Technology is a way of life for the modern teenager. In fact, according to a study by the Pew Research Foundation, more than 90% of individuals between the ages of 13 and 17 say they regularly use a smartphone. While an online presence can be beneficial for teenagers, they can also get into legal trouble by engaging in certain behaviors.
Cyberbullying occurs when someone uses an electronic device to bully, intimidate, threaten or harass someone else. While anyone can engage in this type of behavior, it is increasingly popular with teenagers. The Texas Educational Code prohibits cyberbullying. Accordingly, your child may face school discipline, such as suspension or expulsion, for it. Depending on facts and circumstances, however, cyberbullying may also result in criminal charges.
Disrupting educational functions
Children in the Lone Star State have a right to go to school and pursue an education. If your child uses his or her smartphone to interfere with these activities, prosecutors may file charges for disruptive activities. Typically, disruptive activities are a class B misdemeanor in Texas.
Harassing classmates or others
Even if they do not involve physical violence, harassing behaviors can have a negative effect on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. In Texas, it is against the law to use an electronic device, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet, to harass someone else. If your child makes threats, sends obscene messages or otherwise harasses classmates or others, prosecutors may charge him or her with either a class A or a class B misdemeanor.
Impersonating someone else
The MTV show, “Catfish,” has been popular with teenagers for years. This show provides an entertaining take on impersonation. Nonetheless, if your child pretends to be someone else to threaten, harass or intimidate someone, he or she may be violating state law. Regrettably, in serious instances, impersonation can be a felony.
As a caring parent, you can mold your teenager into a successful and productive adult. Unfortunately, though, a few electronic missteps may brand the young one in your family with a criminal record for life. By teaching your son or daughter about cyberbullying, you can help him or her avoid legal trouble.