By Jennifer Jennings, Grants Specialist
Statistics regarding cyberbullying and other internet harassment are startling:
- 20.8% of kids have been bullied online
- 5% have had a mean or hurtful picture posted
- 6.7% of kids have had their password stolen or had someone impersonate them
- 39% of teens have sent sexually suggestive messages.
"Not my teen!" Are you sure?
75% of teens ages 12-17 have a cell phone and 66% of those send text messages. The most frequent texting is done by girls ages 14-17. Kids are writing blogs, creating websites, sending photos online and through text, and sending spyware and hacking programs (intentionally or accidentally).
Since many young people today have smart phones, tablets, and laptops, parents and teachers have an increasing responsibility to raise good “Digital Citizens”. A digital citizen is “someone who is able to think critically about the ethical opportunities and challenges of the ‘digital world’ and make safe, respectful, and responsible choices.” (Common Sense Media, 2010).
What kinds of lessons do we need to share in order to inspire good Digital Citizens?
- Remember that anything posted online is public and permanent. Think before you post.
- Limit the amount of personal information including: profiles, screen names, email address, photographs, and other identifying information.
- Understand the software that your children or students are using.
- Be aware of the internet sites that your children or students visit.
- Learn about online friends and discuss those relationships.
- In addition to the standard “How was your day?” question, ask about online experiences.
- Spend time online with children.
- Set a good example by avoiding online disagreements or responding to offensive messages.
On July 25, Sarah Migas, LCSW, Internet Safety Specialist, office of the Illinois Attorney General, shared her knowledge at the Partnership for Safer Synagogues Community Network meeting; a gathering for graduates and current participants of the Safer Synagogues initiative. This JCARES initiative engages congregational leadership in learning and dialogue about the impact of abuse across the lifespan, improving access to support for congregants experiencing abusive situations, and coordinated community strategies that perpetuate healthy, peaceful Jewish homes, families and relationships. For additional resources about Cyberbulling, visit the Illinois Attorney General's Stop Cyberbullying website. For more information about Safer Synagogues, email Amy Rubin, JCFS Director of Community Services, or call 847-745-5432. The Safer Synagogues initiative is supported by funding from the Michael Reese Health Trust.