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TELLOYMN joins a growing family of anonymous messaging applications including Sarahah, Ask.FM and Line. These platforms have evolved into an online environment rife with insults, inappropriate content and regular online bullying.
Why are anonymous messenger apps so popular among teenagers? They are forums which conceal the users identity and location and enable #TBH (to be honest) commenting. TELLONYM encourages users to "answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before" making it appealing for curious teens seeking social acceptance and an opportunity to ask embarrassing questions among their peer groups.
To create an account, users are required to provide an email address or a phone contact, as well as acknowledge that they are 17 years old or under. A simple YES or NO response is required with no age verification process. TELLONYM encourages users to link their Snapchat and Instagram profiles, and like these platforms, encourages users to connect and build a following. Anyone can ask you a question and when you respond this becomes public on your profile for all who view your profile to see. It is common to witness negative or inappropriate questioning with replies/responses tending to being defensive, aggressive or offensive in nature.
The online anonymity that is present within TELLONYM is cultivating a negative, cruel and hurtful culture among online groups of young users. While users have the ability to block and report harmful behaviour, this will only ever take place after the damaging or bullying behaviour has occurred.
We recommend using the following points to stimulate a discussion with your own children or students in your class that highlight key issues surrounding TELLONYM and similar anonymous messaging applications:
It has been just over three weeks since Apex Legends was released and has already been touted as the first legitimate competition to the juggernaut that is Fortnite. Apex Legends rapid rise in the gaming world has been expeditious. To put things in perceptive, in it's first two weeks Fortnite had 10 million downloads, while Apex Legends had 25 million in its first week! If your child isn’t talking about (and wanting to play Apex Legends) it is only a matter of time. So here is what you need to know.
Apex Legends is currently available on PS4, Xbox ONE and PC. It is a multiplayer ‘Battle style' game similar to the format of Fortnite. Twenty squads (teams of three players) are dropped into a map of an island, where they begin a battle to be the ‘last man standing’. Players search for supplies, ammunition and explosives to shoot and kill whilst the playing area continues to get decrease in size. The Australian Classification Standards have Apex Legends rated as MA 15+, legally restricting this game to persons 15 years and older, with reference to strong violence and graphic representation of harm. Like any media platform, this is something that should not be overlooked. While Fortnite, has often be defended against being a 'violent' game with no blood featured and cartoonish gameplay, Apex Legends includes blood spatters, stabbing and greater realistic violence. We strongly advise parents to view video content or play to game to establish how they feel about their children accessing this form of media.
Given the increase in popularity of these styles of online games, there are two key factors that make this game so appealing. The influence of obsessive behaviour to constantly play games and the social element of connecting with friends (or complete strangers) through game collaboration and communication features.
These styles of games have addictive tendencies through the short time investment in each game (around 15 -20 minutes) and operant conditioning which exists through the randomisation of being rewarded when searching and finding helpful weapons and ammunition. It is these triggers that can make it hard for any person to self-regulate their game play and falling into a vortex of playing “just one more” game. Like something sweet, the colours, sounds and reward systems within both Fortnite and Apex Legends provide young (and older) players stimulus that encourages returning to the game to fulfil a craving.
Apex Legends, promotes collaborative game with players taking part in teams of three. Unless the user has two other 'friends' that they know with the same gaming console (PS4, Xbox ONE or PC), they will be paired to play with people they don't know. With the ability to communicate both verbally (audio headsets) this does mean there is the risk that users will be exposed to inappropriate language and strangers. If users are playing people with strangers, there is the ability to mute them during game play and should be encouraged.
Whether your children are play Apex Legends, Fortnite, FIFA or Solitaire, there are always things you should know and talk about when playing online games.
Here are our TOP TIPS for parents whose children play online games:
"There's nothin' on telly!" Remember that time? Kids... you won't! But back in the good ol' days your parents had to find something else to do, like ride their bike, read a book or play with their siblings, whilst they waited for their favourite TV show to be aired. We're not talking just minutes here either! It could have been hours, sometimes even days! So just spare a thought when you have to wait 30 seconds for your show to load or buffer.
With Netflix and other streaming services now making it simple for young children to watch their favourite (and potentially unfavourable) episodes on demand we are now faced with yet another challenge of managing what, how, when and where children can get their hands on adult themed content. At first glance these animated series may look innocent enough, however, be warned they are not designed for children. Here we list three Netflix original animated series gaining popularity with Australian audiences... AND likely to be topics of playground chatter at a school near you!
1. BIG MOUTH
Big Mouth is an animation centred around a humorous view upon the modern adolescent. This series characterises a group of teens who are obsessed with sex and exploration of their genitalia and sexualities. Whilst much of this content is relatable and humorous to a mature audience you would be mortified to find your younger children exposed to the mature themes, animated nudity and sexual behaviours, drug and alcohol references and highly explicit language.
What makes this so inappropriate? Animated nudity, sexual references, explicit language and jokes referencing drugs and alcohol
2. BOJACK HORSEMAN
Bojack Horseman is an animated series set in an alternate world, where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side. Bojack Horseman plans his big return to celebrity relevance through writing a tell-all autobiography about his life post his starring in a 1990's sitcom Horsin' Around. Alongside having a satirical take on current events, politics, and show business, BoJack Horseman underlying themes focus on dealing with depression, trauma, addiction and self-destructive behaviour.
What makes this so inappropriate? Substance abuse, violence, explicate language and adult themes.
Castlevania is an adaptation of a classic video game about vampire hunters with the main objective of killing and destroying enemies. There nature of this show is violent with regular, excessive and dramatised fight scenes that result in bloody deaths.
What makes this so inappropriate? Excessive and brutal violence, blood and gore.
Managing your children's access to Netflix
Take advantage of parent controls in Netflix and ensure the following Netflix original Cartoon series too crass for kids are added to your Restricted Titles within the Netflix Parental Control settings.
We now live in an instant access society where streaming services such as Netflix are making the consumption of popular TV shows, series, movies and documentaries easier and faster than ever before. For parents, managing screen time, binge watching and filtering age appropriate content, Netflix is yet another online service to battle. The good news is there are Parental Controls within Netflix settings that can dramatically reduce the risk of your children accessing Netflix content that could be too crass for kids.
Like most online platforms or apps, spending a few moments within the app settings can protect your children from exposure to inappropriate content and allow you to take control. Within Netflix Parental Controls you will find two settings that the Cyber Safety Project recommend setting up for your family. Both the 'Restrict by Maturity Level' and 'Restrict Specific Titles' allows you to take control over what you children can search and consume and seconds to set up.
OPTION 1: Create a 'Kids Profile' for your children to access
For younger children, setting up a 'Kids' profile on Netflix will provide the piece of mind that only content based on the regulated age restricted content will be made available and targeted at their maturity level. You can select this level of access and update it as your children come of age.
How to set up a 'Kids Profile':
1. Click 'Add profile'
2. Name your profile and select 'Kid?' to add the filter of only TV shows & movies for kids 12 and under that will be made available for viewing within this profile.
3. Choose the level of restrictions you would like to apply for this profile
OPTION 2: Add Parental Controls & Filters on standard Netflix profiles.
Add a Parental Control Pin:
You can set restrictions for the titles that young people in your household can access by setting a Parental Control Pin. This can be used to restrict the playback of certain content based on Maturity Level or by Specific Titles. The pin you set will appear when content over the certain maturity level.
Place restrictions of specific titles:
If you do not want specific titles appearing within the service, you can have these hidden from the library by entering the name of the show or movie you do not wish your children to view.
1. Select the profile you wish to add parental controls to and navigate to SETTINGS:
2. Create a PIN. (do not share with your children).
3. Search for titles you wish to restrict
There are a number of titles within the Netflix streaming service that are not designed for little eyes and ears. A popular original Netflix series such as 13 Reasons Why, know for being graphic and mature in nature with it's extreme view on teen life and sensationalised depiction of suicide, has been deemed by 'The National Association of School Psychologists' as highly inappropriate for vulnerable youth. There are also a number original Netflix Cartoons too crass for kids that should be on your Restrict List.
The new iOS 12 software update on Apple devices includes some easy to uses features that are already being praised by parents and families who use iOS devices. Each of the new additions to this update including Screen Time, Downtime and App Limit provide users with greater control around how much time you spend on your phone or device and more importantly provides users with the tools to help minimise and control the desire to be always connected. This blog will help you set up and understand each of these new and exciting features.
Once you have updated to iOS 12, within the Settings section of your device there will be a new section called Screen Time. On opening Screen Time for the first time you will be prompted to Turn on Screen Time. Once the feature is turned on you'll find a breakdown that shows just how much time you're spending on all iOS devices linked to the same iCloud account.
Screen Time breaks down usage for the current day, as well as the past 7 days. An alert will be received by the user that provides with a weekly report from the previous week that breaks down how much screen time has been spent on each device and within which applications.
Screen Time even provides users with an accurate account of how often a device or phone is being pick up, which apps you used the most after picking up your phone, and how many notifications you receive from apps. All great stimulus to have authentic and data driven conversations about digital uses within your family around how you and your children are using devices.
The Downtime feature provides parents with far greater control over when your child can access their favourite applications and can also help parents address negative habits you might be witnessing in your child’s digital behaviour, like scrolling through Instagram late at night. Downtime is a time-based setting and is easy to set up and operate.
To start, open the Settings app and select Screen Time. Within this menu page there is a clearly labelled option called Downtime. Downtime can set a scheduled time at which the device essentially locks itself down, restricting access to all but a handful of apps such as Phone, Messages, and FaceTime. If you want to use Downtime, but need access to more than just Phone, Messages and FaceTime, you can pick which apps you'll be able to use in Screen Time -----> Always allowed.
The ability to activate Downtime at bedtime is an opportune and simple way to force yourself and family members to stop checking Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and countless more apps.
The information that the Screen Time features provides through the insights and weekly usage report reveals a great deal of information to users and can be useful to parents to gage how family members are engaging with their device. App Limits allows users and controllers of the family account to set limits for themselves and their family members for app categories or specific apps on a 24-hour basis. To set this up and start setting limits you will need to select the individual breakdown screen, select Add Limit at the bottom of the page, then set the selected time. This can be customised based on day of the week and is a great setting if you want to make quick and immediate adjustments to particular limits. As the set time limit approaches an alert is received by the users to remind them that their time limit is nearly up. Once the time is up, the app will lock you out (and give you the option to approve more time, should you absolutely need to use the app).
All these tools with the iOS 12 updates when used effectively provide information to promote and encourage responsible digital use and screen time. The Cyber Safety Project believe that the detailed information and insight data provided through these Screen Time features will create a great conversation and learning opportunity for the entire family. It is this information that will drive discussions between parents and children about what the appropriate amount of screen time is, why limits around particular categories might need to be put in place, what behaviours the weekly report is showing in how family members are using their device and of course why there is a need for downtime away from device.
If you have any questions about using or utilising these features within the iOS 12 update please feel free to get in contact with the Cyber Safety Project.
The craze that is Fortnite: Battle Royale has hit an all-time high during recent months. Released in September 2017, its frenzy and popularity has many parents asking plenty of questions. With school holidays being upon us, it was the perfect fortnight to immerse ourselves in the game Fortnite and learn as much as we could. This blog entry will answer the 3 most common questions, the Cyber Safety Project is being asked by parents about Fortnite and provide some easy to implement tips within your household.
Is there a difference between Fortnite and Fortnite: Battle Royale?
Yes, yes there is! Fortnite is a solo version called Save the World and the massively popular multiplayer version is called Fortnite: Battle Royale. If your kids are asking to play “Fortnite” they're most likely wanting to play Fortnite: Battle Royale version.
The quick summary is that Fortnite: Battle Royale sees up to 100 people participate in a single match together. Players parachute from a party bus onto an island, where they must collect weapons, build structures; all while trying to avoid being killed by other players. While this is going on, a randomly chosen safe zone and moving storm reduces the playing areas within the island and keeps the game moving. All this takes place so that players can ultimately be the last one standing and have “#1 Victory Royale” plastered across the players screen.
Players then quickly reset another match, parachute out of the Party Bus and do it all again and again and again.
Why is my child so interested in playing Fortnite and is it appropriate?
There are many reasons why Fortnite has taken off with children. One is that it combines two extremely popular genres that young children have enjoyed in past - building and survival.
Fortnite allows users to play with friends in Duos and Squads, creating a more social element. Children love the fact that they play with their friends! There are also opportunities to view and watch others playing the game (friends, celebrities, top players) on secondary platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. This again proves challenging with increased screen time in doing so.
For some parents, the cartoonish style of game play and bloodless action within Fortnite and Fortnite: Battle Royale makes the violence seem less problematic; yet there is consistent, encouraged and regular violence throughout every game.
Fortnite: Battle Royale does include live, unfiltered chat between users in the console and PC versions. The voice chat and on-screen text chat are options. Given the average age of a Fortnite: Battle Royale users are men between the age of 18 - 24 years old male, unfortunately this means that users are likely to be exposed to profanity as well as people that they don’t know.
The chat feature can be switched off and is certainly encouraged, if your child is playing collaboratively. In answering whether Fortnite is appropriate it’s important to look at the emotions that are experienced within the game itself.
Children playing Fortnite can become easily frustrated and emotional following consistent failures within consecutive matches. These reactions and management of emotions for younger children derive from desire to do well and win. How a child reacts to a loss or even a win; its importance is often a great indicator to parents to whether the game is suitable or not. Monitoring your child’s ability to ‘switch off’ to do other activities and self-regulate themselves and their emotions should always be a priority while they engage in any digital game or device use.
How can I manage screen time for my children when they're playing Fortnite?
One of the most common concerns that parents raise with us is how to effectively manage screen time within the home. There are some easy measures that can be taken to monitor and manage screen time for children (and adults) playing Fortnite.
When playing Fortnite: Battle Royale, one match can very quickly turn into 15 without limits being put in place. Games usually last around 20 minutes and the quick-fire nature of game play provides an obvious stopping point to ‘switch off’ at the end of a match. However, children that find it difficult to self-regulate get trapped in the cycle of saying “just one more game”.
As a parent, monitoring how many games your child has played can be viewed within the ‘LOBBY’ section. From there you will need to navigate to the users (see image below). This sections details games played and even the total playing time of individual users. This section is great way to set explicit limits around certain number of matches per day.
The images below show you how to find see total matches played and time spent playing.
Our Top 3 tips for parents whose children are playing Fortnite: Battle Royale are:
In the classroom, a key teaching strategy that teachers use when developing a new skill is to model a skill and then that build up a students capacity in that area. For digital use in the home, parents have the perfect opportunity to consistently model responsible and safe digital habits to their children. Over time this modelling will build the capacity of their children and create positive digital habits. The Cyber Safety Project has come up with these quick cyber safety tips for parents to implement in their households in order to develop and maintain safe online behaviour.
Monday Monitoring – use every Monday as a day to check in with your children on their online habits. The games they are playing and how they are interacting with their peers. This conversation will soon become a habit and provide you as a parent with great insight and all the child with an opportunity to flag any concerns or questions.
“If they have it, you should have it.” - We see this as a blanket rule when in comes to knowing how your child is using a device. While many games and applications have similar social networking characteristics, knowledge of how the work gives you, the parent, a far greater understanding of any potential dangers.
Read Up – Knowledge is power - The landscape of the digital world and how we use it changes constantly. If your children are using social media or on a device you need to stay current. Check out our blog at www.cybersafetyproject.com.au for regular updates.
“Let’s be mates” – if your child is 13 and starting to use social media, a non-negotiable should be that you are to “follow’ and or be “friends” with them. If they know you’re seeing what they post they will always think twice before doing so.
Influencers – A large part of the appeal of many social media accounts for children is that they get to watch and view the content of popular “influencers”. Have conversations and check who they are following and the content those people are producing. You don’t want negative “influencers” influencing your child.
There you have it! We'd love to hear from the parents out there who have tried implementing our model. What worked? What didn't? Let us know in the comments!
Tuesday the 6th of February 2018 was Safer Internet Day. An international day with the theme to 'create, connect and share respect' online. Countless schools engaged in specific lessons around the awareness of emerging issues on the internet and how to be a respectful and responsible digital citizen. Safer Internet Day is truly a fantastic initiative and has certainly generated plenty of discussion amongst children and adults, with many news and media outlets reporting about it on the day. As great as Safer Internet Day is, we feel it also provides a conflicting safety message. To think that a single day is all it takes to be safe and respectful online is missing the point.
How can we keep the momentum of Safer Internet Day going?
Whilst days like 'Safer Internet Day' act as a timely reminder to all who live, work and play online, this week offers an opportunity for parents (and those who work with young people) a timely reminder to plan a longer term, proactive approach to tackling this complex problem. We highly encourage you to use the momentum of Safer Internet Day to have an informed and productive discussion with your children or the young the people in your care about this topic.
The Cyber Safety Project has developed the following conversation tips cue card outlining 5 questions to ask your child/tween/young adult/mum/dad/granny (as we all should be across internet safety) about their habits and behaviours when engaging on digital platforms.
Questions Rational - Here is the thinking behind each of these questions:
Question 1: “How many followers do you have?”
This can be quite an open ended question that will offer multiple responses. More often than not multiple platforms are being accessed on a daily basis (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Music.ly, Kik) therefore you should seek multiple answers. If the number seems quite high, for example if a 13 year old says they have 346 followers, some follow up questions could include:
Question 2: “Other than Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube what are the three apps you would use the most?”
These social media platforms are the obvious 'BIG 4'. Knowing that their parents and carers use these platforms themselves, young people are seeking alternative social networking avenues. This question provides insight into other social networking sites or games that your child might be using. We can't stress the important of exploring these apps and games for yourself to expose their functionality. Within any App Store Social Networking category, it is generally the second tier apps and games that are being used by younger users. New platforms are constantly being released and reviewed as their popularity rises and falls, each with different ways children can connect and communicate with unknown users.
Question 3: “What time do you think everyone in the house should put their devices away?”
So much of the ongoing research around student behaviour and learning is around the individuals ability to self-regulate. The ability to monitor their own behaviour to positively influence their own well-being. These questions prompt the child/tween/mum/dad/granny to reflect on why the ability to remove oneself from the device and engage with their peers, family and friends is so important. These habits and 'at home' expectations plays a huge part in the overall digital wellbeing of the users and influences the daily usage, device reliance, sleep patterns and wellbeing. Have you and your family got a 'Device and Internet Use Agreement'? It might sound formal but designing this together offers an opportunity to lay down some ground rules and hold each accountable (mum/dad/granny) included. Tip: Parents play the biggest role in setting standards. Modelling and adhering to your families 'Device and Internet Use Agreement' is paramount.
Question 4: "How do you know something is ok to share/post?”
Permission is KING! Too many people, regardless of age, find themselves in hot water because of their own naivety in assuming that something is 'ok' for you to post. Our own digital reputation can be depicted through not only through what we post, but by what other people post of us. So make it reciprocal! Always ask permission before you post a photo of others and expect it in return.
Question 5: "What does it feel like when someone posts something about you online?”
You maybe surprises around why this question is so important! 36% of EVERYTHING that is posted online is categorised as negative, hurtful or inappropriate. Whether it’s the 'keyboard warriors' making comment towards a sports star they don’t like, a negative emoji or a vicious comment towards someone you know, these "negative posts", happen too often. Talking to your child regularly about practical strategies, ways to avoid such negativity online and monitoring will mean their continued online experience is as positive as possible and always at the front of mind.
Knowledge is power, so having regular conversations with your child around their digital habits can give you the best chance at early intervention and support the young people in your care with the best strategies to have a positive digital experience.
We hope you enjoyed these conversation tips, please let us know how your conversations went in the comments or on Facebook!
Cyber Safety Project.
The Cyber Safety Project are committed to staying current in this constantly changing digital world. These blog and vlog posts provide insight to families about new trends, potential dangers online and effective strategies to maintain safe and respectful digital behaviours for parents, children, schools and the wider community.