This week our assistant principal Demos [pictured on the right] in consultation with 3 other local schools coordinated a series of cyberbullying workshops from ACMA [Australian Communications and Media Authority] for staff , students and parents.
The staff session was well attended and the presentation was very informative. Several points resonated with me:
- 40-50% of 12 year olds have 3 to 4 email accounts: two usually set up by parents and the school and the others usually set by students themselves [e.g. hot mail] to manage the ‘real’ communication with friends and subscriptions to other sites that end up sending spam or junk mail. The number of email accounts increases as they get older. The parent and school ones are usually too monitored for their liking and the end result is if stuff is found inappropriate they are usually banned for some time on the medium they like to use – not cool to be out of touch it seems. Note is seems email is also out of favor with most students as its too slow compared to other web 2.0 tools.
- There is a general shift away for MSN and other social networking sites as they move onto Face book. It’s cool to have lots friends [500 – 1,000 in secondary schools is not uncommon – definition of friend is that I can see their image so I know them] and often used in the popularity or exclusion stakes.
- Online gaming is very popular with boys – usually violent X rated games like “Call of Duty” with games lasting 2-3 hrs. No wonder the arguments in the middle of games at tea time – letting your ‘friends’ down in the middle of a game is one way to get unpopular – real quick. Some youth [12 – 20 year olds] who have online games in bedrooms are late to sleep or early risers to catch the good online gamers in Europe who start around 5 am our time.
- Many youth have 2 or 3 mobile phones so when they are caught the unconnected cheap $5 phone is handed in – little loss. Lots of girls have disrupted sleep as they received and text back messages in the middle of nights – mobile phone in bedrooms can be a big issue.
- ‘Sexting’ for some young girls starting from 8 or 9 year old is becoming an issue as people troll through images looking for targets.
- 61% of young people do not report being cyber bullied as they don’t want the technology taken away from them by parents or teachers
- Employers are increasing using the Internet to develop an online profile of candidates in the selection process – so that picture of you drinking to excess could hurt you 10 years later.
The good news is that we can learn to protect ourselves by using the privacy buttons on sites [friends only on Face book] and report inappropriate images or words.
Schools do have a role in educating our youth and parents have a role to become informed and monitor their children. This session was a bit of a wake up call and follows on from my previous session this year with students from Years 3-6.
I do hope parents took the opportunity to attend the evening session as it takes about 18 months to book these sessions.
Blog post on immersive gaming worth reading bu Ollie Bray