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Social Media Sites: Cyberbullying and Springboard for Conflict


While cyberbullying continues to plague the youth population, another source of conflict is arising on social-media sites, concludes a 2014 study that tracks the computer habits of U.S. teens.

Half of those surveyed said they got into an offline argument as a direct result of an online post. That number is a 51-percent increase from 2013, when 33 percent said they had encountered that type of argument. Four percent said the argument resulted in a face-to-face fight.

“Unfortunately, the negative experience of cyberbullying does not only exist online,” states the study by Internet-security company McAfee, titled “Teens and the Screen: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying.” “Social networks are causing a majority of U.S. adolescents to experience negative situations….”

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Another finding from the study is the fact that 45 percent of teens who believed their parents were watching their behavior in front of the screen would change it. Yet another is the fact that 49 percent of teens at one point or another regretted posting something online.

“In addition to oversharing feelings, youth also overshare what would be considered private information publicly, both intentionally and unintentionally,” the study states.

A couple of curious statistics from the study show that 25 percent of those surveyed said they are concerned about their privacy being compromised but only 61 percent have enabled such protective settings on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social networks.

More than half of the teens in the study now are exposing their geo-locations, which many apps and sites employ in their operations, putting their personal safety at risk from stalking strangers. Additionally, another 14 percent admitted to broadcasting their home addresses – a major only no-no.

“Do you really know what your kids are doing all the time?” asks Robert Siciliano, a McAfee online-security expert, in a blogpost. “Probably not….”

Siciliano continues: “But really, there has to be some element of trust and you can’t physically be everywhere your kids are. And that also applies to the online world. McAfee’s 2014 Teens and Screens study showed that tween and teens continue to interact with strangers online and overshare information, even though they realize that these activities can put them at risk.”

Here are some guidelines parents can follow to minimize their teen’s digital dangers:

  • Establish rules about which sites your children can and can’t visit.
  • Discuss actions and behaviors – such as posting home addresses online – that should be prohibited and the reasons why.
  • Keep tab of your children’s “friends” by knowing with whom they are chatting, exchanging information and texting. Ask to meet these “friends” to ensure their identities are real.
  • Make sure some type of security software is installed on all of your children’s devices.

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