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Widespread use of information technology by young people is here to stay.

A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation — Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds — reveals that 8- to 18-year-olds spend 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) using entertainment media across a typical day.  When considering “media multitasking” (using more than one medium at a time), youth are packing in 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) of media into those 7½ hours. When a 2004 study by the same foundation found that youth spent 6:21 hours on entertainment media, with multitasking resulting in 8:33 in a single day, researchers suggested that youth could not fit any more entertainment media into their daily lives.  They were wrong.  Some other highlights from the study are:

  • 66% of 8- to 18-year-olds own cell phones (up from 39% in 2004).
  • 76% own iPods and other MP3 players (up from 18% in 2004).
  • 28% have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV.
  • 30% have rules about playing video games.
  • 36% have rules on computer use.
  • Those children with media-use rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.
  • 47% of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower) compared to 23% of light users.
  • TV watching still tops the list for entertaining media consumption (4:29).  TV programming has become even more accessible with the addition of video streaming to computers, iPods and cell phones.
  • TV consumption is followed by music/audio (2:31), computers (1:29), video games (1:13), print (:38) and movies (:25) a day.
  • Online activities include social networking (:22), playing games (:17) and visiting video sites like YouTube (:15) per day.
  • 74% of all 7th-12th graders say they have a profile on a social networking site.
  • Media consumption increases substantially at the 11-14 year-old age group.
  • 7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts (time spent texting is not counted as entertainment media in this study).

The Kaiser Family Foundation news release provides a summary of the results: Daily Media Use Among Children And Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago.

Source: Rideout, V. J., U. G. Foehr, and D. F. Roberts. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8- to 18-year-olds.

When parents hear about online dangers, some may want to either ignore the problems or turn off their computers. And when children face a potential threat online, they would often rather deal with the threat on their own than ask for help from a parent or other trusted adult who may take the computer or cell phone away.

According to the 2006 Teen Internet Safety Survey conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications, 33 percent of 13- to 17-year olds reported that their parents or guardians know “very little” or “nothing” about what they do on the Internet.

When it comes to Internet safety, some basic rules apply.

Don’t talk to strangers, especially about sex:

  • 32% of online teens have been contacted online by a complete stranger
  • Of teens who have been contacted, 23% say they were made scared or uncomfortable by the stranger contact
  • 7% of online teens experienced disturbing stranger contact
  • 4% of youth received aggressive online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact
  • 4% faced solicitation of pictures

Don’t go into certain virtual neighborhoods:

  • 25% of youth who use the Internet regularly had one or more unwanted exposures to sexual pictures while online in the past year:
    • 73% came during surfing
    • 27% came via email or IM

Interpreting the Statistics

While the statistics above may be disturbing, it is important to understand that sexual solicitations are not necessarily from “online predators.”  These solicitations were unwanted online requests to young people to talk about sex, answer personal questions about sex, or do something sexual. Many could have been from other youth.  In most cases, youth did not actually know the ages of solicitors. When they believed they knew, they said about half were other youth.

Most sexual solicitations are not necessarily devious or intended to lure. Most were limited to brief online comments or questions in chatrooms or instant messages. Many were simply rude, vulgar comments like, “What’s your bra size?”

Most recipients did not view the solicitations as serious or threatening.  More than 75% were not frightened or upset by what happened.

Importantly, most youth handle unwanted solicitations appropriately by blocking or ignoring solicitors, leaving sites, or telling solicitors to stop.  Very few youth are sexually victimized by someone they meet online.

Danger Signs

[blockquote]“The Internet is not the primary means that predators are using to contact and communicate with child and teen victims.”[/blockquote]

Attempts to contact children offline – Researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center (2007) estimate that some of the more serious types of sexual solicitations are more appropriately considered “threatening or dangerous situations that youth encounter online.”  The 4% of youth who receive “aggressive” sexual solicitations include attempts to contact the youth offline. These are the episodes most likely to result in actual victimizations. (About one‐quarter of these aggressive solicitations came from people the youth knew in person, mostly other youth.)

As is the case with any form of sexual abuse, most often the victim “knows” the perpetrator.  According to Nancy Willard (2009) of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use:

“The Internet is not the primary means that predators are using to contact and communicate with child and teen victims.”

Willard suggests that we need to be more concerned about family and acquaintance abusers who are using interactive technologies to sexually abuse children (e.g., creating child pornography).

Chatrooms – Willard also reports that when sexual solicitations do happen, they most often occur in chatrooms, not on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.  Chatrooms are associated with risky behavior as many chat spaces focus specifically on sex, providing a space for people with common interests to communicate.  This is not a space for children and youth.  Rather, Willard suggests that children should be encouraged to engage on social networking sites as they have proved to be safe spaces given the diligent efforts to remove registered sex offenders and inappropriate content.


Beware: Chatting is Back

Chat rooms fell out of fashion with kids a few years ago; however two new sites are bringing it back. is a site that connects strangers in one-on-one chat sessions.  It is anonymous and no one is required to reveal personal information; yet many do.  Anything goes on this site.  It is not a place for children.
ChatRoulette is the new social networking thrill.  This site allows for video chatting with an endless stream of random strangers dropping in.  As soon as you sign up, the site automatically links up to your webcam.  (Even if you don’t have a webcam, you can still connect and view others.)  Once you click “start” you are connected with a total stranger.  You can either instant message or talk or hit next to randomly see who else is out there.  The user on the other end can do the same.  You never know and can’t control who you will see and talk to next. This is definitely not a site for children.  Check out CommonSense Media for more information.
Talk to your kids about the dangers of chatting.[/blockquote]

Youth seeking sexual relationships – Researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center (2008) (PDF) are also finding that some youth are using the Internet to seek sexual relationships with adults (see Sexting statistics below).  Youth who engage in this risky behavior may include those with histories of sexual abuse, sexual orientation concerns and patterns of off- and online risk taking.† These youth require developmentally appropriate prevention strategies.

Sexting – Sexting is an extension of the sex-risk behavior described above.  In 2008, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and surveyed teens to better understand the intersection between sex and cyberspace. The results included:

  • 22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent/posted nude or seminude pictures of themselves
  • 37% of teen girls and 40% of teen boys say they sent or posted sexually suggestive messages
  • 48% of teens say they have received sexually suggestive messages
  • 71% of teen girls and 67% of teen boys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent/posted this content to a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • 21% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or “hook up” with
  • 15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online
  • 75% of teens say sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences”

Youth who engage in sex-risk behavior need to be taught awareness and avoidance skills, and those who may engage in risky behavior with adults need to understand the pitfalls of sexual relationships with adults and their criminal nature.  The solution is not to restrict access to the technology or Internet, but for parents to learn more about the potential problems and then teach their children how to make smart, safe and responsible choices while online.

Staying Connected

Adults typically think of technology as a tool for working, managing money, shopping, finding information and communicating. Many adults, especially those who spend their days working at a computer, welcome the opportunity to occasionally get away from technology.

In contrast, young people often report that technology is central to entertainment and maintaining friendships. Some young people believe they would lose many of their social contacts or friendships if they could not connect to the digital world. After school, children and teenagers often head home and log on to the Internet to stay connected with their friends, especially if they don’t have the freedom afforded by a driver’s license. And they may stay connected for most of the evening.


Beware of the Buzz

Google’s new social networking tool, Buzz may put children in danger.  According to the Terms of Agreement, Google, like Facebook, does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to set-up an account, and users must enter their birth dates.  If children are using their parent’s Gmail account, they can enable Buzz and have full access to the public social networking site.  Buzz does not have any parental controls.  If your child is using Buzz, be sure that you help them establish privacy settings and assure that all of their friends on the network do the same.   Otherwise, if not set to private, anyone could interact with your child.  Disabling Buzz may be the best option if users are under the age of 13.

For many teens, social networking on web pages is an important part of their lives. According to the 2007 Teen Internet Safety Survey:

  • 71% of online teens ages 13-17 have created a personal profile on a social networking site like MySpace, Friendster or Xanga. These sites allow children to create their own websites and share their personal information with anyone, anywhere in the world. Creating a profile is a way young people can experiment with their identities.
  • 58% of teens post information about where they live
  • 70% of females and 58% of males post personal photos or videos of themselves
  • 8% post their cell phone numbers online

Parents need to teach their children that:

  • they should never share personal information like their actual name, age, email address, physical address, city, phone number, school name or names of family members and friends in their profiles.
  • if they (or someone else) uploads photos or information to the Internet, that information can never be retrieved or controlled.
  • once something is on the Internet, anyone can access it. Anyone can download it, resend it, print it and even alter it to look like something it is not.

Restricting Access…Why it Doesn’t Work

Young people’s online lives are very important to them. But teens are not likely to be open about a potential cyber threat if they feel their parents’ reaction could put an end to their computer access and communication. From a young person’s perspective, that punishment poses a far greater threat to his or her social life than a cyber predator poses. That’s one reason education and open communication about computer use between you and your child are so important.

Preventing a child from accessing the Internet by taking away computer privileges at home or school does not solve the problem. It may potentially create even greater problems if your child finds other ways to access the Internet that you don’t know about.

Downloading filtering software on the computer a child uses at home isn’t enough. Children can easily access the Internet in other ways and most filtering software can be defeated.

Young people can go online with a cell phone or gaming console like Sony PlayStation, Nintendo or handheld gaming devices, or at:

  • coffee shops and restaurants with Internet access
  • hotels with Internet access
  • a neighbor’s house with wireless Internet access
  • schools
  • public libraries
  • friends’ houses

Parents should also remember that accidents happen. If you find inappropriate material on your computer and there is no repeated pattern, give your child the benefit of the doubt. This will show trust and help keep communication open. Remember that threatening to take a computer away from a child is one of the biggest reasons children do not report incidents to their parents in the first place. Assess the threat and react appropriately.

Some parents may choose to use a “keylogger” to monitor their children’s computer use. Keyloggers, which can be either software programs or a piece of hardware, allow you to track all activity that occurs on a particular computer. Once installed, keyloggers are designed to collect information about what was typed on that machine, chatroom logs and screen images (known as screen shots). Keylogger software also can allow the installer to receive an email when a certain word is typed on that computer – all while being virtually invisible to other computer users.

While this can be an effective way to gain information, keyloggers raise many questions about privacy and potential identity theft. Since children typically use multiple computers and can access websites, instant messaging and chat rooms with their cell phones, the effectiveness of keylogger programs is limited. Ultimately, while keylogger tools may be considered to help protect children, they are no substitute for trust and open communication between parents and teens, or for teaching your children responsible, safe behavior on the Internet.

What’s Online About Your Family

Have you “Googled” yourself lately? Just because you haven’t put something about yourself online does not mean someone else hasn’t.

If you have been in the news, own property or have a published phone number, or if someone simply wanted to upload information about you, personal information about you and your family is likely posted to the Internet.

To see what is out there about you or your children, here are some of the places to check:

  • Online profiles that people create to access blogs, chat rooms and instant messaging accounts. Often these are available for anyone on the Internet to review. Be sure to check the privacy policies before willingly providing your personal information.
  • Social networking sites where you or anyone else can create a personal webpage about anyone, including you, and then share whatever is posted with the world. Examples include MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, hi5, Xanga and orkut. You might be able to request that your personal information be taken down from a website, but there is no guarantee that someone has not already seen it and even saved the information.
  • Search engines such as Google and Yahoo, or Icerocket, which specializes in blog searches. Since someone can always create multiple social networking site accounts, consider running a search through some of them by using a search engine. You can find pictures of yourself online if the image file includes your name. Conduct an image search on Google using your name and see what comes up.
  • Local, state or federal government websites that provide access to public information. Examples include online services, and
  • Online background check services.

Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.