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

The Negative Side of Facebook and Your Teen

Special guest post by Roxanne Porter:

I know that a lot of people love Facebook. They love that it can help them to stay connected to their friends. They love that it makes it easy to share their thoughts, feelings, and pictures. But Facebook has a dark side. It can be very damaging to people. Facebook can cause privacy issues, make you lose your job and your friends, and can be used as a tool for bad guys.

Some of the problems that come with Facebook arise because of privacy issues. Even though you can choose to have your profile set to private that does not always mean that your information is really safe. A lot of times friends of friends can see your posts. That can mean people you have never met and do not know. Also, people can share your posts with others, taking away your privacy. On top of that, businesses can pay to have access to all of Facebook, supposedly for marketing purposes, but they can use the information any way they wish.

Facebook is also bad because it can make you lose your friends or your job. Just because you think your Facebook is set to private does not mean that somehow something might escape to the public or people not on your friend list. Your employer could find out that you are posting during business hours or that you called in sick but went to the beach. Those things could get you in a lot of trouble or even fired. The same idea goes with your friends. If you tell someone you are going to bed or home and then you post pictures at a party, they are going t be upset with you for lying to them.

Facebook can also be used as a tool for bad guys who want to steal your information. There are lots of people out there who steal identities. They might use Facebook to get your name, numbers, friends’ names and even your address. Worse than identity theft, though, is real theft or physical harm. If someone has access to your Facebook and wanted to find you, it would be pretty easy. They could track you down based on where you work or even where you eat regularly. If you tag your posts with your location, you make it even easier for a stalker to find you. There was even a case of a burglar breaking into a house because someone posted a picture of a pile of money on their Facebook page. That is pretty dumb, but you can see how easy that would be to do.

Facebook is supposed to be something great, but it can also be very bad. There are a lot of people out there that want to use your information to do the wrong thing. Facebook makes it much easier for them. It might be better not to post anything important or really identifying on your Facebook page. Or you could just not have one at all!

Author Bio:

Roxanne Porter is a freelancer & a regular contributor for  nannyjobs.org.  She helps in providing knowledge about nanny services & love writing on nanny related articles. She helps in giving a fair knowledge about nanny Jobs to the community. You can be in touch with her at “r.poter08ATgmail.com” .

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.

10 Quick Tips to Protect Your Kids On Facebook

Keeping your kids safe online.

Facebook turned 7 years old this month.  Hard to believe that a college student and his buddies invented it and now it has spread so quickly that more than 40% of the U.S. population has a Facebook account.  Talk about going viral.

While this social network phenomenon started out as a tool for college kids, it has rapidly grown to include a younger and younger audience.  Facebook rules state that a user must be 13 years or older to have a Facebook account.  However, there is no way to verify this so there are many kids that are younger than that with their own accounts.

How do you protect your kids from the questionable material on Facebook?

  1. Don’t let them get an account. Now, this may sound obvious, but it’s the truth.  The best way to protect your kids is to make sure they don’t have an account before they are old enough.
  2. Make sure your child friends you. You need to watch what your child is posting on their friends’ walls and what kind of stuff is being posted on their wall.
  3. Make sure your child only friends people they know in real life. Anyone can send you a friend request if you are a friend of a friend etc.  This can be an open invitation for predators.
  4. Discuss boundaries with your child. Your child needs to know that he/she should not post any personal information online.  No reference to their full name, name of their school, their address or their birthday.
  5. Limit your child’s access to the computer. Computers are a way of life, but as a parent you want to be able to monitor what your child is doing on the computer.  Make sure the computer is in a central location like the living room or office.
  6. Invest in parental control software that monitors your child’s computer activity. You can’t always be with your child.  If you have software like that specializes in monitoring your child’s keystrokes, you can see exactly what your child is doing on the computer and on Facebook accounts even if you aren’t home.
  7. Do not allow your kids to post pictures. Pictures lead to online bullying and sometimes too much information.  What if your child posts a picture from his soccer game?  Seems innocent enough, but this gives out personal information that may put children at risk from a predator.
  8. Allow your child to use your Facebook account. This may sound funny, but if they aren’t posting under their own name they may be more conscientious.  Plus, you will indeed have access to see everything they have posted.
  9. Make sure you have their passwords. There is no such thing as privacy in your house.  You should have their e-mail password as well as their Facebook password.
  10. Make sure you set the privacy settings on Facebook. Facebook will show your phone number and other personal information if you don’t turn it off.  Make sure you are there to help your child set up their account.

Read more.

Reasons Why Parents Need to Worry About their Teens Online

According to the results of one survey I read, 46.9% of internet users are under the age of 25.  Taking those results, this article should be an interesting one.  While part of that percentage is probably in their twenties, that leaves a big number below the age of 18.

It is wonderful how new technology has brought us closer to all points of the world.  Technology, especially the Internet has made our once big world small; Insomuch that at any given time we can talk to China or Australia and never leave our home in rural America.  While for the business world that may be a good thing, it goes without saying that for our children, it is a little much for them to be experiencing so much of the world so soon.

I enjoy watching the TV show “To catch a predator”.  Maybe enjoy isn’t the correct word, but it is interesting to say the least.  Maybe the part I like best about is to see the would be pedophile caught, and watch him squirm.  Also knowing it is a foiled attempt to actually meet a young innocent teenager. I like watching as they are hauled off to jail to stay awhile and think about what they are doing or were about to do.  How many are actually rehabilitated is a million dollar question.

The outcry from parents has been so loud against pop-up pornography sites that the Microsoft people have played a big part in stopping most pop-ups.  As careful as I am about certain sites my PC got viruses and I had to have it commercially cleaned.  I was appalled at what they found – so thankfully it was removed with no harm done except the fee I had to pay for getting it cleaned up.

Without thinking young people fill in applications for this or that, leaving themselves open to the world with all their information; from age to sex to likes and dis-likes.  Nothing is hidden on the WWW.  Parents beware of what your children are telling about themselves.  Spammers are good at what they do.  And once Spammed is too late to keep it from happening.

A recent article about parents in China, showed that 42.6 percent of the parents surveyed “strongly oppose their children’s use of Internet” or “relatively oppose”, while as high as 78.4 percent say they worry that surfing Internet could adversely affect children’s study. Another 44.9 percent worry about their children’s exposure to pornography online.

I remember when CHAT was the thing back in the 90’s.  It was weird to get on a chat with people one did not know just to talk (chat) awhile.  It opened up an exciting venture for teens to introduce themselves and chat with people around the world.  Now the truth is – were they from down the street?  Across town?  Was their name really Jack or Mary?  There are a lot of messed up people in the world and children are not mature enough to know the difference in real versus crazy people.

Now there is the ChatRoulette which is supposed to be for viewers above18 years or older, however there is not a place to enter the birth date of the viewer.  By the name Roulette, it gives us a good picture of the content.  It is easily accessible using Skype and what the viewer sees on the screen is anyone’s guess and from what I read it can get pretty graphic even porn-a-graphic.

One thinks of the internet as a place to do research and study.  Invariably it has taken place of my set of World Book Encyclopedia’s.  However not everything on the Internet is true. Just because it is in print and somehow got on the internet, does not make it Gospel.  Everyone has an opinion.  Opinions are not History.  History is an actual accepted record of what happened at a certain point in time.

Kim Komando of CyberSpeak,  brought up an interesting subject with the following:  “We all know that music can alter your mood. Sad songs can make you cry. Upbeat songs may give you an energy boost. But can music create the same effects as illegal drugs?”

This seems like a ridiculous question. But websites are targeting your children with so-called digital drugs. These are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects.  All your child needs is a music player and headphones.”

Do you find this as scary as I do?   I wish I were knowledgeable enough to even discuss it, however it would bear great urgency for Parents to check it out.  I found the information on the USA Today site.  Very informative.

Then there is U Tube, the place where a megabyte of fame is worth everything.  Kids have excess to cameras every day; on their phone or mini video cameras.  In a moment when a young lady has let her guard down can change her life forever.  Or for that matter a young man, being teased can be shown on the WWW and he is embarrassed for life.  What may have started out as a joke, may wind up as being harassment.

We cannot keep our children locked up for short seven years of their teens.  The Internet is technology that is here to stay.  And from the youngest of ages, our children are being exposed to the World Wide Webb.

Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review says, “Kids are surrounded by screens in a way like never before, at home, in their pockets, in the minivan, and they know how to use them at younger and younger ages and Parents must be a part of it.” He goes on to say:  “”If you’re going to allow your kid to go to a website or play a game, you have to first check it out yourself.  Think about it, you don’t let your child eat a meal you’ve never tasted before.”

Special guest contributor: Kate Crosten of Internet Services

Read more.

Sue Scheff: Parenting 2010 Jumping Ahead with Technology – Cyber Safety and Your Kids

Did you miss part 1? Part 2? Part 3? Part 4? Go back, it will help you be an educated parent for 2010 in an effort to stay ahead of your kids with today’s technology.

The final part of this series is the most important.  Whether you are online or offline your lines of communication with your kids, especially teens, needs to stay and remain open.  As difficult as this can be in a busy world we live in, make 2010 the year you start taking time-off to be with your kids – both literally and virtually.

 Part 5T.A.L.K.

  • TTime – Take the time to talk to your kids. Learn more about where they surf online, what their social networking sites are saying and who their friends are – literally and virtually.
  • A – Action – Take action and be a proactive parent in what sites your kids are visiting, who they are talking to, and what they are doing – literally and virtually.
  • LLearn – Educate yourself, take the time to learn about safety resources for you and your family online. An educated parent leads to safer kids and teens – both literally and virtually.
  • KKeep-up – Don’t stop! Keep checking in on them and their social networking sites as well as their Blogs. Keep it clean, keep it positive and keep involved!

At the end of 2010 make it your goal to be ten steps ahead of your kids technically. Talk to other parents, talk to teachers, talk to guidance counselors and most importantly talk to your kids! Communication is key to parenting. Never allow those channels, both literally and virtually, to be closed. Talk, talk, talk, and more talk…. It is the resolution all parents need to make and keep for 2010.
 

Reminder articles to keep your kids and teens safe while surfing! Social Web Tips for Teens, Chatroom Safety Tips, Cell Phone Safety Tips, Social Web Tips for Parents

Review:

Part 1 – Understand why it is critical to sit down with your kids and teens and review social networking sites.
Part 2 – Learn how to Blog effectively.
Part 3 – Learn how to monitor your child’s name online.
Part 4 – Review books, resources and services to help you be a better parent with technology.
Part 5 – T.A.L.K. – Keep those lines of communication open! Both online and off!

Order your free cyber safety booklet through the FTC – click here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my articles to be alerted when updated information on parenting and Internet Safety is posted.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy New Year, both online