Maintaining Healthy & Safe Relationships

Definition

Digital media are excellent tools for forging and maintaining connections. For example, one positive effect of technology is that 82% of all social-networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person and 49% use the sites to make new friends.(1) As with all tools, how we use them determines whether they provide positive opportunities or expose users to risk.

What follows is an outline of how media can either enhance relationships, supporting positive growth or put users at risk:

Facilitate Relationships
This can support positive growth by . . . gathering unique populations of people with similar interests who can foster growth. It can expand their perspectives and provide a sense of connection.

This can put users at risk by . . . exposing them to potentially hostile influences: deceptive people, harassment from other users, and unwanted content.

Allow Constant Communication
This can support positive growth by . . . keeping youth connected to family and friends. Such contact can be both logistically helpful and, in the long term, foster a sense of connection to important people in their lives.

This can put users at risk by . . . providing a venue where abusive “friends” might play out obsessive or controlling behaviors, such as excessive texts, constant phone calls, badgering, or other unhealthy behavior monitoring. Constant connection can also facilitate cyberbullying.

Provide Virtual Communities
This can support positive growth by . . . offering access to virtual communities that support youth in their constructive interests or support them in seeking out help (eg political communities, suicide hotline, drug preventions.

This can put users at risk by . . . offering access to virtual communities that encourage harmful behaviors, like eating disorders, destructive attitudes, or hate organizations.

Have a conversation:
Here are a few conversation starters for talking to students about maintaining safe and healthy relationships with students:


RELATED ISSUES
Sexting, cyberbullying, porn, social networking, self-harm, suicide, gang recruitment, illegal substance abuse, incitement, sexual harassment, boundary invasion, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors

RESOURCES AND LINKS
* A Washington Times Article:"Social networking benefits validated"
* Science Daily Article:"Educational Benefits Of Social Networking Sites Uncovered"

WORKS CITED
1. "Social Networking Web Sites and Teens: an Overview." Pew Internet & American Life Project, Jan 2007.

Prevention

Document C3 Framework: Promoting Responsible Use This document points out that school policies and instruction often do not include all Cyberethics, Cybersafety, and Cybersecurity (C3) topics. In some cases this causes schools to miss the mark when it comes to C3 issues and how they correlate with human behavior. It goes in depth about C3 issues to help readers better understand this topic.

URL Faux Paw Curriculum Faux Paw the Websurfing Techno Cat series has been created by a team of leading child psychologists, educators, and law enforcement. This engaging curriculum—complete with books, animated DVDs, and lesson plans—will captivate the attention of your students and teach them how to appropriately conduct themselves online and in the digital space. Take advantage of these proven and valuable assets in your classroom today.

URL Professor Garfield Foundation: Internet Safety and You The website provides 4 video lessons featuring Garfield cartoons. The site also provides various lesson materials promoting responsible citizenship.

URL Workshop: Raising Kids in a Digital World (Middle and Highschool) This presentation is designed to help facilitate a parent education event with parents of elementary school students. It includes power point and talking points.

Detection & Intervention

URL BullyBust by the National School Climate Center (NSCC) This site provides excellent resources for educators to promote upstander behavior. Materials include: Discussion questions, activities, handouts, and NSCC's Best Practices

URL Faux Paw Curriculum Faux Paw the Websurfing Techno Cat series has been created by a team of leading child psychologists, educators, and law enforcement. This engaging curriculum—complete with books, animated DVDs, and lesson plans—will captivate the attention of your students and teach them how to appropriately conduct themselves online and in the digital space. Take advantage of these proven and valuable assets in your classroom today.

URL Interdisciplinary Response to Youths Sexting. This article offers recommendations concerning sexting from the Youth Online Safety Working Group (including NCMEC.

URL Sexting Fact Sheet This fact sheet summarizes key issues about sexting for parents and educators.

URL TextEd A Canadian Web site that educates about text messaging. Contains an "Acronictionary" that defines many text message acronyms.

Incident Management & Response

URL Blog: Cyberbullying Research Center This blog discusses how to keep kids safe from online harassment and victimization.

URL CyberBullying: US Dept of Healthy & Human Services campaign to prevent bullying This website offers games and scenarios designed to help children learn to safely handle bullying situations.

URL Faux Paw Curriculum Faux Paw the Websurfing Techno Cat series has been created by a team of leading child psychologists, educators, and law enforcement. This engaging curriculum—complete with books, animated DVDs, and lesson plans—will captivate the attention of your students and teach them how to appropriately conduct themselves online and in the digital space. Take advantage of these proven and valuable assets in your classroom today.

URL The Health Communicator's Social Media Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to provide partners with guidance and share lessons learned in integrating social media into health communication campaigns, activities, and emergency response efforts. This guide provides information on getting started using social media from developing governance to determining which channels best meet communication objectives to creating a social media strategy. An overview of popular social media tools, including blogs, video-sharing sites, mobile applications, and RSS feeds is included, along with a resource section and campaign examples.