Making Cyberbullying More Painful
Cell phones make it easy for children to communicate with their friends, but they also make them vulnerable to cyberbullying. Cell phones can be used at anytime and anywhere, giving cyberbullies unlimited access to their victims. Children may send and receive mean-spirited phone calls, texts, and pictures at any hour.
Playing a Role in Grooming
Predators also know and take advantage of the fact that cell phones let them talk with their victims at any time. They are also aware that parents and guardians often forget to monitor children’s cell phones. Predators may send children cell phones and ask them to keep the phones a secret. They can then talk to and exchange text messages and pictures with children without close monitoring by parents and guardians. Others may ask children for their cell phone numbers after meeting them online or try to connect with willing children by sending texts to random numbers.
Sexting Made Easy
“Sexting” is a term used to describe the sending of sexually explicit text messages or pictures of minors by minors. What most young people do not realize is that the production, possession, and distribution of explicit photos of minors, even if they are self-produced, may be illegal. Furthermore, if these explicit photos end up on the Internet, children may be taunted by their peers and jeopardize scholastic, athletic, and employment opportunities.
Unintentional Sharing of Geolocation Data
Most smartphones have GPS technology which allows the user’s precise location to be pinpointed by apps and on websites. Social networking sites such as FourSquare, GoWalla, and Facebook take advantage of this technology by encouraging their users to “check-in” or share their locations. A “check-in” can be shared with a list of friends, so make sure you know who is on your child’s friends list before allowing them to use this type of technology. Children also may share their locations unintentionally through pictures taken with their smartphones; these photos often have geolocation data embedded in them. Consider disabling the location services on smartphones before allowing children to post photos online.