' access to social media until they are 13 years old because they are not "emotionally mature enough to handle it," says Superintendent John Marciante. The district's request comes after an incident occurred between students in a chat room using the app House Party that led to a threat of a school shooting. Some feel that such a ban could never be enforceable, but it still brings up the question about the age appropriateness of social media platforms.

Cyberbullying and the Law- Where Do Things Stand?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but do you know the current status of laws concerning cyberbullying stand on both the state and federal level? After initial attempts to get more laws on the books and policies in place, little more has appeared in the news lately.  Tina Hegner, manager of research and development at PublicSchoolWORKS, offers insights on bullying and cyberbulling laws in an article on the eSchool News site, describing how schools and districts can address bullying and enforce anti-bullying laws.

The Fortnite Craze – Pros and Cons

According to NBC News, some parents are hiring tutors to help improve their childrens’ Fortnite skills, with one tutoring company receiving up to 1,000 inquiries a day. Boosting popularity at school, becoming a teen influencer for gaming companies or receiving an esports college scholarship are among the reasons parents cite for hiring a tutor. However, there are other parents who are still worried about facets of the online game, including safety and privacy concerns and the chance for being cyberbullied. If you need more information about Fortnite, start with this parent’s guide to the game.

Not Much of a Role Model

A common theme proclaimed by anti-cyberbullying experts is how important it is for adults to act as role models and to monitor their own use of social media before expecting children to follow suit. One Texas school district superintendent, Lynn Redden is under review by the Onalaska Independent School District in Piney Woods, about 75 miles north of Houston, over an insensitive post he made on the local newspaper’s Facebook page. Redden says he regrets his comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and even tried to delete the comment, but not before others had taken screen shots of his words. This is yet another example of digital permanence and a good reminder for kids to think twice before posting anything.

Turning Off Social Media – Generation Z

It seems that some members of Generation Z are abandoning some social media platforms or are considering doing so. Several teenagers interviewed for an article in The Guardian said they stopped using social media because they were tired of presenting a false persona on platforms such as Instagram or watching others being bullied online. Is this a trend or an aberration?

Should Schools Track What Students Type?

As reported by Quartz, some schools are tracking, word for word, anything an individual student types on a school computer using safety management platforms (SMPs), such as Gaggle, Securly, and GoGuardian. These platforms use natural language to scan each document looking for words or phrases that might indicate bullying, violent or self-harm behavior, sending flagged documents to a team of humans to review. The practice, however, is raising questions about how to balance school safety and students' privacy. Critics say that this kind of surveillance, even if students understand this kind of scrutiny is in place, normalizes a “Big Brother” state depriving students of the chance to control their own data. How is your school handling this issue?

STOPit App Fights Cyberbullying

While schools shouldn't rely solely on an app to fight cyberbullying and create a positive, supportive culture among their students, the STOPit app is a new tool being used by some districts this fall. A simple design and setup make it easy to get help quickly, especially for cyberbullying issues. On the app, students can anonymously report any bullying, self-harm, or violence concerns. A school administrator on the receiving end can then respond to address the issue. As some administrators point out, kids are often more comfortable reporting issues using technology rather than face-to-face.

App Developed in Attempt to Help Curb Cyberbullying

Researchers at the University of Colorado have developed an app that can alert school leaders and parents to the possibility that students are being bullied online. The BullyAlert app currently only monitors Instagram accounts, but developers say they are working to add other platforms and hope it will help schools curb cyberbullying. The developers are asking parents, guardians or other “well-wishers” to sign up for this abuse monitoring system and give feedback on its performance. The app is part of the CyberSafety Research Center’s cyberbullying research initiative. Examples of apps of the same genre include Auditor, which monitors Gmail for indicators of bullying or the potential intention of self-harm; Net Nanny, which lets parents monitor and filter kids’ online behavior; and STOP!t, which is used within schools and empowers students to report bullying.

Survey Says Teens Constantly Online

Forty-five percent of teenagers say they are online “almost constantly,” according to a new Pew Research Center study on teens and social media use. That percentage has nearly doubled in just a few years: in a 2014-2015 Pew survey, 24 percent of teens said the same. That rise in the “almost constantly” category is probably linked to “a pretty big jump” in teens who have access to smartphones, researchers say. 95% of teens have access to a smartphone in 2018, whereas three years ago, Pew reported that number was only 73%.

The results were also very interesting when it came to teens answering the question about whether social media has had a mostly positive (31%), neither positive nor negative (45%), or mostly negative (24%) effect on people their age. Adults tend to talk about the negatives of teen social media use in terms of addiction, but instead of addiction, more teens in the survey were worried about social media’s role in bullying and hurting relationships.