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.

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.

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!

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Sue Scheff: Parenting 2010 (part 2)

Did you miss part one?  Click here.

Many people are making their New Year’s Resolutions and less will keep them.  When it comes to parenting, it is imperative we not only keep them, we follow through 110%!

As the Internet has become our latest and greatest information highway, you need to be sure your address – aka – virtual presence – is accurate!  In part one we talked about why our social networking sites should be updated and cleaned up.  In part two we will learn about how you can start to create your online presence a step further.

Part 2 –  Create your family Blog.  This can be fun and entertaining for the entire family and an activity you all can participate in.  Again, the “time” you spend together on this can be a learning process.  You may find out more about your child’s personality that only their cyber presence can share with you.

Do you have a teen?  Encourage them to create their own Blog with their own interests.  This can help college recruiters see that your teen is enthusiastic about their interests, engaging and will be an asset to their campus.  Remember, many college recruiters are using search engines to research their candidates.  By using your teens name in the Blog URL can help when people are surfing online with their name. 

Reminder: It is critical you own your own name online.  Creating a Blog is another way to maintain your virtual image.

What should you Blog about and how often?  It is a fact many people have busy lives and limited time to spend on social networking, and of course we have those that spend a lot of time online.  No matter what category you fall into, take the time at least once a month to keep your Blog updated.  This shows your friends, family and most importantly a potential college recruiter or employer you are alive, active and up to date with today’s technology!

  • Share photo’s that are appropriate.  Another words, don’t put pictures out there that you would not share with your grandparents. Keep it clean.
  • Talk about your interests,  your achievements, your goals and other positive information.  Life is not perfect and we always will have negative times.  If you are struggling, you may want to limit what you share online.  Or once you have managed to overcome an obstacle, you may want to help others by sharing your own experiences.  Just keep in mind, what goes online – stays online.
  • Keep your Blog engaging!  If you can incorporate current events, functions going on in your community, and other exciting activities – readers will want to come back to see what you are doing next! 

Are you ready to create your Blog?  It is free, fun and easy!  Blogger.com is one of the easiest ones I have found.  See the video for a quick demonstration.  You can visit my Blogspot by Blogger at www.suescheff.blogspot.com.  You will notice I used my name, and I encourage you and your teens to do the same thing.  This goes back to owning your own name online.

Part 3New Years Resolution for parents:  Steps you can take to monitor your child’s online image.

Need to go back to part 1click here.

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