Legal Risks & SNS - teens


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  • Issue: Cybersafety: Legal issues surrounding Social Networking Sites (SNS)\n\nTitle: Legally Ignorant: Teens and SNS\n\nSNS have a number of legal harms and these are poorly understood. This claim is supported by a recent story in the media about a party invitation that went ‘viral’. After considerable media attention; a 17 year old boy is facing criminal charges of ‘using a carriage service (the internet) to harass/offend contrary to the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act’ and a 15 year old girl has been VERY publicly ridiculed and humiliated. Given the school age of the victim and perpetrator, we might rightly question where our society failed them? And, in particular, whether our education system has failed them? How schools might address this issue is explored by outlining the context.\n\nWhat are SNS? \nTeen use of SNS\nEducational uses\n\nWhat are the legal risks?\nOther Risks\n\nFactors which affect these risks\nFilters\nRegulatory and Policy\nEducation departments \nParents\nAwareness-raising\nSchools\n\nConclusion\nIn conclusion, it is my opinion that all schools need to take a proactive stance that embraces SNS in education to facilitate the mature use of the technology, fully informed of its inherent risks. \n\n
  • What are SNS? \nSNS have these features;\nA website which allows you to create your own profile and post information about yourself.\nAllows you to interact, via email or live chat & to post photos or video\nAllows you to list friends\nThe friends list can be seen by others\nThe first SNS to hit the cyberspace was Friendster in 2002. Facebook (FB) is currently the most popular SNS; “If FB was a country it would be the fourth largest”(Firth, 2010).\n
  • Teen use of SNS\nA recent survey found that 95% of middle school teens used FB and checked their accounts at least once a day (de Zwart et al, 2011). FB is used as means of staying in touch, browsing peer group photos and to chat to friends. Danah Boyd (2007) found that teenagers used SNS for peer based socialisation which mirrors physical, social interactions. \nHowever, social interactions using SNS are very different from off-line interactions giving rise to a range of risks unknown to previous generations. The biggest difference results from the very public nature of SNS in making teen behaviors so visible. This fact is highlighted by the ‘viral party’ and in the ‘AFL nude pic’ FB scandal (Levy, 2010). Media coverage of these cases stimulates a number of questions and especially in respect of the young people involved. Indeed, Wolak et al (2008) find those vulnerable offline are vulnerable online. Byron (2010) also finds internet safety rests within the ‘broader context of building resilience’. Hence whilst the vast majority of teens use of SNS draws little media attention, there maybe no safeguards against its misuse by the very vulnerable.\n
  • Educational uses\nto link educational content\nto develop internet and network literacy\nfor opportunities for personalised collaborative learning\nfor team teaching\nto decrease barriers for children with disabilities\nto communication channel to whole school community\nto increase engagement for students at risk (DEECD, 2010).\n\nWhat are the Legal Risks?\nThere are a complex range of laws which relate to SNS, these legal risks include; breaking the Terms of Service, privacy, copyright infringements, defamation and activities which are criminal such as harrassment, identity theft and offensive material. De Zwart et al (2011a) survey of 1004 middle school children, 204 teachers and 49 parents found that all were generally aware there were legal risks, but these were poorly understood. \n\nOther Risks\nOther risks include; exposure to inappropriate content and exploitative advertising, bullying, grooming, stalking, scams and a compromised digital footprint. \n
  • Factors which affect these risks\nThe legal issues associated with SNS are apart of the broader issue of cybersafety. Consequently there are a number of ‘big picture’ factors which are critically linked to its risk reduction. \n\nFilters \nOpinion is growing that whilst society protects our youth from perceived dangers by using filters, it is at the expense of creative, innovative and collaborative learning opportunities (, 2009). 86% of schools in Australia block FB (, 2009) as a means of ensuring their ‘duty of care’ from the harms of inappropriate content and use. The school from which the boy at the centre of the ‘viral party’ attended had such SNS filtering as was documented in a letter sent all to parents by the Principal which made front page news. In the newspaper coverage he appears to transfer responsibility for cybersafety to parents, warning “Mistakes made at 15 could be retrievable 10 years later” (Wright cited in Patty 2011). The Principal’s position given use of filters in the school environment may seem reasonable, however, it flies in the face of parent/ school partnerships and reads as a defense against an education which has failed to address what is an everyday ‘risk’. Alternatively, Dr Tim Hawkes, Principal of King’s School views SNS as life skills and such bans only fail students, “Ineffective policy is to ban use; prohibition never worked”(Macgibbon 2011). Further, the absence of these tools at schools contradicts the intent of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) and fails to prepare this generation for the ‘knowledge economy’.\n
  • Regulatory and Policy\nThe work of authorities in the EU, the UK and USA demonstrates that regulation and policy reduce risks. For example, the EU has agreement with SNS operators encapsulated in the document, Safer Social Networking Principles and legislation is proposed in 2011 which addresses users ‘the right to be forgotten’. These initiatives should inform the Federal Government’s, Joint Select Committee on Cyber Safety.\n\nFederally, the chief regulatory body is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) provides broader strategic planning and policy. Both provide programs which support schools with the ACMA’s cyber(smart:) program providing Cybersafety Policies and Procedures.\n\nState governments provide a range of supporting policy materials, such as NSW’s SmartFilter (2007) or the Acceptable Usage for School Students policy (2006). Values are articulated in the Values in NSW public schools (Refshauge, 2004) and embedded in education guides students, on & offline. The NSWDET has also developed a model of Digital Citizenship which refers to Mike Ribble’s nine elements of ‘digital citizenry’. Ribble now feels that ‘digital’ is redundant given the ubiquity of digital world ( Ribble cited FOSI 2010).\n
  • Education departments\nThe Federal and State governments, propelled by the DER provide a number of programs to support cyber safety education in schools, notably ACMA’s cyber(smart:) DBCDE’s Budd:e and the Australian Federal Police’s, ThinkUknow. NSWDET’s ‘Digital Citizenry’ program for Stages 4 & 5 links to the curriculum. It specifically addresses SNS privacy settings via ‘Tracebook’. In a Press Release, the Education Minister states that ‘social networking is an important part in a young person’s life’ with schools playing an important role in ‘helping young people to use sites safely’. Plans to extend this program to kindergarten further demonstrates the responsibility that schools will increasingly assume. \n\n\n
  • However, in terms of addressing legal issues associated with SNSs there is little support from cyber safety programs which focus largely on predators and bullying. This gap was identified by de Zwart et al (2011b) and as a consequence a resource Will U friend me was developed to assist schools in inform students on a range of SNS legal issues. Teacher’s notes draw from a series of real-life stories similar to the ‘viral party’ case with links to the Victorian school curriculum. It is intended that these discussions will stimulate critical awarenesses of the potential legal risks. Whilst the lack of teacher training in ICT and internet literacy accounts for many teacher’s reluctance to engage in such dialogues “any conversation is better than ignoring the issue”(de Zwart et al 2011b).\n\n
  • Awareness-raising\nThe EU identifies awareness-raising as a strategy to reduce risks through ignorance. Cyber(smart:) freely supplies brochures and posters. ThinkuKnow and Cybersmart Outreach provides free presentations to schools whilst a number of private consultants provide tailored programs. School newsletters and e-zines, for example provide an easy way to raise cyber awareness to the whole school community.\n\n
  • Parental support \nParents who engender an open dialogue on cyber safety protect against risks (de Hann & Livingston 2009). All cyber safety programs include this group, however, as Boyd (2007) points out working parents are often ‘exhausted’ and as digital immigrants lack the know-how to provide the necessary support. This view supports the location of cyber safety education to occur primarily at school rather than home.\n
  • Schools \nSchool responses to cyber safety and the e-learning opportunities provided by Government and State education is varied. This variation is likely to stem from individual school leadership. For example, at King’s School filters have only blocked pornography since 2006. This has been possible with effective policies and a supporting digital citizenry program (Macgibbon, 2011). Ivanhoe Grammar School’s ICybersafe website provides further evidence of a school which has both embraced and supported the digital world and it’s parent body. Schools must consider prioritizing these supports given the prediction that by 2015, 80% of people will be using mobile hand held device (Johnson, Smith, Levine, & Haywood, 2010). These devices negate school network filters.\n\n
  • Conclusion\nThere is a great need for students to be informed of the legal risks associated with SNS given their widespread use. Research have found that there is a gap in this area of cyber safety education. Cyber safety education is ideally provided by schools. Whilst Government and State Education departments provide structures which support cyber safety education broadly, the uptake of these programs varies greatly from school to school. This systemic inequality leaves some students better able to participate in the future knowledge economy. It is hoped that this digital divide will be re-addressed by the National Curriculum’s ‘Web 2.0 cybersafety’ and ‘21st century modes of collaborative Web 2.0 style learning’.\n\nThere is much consensus that cyber safety requires a multi-pronged approach involving governments, SNS operators, parent, children and schools. Policy support together with curriculum based education are fundamental prerequisites for the safe and responsible use of SNS in schools and consequently in our greater society. In such a setting, whether the criminal case mentioned would have ever occurred. \n\n
  • Bibliography\n\nBoyd, Danah. (2007). Discussion with danah boyd. [video] Retrieved from Accessed 12 April 2011.\nde Zwart, M., Lindsay, D., Henderson, M. & Phillips, M. (2011a). Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites Melbourne: Monash University.\nde Zwart, M., Lindsay, D., Henderson, M. & Phillips, M. (2011b). Will u friend me? Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites. Melbourne: Monash University.\nde Haan, J & Livingstone, S. (2009). Policy and research recommendations. EU Kids Online: LSE, London.\nDepartment of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). (2010). Teaching and learning with Web 2.0 technologies; Findings from 2006 - 2009. DEECD: Melbourne, Victoria.\ (2009). Web 2.0 site blocking in schoools: Strategic ICT advisory service. Education.Ed: Dulwich, SA.\nFirth, Verity. (2010). New resource decodes social networking. New South Wales Government: Sydney.\nFamily Online Safety Institute (FOSI). (2010). Digital Citizenship: Safety, Literacy, and Ethics for Life in a Digital World.(Video-conference FOSI 2010 Annual Conference). Accessed 1 March 2011.\nJohnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2010). 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas.\nLevy, M. (2010). Details emerge of girl at centre of AFL nude pic scandal, The Age. Retrieved from, Accessed 10 April 2011.\nMacgibbon, A. (2011, 28 February). Teaching the Facebook generation, Sydney Morning Herald, p. 15. \nPatty, Anna. (2011, 26-27 March). Facebook fear: schooldays could be the most damaging of your life, Sydney Morning Herald. p.1. \nWolak, J, Finkelhor, D, Mitchell, K.L, & Ybarra, M.L (2008). Online 'predators' and their victims. American Psychologist, 83(2), 111-128. \n
  • Legal Risks & SNS - teens

    1. 1. Available http-//
    2. 2. “I strongly believe that we have to stop talking about the Internet as the cause of harm andTextstart talking about it as the megaphone” danah boyd cc licensed Flickr photo by Spectrious 25015845@N07/2759818789/
    3. 3. Social Networking Media citizenry copyright cultural awareness defamation socialisation privacy disclosure building relationshipidentity formation social benefits legal risks geographical identity self esteem criminal theft negates barriers socio-economic harrassment‘knowledge economy’ offensive material life skills professionalpromotes ICT skills development stalking literacies ( media, inappropriate content communication scams network, digital) educational predators other benefits cyberbully risks media rich content access disability co-creation reputation high engagement collaborative digital footprint authentic pedogogy learner-cenric
    4. 4. SMH, p.1. cc licensed Flickr photo by trick77
    5. 5. The NSW Digital Citizenship model has 6 key elements with 2 interwoven themes: New South Wales Department of Education. (2010). Key Digital Education Revolution- NSW domains and themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from
    6. 6. 26 October 201026 October 2010
    7. 7. • INESS SESSIONS
    8. 8. c. Karen Keighery 2011
    9. 9. Johansson keep’s the computer in the living room so she can better track what her son, Erik is doing. Michael Plunkett KRT Photos 2005
    10. 10. the pinnacles of WEB 2.0 enabled Youth Cyber safety trail blazers afoot cyberspace circa 2011 Schools sNM providers PArentS governmentsImage adapted from Couros, Alec. (2011). Understanding Digital Citizenship - Middle Years Conference, from
    11. 11. Five Questions Recommended ReadingWould you like to promote ‘Digital Citizenry’ (2009). SICTAS: Web 2.0 site blockingas key attribute that students graduating from in schoools. Dulwich, SA.: Strategic ICT advisoryyour school possess? service.How would you fit a program which informs de Zwart, M., Lindsay, D., Henderson, M., & Phillips,teens on the legal issues surrounding SMN M. (2011). Teenagers, Legal Risks and Socialinto an already crowded curriculum? Networking Sites, Melbourne: Monash University.How would you negotiate an incident de Zwart, M., Lindsay, D., Henderson, M., & Phillips,involving a student at this school facing M. (2011). Will u friend me? Legal Risks andsimiliar criminal charges? Social Networking Sites. Melbourne: Monash University.How do you account for your school’s Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., & Haywood, K.approach to e-learning, cybersafety and digital (2010). 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. .citizenry to the media or parent body? Austin, Texas.Would you consider a restorative justice Ribble, M., (2009), Raising a Digital Child: a digitalapproach if a similar case occurred rather citizenship handbook for parents, Moorabbin,than contacting the Police? Hawker Brownlow, Education.