VERO BEACH, FL--(Marketwire - Oct 1, 2012) - October marks National Cyber Security Awareness Month and comes just in time to shine attention on an epidemic known as Sexcasting that is sweeping the tween and teenage groups. Sexcasting is the creation, sending and receiving of sexually suggestive or explicit digital videos across the Internet. These videos are easily produced via high-definition video cameras that come in most mobile devices, and can be shared across social networks and sites such as Facebook and YouTube at the click of a button.
"While technology advancements bring innovation and never-ending possibilities to our children's lives, being constantly connected via mobile devices also presents a new set of dangers and experimental behaviors to them," said Lisa Shaw, senior editor of ParentingTodaysKids.com and senior director of online child safety and protection at SpectorSoft, the leader in monitoring and protecting kids online. Shaw's knowledge and expertise, based on personal experience as a mother of five and as a cyber-safety expert, has earned her invitations to speak on Good Morning America and Fox Radio Network as well as at schools, and to participate in Twitter forums with Microsoft and Stop.Think.Connect.
"If you are a parent of a teen who is active in a peer social scene, he or she could be taking part in this new craze or be the victim of hidden cameras in mobile devices. In fact, many teens report they are engaged in Sexcasting for the thrill of it, because of peer pressure or in the mistaken belief that the video will be private," said Shaw.
Sexcasts are produced and shared through a variety of affordable technologies. Most mobile phones have built-in video-making technology, making it easy for teens to record classmates in locker rooms and friends at parties in suggestive scenes, as well as themselves engaged in highly explicit sexual acts. Internet-ready cameras equipped with video technology are inexpensive and portable. Technologies such as iPods and iPads allow teens to record themselves and others and almost instantly load these files onto the Internet. Webcams on laptops and home computers can stream live video or record and save digital Sexcasting videos that can be broadcast at any time.
A 2011 AP-MTV Digital Abuse Study highlighted some of the risky sexual behaviors teens were engaging in using technology:
15 percent of teens and young adults surveyed have sent naked photos or videos of themselves.
33 percent have received texts or online messages with sexual words, and 21 percent have received naked pictures or videos of others.
About half of those who sent a nude photo felt pressured to do so.
"Sexcasting occurs in many ways, and parents must be aware of the ease with which it is done and must educate their teens of the consequences," adds Shaw. "It is not a behavior limited to teens who are known to engage in dangerous behaviors or who have struggles in their home lives. All teenagers are faced with challenges and social pressures that make it increasingly probable for them to experiment with Sexcasting."
Teens are not mature enough to understand how to use technology safely and respectfully, and do not understand the risks, dangers and legalities that surround Sexcasting. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be in a sexually explicit video and teens who record, send and receive such videos, as well as their parents, can be held criminally liable. Sexual predators can find these videos online and use them for their own gratification. Sexcasting videos do not remain private and can be posted to social media sites and child pornography sites for anyone to see, indefinitely.
"Parents often find Sexcasting difficult to talk about with their children, but, as the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense," said Shaw. Here are tips she offers on how to best handle the discussion:
Keep an open line of communication. Ask questions and listen with an open mind, be non-judgmental and focus on building a stronger relationship.
Make sure your children understand the legal consequences. They need to know that consequences can be life-long and detrimental.
Talk about the emotional price tags of Sexcasting. Those videos and scenes might be forever available to future boyfriends and girlfriends, spouses, employers, children and grandchildren.
Know how your child uses technology. If your child has access to a video camera, smart phone or other device that enables video production, make sure you have security controls in place that can monitor what is being recorded and control what is being shared.
Remember it is not enough to just keep technology devices out of bedrooms and in central locations of the home. Remember that the smart phone is a powerful tool that kids use to go online and that there is no substitute for a watchful eye.
To read more about teen online trends and tips on how to keep kids safe on the Internet, visit www.parentingtodayskids.com.
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About Lisa Shaw
Lisa Shaw is senior director of online child safety and protection at SpectorSoft, the number-one leader in monitoring and protecting kids online. She has been concerned about protecting her children online ever since her son started searching the Internet back in the day of AskJeeves. Lisa understands the importance of protecting kids at the intersection of their online and offline lives. At SpectorSoft, she is an expert on the technology and trends that parents need to arm themselves with to be the best parent possible in today's digital world. She works online with groups such as the Institute for Responsible Online and Cellphone Communication (www.IROC2.org), Microsoft (SaferOnlineTeam@MS) and Stop.Think.Connect., a campaign that is part of a coalition between industry, government and non-profits to help everyone stay safe and secure online.
SpectorSoft is the leader in computer and mobile device User Activity Monitoring and analysis software. SpectorSoft has helped more than 160,000 businesses, government organizations, schools, and law enforcement agencies conduct investigations, optimize productivity and efficiency, protect assets and reputation, ensure adherence to Acceptable Use Policies, review security risk, and audit compliance mandates. In addition, SpectorSoft has sold nearly 1 Million licenses to help parents and guardians keep children safe online. For more information, visit www.spectorsoft.com.