Tools to track cyberbullying - Tucson News Now

Tools to track cyberbullying

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Teenagers embrace being connected to each other 24/7, but technology carries the potential to traumatize them in new and different ways.

"Everyone has such easy access to it - with their phones they can post something on Facebook or Twitter in first period and by lunch everyone knows," Ernesto Cardova said.

When Cardova attended Pleasure Ridge Park he said cyberbullying was done in class and out of school.

It's become more accessible for bullies to get away with it, too. The hurtful comments target children without the victim even knowing it until the damage is done.

The source is social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram along with dozens of smart phone applications and sites. Even though the apps are meant to connect children, some are using them in inappropriate or unacceptable ways and parents may have no idea what's going on.

Step into a class of 30 high school students and look around. Five of them have been victims of electronic bullying in the past year, according to Pediatric Academic Societies.

"It's really growing into a bigger phenomenon" University of Louisville Associate Professor Karen Freberg said.

Freberg, an expert in social media and data tracking, has provided resources available to parents to monitor social media activity without "friending" or "following" a user.

"Mashable is a great resource for Social Media 101 and for looking for emerging trends as they happen so parents are prepared for what to watch out for," Freeburg said. The site constantly updates new articles for parents to read so they're informed on what their child may have access to.

Socialmention allows parents to search for names, user names or hash tags across all social media apps and sites. The results could provide parents a glimpse into their activity. A hash tag is a word or group of words used to search for tweets or posts that have a common topic with a numerical sign designation. For example, #wave3news is a hash tag.

"If there is a case where your child is getting a lot of negative tweets that are using their name and you want documentation, socialmention.com allows you to export that data for free," Freberg said.

She also recommended parents use Samepoint - a site that also provides information derived from all social media platforms and apps.

Instagram is one of the most popular apps for pre-teens and teens where bullies could post embarrassing pictures or messages.

To track activity, Statigram allows parents to search for hash tags, names or usernames. Nitrogram provides similar results.

"Nitrogram is a service they can track the traffic on a particular user. So they can see what's being posted, who it's directed to and where the entry came from," Freberg said.For years, parents have learned how to protect their children from strangers and sex offenders, but the concept of cyber parenting continues to evolve as children bully their peers.

There's also dozens of apps available for parents to prevent cyberbullying. Click here to learn more.

Freberg also recommended the following list of sites to learn more about cyber parenting:

Melissa Agnes, a crisis consultant in social media, has written several blog posts on cyberbullying.

Several children on Twitter use hash tags to exclude their peers or criticize them. Parents could see a trend of that particular hash tag be visiting hashtags.org, tweetstats.com and hashtagify.me.

Find out more through the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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