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Safer Internet Day. What new risks do we face?

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On the occasion of the international days of “Cyberbullying” and “Safer Internet Day“, we want to make known the negative consequences of Internet socio-phenomena.

Zeroing distances using the network, social media, messaging apps and having fun during the time allowed by this situation of social isolation has been a lifesaver for many of us.

The pandemic has dramatically increased the use of technology but with the same speed has exposed us, especially the youngest, to the dangers that the “online life” involves.

On the occasion of the international days of Cyberbullying” of 7 February and the “Safer Internet Day” of 9 February, we want to do our small part, bringing to light those violent phenomena that unfortunately increasingly spread in the web, hitting the weakest.

We are not educators, let the young speak to those who by profession know how to do it better than us. But we want to share our concerns and try to make the web a better place through our most effective weapon: create awareness and spread a correct Digital Culture for those like us, As adults, parents and uncles want to protect those most exposed to these dynamics.

Let’s start by understanding what are these dangerous socio-phenomena, some of which have become real crimes, and why they are so widespread.

Cyberbullying

Free from the looks and judgments of others, we entrust to the Net our thoughts and comments, not caring about the consequences that our publications may have on those who read them and those around us.

On this assumption, cyberbullying has found fertile ground: four out of ten boys belonging to an age group between 12 and 16 years run into episodes of cyberbullying surfing the net or using social media. This is what emerges from a research conducted by the Postal Police.

This conduct of digital abuse is considered and punished as a crime by Law 71/17 “Provisions to protect minors for the prevention and combating of the phenomenon of cyberbullying”.

Although it is a measure to protect the weakest, the problem of cyberbullying can not be addressed only with the pillory of the responsible, without considering the illicit as a consequence of a much wider context, Where in fact the lack of awareness and control are the starting point.

Revenge Porn

Advanced form of cyberbullying is the Revenge Porn or Pornovendetta, namely the illicit, non-consensual dissemination of intimate images or videos, with the aim of discrediting the victim.

The risk is to generate further illegal conduct such as insults, threats, stalking and extortion that can lead, in extreme cases, to murder or suicide, as well-known sad cases of news confirm.
In 2019 the Postal Police collected:

  • 81 complaints for detention and distribution of child pornography.
  • 141 victims of online abuse, threats and harassment.
  • 19 victims of sextorsion.

Since 19 July 2019, in Italy Revenge Porn is a crime: the legislation provides for prison sentences and also recognizes responsibility for those who share content received from third parties.

Research shows that 3 out of 4 victims are women, often minors. In most cases to act are ex-partners, guided by revenge and the will to do harm to the other person.

Why are such personal photos and videos in the wrong hands?

Sometimes we ourselves release extremely private content, other times it is actually stolen. Again, an appropriate digital culture for the conscious use of technologies can avoid risky phenomena like sexting.

It’s about producing and sharing intimate images or videos via chat. This phenomenon is experienced by adolescents as a demonstration of love and trust towards their partner and is part of the natural process of discovery of their identity.

It happens that these contents can be disclosed specifically, with the result that the beloved interlocutor turns out to be in fact a ruthless executioner.

The safest way to combat this phenomenon is prevention and a conscious use of the net: even if we trust the recipient. It is always better to exercise the utmost caution and avoid leaving in the hands of other photos and videos that we would not like to be shared outside.

Social Challenge

According to the National Adolescence Observatory, 95% of Italian teenagers have at least one social network profile. Around the age of 12, Teens open the first Profile: 69% have a Profile on Facebook, 67% in Instagram, 66% on YouTube.

Social Challenges are a recent phenomenon, created for Gaming in social networks to tickle the Competition, accumulate likes, followers and gain visibility. But it took to go from Fun to risk. Tests of Resistance to challenge the fate as cut your wrists, climb on the bed of a building. Climb up a ledge, drive a car with your eyes closed or tie a chainaround your Neck and resist as long as possible becoming deadly. There are many cases of Chronicle that unfortunately prove, even recent.

The Factors that make these Practical Challenges famous and successful among young people are different: entertainment, definition of their Identity, Sense of belonging and Fashion.

Where does our information go?

Negligence in the management of their information, can seriously compromise the privacy and reputation of younger people. If neglected can become fertile ground for phenomena such as those just described, Cyberbullying, Sexintg and Revenge Porn.

Internet has an infinite memory

Before we post or send a post or video to a Social Network or instant messaging app, we need to be aware of one thing. Information will remain forever and we don’t know where it will end.

The Internet takes over everything we share, taking control away from the rightful owner. Needless to try to go back and delete, that information will have already dissolved in the infinite memory of the Internet

Internet is anonymous

Children and younger boys, lack the malice that we adults have matured over time. We have to explain to young people the importance of being suspicious.

How to deal with these new online risks?

Accepting that the reassuring courtyard below the house has given way to a digital, global and local context, where the game is now made in social networks, is the first step.

Being an educator in a context like this means first of all dealing with new problems, for which we are sometimes not prepared.

School, as an educational space, is the most suitable place to speak to children in a direct way. Much is already being done, as the project “Social Warning – Digital Ethical Movement (https//socialwarning.it/).

We, as adults, begin by realizing and knowing better these phenomena that are rampant among the youngest.

We remedy the risks in direct confrontation with people, in this case the guys who use technology every day.

Transmitting an adequate Digital Culture to them. This will allow them to use social media, smartphones and the web in a more conscious way, not sacrificing their interests.

It is not by eliminating the use of technology or closing a social profile that the problems connected to them will be solved. Giving an example of the correct conduct to follow and explaining the right approach to “online life”, the web and social networks do not harm ourselves and others.