The Biggest Threat on the Digital Playground: Cyberbullying

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Pandora Corp. issues reminder to parents: the end of cyberbullying begins at home. Parents need to know what their kids are doing online and how they are interacting in the digital world. Knowledge comes from monitoring computer and internet activity with programs like PC Pandora.

PC Pandora

Cyberbullying is real and it's here to stay - until you do something about it!

Note to parents: "Cyberbullying is real and it's here to stay - until you do something about it!"

That is the message that Pandora Corp., makers of PC Pandora computer monitoring software, wants you to hear loud and clear, as the mid-summer blues hit and your kids spend more time online.

"Cyberbullying is the biggest online threat facing young Internet users today," says James Leasure, co-founder of Pandora Corp. "Of course, other threats like Internet predators do still exist, but statistically, kids have a much greater chance of being involved in some way with electronic bullying."

A recent study revealed that 1 in 5 teens had been bullied online or via text, while 1 in 10 admitted to being a bully to someone else. The study of 655 U.S. teens ages 13-18 also showed that 68% of teens consider bullying to be a serious problem with today's youth. Furthermore, 4 out of 5 teens say that online bullying is both easier to get away with and easier to hide from their parents than traditional bullying.

But how can that be?

"Too many parents have the Internet safety talk with their children, and then turn away," says Leasure. "But the bullying problem isn't going to go away until the parents of the bullies know what their child is doing online, know how they are treating others, and care enough to do something about it."

Adding more fuel to the already blazing issue is the recent overturning of Lori Drew's conviction. The New York Times reported that Drew was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of accessing a protected computer without authorization under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal law intended to combat computer crimes. According to a Reuter's article on the overturning, Drew was accused of creating a fake profile on MySpace and posing as a teenage boy to tease and humiliate 13-year-old Megan Meier, a neighbor who had a falling out with Drew's daughter. Meier ultimately committed suicide as a result of Drew's actions in October 2006. According to The New York Times, the presiding judge for the case overturned the jury's conviction, stating that if this conviction was to remain, virtually anyone could be brought to trial for the slightest violation of a terms of service agreement.

"It's a tragic case and a very sensitive issue," explains Leasure. "On one hand, the judge made a proper legal decision by keeping the violation of a website's Terms of Service a civil matter. On the other hand, this sends a powerful message to parents that social networks are a virtual Wild Wild West."

So what can parents do?

"The bottom line is that you absolutely must know what your kids are doing online," says Leasure. "You have to monitor computer and internet activity so you can know where they spend their time online, who they talk to, and most importantly, how they represent themselves and treat others in the vast digital community. If you see something that isn't right, you need to act as parents and correct the issue."

While states and school districts scramble to introduce bills and adopt policies to help curb cyberbullying, parents have access to technology tools that will let them know what their kids are doing online at home. Pandora Corp's flagship computer monitoring software, PC Pandora, works like a DVR for the PC, taking sequential snapshots of everything that happens on the computer, so parents can play back and watch all activity.

PC Pandora captures further details of user activity in text-based files. Instant messenger chats, emails, websites, keystrokes, peer-2-peer files traded, and programs accessed are all recorded and documented for parental review. PC Pandora lets parents set up Internet filters and program blocks to make sure their kids aren't accessing programs or content that parents find objectionable. There is also the invaluable IRIS feature that will email a busy parent at work with updates on child activity.

Leasure emphatically states that "parental awareness is truly the key to fixing this problem. If your child is the victim - or worse, the bully - it's time to step in. It's not being over-protective; it's being a 21st century parent. Monitoring software like our PC Pandora plays a vital role by providing information needed to be an effective Net-generation parent. With the insight our software provides into a child's daily struggles, parents can begin to put a stop to Internet threats like cyberbullying."

A 2-hour trial of the PC Pandora monitoring software is available at the PC Pandora website.

Cyberbullying Statistics:
A recent survey of 655 US teens, ages 13 to 18, was conducted by Cox Communications in association with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The study found that "cyberbullying is widespread among today's teens, with over one-third having experienced it, engaged in it, or know of friends who have who have done either." More specifically:

  • Approximately 1 in 10 teens have cyberbullied someone online or by text message and 1 in 5 have been cyberbullied by someone else.
  • Two-thirds of teens (68%) believe cyberbullying is a serious problem
  • Teens who have been cyberbullied most commonly think it was to be mean or for fun or entertainment. However, cyberbullies are most likely to say they did it to get back at someone or because someone deserved it.
  • 4 in 5 teens believe cyberbullying is easier to get away with (81%) and easier to hide from parents (80%) than bullying in person.
  • Nearly half of those who have been bullied (46%) say that the bully was caught, but only 1 in 4 of those who say they bully (28%) admit that they themselves have been caught.
  • Three-quarters of teens (75%) think there should be stricter rules about online bullying.

About PC Pandora: Pandora Corporation was formed with one goal - to help our customers monitor, control and protect their families and themselves online. First released in mid 2005, PC Pandora has been constantly upgraded to industry-leading specifications and has received accolades from users, reviewers and even school districts and law enforcement agencies, who use the program to help in the day-to-day supervision of the children and citizens they are charged with protecting. The company website devotes space to helping parents by providing them with 18 Tips to Safe Surfing and Pandora's Blog, where current news in the world of online safety is discussed regularly. PC Pandora has vaulted into a leadership position for parental control software by boasting a combination of features that are unparalleled in the monitoring industry. In 2008, Version 5.0 was released, again widening the spectrum of coverage and protection offered by the program. In addition, through the company's SAFE SCHOOLS program, schools and school districts can receive up to $100,000 worth of software to aid in protecting their students and their PCs. PC Pandora is also now available through the Pandora Corp. store at Amazon.com. Currently in version 5.3, the next release of PC Pandora will incorporate Pandora LIVE, a web-based service that will allow parents to check content from anywhere through a secure server.

Reporters and Producers: Looking to cover this topic? We are your technology solution component. Software is available to journalists for review and testing. Staff members are available for interviews. Let us help you show your audience how easy it can be to keep their kids safe.

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Ken Shallcross
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