Cyber risks facing kids in the technology era

1. Pornography–Warping the minds of youth

Repeatedly viewing pornography, especially from a young age, can radically shape one’s sexual attitudes and beliefs. Frequent exposures to sexually explicit material is closely linked to more permissive attitudes about sex, such as having multiple sexual partners, “one night stands,” cynicism about the need for affection between sexual partners, casual sexual relations with friends, and even mimicking behaviors seen in pornography.

2. Sexting–The unsafe ‘safe sex’

Sexting is sending or receiving nude or partially nude photos or videos through the Internet or cell phones. When teens engage in this risky behavior, many things can go wrong. These images are easy to forward on to others. At times, these images can be considered “child pornography,” and some teens have already been given felony charges.

. Cyberbullying–The mean way kids treat each other online

Bullying happens on both the playground and in the digital world. Hurtful words are exchanged. Rumors start easily and spread quickly. Profiles and e-mails are hacked. And these types of activities are common today:

20% of teens say their peers are “mostly unkind” to each other on social networks.
24% of teens and young adults say someone has written something about them online that wasn’t true.
9% say someone has threatened to use electronic communication (Facebook, e-mail, text messages, etc.) to tell others private things about them as a form of blackmail.

4. Predators–Those seeking to ensnare our children

The Internet is a perfect forum to meet new people, but some with malicious intent can use it to “befriend” your child. Internet predators are expert manipulators, able to foster a relationship of dependence with a teenager. Most prey on a teen’s desire to be liked, their desire for romance, or their sexual curiosity. Often a predator “grooms” a child through flattery, sympathy, and by investing time in their online relationship. These can then turn into offline relationships or, in extreme cases, opportunities for kidnapping or abduction.

5. Gaming–More risks of exposure to sexual media and interactions

While online and console games can be very fun, educational, and interactive, there are also hidden dangers. Much of the content of some games include sexual content, violence, and crude language. Plus, Internet-connected games enable kids to interact with strangers, some of which can be bad influences or mean your kids harm.

6. Social Networks–Redefining privacy

Social networks like Facebook are very popular online activities. But parents should be aware of the image their teens are projecting as well as the influences they are absorbing online.

7. YouTube–’Broadcast yourself’ culture means anything goes

YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing website. But because anyone can upload anything to YouTube, often videos can break the Community Guidelines for YouTube, and even those that do not can still be full of sexual innuendo, provocative content, and foul language.