“Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline,” says a report released December 31, 2008 by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.¹

Online harassment and bullying

32% of online teens have experienced one of the following forms of online harassment:

  • 15% of teens reported having private material (IM, txt, email) forwarded without permission
  • 13% had received threatening messages
  • 13% said someone had spread a rumor about them online
  • 6% had someone post an embarrassing picture of them online without permission

Mid-teens (ages 14-17) is the age of greatest prevalence of online harassment & bullying. Research shows prevalence of cyberbullying or online harassment between 9% and 33% of youth ages 10-18.²

Four Signs That Your Teenager May Be In Trouble On the internet

Sad teenAre you a parent who has a teen that frequently goes online? Are you aware that your youngster may run into problems online? The chances increase when they are using the internet to socialize with close friends or make new acquaintances. You have probably have heard about the possibility of your child coming across a predator. But there are other dangers that both you and your child should be aware of.  For example, they may be harassed or bullied by other kids. They could unwittingly disclose private personal information to strangers. Would you recognize if your child were in trouble in cyberspace?

Following are four indicators that your teenager might be having trouble online. Should any of these signs apply to your son or daughter, you should consider taking action immediately.

1 – They go online every day at the same time

What many mothers and fathers do not realize is that kids don’t usually fall prey to predators overnight. Some predators pretend that to be the ages of their targets. Then they work to attain the trust of those targets. This can take a day or two or perhaps a few weeks. If your child goes on line like clockwork every day this may be a sign that they’re interacting directly with another person, who may not have 100 % pure objectives.

2 – They are secretive when they use the computer

How exactly does your kid behave when he or she is on the computer? Does your son or daughter attempt to conceal exactly what they are doing on line from you? Teenagers are notoriously secretive when it comes to letting Mom and Dad know their business. But if he or she automatically shuts off the computer or opens an online game, they may be trying to prevent you from seeing what exactly they are doing online – possibly some behavior that they know you would not approve, like having direct, personal discussions with a complete stranger.

3 – They are happy when they get off the computer

If your child is way too happy after they sign off the internet, they could be experiencing trouble online. But not necessarily. This specific indicator can be a little bit tricky. Your son or daughter may just be happy because they just completed a challenging class assignment, but the truth is, you really just do not know. If your young person is communicating with another person via the internet, they could be in the process of starting a romantic relationship, which they are happy about. Regrettably, a lot of teenagers do not realize that anyone can hide behind a computer. That’s why it’s important for you to talk to your child about the dangers of starting an web based relationship.

4 – They are extremely depressed

Your child may be very happy when using the internet, and yet seem very despondent when they sign off the computer. A lot of parents don’t realize that other teens use the internet for harassment and bullying. If your teen has a falling out with one of his or her close friends, they may end up being the target of online harassment. If that is the case, your kid might appear very down, despondent, and withdrawn.

These signals are just a few of the many that you will want to be on the lookout for if you suspect your child is in trouble online. There are more signs that you will want to be in search of, the most significant being a modification in long-held habits. Should you suspect that your kid is running into trouble online, be sure you speak to them – and as soon as possible.

What can parents do to protect their children online?

To help monitor your child’s online travels, we suggest you consider Covenant Eyes

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¹(Enhancing Child Safety And Online Technologies: Final Report Of The Internet Safety Technical Task Force To The Multi-State Working Group On Social Networking Of State Attorneys General Of The United States, a report released December 31, 2008 and directed by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University)

² Lenhart, Amanda. Cyberbullying – What the research is telling us…. At Youth Online Safety Working Group. Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 6, 2010, http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2010/May/Cyberbullying-2010.aspx, accessed on July 14, 2011