The number of children and young people accessing the internet has increased dramatically in recent years. They have been key drivers of the social media movement, as services like Facebook and Twitter provide them with new spaces to engage their peers. However, the growth of online use among younger populations has made online safety a concern as the internet provides new opportunities for activities such as cyber bullying, where harassment occurs through technologies like text or instant messaging and email. Several studies have found that cyber bullying is not a small, isolated problem. The National Crime Prevention Council has reported that cyber-bullying affects over 40% of all American teens. It is more common among females than males, and is most prevalent among 15- and 16-year-olds.
Everyone can agree that the internet must be a safe and secure environment for children so they can fully enjoy the educational and entertainment benefits that being connected to the wider world provides.. Cyber bullying can be psychologically harmful, and has led to suicide in extreme cases. CALinnovates strongly supports expanding educational efforts for online safety. Children must understand what personal information should not be given out online, what actions qualify as cyber bullying, and how to report it if they see it happening. This type of education should happen early, before children become active online users. All should feel welcome in the online community and not be deprived of its benefits by those who misuse technology.