Instagram guilt-tripping parents into letting young children open an account or risk being bullied

The Daily Telegraph

INSTAGRAM is guilt-tripping parents into letting children younger than 13 have their own accounts by claiming they will be bullied if they are not on the app.

The social media giant also argues that having a public account­ is “part of the fun”.

It has come under fire from cyber safety experts over its “parents’ guide to Instagram” which claims that kids who don’t have Instagram can “risk social marginalisation”.

Ross Bark and brother Darren from Best Enemies.

Best Enemies director Ross Bark, who runs cyber-safety courses in schools, said it was “ridiculous” to suggest children were going to experience “social marginalisation” purely for not being on the app.

He said that anyone under 18 on the app should have a private account and children under 13 “should definitely not” be on Instagram.

“Social marginalisation sounds like a term that has come out of a marketing manager’s mouth … it sounds like a young person will be on the fringes of society if they are not on Instagram which is a silly suggestion,” Mr Bark said.

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here

Caffeine chaos out of control for gamers: Doctors slam drugs which ‘help’ you play all night

The Daily Telegraph

KIDS who play video games are being encouraged to take caffeine-loaded “supplements” to boost their reaction times and help them stay up all night playing.

Best Enemies director Ross Bark, who runs cyber-safety courses in NSW schools, said “gaming supplements” were a growing problem parents needed to be aware of.

“Schools are having issues with students crashing in class after spending all night playing games,” Mr Bark said.

“It can have a real impact on their school work, their relationships and mental health. I think one of the issues is with teenager boys in particularly. They don’t see taking large amount of caffeine as a serious thing or something that carries health risks.”

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here

Australian children’s personal information is being sold online after being stolen from gaming sites

The Daily Telegraph

POPULAR video games such as Fortnite and Minecraft are being used to harvest children’s personal data by web fiends who flog it to anyone willing to stump up the cash.

Cyber-safety expert Ross Bark said crooks could use a child’s username and password for a gaming site like Fortnite to extract more information including phone numbers, credit card details, dates of birth and home addresses.

“Websites like Fortnite ask users to hand over a lot of personal information, which is very valuable to criminals,” Mr Bark said. “The account details would usually be purchased in bulk by the hundreds.”

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here

Tips for parents to ensure their young children’s safety online.

The TODAY Show – Channel 9

Here’s a frightening number for you – 72 million pieces of data on average are being collected from a child before they turn 13. What can parents do to keep their children’s private information safe?

Watch Ross Bark’s interview on The TODAY Show to see how we all need to be careful about the information we share online.

Cyber-trolls and online bullies: Call for bans amid spate of teenage suicides

The Daily Telegraph

CYBER-BULLIES would be banned from social media and slapped with an online­ version of an apprehended violence­ order as part of a radical plan to stop trolls.

Anti-bullying charities are using a powerful parliamentary inquiry to call for a criminalisation of trolling — including giving child cyber-bullies a social media order (SMO) that would ban them from contacting their victims and using sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

It comes after 14-year-old Amy “Dolly” Everett took her own life on January 3 after being targeted by bullies online.

Cyber-safety expert Ross Bark, who runs education courses across NSW through his company Best Enemies, agreed the creation of an “SMO” would be helpful.

“It would be useful to be able to ban offenders from Facebook, Instagram and social media but it would need to be coupled with education so they can actually learn the very real effect they are having on their victims,” Mr Bark said.

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here

Kids are being exposed to disturbing content on YouTube

A Current Affair – Channel 9

The summer holidays are peak internet season for families – but parents have been warned about a trend of violent, graphic cartoons specifically designed to target children.

The cartoons feature beloved children’s characters such as Peppa Pig, Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen, but feature gruesome acts including murder, cannibalism and pornography.

“Your child could be viewing the Peppa Pig video which could be a proper video, and in one second they could be watching something completely inappropriate, which they think is the same thing,” Cyber Expert Ross Bark told A Current Affair.

Watch the full story and my comments from last weeks A Current Affair.

When break ups go bad

A Current Affair – Channel 9

Image-based abuse is a growing problem, particularly for young people! Tough new laws now protect victims if their intimate photos are shared online.

Check out my comments from last weeks A Current Affair.

Year 7 students suffering high school anxiety need help

The Daily Telegraph

PRIMARY school students making the transition to high school need to be given extra support from teachers and parents to stop episodes of anxiety and depression being triggered by the upheaval.

Ross Bark runs programs across NSW helping children make the switch from primary to high school.

“Students face a lot of anxiety about this time period which can spiral into more serious issues. In primary school they’ve developed an established group of friends and understand how they fit into those groups, so the change can be overwhelming for a young ­person.” he said.

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here

Pre-Teens at Risk in Sick ‘Upskirting Pranks’

The Daily Telegraph

CHILDREN as young as 12 are now becoming victims of “upskirting” and “downblousing” from their own peers in a sick new craze inspired by twisted online video “pranks”.

Cyber safety expert Ross Bark, who teaches courses across NSW schools, said upskirting was a growing issue.

“There is a very twisted genre of YouTube videos that are teaching children highly inappropriate behaviour,” he said.

Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph here