Youth Safety on the social Web

Anne Collier
• Editor, • Author, MySpace Unraveled • Co-Director,



the social Web?

--A/so known as 'Web 2.0/-• User-produced, youth-driven • Multiple devices • Multimedia • Uploadable, downloadable • Difficult to control • 55% of US 12-to-17-yr-olds use it
CQnnectSafeiy_ Sociallaing Starts Here=

-It's the users' Web, and it's more interactive, or social, than ever (see latest Pew Internet & American Life study <>) -Accessible in more places on growing numbers of devices. (consuming information), kids

-While we grownups are still mostly downloading seem to be more interested in uploading.

-Tim Berners-Lee, the Web's inventor, said recently that first the Internet was about connecting computers; Web 1.0 was about connecting documents; and now it's about connecting what those documents are about - interests, activities, research, hobblies, etc. Teenagers say it's about relationships, socializing. -Pew/Internet study 1/07 <http://www. pewi nternet. org/pdfs/PI P_ SNS _Data_Memo _Jan _2007 .pdf>: More than half (55%) of US 12-to-17-year-olds social sites, 48% at least daily use

66% of teens who have created a profile limit access to it, and the majority of them know the difference between a public and a private profile 70% of older girls (15-17) have used a social site vs. 54% of older boys; among 12-to-14-year-olds, more boys (46%) use these sites than girls do (44%) 91 % of all social-networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they see frequently and 82% to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person (e.g., those in another state) 72% use the sites to make plans with friends, 49% to make new friends.

SN not going away
Notjust MySpace! Facebook, YouTube! Hi5! LiveJournal! Orkut",
• 1OOs, maybe 1,000s, of social sites • Corporations adopting SN in workplace • "Niche" sites - hikers, travelers, sports fans ... • Increasingly mobile - phones, gameplayers • Global - Korean, Japanese, Swedish, Estonian, Indian, Canadian ....
___.__ .• c .....•.... --." .. -0 •••••••••••••••• w .•....... w .....•..••.•.. ~


Smart SocJaJizlng Starts Here~

--Top sites among US youth: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Xanga, LiveJournal, and MyYearbook. More than 7 dozen listed in Wikipedia (FBI had a list of 200 June '06 - conservative no.!) < ng_ sites> --Teen-specific SN sites (compared to MySpace) <> Social sites "nichefying" and multiplying like rabbits <> (suspect none of these will replace MySpace, Xanga, etc. - they'll be added to the mix - sites for sports fans, families, alternative sports athletes, professional networking, hikers, travelers, shoppers, gamers, etc.) --Corporations are building social networking into workplace knowledge-sharing ... "IBM is building social networking tools into its collaboration software" - CNET <>; "Social networking goes to work" <>. "Oil companies are social networking online, investment banks are posting to Web 'wikis," and Tupperware is mashing up Web applications to analyze data" (San Jose Mercury News <> .] --Global social networking: Cyworld, all over Asia, and with 90% of Korean teens and 20somethings, launched this past summer in the US <>; Connectee, Estonia's No.1 social-networking service; - 90%+ Swedish high school students use it, so it just launched UK; Orkut, owned by Google, has most of its users in Brazil; SaffronConnectcom is a South Asian music-focused social site out of Mumbai, India; HiS, based in San Francisco, is very popular in India; Bebo, also based in San Francisco, is No.3 in the UK, after MySpace and Piczo (YouTube is tied for 3rd with Bebo). Mixi, "Japan's MySpace" went public in Sept., valued at $1.8+ billion <>; Nexopia, home-grown, is NO.1 in western Canada and MySpace in eastern Canada.

Not just teens


of course

• 52% of MySpace users are 35+ (teens are 12%) • Organizations on MySpace:
Rock for Darfur I World Wildlife Fund I Greenepeace I National Suicide Prevention Lifeline I Oxfam I Human Rights Watch I Save the Children ... 16,042 groups about philanthropy, 93,286 about religion, 25,335 groups about politics ...


10/5/06 comScore figures: MySpace and Friendster "skew older," and Xanga has the youngest users. 38.5% of MySpace users are 35-54 and 18% 55+! 12-to-17-year-olds made up 11.9% of MySpace's traffic, 14% of Facebook's, just 10.6% of Friendster's (whose minimum age is 16), and 20.3% of Xanga's. < Besides 3 million bands, currently on MySpace: 019>

-Rock for Darfur - -World Wildlife Fund - -Save The Children - -NAACP - -National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - -Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) - oGreenpeace - -Oxfam - -Human Rights Watch - -Human Rights Campaign - -Surfrider Foundation - -Do Something - -RockWorks -

Children are alive today, thanks to social-networking sites",

Teens Charged In Columbine-Style Plot
Plot R.B~liKll€'d On.F,,~'vspt1ce Leads ToCh,arges Of lnci1eme:nt To RfO~ Mat4:tng Crln'jJ.niJl lnreslt


Chris Le at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in New York (speaking last spring): "Our site received more than 128,000 unique visitors from MySpace in the past 12 months," the Lifeline's Christopher Gandin Le told me, referring to the Lifeline's Web site (as opposed to its MySpace page). Even though MySpace donated 36 million Lifeline ad placements this past year, only about 10% of those referrals actually came from the Lifeline's own MySpace profile.

Lifeline coordinates the work of a US nationally funded network of 120 call centers or hotlines, around the US. The support they give callers is free, confidential, and available 24/7, and they receive 1,300 calls a day nationwide (if someone doesn't answer after six rings, the call bounces to the nearest crisis center). But they don't only help people in suicidal crisis. The crisis centers get questions about depression, relationships, loneliness, substance abuse, and how to help friends and loved ones.

Social networking whatever ...
... anyone wants it to be!


• Alternate reality game + diary + teen's bedroom + school lunchroom • A place to learn digital-media skills • A "hang out"
S1:lJN\~ S_:a:ere·

-A blend of alternate-reality (chronicling ... )

game, teenager's bedroom, locker room, diary or journal

-Group self-expression. In social networking its not just collective, not just selfexpression, but rather self-expression informed by group interaction -But, as Sherry Turkle at MIT points out, it can go too far when older teens and adults are finding themselves and their feelings only in relation to the group (that's an early adolescent thing we need to grow out of) < 19125691.600> and <>

What are they doing in there?
./ Risk assessment ./ "Social producing" ./ Learning social rules ./ Decorati ng profiles (self-expression) ./ Exploring identity ./ Writing blogs ./ Writing software code ./ Discovering music ./ Producing & editing videos ./ Discussing interests ./ Social/political activism ./ Keeping in touch with friends long-term


Social producing or "creative networking" - doing everything - growing up, assessing risk, exploring identity, expressing oneself, creating things - as a

Exploring identity is "one of the principal tasks of adolescence" - "Blogs Exposed: The Private Lives of Teens Made Public," by David Huffaker, Northwestern University <http://www. soc. northwestern. ed u/g radstudents/h uffaker/papers/H uffaker -2006-AAASTeen_Blogs. pdf#search=%22%22Teen%20Blogs%20Exposed%22%22>

Another task of adolescent development is risk assessment, part of their brain development - see "Teenage Brain: A Work in Progress" at Nat'l Institute of Mental Health <>).DanieIBroughton.MD. a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic, said we're doing our children a disservice if we try to remove all risk from their lives.

"Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace," by Danah Boyd, University of California, Berkeley <>

What else are they doing in there?

./ Seeking validation ./ Competing in a popularity contest ./ Venting ./ Showing off ./ Embarrassing themselves

./ Pulling pranks ./ Getting even ./ Harassing

S>;naM; Socil>.)JZing Start<lliere'·

--"Unsupervised online teens & other myths" about some recent studies on teen social networking, including a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg study <>

".a iot of what has always been going on, except that now it's a lot more visible. But I'll come back to this in a moment.

00 you agree that the growth in
young people's use of the Internet correlates with a rise in sexual abuse against children?

Figure 1: Estimated Nlllnberot. Substantiated Cases of Sexual Abuse in the United States, 1990-2000



'" u
::J Z


Source: Authors' analyses of datalrom1990-2C1lG National Child Abuse anel Negtect Dam System (NCANDS) reports (U.s, Deptartmel1!of Health and Human Serv;ces,1992-2002),

US research shows that the vast majority of child-abuse know -

cases involve adults the children

according to the California Department of Justice, "90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and up, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender."

"Online victims tend to be teens with troubles offline, such as poor relationships with parents, loneliness and depression." --Dr. David Finkelhor, Crimes Against Children Research Center at UNH

News stories

Incorrect. data

All Children Vulnerable to Online Predators

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REl.AUDSTORIU • Homeland Se-curit)fPressAide HeIdi Charged
• Teen Tells How HeVVas: Lured .......•.•...• .!

April 6, 2006 - Between the arrest of Brian DO'lle, deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and the testimony of a child pornography victim Capitol Hm{ the dange-rsaf online predators have

Into: ChildFn-rn


t' been

major news this week
s;ry that's a good thing, and that parents any can

~1;;5. MilltatyEffortin Afghanistan: Is It Working? i • VIDEO'" soldiers Send Their Greetings • 'V1D£O~rS:Y-oufCornmute Killing yOU? I STORY

: Authorities

: learn an important

lesson from the headlines

! fUfedinto the underworld

child/even overach1Eversfromhealthyhome.sican be of childporpography from , online predators:;

My co-director, who's a sociologist looked closely at the numbers in the original study and found that the correct number is actually.

They can't be molested on the Internet
• • • • A misconception in the US Youth more informed than adults Not a single case of abduction At risk offline = at risk online

Pew/I nternet 10/2007 study < contact -new-study. htm I>:


-Only 7% of online teens have ever had an interaction with a stranger that made them feel scared or uncomfortable - though nearly a third (32%) "have been contacted by someone with no connection to them or any of their friends. ·"Stranger contacts" = comments left on photo-sharing friends at social-networking sites, BUT ... sites and requests to become

'Pew found "no statistically signif assoc, between stranger contact and having a public profile"! 'It's possible that teens see some level of unwanted contact as "a relatively minor 'cost of doing business' in this environment. 'The behaviors "associated with high levels of online stranger contact" are: Having a social-networking Posting photos online profile

Using social sites to flirt Talking about sex with strangers online

'Pew also reported that "there is no consistent association between stranger contact and the types of information posted in a profile"

'See also" Social-networking dangers in perspective" < http://www. connectsafely. org/ arti c1es--advice/ commentaries---staff/soci dangers-in-perspective. html>,

al-networki ng-

Flirting does encourage contact
"Teens who use social-networking sites to flirt are more likely to be contacted by people they do not know."
--Pew Internet & American Life Prqject

• 170/0 of all SN teens use the sites to flirt • 290/0 of boys 15-17

13% of girls 15-17

From Oct. '07 Pew study <>:

BUT - note that the child's intention is the key thing. The study found that "teens who use social-networking sites to flirt are more likely to be contacted by people they don't know although a similar effect is not seen in teens who use social-networking sites to make new friends." FLIRTING IS ASSOCIATED MORE WITH RISK- TAKING

This finding is consistent with another emerging fact in online-safety research - that it's the teens who are seeking out risk in life in general who are more at risk online (see "Profile of a teen online victim" <>).

Flirting data: Pew/Internet January 2007 <http://www. pewi nternet. org/P PF/r/198/report_ di spl ay. asp>

Predators not the only risk
• Damaged reputation • Emotional hurt • Self-created child porn • Negative validation • Defamation • Impersonation • Permanent archive • Inappropriate content • PC security • Cyberbullying ...

Damaged reputation people post that can university admission ALSO EMBARRASS

- photos, videos, and information young affect the views of future employers, officials, people they meet in future, ete. CAN FAMIL Y MEMBERS.

olt's almost impossible
the Internet Archive's

to delete what's posted online, and there's Wayback Machine,

The case of two young teens in Florida whose convictions for trafficking in child porn were upheld by a state court of appeals, substance

o The wrong kind of validation for eating disorders, abuse, gang activity, self-harm"" o

Impersonation, defamation, ete. can be forms of cyberbullying, which we'll look at more closely in a moment. Pornography malicious software


oPotential for hacking, downloading

Cyberbu Ilyi ng
• The risk that affects the most children • 6.9 million 2005 "cases" of teen-to-teen cyberbullying* • 1 in 3 teens have been victimized by cyberbullying**
* From a 2006 study by criminology ** Similar findings in Pew/Internet Profs.


Patchin and S. Hinduja

2007 study

Two recent studies found that about a third of US 12-to-17-year-olds have been v ictimized by cyberbullyi ng <http://www.netfam ilynews. org/2007 /06/ cyberbullyi ng-i n-usfresh-insights. html>



• 2 cases in New Zealand did not result in suicide • 1 case in US did lead to a child's death • Common characteristics

First one reported in NZ's Sunday News (both in NFN <>):

·Two 15-year-old secondary-school students tricked by another girl into believing two teenage boys whose online profiles she'd created with scanned photos of magazine models had become their online boyfriends. The scam was discovered by the mother of one of the victims, when she "found a scalpel under her daughter's mattress and an email on the teen's computer from her 'boyfriend,' instructing her how to kill herself." The girl had conducted these online "relationships" with her victims for 10 months, even sending the victims flowers, teddy bears and T-shirts.
·Second case posted by a mother in the ConnectSafely daughter's suicide attempt. forum -led to her 14-year-old

·US case just came to light - involved 13-year-old (ADD, weight problems), fictional boy, a "break-up."

·Common characteristics: deception; manipulation or "social engineering" (no overt threats, but aimed at destructive behavior); "grooming," involves people the victim knows, usually peers

Keys to finding solutions
• Understanding that the teenage brain is "a work in progress" • Teen behavior the same online, offline • The Internet is an amplifier • Collaborative solution-making needed

-Being clear what we're dealing with with adolescents: The teenager's frontal lobe - the executive part of the brain that does impulse control, reasons, thinks ahead, understands cause and effect - is in development until his early 20s. From "The teenage brain: A work in progress," according to the US National Institute of Mental Health <http://www. ni m h.nih. gov /health/publ ications/teenage-brai n-a-work -i n-progress. shtml >

* At younger ages, amygdala more active (" mediates fear and other 'gut' reactions). As teens grow older, activity shifts to the frontal lobe. -Online life is a mirror of offline - same teenage risk assessment same behavioral challenges and identity exploration,

-BUT the Internet - with its anonymity and because it's increasingly user-driven (or "youth-driven," as social-Web research shows) - can also amplify those challenges and the impact of risk-taking (extreme cyberbullying, real-world legal risks, etc.). -The social Web requires collaborative solution making .... Many types of expertise are needed. Parents, teachers, online-safety experts, child development experts, psychologists, specilaists in at-risk teen behavior, pediatricians, law enforcement" public policymakers, civil rights experts, and Internet and communications companies. All this expertise is needed. THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS IS: THIS REQUIRES LONG-TERM, CONTINUING DISCUSSION. THERE ARE NO QUICK SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS ON A RAPIDLY CHANGING, UNCONTROLLABLE, USER-DRIVEN MEDIUM CALLED THE INTERNET.

All this work


worth it

"The benefits of social networking
"can far outweigh the potential dangers,

--Journal of Adolescent Research, 77/07

• "Cognitive and psychosocial development • "Global political & cultural awareness • "Perspective, critical thinking skills"



--Social norms, risk assessment, identity exploration - what experts call essential "informal learning" for adolescents

--Dr. Brendesha Tynes in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent


The assistant professor of African American Studies and Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign further argued that "banning adolescents from social networking sites - if this were even feasible - as well as monitoring too closely might close off avenues for beneficial cognitive and psychosocial development that are available to young people in the online social world," reports the Wilkes University Beacon (in Pennsylvania) about the study < http://media.www.wilkesbeacon .com/medi a/storage/paper533/news/2007 /11/ 18/News/O nline.SociaI.Networking.Benefits.Youth.Study.Says-31 08297 .shtml>. Among the upsides cited in the article were "beneficial cognitive and psychosocial development"; global political and cultural awareness (because many social sites have international memberships); and "perspective-taking, argumentative, decision-making and critical thinking skills."

See also latest issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated <>


To summarize
The social Web." • is good and bad for teens • is a fact of life - not going away • is user-driven (no control) Social Web safety requires." • Growing understanding of benefits, risks • Multiple forms of expertise • Collaborative, long-term response



Thank you!
Anne Collier

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