Cyber safety expert Ross Bark runs courses in schools across NSW and had encountered cases of Year 5 and 6 students who were being sent links to violent material on Snapchat by people believed to be extremists.
More than 2400 young people aged 12-17 years old were surveyed by the eSafety Commission for the research, which showed one in three Australian children have been exposed to terrorist propaganda online, with disturbing reports that primary school students are being sent videos of beheadings by jihadis on social media.
The research also showed that one in four young people have been the target of online bullying. Young people from culturally diverse backgrounds were the most likely to be targets of online hate.
“Children are being exposed to violent propaganda and that includes beheadings,” Mr Bark said. “The problem is they’re accepting friend requests from people they don’t know on Snapchat who are sending them links to very violent content.”
About two weeks ago, Sarah (not her real name) was carrying out a random check of her 12-year-old daughter’s iPad — as she does regularly with all the devices her kids use — when she stopped in horror.
In about five separate conversations, men, claiming to be 23 and 25 years old, had been seeking information from her 12-year-old daughter, asking where she lived and how they could meet her. Then there were the pictures. Vulgar images and videos sent through the app.
Cyber safety expert Ross Bark was shocked, but not surprised to hear of what had happened to the 12-year-old girl. “What I’ve seen is a lot of young people are getting on there to talk to their friends, but they get messages from random people, and they don’t really know what to do, and they’re not confident telling an adult about it,” he said.
One in two teenage boys and girls have used a mobile phone to send a sexually explicit image of themselves, according to the biggest sexting survey undertaken in Australia.
Teenage girls are using their mobiles to send sexual images of themselves because they think it’s fun and sexy, rather than because they feel pressured by boys, the new research from the Australian Institute of Criminology found.
Most of the 1200 teens surveyed who had sexted said they sent the image to a person with whom they had a relationship. Forty per cent had sent a sext to more than one person in the past year. Only six per cent of sexters reported sending an image on to a third party for whom the picture wasn’t originally intended.
The criminology researchers who conducted the survey said the results underscored the mismatch between sexting laws, which classify the practice as child abuse or child pornography and do not distinguish between consensual and non-consensual sexting, and the reality of teen sexting.
‘One in four’ young people victims of cyber bullying
‘One in four’ young people are bullied online, often in their own home and with parents nearby. On National Anti-Bullying day, Australians are being reminded that the consequences of hurtful words can be dire, and that help is always close.
Click here to watch the Nine News report presenting the Best Enemies workshops and the launch of the Digital Detox with Cyber Safety Expert Ross Bark:
Cyber safety expert Ross Bark said Kik and Instagram were a ”dangerous combination” for teenagers, who post photographs publicly on Instagram and then invite viewers to ”Kik me” privately to chat.
”They’re literally promoting themselves, saying ‘come and talk to me’,” Mr Bark said. ”They can randomly chat with somebody and send images, and they don’t understand the consequences of who is using that information.”