Sue Scheff: Internet Video Bullying by Connect with Kids

“It never goes away. It’s a permanent record of your stupidity.”

– Griff, 17

Here’s a recipe for trouble: start with a teenager’s impulsive brain, add in a little peer pressure, a video camera and the Internet, and the results are violent assaults, dangerous crashes, and outrageous stunts – all captured on video and posted online. 

On one website, there are videos of kids crashing while rollerblading … skiing while tied to a car … shooting fireworks at a friend.

“I saw this video of two friends, where one guy put himself in a garbage can and his friend pushed him down the street, and then it was going and going, and then bam! he just hit the door,” says Donte, 15.

In other news, eight Florida teens were arrested recently for beating up another teen. How did the police catch them? The teens posted the video of the assault online.

Because of the popularity of video-sharing sites such as YouTube, experts say that each week, kids try even more dangerous stunts to gain their 15 minutes of fame.

“It’s one-upmanship almost,” says Harold W. Phipps, computer forensics expert. “They say, ‘Well, he jumped off a 10-foot ladder … I’m going to do him one better. I’m going to jump off a 15-foot ladder.’  And then it will be a 20-foot and then a 30-foot [ladder].”

“They could say, ‘I jumped off my roof.’  And if someone doesn’t believe them, they could say, ‘Well, go check my Myspace.  I have a video,’” says Derek, 15.

Experts say parents should explain that stunts are not just dangerous — they may also have life-long consequences.

“You could do something stupid and then say, ‘I’m going to erase it.’  But you have to realize that [the video] could have been reproduced by hundreds if not thousands of people who have seen it,” says Phipps.

“It could have all sorts of effects, like when you are trying to go to college, if they see that you are an arsonist, they might not accept you,” says David, 15.

“It never goes away.  It’s a permanent record of your stupidity,” says Griff, 17.

Tips for Parents

Harold W. Phipps, computer forensics expert, The Norcross Group, offers these tips:

  • Make sure your kids never use their real name or address when posting material on the Internet. Avoid posting any information that would allow a stranger to locate your child. This includes the name of a school or sports team or the city where you live.
  • Take your child’s level of maturity into account when deciding whether he or she can handle a video camera or web cam.
  • Make sure kids understand that videos they post on the Internet may damage their reputation. Often kids assume only their friends will view these videos. Explain that teachers, college admissions departments, police departments and prospective employers all scout the Internet to learn more about a person’s character

Additional tips for parents:

  • Realize that kids who post videos or profiles on the Internet are more likely to be contacted by a sexual predator. Report any unwanted or inappropriate messages to law enforcement. (Joe Rosen, former FBI Agent)
  • If kids do want to post videos online, suggest they do something that would help others see them in a positive light. Have kids exercise their creativity. For example, write, film and video-edit a skit. (Melanie Mitchell, director, iD Tech Camps, Emory location)

References

  • iD Tech Camps
  • Joe Rosen, former FBI Agent
  • Harold W. Phipps, computer forensics expert, The Norcross Group

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