#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Safe on Social Media founder advises carers to get involved in their children’s digital life | The Armidale Express


An expert specialising in cyber safety and social media risk management has released some safety tips for parents following the recent viral circulation of a video containing extremely distressing footage. The video of a man taking his own life on Facebook Live was created on August 31 and immediately spread from there to TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, where his image ran alongside ads and attracted thousands more views. It has even been reported on Kids YouTube. Kirra Pendergast ( who has spoken at numerous schools across New England) is the CEO of the company Safe on Social Media and she says part of the problem with social media is that parents aren’t engaged with what their kids are doing online. “They rarely read the terms and conditions ( no one reads terms and conditions) and they don’t actually realise how this all works, and what danger they’re putting their kids in by letting them use apps like Tik Tok when they are eight years old,” Ms Pendergast told Australian Community Media. “I see Grade 2 students using TikTok and they think it is all cool and funny, but all you have to do is go to something like the Wiggles Tik Tok page, click on followers, and you have a database of 208,000 children – it’s creepy.” Parents should respect the age recommendations for usage Ms Pendergast says – which is 13 + for most social media apps. “This stuff is not going to go away so we have to build digital resilience,” she said. “There is a piece of legislation in the United States called the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and Section 230 C has within it the ‘good samaritans provision’ which makes these social media companies about as liable for offending content as a company that manufactures the paper a newspaper is printed on. “It means they’re not responsible for any of the stuff on their server at all. “The onus is all on the user.” READ MORE: Thanks to a practice referred to in the industry as creating an ‘Elsa Gate’ the current disturbing video was also popping up on YouTube for Kids Ms Pendergast said. “People take kids’ videos of puppies and kittens and embed graphic content into them,” she said. “So particularly with little ones always switch off the autoplay function on YouTube” When Ms Pendergast was notified of the distressing content that was being seen online last week she said as a duty of care to Australian and New Zealand schools she immediately emailed all subscribers to her mailing list to be prepared if they saw any children in distress. “It is my job to try and keep my subscribers one step ahead of what is happening,” she said. “Schools and parents flooded me with thank you messages as they could be prepared because their schools shared my post via email and other channels,” The post on the Safe on Social Media Facebook page has now been viewed more than two million times, and shared across more than one hundred and fifty news articles across the world from Belgium to India, Spain, Africa, the US, and the UK. Ms Pendergast has worked in the Australian IT consulting and cyber security and cyber safety sector for twenty-nine years. “I have advised governments and industry my whole career,” she said. “The last eleven years have been specifically in cyber safety and social media risk management. “Having been a victim of a relentless online cyber bullying and an online hate campaign myself, I use my first-hand experience to work at the coalface on a daily basis educating students, their parents, and teachers on how to use online platforms more safely.” 1. Be as involved in your child’s online life as you are their offline life. To them, it is just “life” it is so blurred now there is no definition in the eyes of a young person. 2. Think about the age recommendations; it is not illegal for a child to use social media under the age of 13yrs with their parents’ permission but think about what they are being exposed to. When we sign up to use apps, there are extensive terms and conditions of use. By ticking that box accepting them, you are signing a document that puts all the onus back on the user. You are signing up to be a data generating commodity, handing over personal information that can be sold and shared at the app’s discretion. When you click “I agree” to most terms and conditions on social media platforms – you give it up by legal contract. And you probably didn’t even read them. Most adults don’t – let alone a child. Some of the things they state are: “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferrable, sub-licensable, royalty-free worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with the app.” Pictures, videos, posts, private messages, ANYTHING you have on your page is licensed to the app and can be sold or shared for media and marketing purposes. This includes: All device information, your connections, what you share, and what you delete; What groups you are members of and what you follow; Your location and your IP address and the length of time you spend online; How you bank, your billing details, delivery, and home address; What your friends post about you; Wi-Fi nearby and Bluetooth ‘handshakes.’; Mobile towers nearby, mobile number, connections speeds; Your ISP and all the cookies that are stored on your device. 3. Use parental controls where possible to minimise exposure to harmful and distressing content. 4. Engage with your children about their favourite social media app and get them to teach you about it so you can at least know the basics. Get them to show you how to block and report so you can be sure they know how to. 5. Put healthy boundaries in place. Don’t ban them from their device if they forget to do a household chore or are naughty for something totally unrelated to their device. Do not take it off them if they speak up about something that has happened online because you are scared. This is the quickest way to drive all the conversations that you want to be having underground. Instead, if you have a healthy boundary like all devices are banned from the bathroom or bedroom. So then if they are caught with their device in either place, you ban them for a week. This way, they will learn that it is safe to speak up about what is going on online without punishment unless they break the rules about device use. Limit use to the family room with younger kids so that you can monitor them. 6. Be a good role model. Keep your screen time in check. There is no use banning the phones from bedrooms if you go to bed with yours each night, for example. More information can be found at www.safeonsocialtoolkit.com Advice for parents and children who have seen or are impacted by the content of the recently circulated video: Kids HelpLine – For ages 5 – 25 Free 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. CALL: 1800 55 1800 (Available 24/7) CHAT: Chat with us online (Available 8am – 12am AEST) VISIT: www.kidshelpline.com.au Lifeline – For all ages Provides all Australians access to crisis support and suicide prevention services. CALL: 13 11 14 (Available 24/7) CHAT: Chat with us online (Available 7pm – 12am AEST) Visit: www.lifeline.org.au Suicide Call Back Service – For ages 15+ Provides immediate telephone counselling and support in a crisis. CALL: 1300 659 467 (Available 24/7) CHAT: Chat with us online (Available 24/7) Visit: www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au Headspace – www.headspace.com.au reachout – www.reachout.com



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