Foster Care and Social Networking

Goal: To increase awareness of cyber safety issues with foster children and Foster parents.

New Age of Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship:   -Digital Citizenship is more than just having the capacity to use technology.  Ideally, it is the safe and responsible use of technology and communication techniques.

Cyber Safety in Foster Homes   – Cyber Safety is an important aspect of ensuring that both foster child and foster parent are safe

Benefits of Social Networking and Computers

  • Communication
  • Computer Skills
  • World comes to you
  • Research
  • Resources

What do Foster Children use Online Technology for?

  • kids live online
  • networking
  • gaming
  • chatting
  • movies
  • music

Nielson Study on Texting

  • 3417 texts per month
  • Average – 7 text messages per waking hour

Top three reasons

  • faster
  • easier
  • more fun

Foster kids not much control

  • can control their online life
  • can express themselves


  • Every month, 300-500 girls in state I live are sexually exploited online
  • Start as early as 12 years of age History of Prior Sexual abuse
  • Neglected/Abused
  • Physical/Sexual Violence



  • non Hispanic, white males
  • older than 25 years of age
  • acting along
  • most cases with male victims involve male offenders

Child Porn


  • 20,000 images posted each week
  • 3 million images online
  • 10,000 websites offer porn
  • fastest growing internet business

Child Victim Profile


  • Girls were targeted at twice rate of boys
  • Between ages of 13-15
  • Victims feel they are in love, or seek close relationships with others online
  • Usually know person online is older


Recent study found that 20% of cell phone owning teens have received sexually suggestive or nude images of someone they knew via text messaging -5% of teens have sent one .

Three main scenarios for sexting

  • exchange of images solely between two romantic partners
  • exchange between partners who have shared with others outside the relationship
  • exchange between people who are not yet in a relationship, where at least one hopes to be


– When youth use technology as a tool to bully peers via email, via email, chat rooms , social network sites and text messages or cell phones.


– publicly disclosing someone’s private email, information, or messages

– sending threatening or aggressive messages

– spreading rumors online

– excluding someone from buddy list/blocking their emails -tricking/fooling/misleading others

– breaking into someone’s email/instant message to send cruel/false messages as that person

– creating websites to make fun of another

– use websites to rater person in cruel fashion


– 10-20% of youth have been targeted online or are aggressors

– Peeks in middle school girls are more likely to target

Online Recruitment Gangs, Hate groups, Terrorism

Inappropriate Materials

  • Violence/bombs, etc
  • How to manufacture drugs
  • Purchase alcohol, legal, illegal drugs, weapons
  • Internet hoaxes (Nigerian, Foreign Lottery, Secret Shopper, Work at Home, Family Member in Distress)

Foster Children and Social Networking


  • Early grades/ages have more protection in place, but still need training
  • As foster child ages, there are less protective measures in place, therefore, the child needs more sophisticated cyber safety training each year to apply to his/her daily interactions.


  • Set up guidelines beforehand
  • Discuss dangers
  • Train how to create profiles
  • Use two profiles/private and public pseudonyms
  • Train how to disclose info/express themselves
  • No pictures – becomes part of global village-can track
  • No geographic identifiers
  • Access for foster parent/caseworker
  • No personal info – birth dates/school info
  • Never meet face to face
  • Don’t believe everything online
  • Know child’s online contacts
  • Watch for suspicious contacts

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