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 And Now We Know Why Stalking Is (Still) A Felony…

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PostSubject: And Now We Know Why Stalking Is (Still) A Felony…   And Now We Know Why Stalking Is (Still) A Felony… Icon_minitimeFri Dec 18, 2009 6:10 am

(And Now We Know Why Stalking Is (Still) A Felony…
--As is child endangerment, sexual harassment, verbal abuse/verbal assault and so on and so forth… )


(Cut and paste hyper link info into address bar if AOLNews link fails)

--See Full Story below

AOL Newswire (The Nation: Cyber Lives of Teens Pose New Parenting Challenge by David Knowles)

"(Dec. 17) -- When she was 13, Susan -- not her real name -- fell victim to cyber bullying.

One of her friends on Facebook posted a picture of actor Robert Pattinson, of "Twilight" fame. Susan left a lukewarm comment, saying the "Twilight" novels (which spawned the movies) were fine, but there were other, more interesting books to read.

Almost instantaneously, comments started flooding in, criticizing Susan. "It got way out of control," Susan said. "People told me I should kill myself, that I was a lesbian. They'd say 'bang, you've been gang raped!'"

The next day at school, a group of girls continued the taunting in person. "It went on for a whole year," Susan said. "I looked for any excuse not to go to school."

Back on Facebook, the comments kept piling up. "Really vile stuff," said Susan's mother, Nora Bateson.

After several attempts to convince Susan's school of the severity of the problem, a counselor joined Facebook and "friended" Susan's page so she could read the comments. Finally, the girl deemed most responsible for the bullying was called into the office.

Though Susan's life has mostly returned to normal, the original comment thread with all of the hateful messages remains on Facebook, a kind of memorial to the viral nature of teen interaction in the digital age. Susan still uses Facebook but says she's more cautious now. "Don't add anyone as a friend that you wouldn't tell a secret to," she said. "And avoid people who have reputations as bullies."

Her mother said the experience gave her a new appreciation for what teenagers face today and also underscores the challenge of parenting in the cyber age. "In many ways, this generation are the pioneers," Bateson says. "And there are no adults who can guide them based on first-hand experience."

While some might argue that the best answer to problems like Susan's is to simply unplug from technology, recent statistics and studies suggest that might not be so easy. In short, digital communication has become the lifeblood of the teenage experience.

According to a new study by Nielsen Mobile, the average cell-phone-carrying teen in the United States now sends 2,899 text messages every month. That's up 566 percent from just two years ago.

Another recent survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that one-third of teens and young adults age 14 to 24 engaged in "sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit messages or pictures via text message. And a poll conducted by Common Sense Media found that nearly a quarter of all teens who belong to Facebook check their page more than 10 times each day.

"This generation is consumed by technology from birth," said Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and the author of "Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the Net Generation."

To hear Rosen tell it, kids today are fundamentally different from how their parents were at the same age. "These teens have grown up multitasking, and they believe in communication in a multitude of ways," Rosen said. "It means that parents have a new responsibility. We have to respect their style and try to understand the way that they operate."

Ridicule itself may simply be part of the teenage experience. It certainly is on Facebook, says 14-year-old Massimo Mullen-Lambert of Albany, Calif. "I try not to go to Facebook when I'm in a bad mood," he said. "Because people are likely to say something stupid to you, and then I fire back, and the arguments start."

Like many parents, Massimo's mother, Nina Mullen, says she gives her son latitude with texting and online time, "as long as he helps around the house, doesn't text at the dinner table and keeps up his grades."

As the chief technology officer at True/Slant, a news and opinion Web site, Steve McNally knows plenty about the Internet. And, as the father of three girls, ages 14, 12 and 7, he has become all too familiar with the shifting landscape of teenage communication.

"I'm definitely worried about the photos," McNally said. "We're constantly trying to get the message through that she shouldn't post anything inappropriate. When you post something online, you create a permanent record, and you open yourself up to ridicule."

McNally's 15-year-old, Olivia, says she sends about 8,000 text messages each month. "I can do it without looking at the keypad," she said, explaining that she, like her friends, often texts during class at their high school in Naples, Fla.

On Facebook, she has posted hundreds of pictures of herself that any of her more than 500 friends can view and comment on. That includes Olivia's parents, who say that part of their agreement allowing her to join the site was that she had to add them as friends so they could monitor her online activity.

And if parental boundaries aren't heeded?

"I've lost my cell and computer privileges this week," Olivia said. "Now I look forward to going to school because that's the only time I can communicate with friends." --- "

Filed under: Nation, Tech
This and Other Stories sourced at
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