Harvard Mental Health Letter

Protecting youths from online harassment

It's no secret that children and teenagers are spending a tremendous amount of time online. Popular digital communities include social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and virtual worlds and gaming sites such as Club Penguin and Second Life. According to one poll, more than half of youths log on to some type of social media site at least once a day. Roughly one in four logs on to such sites at least 10 times a day. Although digital communities enable youths to socialize with peers and develop multimedia skills, these online forums also have risks. A common one is cyberbullying — a form of bullying that takes place entirely online in cyberspace. Another is sexting, a term that combines the words sex and texting and refers to the exchange of sexually explicit digital messages and images. Fortunately there are ways for parents to help their children avoid these new types of harm.
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