5 Unsafe Habits Social Media Is Teaching Kids

SocialMedia25The Internet is here to stay and only expanding by the day!

The social media heyday shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and likely will just continue to gain speed and momentum as it appeals to younger and younger audiences; however it can’t go unnoticed that the values it’s teaching our children are less than ideal, especially in regards to unsafe internet habits. As social media becomes more prevalent, so do our kids apparent lack of regard to what is considered over-sharing and what isn’t. Social media has made it completely acceptable to engage in the following less-than-safe behaviors:

1.     Checking into places – It’s become commonplace to check into places once you get there; whether it’s the gym, a restaurant, or even a different city or state from the one you reside in, you’re now able to post onto your social media sites where you are, and are even rewarded with badges for checking into places regularly. However while the badges and upgrades to “mayor of the city” may make kids feel cool, it’s also alerting anyone and everyone that they’re not at home and where you can find them, something that seems less than stellar from a safety standpoint.

2.     Posting provocative and risqué photos – Scantily clad pictures, pictures showing drug and alcohol use, and pictures of people in risqué circumstances routinely grace Facebook walls, get uploaded to Instagram, and find their way onto Twitter. All this does, however, is encourage risky behavior, prompting teens to engage in it and even challenging them to outdo their friends,as well as appealing to predators with questionable motives, making it easy for them to identify easy targets.

3.     Putting your address, phone number, and email address online – While this type of information may be posted innocently for friends and family to easily find, kids tend to forget that the internet is not a private forum, it’s very public. Posting this information makes it easy for scammers, spammers, and predators to prey on unsuspecting victims, which is why this information should never be made publicon the various social media websites.

4.     Demeaning others – Bullying others online has become the new social norm. This kind of cyber-bullying has had an overwhelming effect on kids, leaving them feeling depressed and hopeless. When kids are unable to achieve any respite from the constant demeaning of their peers the effects can be monumental, with self-mutilation, uncontrollable anger or depression, and even suicide or harming their peers being the fallout.

5.     Encouraging hazardous games – Remember the choking game that encouraged kids to hang themselves to get high? These types of dangerous games are a result of social media allowing them to spread like wildfire, and the results are often tragic because kids don’t realize how dangerous they really are until it’s too late.

Social media, while it is many wonderful things, has its drawbacks as well. The younger the audience allowed to interact on it, the more unsafe it becomes, especially because they don’t yet understand that for every action there can also be a tragic reaction. This is why it’s imperative for parents to be vigilant in teaching their kids safe internet habits and to monitor what their kids are doing online.

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Digital Parenting and Your Teen’s Social Media Profiles

SocialMedia25It’s eight o’clock on a school night; do you know where your kids are? In our constantly wired world, you not only need to know whose house your kids are visiting, but also where they’re hanging out on the internet. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube are great ways for kids to keep in touch and connect with the world around them, but they can also be ideal settings for inappropriate content, bullies, and even sexual predators.

Many parents are friends and followers on their children’s social media sites, but should you go a step further and have direct access to their accounts? 

Pros:

Having the login information for your kids’ social media profiles grants you access to their friends, their conversations, and their pictures. It allows you to see who your children are communicating with and what they’re saying, which can help hold them accountable. Even more importantly, you can control the privacy settings on your kids’ profile and block certain users from contacting them. This enables you to censor questionable subject matter and have meaningful conversations with your children about Internet safety. In the long run, paying more attention to your kids’ friends and interests could help you form a stronger bond with them. 

Cons:

On the other hand, being able to log in to your children’s Internet accounts can undermine any sense of trust that you’ve worked to establish with them. If your kids know that you can sign on to their social media sites, it might lead them to create alternate profiles (and engage in risky online behavior). Additionally, when you have unlimited access to your children’s information, it’s tempting to overstep your boundaries by posting embarrassing content or telling other parents what their kids are doing online. This can strain your parent-child relationship and alienate your children from their friends. Also, when you take total control of your kids’ accounts, it doesn’t help them learn how to responsibly manage social media.

Whether or not you choose to have access to your kids’ profiles, you should still be aware of their Internet activity. If possible, keep the family computer in a central location (not kids’ rooms), and check in on your children frequently when they’re on the Internet. Visit the websites that they’re talking about with their friends, and be on the lookout for increased Internet use or changes in mood, which could indicate that they’re getting into trouble online.

Before you allow your children to set up social media profiles, make sure you sit down to have a conversation about appropriate use, and set up rules for sharing information on the Internet. Remind them that it’s hard to control (and remove) content once it’s posted online and that there can be real world repercussions for their online behavior. Keep the line of communication open so that your children feel comfortable coming to you when they need advice or if they encounter a problem on social media websites.

Special Contributor: Stephanie Marbukh

Teens, Tweens and Social Networking

It is simply a fact, your child today, no matter what their age will be involved in some sort of social media and social networking.

Just like you will be discussing the birds and the bees you also need to discuss Internet safety.

Here are some quick tips to remind them as they begin their cyber-life:

Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone’s mean to you, try to ignore them – often that makes them stop. Use privacy tools to block them from viewing your full profile and contacting you.

Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.

Passwords are private. Don’t share your password even with friends. It’s hard to imagine, but friendships change and you don’t want to be impersonated by anyone. Pick a password you can remember but no one else can guess. One trick: Create a sentence like “I graduated from King School in 05” for the password “IgfKSi05.”

Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.

Don’t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don’t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don’t lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator’s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.

Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.

Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

Online Predators: Knowing Where Your Teens are Surfing Online

“Your teen comes home from school and goes up to her bedroom, closes the door and goes online.” – ScreenRetriever

As a parent of a teenager in today’s digital society it can be difficult to keep up with the ever changing Internet.  It can be more challenging to keep your lines of communication open with your teen to insure their safety both online and off, however it is a priority for parents.

Stats parents should know:

What Parents Can Do:

  1. Self education- Learn what kids may be exposed to online – Learn what the risks are.
  2. Communitcating, educating, e-mentoring your kids about:
    • Online risks
    • Chatrooms, game site risks
    • Predators and to be aware of manipulative behavior, gifts, requests for nude pictures, grooming.
    • Predators don’t look scary, they look like you or I, or the person down the street.
    • Teaching your child that if they get in a situation that feels uncomfortable, that they should and can always come to you and that they won’t get in trouble if they do.
    • Only friend people they know on Social Networking Sites
    • Never meet someone they’ve met online without talking to an adult first.
    • Turn off webcam when not in use

3. E-mentor kids online especially when they have a computer in their bedroom. ScreenRetriever enables parents to monitor children’s computer activity live where ever the child’s computer is located in the home including who your child is communicating with using their webcam.

4. Set limits and ground rules about what your child is allowed to do online, sites they visit, information they post, who their friends are on social networking sites, who they are chatting with. Go over the ScreenRetriever tips before they are allowed on the computer.

5. Learn the language your kids use on the computer and cellphone, like A/S/L or GNOC.

6. When your child comes to you with a problem, be there for them, and don’t over react. Many kids don’t tell their parents when they have a problem online because they are afraid they will lose computer privileges.

7. Start e-mentoring early when kids go on the computer so that your family values and rules are ingrained early.

One child caught in the manipulative trap of a predator is one too many.   This can be prevented when parents “parent online” and “e-mentor”.

An added tool for assistant and protection for your teens and children, parents may want to consider ScreenRetriever.  (Watch the video).

ScreenRetriever gives you peace of mind.  Screen Retriever is the only supervising software that follows the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Sign up today for your free 2-week trial period.  No credit card is required for this trial period.

Need help installing it?  Yoursphere for Parents is a click away with user friendly instructions!

You can join ScreenRetriever on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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Facebook and Kids: Parents You do have Options for Social Networking Sites for Kids

Is Facebook really for kids?

What kids do online have real world consequences – do they realize that?

The answer is probably not surprising to many parents.  Most kids and teenagers do not think of the consequences when they post what  they believe are silly comments or funny photos today.

Everyday a parent somewhere is faced with a question from their child – “Can I join Facebook?”

Facebook was originally created for college students in 2004. Ever since then the once small private website has grown to over 800 million uses. Not only is it for college students, but for parents, companies and children. According to Pcworld.com, 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13, and two-thirds of those kids are under 10.  It’s becoming a huge debate among children and parent; to join Facebook or not to join is the question. [See options for younger kids at the end of the article].

The current legal Facebook user age is 13 years old. Any child younger is discouraged to log on, but of course there are plenty ways around that. It is really simple for a child under the age of 13 to get on to Facebook. All you need is a name, email address and a fake birth date.

Before you let your kid log on there are a few things to consider before allowing your child on Facebook:

Facebook is relatively safe. You have many options on the level of privacy and protection you want to set on your page. But keep in mind that your child is always susceptible to online predators if they are online. Whether it is Facebook or online gaming, predators are lurking everywhere. The ‘checking in’ feature can be dangerous in the sense anyone can know where your child is once he or she check in, whether that is at school or at a movie theatre.

Not only is it dangerous it can be a huge distraction. According to heathland.time.com, “Research has found that students in middle school, high school and college who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period got lower grades.” Facebook is just one more distraction for your child.

There are over millions of Facebook users and just like surfing the web there are things you may not want your child to see. You may be in some control of what people can see your child do, but you can’t control what your child may see or read from another user.

Probably the most news making problem with kids on Facebook is the amount of cyberbullying that is occurring. There are dozens of news stories, books, news articles and movies based on this growing epidemic. Cyberbullies are other kids that harass and bully children using technology like Facebook, Twitter, texting and blogs. Cyberbullies are able to hide behind their computer without thinking about the consequences their rumors, teasing and mean words are doing. Cyberbullying is serious; studies show that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once. (For more statistics information visit http://www.isafe.org/.)

When Facebook is used appropriately it can be a great way for your child to keep in contact with friends and family members. If you choose to allow them to log on, it’s suggested to closely monitor your child’s Facebook by logging on for them, keeping the password safe until you feel they are able to handle it.  Monitoring their page and having access to their page will help with possible dangers. Remember to set your child’s page to private and be sure that comments and photos are on the settings you want.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

Meet Yoursphere for YOUR kids today!

Now when you are faced with that question, “Can I join Facebook?” from your child – you can offer a safe, fun and exciting option!

Yourpshere.com is one of the fasting growing social networking sites for kids.  The benefits are endless, their priorities are the safety of your child and their information.  The founder, Mary Kay Hoal, a mother of five children, created Yoursphere.com as well as Yoursphere for Parents which is full of educational materials and information to keep you up-to-date on today’s gadgets and how to keep up with the ever changing privacy settings of the Internet.

Watch this video on the  as an introduction to Yoursphere!

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NO BULL Challenge Campaign: Get Your School Involved

Bullying and cyberbullying has become a cancer that potentially has a death sentence.

Florida is not a stranger to tragedies related to bullying incidents and suicides among tweens and teens.

The NO BULL Challenge is the largest, youth-led national campaign in America’s history to combat cyberbullying.

Murray Middle School in St. Augustine is home to Girls CircleGirls Circle is a support group for middle school girls. It is designed to foster self-esteem, help girls maintain authentic connections with peers and adult women, counter trends toward self-doubt, and allow for genuine self-expression through verbal sharing and creative activity.

Girls Circle are diligently preparing to be part of the NO BULL Challenge.  This campaign is open to all middle and high school students. (Watch the video ).

Fifteen finalists will be invited to attend the star-studded NO BULL Teen Video Awards in San Francisco.  Our community is behind our students and just making the effort to show your support to put an end to bullying and cyberbullying is a step in a positive direction.

Do you want to know how you can enter?  Click here for FAQ.

Important dates to know for this challenge:
January 15, 2012: NO BULL Challenge Begins (12:01 am PST)

March 15, 2012: Video Upload Deadline (12:00 am PST)

March 15, 2012: Voting begins

April 15, 2012: Voting ends to select top 100 most popular videos

May 17, 2012: 15 finalists chosen from top 100 favorites

July 21, 2012: 8 Winners announced at NO BULL Red Carpet Awards Event in San Francisco

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Teaching Your Teen Respect Both Online and Off: Being a Good Cyber-Citizen

How do you treat others – online?

How do your teens treat their friends – online?

Teaching our kids and teens respect starts from a young age, however when it comes to technology, parents need to understand it is just as important to continue the lesson of respect digitally.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month! In honor of this year’s theme, “Our Shared Responsibility,” JustAskGemalto.com compiled a list of 10 ways to be a better cyber citizen and help keep you and your family secure online.

1.       Understand the technology available to protect you and your family’s digital identity: Digital security devices give you the freedom to communicate, travel, shop, bank and work using your digital identity in a way that is convenient, enjoyable and secure.  What digital security tools are you already using every day?

Consider using a personal security device when going online: Having a personal security devicein addition to a password better secures you and your sensitive information.  Learn more about how this concept is a lot like your ATM card.

3.       Use antivirus and antispyware software: To prevent spyware or malware, use one or two anti-spyware programs in addition to your anti-virus software, and keep them up to date.

4.       Teach family & friends about the importance of strong passwords: Passwords should never be family names or numbers that are easily found out like a birthday, address or phone numbers. Do you follow the criteria for strong passwords?

5.       Get involved in your child’s online life: Start young and introduce them to kid-friendly sites you and they can find valuable.  Be sure to take the time to discuss the risks associated with social media with your children.

6.       Report cybercrime:If you are being phished, spammed, or a criminal is attempting to commit a crime through email correspondence with you,it’s important to know the steps you need to take if you think you may be a victim of cybercrime.

7.       Protect your home or small business Wi-Fi network: To make your home or small business Wi-Fi network safe, the single most important thing to do is implement the authentication security capabilities built into your Access Point and Wi-Fi adapters.  Learn how you can easily implement these security capabilities.

8.       If you’re a parent, consider parental control systems for Internet access on 3G mobile phones: All service providers offer parental control software. The systems are free, easy to install, and give you a choice between several levels of control.

9.       If your bank does not provide a smart bankcard, know the other safe ways to shop online: PayPal is a good way to pay online because you do not have to give private credit card account information to an Internet retailer that is unknown to you.  Learn more about other safe payment options.

10.   Don’t share information with web sites you don’t trust: If you’re not sure if you can trust a website, look to see if it is certified by an Internet Trust Organization.

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