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The Internet is now an integral part of everyday life for most people. And within a short period of time, it has evolved from simply being a tool for accessing information and conducting communication and commerce to becoming a significant venue for social activity and interaction. For many young people who have never known a world without the Internet, it is also a vehicle for self-expression, a source of entertainment, and a creativity and distribution tool unimaginable by previous generations.
Using the internet and technology should be a positive experience for young people, and for most of them it is. Unfortunately, young people can use technology in negative ways. When a young person is bullied or harassed via the Internet or mobile phones by their peers, the Internet is no longer is a safe or enjoyable place for them and instead becomes a source of anxiety and fear. In various research studies conducted around the world, as many as one-third of young people surveyed have experienced cyberbullying. Young people can be participants as much as they can be victims of cyberbullying, and there are risks to anyone who engages in such behavior. Harassing or bullying anyone online can even be considered a criminal offense.
As a parent, you might think there is only one tricky conversation to be had with your child about ‘protection’…but you would be wrong. The Internet has become a daily part of all of our lives, including those of our children’s, and your job is to help your child avoid engaging — knowingly or unknowingly — in associated risky behavior.
Sometimes the very reason kids and teens blog and spend time on social-networking sites is to “meet new friends.” So it's not always easy for them to tell when “new friends” have bad intentions, and research has shown that as much as 14% of kids receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.
“Grooming” is the way sexual predators get from bad intentions to sexual exploitation. Basically, grooming is manipulation. It's the process pedophiles use to get young people they target online to meet with them offline, the simple goal being sex.