Digital Dangers

5 things to know about
digital footprints

1. According to this study, most parents are concerned about what their teens do online and how their digital footprints might be monitored by advertisers, future employers, and others.

2. A new California law requires websites to remove anything a teen posts online if they request it. Supporters say this so-called “eraser” law would give embarrassed teens a chance to delete something they regret.

3. College-bound teens should consider that what they post online might be seen by admissions staff. This quiz was created by an educator and encourages students to clean up their digital image before applying.

4. Teens don’t always realize how much information others can find out about them online. Use this new video from NetSmartz to start a discussion with teens about their digital footprint.

5. Simple tools, like this flashcard from A Platform for Good, can go a long way in reminding teens to be careful of their online image. Get more flashcards like this here.


What is Digital Citizenship?
You can find many definitions for digital citizenship. When NetSmartz talks about good digital citizens, we mean those who respect others online, protect themselves and their personal information, and speak up when they see something inappropriate, hurtful, or dangerous.
  Digital citizenship lessons may include:
• Cyberbullying • Inappropriate content
• Digital ethics • Online privacy
• Digital literacy • Sexting
Why the Change?
As cases of cyberbullying and sexting continue to surface, digital citizenship reminds kids that their responsibilities online extend beyond their own personal safety. Children need to learn how to protect themselves, but they also need to protect their information, their reputations, and their friends.



Thinking back to our younger years, most of us have witnessed or actively took part in some type of dare or challenge that involved unwise behavior. Similar types of double-dog-dares, referred to as “challenges,” still exist for our children today, however, the audience, the peer pressure and the danger element has increased beyond compare.

In the past, dares were likely to take place on school grounds, public

parks or in someone’s basement - in front of a handful of peers, at best.  Today, challenges are recorded on smart phones and uploaded onto the  internet for a teen’s entire peer network, and then some, to see. Due  to this wide viewing audience and fear of public ridicule, teens often  succumb to the pressure to take on these challenges, even if they’d  rather not.


While some internet challenges are silly and harmless, many more are dangerous and even deadly. Here are just a few that parents should be  aware of:


Fire Challenge: An individual stands in the shower, douses himself

in alcohol or other flammable liquid and lights himself on fire, trying to

put out the flames before it burns his skin. As you can imagine, this

challenge has resulted in severe burns and deaths.


Neknominate (neck + nominate): In this challenge, a person is to

quickly drink extreme amounts of alcohol in outlandish ways and then

nominate two “friends” to do the same. Multiple accounts of ER visits

and alcohol poisoning deaths have been reported, due to this “game.”


Salt and Ice Challenge: Those taking this challenge pour salt onto their  arm or other chosen body part, and apply ice for as long as they can  stand it. The combination of salt and ice drop temperature levels to far  below freezing, which can cause not only third-degree burns, but the  need for amputation.


Kylie Jenner challenge: The idea here is to get the voluptuous lips like  the TV reality star Kylie Jenner. The person puts a shot glass over her  lips then sucks, causing them to swell. While this may not sound horribly  dangerous, the results can be terrifying. Many people experience pain  and bruising from the suction, and repeated attempts can cause scarring  and permanent disfigurement. . What’s worse is that even very young  girls are partaking in this challenge.


The list of digital dares go on and on. But what they all have in common,  besides being senseless, is that they all involve a camera and an upload  to the internet. Would you know if your children were taking part in such  foolishness? Not necessarily. That is why it is vital to talk with them  about the dangers of these online challenges.


Here are some points to keep in mind as you do:

  • Don’t assume your child won’t try it: Remember, a teen’s brain is not fully developed - impulsivity along with peer pressure and the competitive desire to one-up a peer, are all power influencers.
  • Set clear boundaries: Share your expectations and what you consider to be acceptable and unacceptable behavior. What your child thinks is okay, may not be okay with you.
  • State (and restate) the obvious: While lighting yourself on fire seems quite obviously NOT okay, make no assumptions when it comes to your child’s safety.
  • Prompt critical thinking: Ask your child, “What do you think could happen if you do this?” In the face of such a challenge, help your child learn to step back for a moment and apply basic logic and reason before making a decision that could impact his/her health and safety, as well as your trust.

It would be naive to think we will ever keep up with all the latest internet tends, dangerous or not. What we can do is talk to our children, set clear boundaries and teach them to think critically, before the next risky challenge presents itself.


Sources: McAffe Blog Central: Digital Dares: Dumb Kids with Smart

Phones, Sept. 2014. New York Daily News: Viral ‘neknominate’ drinking game linked to five deaths, Feb. 2014. TWCN Tech News: Dangerous dares start making rounds on the Internet, Oct. 2014. YouTube Challenges and Peer Pressure, Dec. 2014.