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Emotional Resilience

Cyberbullying and Sexting–Is Your Child’s Reputation at Risk?

Today’s post comes from our friends over at Canopy. While no tech solution is foolproof and we emphasize the importance of helping your child install an internal filter, we’re also big fans of using the amazing tech tools available to defend your family against pornography.

*It's important to note that Canopy is designed to filter sites in a web browser and not apps. You can use Canopy to block apps and direct your child to use the browser version of the app they want to use where Canopy can do its thing.

Click here for 20% off any Canopy package and enter code DYMB2S at checkout

The dawn of the digital age: A blessing and a curse

As summer vacation ends, our children will be heading back to their classrooms equipped with an array of digital tools that will enhance their learning experience. However, these digital tools have also unveiled a host of significant online threats - notably cyberbullying and sexting.

Some threats get worse during school. Digital dangers did not go away during summer vacation; but as kids return from their outdoor activities to their school routines and social circles, the bullying threats may take on more urgency and require parents to anticipate and promptly address these concerns.

Cyberbullying: Transcending physical boundaries

The spread of digital connectivity has spawned a little-understood but quite dangerous offshoot of traditional bullying. No longer confined to schoolyards or classrooms, bullying has transcended physical boundaries, taking on a more pervasive form – cyberbullying. This virtual harassment can occur at any time, leaving children vulnerable, even in their own homes. It allows bullies to hide under a cloak of anonymity, removing their inhibitions. 

The Pew Research Center reveals a shocking statistic: about 46% of American teens have fallen victim to cyberbullying. The psychological aftermath of cyber aggression is often severe, leading to:

  • emotional distress, 
  • anxiety, 
  • depression, 
  • and tragically in some cases, suicidal thoughts and ideation.

Cyberbullying doesn’t just affect mental well-being; it also impacts academic performance. According to the CDC, students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, and anxiety. 

Sexting is a risky digital trend

Alongside cyberbullying, sexting – sharing or receiving sexually explicit messages or images – is becoming a troubling trend among teens and even tweens.

A JAMA Pediatrics study reported that 1 in 7 teens are sending nudes, and 1 in 4 are receiving them. This seemingly innocent action can have significant consequences, extending well beyond adolescence and into adulthood.

Related: Sending Nudes: Starting the Convo Early--3 Tips for Smart Parents

The aftermath of sexting: Revenge porn and long-term repercussions

Sexting can lead to a range of damaging outcomes. Here are just three.

  1. An especially harmful result is using "revenge porn" as a weapon. This term refers to the non-consensual publication and spread of explicit images that were initially shared privately. The emotional and psychological impact on revenge porn victims can be devastating, often resulting in depression and suicidal thoughts. According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, over half (51%) of its survey respondents had contemplated suicide following an incident of non-consensual pornography.
  1. Additionally, exchanging nudes can cause permanent damage to a young person’s reputation. Once explicit content finds its way online, entirely eradicating it is a near-impossible task. This can result in long-term challenges including jeopardized job opportunities, strained professional relationships, and the ability to form trustworthy personal relationships in the future.
  1. Moreover, sexting can result in severe legal repercussions. Under specific state laws, distributing explicit images of minors, even consensually, can constitute child pornography. This crime carries heavy penalties and can lead to long-term legal complications for all involved parties.


The worst case scenario?

Sexting carries more than just personal and social risks; it exposes young people to considerable safety threats. One such danger is sextortion, a term coined for incidents where perpetrators use explicit photos to blackmail victims to send more photos or money. Very recently, the FBI documented a worrying surge in sextortion cases involving minors. Some have led to suicide.

Online criminals can easily talk to kids through social platforms and video games, gaining their trust. They often pretend to be someone else, perhaps someone the child’s age. They can do so by sharing explicit images (of someone else) and asking for such images in return. When the victim sends compromising images or videos of him or herself, the predator can blackmail the child for more explicit content and/or money. This material may then be spread widely.

Anti-sexting messages can start very young

In Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds, a valuable read-aloud book that assists parents in addressing the subject of pornography in an age appropriate way, children learn 5 rules to keep them safe, including not sharing pictures of themselves without clothes on.

Related: Kids at Growing Risk of “Sextortion” Warns Department of Justice

Canopy is an ally for ensuring digital safety

Raising awareness and fostering open dialogue about cyberbullying and sexting are crucial first steps. However, providing parents with practical tools to protect their children is an equally significant aspect of combating these digital threats and preventing cyberbullying and sexting. 

Canopy is an innovative parental control app designed to protect against the dangers of sexting in particular, and explicit content in general. Using state-of-the-art AI technology, Canopy alerts parents when their child receives or attempts to send explicit content.

The primary objective of Canopy is not to infringe on your child's privacy, but to facilitate timely and crucial conversations when risky digital behavior is detected. It's about nurturing a safer and healthier online environment for children.

Creating a safer digital world for children

As we start the new school year, it's imperative to acknowledge and anticipate the inherent digital dangers confronting our children. As parents, educators, and responsible adults, we shoulder a collective responsibility to guide our children through the pitfalls and perils of the internet.

Related: 3 Back to School Secrets for Porn-Immune Kids

We can provide our children with the necessary tools for responsible and safe digital navigation by: 

  • staying informed,
  • encouraging open communication (Brain Defense can help!), and
  • leveraging technology like Canopy.

Good emotional health is only possible if we help our kids build digital defenses against cyberbullying and sexting. Let’s all work together so our kids can enjoy a happy and thriving school year that is not only focused on academic growth, but also the cultivation of responsible online conduct.

Brain Defense: Digital Safety Curriculum - Family Edition

"Parents are desperate for concepts and language like this to help their children. They would benefit so much from this program - and I think it would spur much needed conversations between parents and children.” --Jenet Erikson, parent

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