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Cyberbullying, Online Shaming and COVID

It’s been an extremely challenging year for many people. The pandemic has everyone on edge and many are retreating to their devices as a distraction of reality. Sadly social media and the internet can be a sea of negativity as well as hateful content.

Rise in online usage

From school lessons and office work to physical exercise and doctors’ appointments – more aspects of people’s daily social and professional lives are moving online as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the L1ght, an organization that tracks online harassment, there has been a 70% increase in cyberbullying in just a few months. Aside from the increase in technology use, there are other factors contributing to the rise in online hate

  • Increased stress: The pandemic has been highly stressful and confusing for everyone. Oftentimes when kids feel stressed or confused, it leads to acting or lashing out at others, arguing among friends and risk-taking behaviors in response. 
  • Isolation: Mandatory stay-at-home orders can cause feelings of loneliness, which can lead to fragmented relationships. Some kids may have limited access to the internet, which can make them feel further isolated. In return, they may make mean or cruel comments in frustration, especially if they feel like they are out of the loop within their friend groups. 
  • Decreased supervision online: With many parents trying to balance working from home, helping with schoolwork and managing this new world, they aren’t available to pay close attention to what their kids are doing online. 
  • Boredom: Kids sometimes engage in cyberbullying because they are bored, lonely or want attention. Because the pandemic worsens these issues, it can lead to mean behavior online. Some kids bully to relieve stress, but also because they are bored. 

Adults acting like children

Whether it’s neighbors policing neighbors, mask shaming or our heated political election, this past year we have seen grown-ups acting worst than most kids online. Parents (especially) need to pause before they react to comments or post questionable content online. Believe it or not, you are your child’s biggest influence — by you behaving inappropriately on social media, it gives them the greenlight to act the same way.

Unfortunately mean-people, such as bullies and cyberbullies, don’t take holidays or vacations.  On the contrary, they are the type of individuals that are on the clock 24/7 – 365 days a year.

Since we know this, it is imperative we also know how to equip not only our children, but ourselves to better handle situations when they happen – especially online.

First there has to be a clear understanding that no-one is immune to cyberbullying or online shaming.  Anyone can be a target of another person’s cruelty.

  1. Never engage with the bully or the person that is harassing you.  Never have any of your friends retaliate in your defense.
  2. Save, copy, print out — any evidence.  Print screen can be the easiest way.
  3. Block and report the person to the social media site you are using.
  4. Never meet anyone in person.
  5. Tell someone you trust.  Hopefully a parent or a trusted adult. If you are an adult, talk to a friend. Being insulted or harmed online is painful at all ages.

3 Steps for building digital resilience

As someone that has been completely humiliated, shamed and bullied online (and survived), I know that if I was prepared with the knowledge I know today, I still would have struggled with the emotional pain and distress. I don’t believe anyone wants to be berated or harassed especially on the world-wide-web.

With that – it’s about learning what I know today and that’s to build your digital resilience to protect you from the toxicity of the internet and give you the tools and coping skills to better handle the hate.

  1. Prepare yourself for the ugly-side of social media and the internet. You can’t control how people act, but you can control how you respond to them (or not respond to them).
  2. Know how to block, mute and report abusive content and users on all the social platforms you are using. Take a few minutes to read the terms of service about what constitutes online hateful behavior. You will be a stronger reporter.
  3. Understand that online is not reality! That’s according to  research looking at online honesty, which found that “online deception is the rule, not the exception.” Use your critical thinking skills. Never forward or repeat misinformation.

Finally never forget that like you, cruel and mean people won’t be taking the holidays off. They will be online too. Do your best to be an upstander especially during this trying time. If you see your friend struggling or being harassed, reach out to them. If you are reading hateful or harmful content — flag it as abusive. Do your part as a responsible and respectful digital citizen.

For more resources and wisdom for dealing with online hate order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate. It makes the perfect gift, especially during this time.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying

3 C’s of Digital Civility Online

Never doubt, our keyboards can be used as a tool or a weapon. It’s completely up to the user. I often hear, parents especially, that like to blame the apps or social platforms for cyberbullying, however we have to keep in mind that it’s human behavior that is using a keypad to inflict cruel content.

We can use our keystrokes 4-ways:

  1. Help
  2. Hurt
  3. Heal
  4. Harm

It improve our online behavior, it starts with civility.

3 C’s of Responsibility Online Behavior

  1. Conduct

Self-awareness: Before you use your device or keyboard, check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? Are you happy, sad, emotional?

Anger is temporary, online is forever.

Think twice, post once.

2. Content

Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? You don’t want to wake up a day, month or year(s) later to a tweet regret or post remorse moment that could cost you a job or relationship.

What goes online, stays online. There’s no rewind online.

3. Caring

It should be natural to care about others, however it’s just as important to care enough about yourself to know when you should click-out. Are you about to leave a snarky comment? Send an emoji that may not translate well to others?

When in doubt, click-out. You will survive by taking time offline.

Read more about how to share smarter online and ways to stop online hate.

posted by on Cyberbullying

Oversharing contributes to cyberbullying

We live in a time where many people (of all ages) have become comfortable documenting their offline life — online. This has caused problems for some, especially if you’re in the job market or applying to colleges.

As most of us know, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, today that first impression is what an internet search will say about you. Right or wrong, in most cases people won’t take the time to decipher cyber-fact from cyber-fiction and will move on to the next candidate.

What is oversharing?

Oversharing is when people share too much personal information to the public or a stranger. It can happen both on and offline. However, it is a big problem on social media sites, which make “putting yourself online” easy.

I want to cite 2 interesting studies that help us to understand there is truly no benefit to oversharing online.

  1. A  report from UCLA confirmed what I have been saying for a long time – oversharing on social media is putting you at potential risk for becoming a victim of cyberbullying or digitally shamed.

People have less sympathy and empathy for those that over-expose (overshare) themselves and end up being ridiculed or harassed than those that are innocently minding their own business or have fallen victim to an online prank.

2. According to a Harvard study, humblebragging (such as oversharing too much about yourself) can get you in trouble – they are perceived as less than credible or genuine people, not well liked and viewed as insincere.  Some were even considered frauds. Not everything needs to be digitally documented.

5 Ways to Share Smarter Online

  1. Is it necessary?

Are you social sharing for your platform or oversharing for your ego? Not everything you do offline needs to be on display down your feeds.

One way to prevent this is avoid sharing in haste. Don’t be so impulsive about sharing in the moment – enjoy your moment and reconsider later if the world really needs to see it.

2. Emotional sharing.

Are you having a bad day? Arguing with your partner or friend, maybe your boss? Your cyber-friends are not cyber-therapists. Take it offline.

Avoid using your social platforms as venting machines.

3. Inappropriate content.

Although this should be self-explanatory, there is never a place for profanity, nudity, drugs or any other irresponsible posts.

I understand that some may believe that sexting is normal, however never believe that anything is private online – especially with technology. What goes on in the dark – can and will come out in the light. Post at your own risk.

4. Constructive sharing.

Especially during this year of COVID and politics, we are all struggling with stress, anxiety and angst. There has never been a time that we need to be more careful with our tone online. We all have differences of opinions on social responsibility as well as politics. If you can’t share constructively, do yourself a favor — take some time offline.

There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree, however when you turn to cyber-combat online, no one wins. No one listens and it’s a reflection of your character offline. Be contructive, not combative.

When in doubt – click-out.

5. Know your audience.

Before you share a comment, post or image — who are you sharing it with? Is it friends, family, teachers, colleagues, co-workers, etc…. Is it a public post for the entire world to view?

What we need to understand, as we remember the infamous tweet of Justine Sacco, that cost her public shaming and her job, even sharing with your small number of friends doesn’t guaranty you safety.

It only takes one person to copy, paste and post – and one of your personal images or content will then become viral. Again confirming – there’s really no such thing as privacy in the digital world.

Share with care.

posted by on Cyberbullying

3 Ways to Combat Online Hate

Preparing young people to prevent online bullying

There’s no question, 2020 has been a difficult year. Teens and tweens are spending even more time online as they are adapting to distancing learning virtually. It’s been a struggle both emotionally and socially for everyone.

Different studies and surveys conclude that cyberbullying is on the rise, which is understandable with more screen-time combined with stress and anxiety that most are feeling. People are acting out of fear and frustration without consideration of how their comments, posts or other online behavior will impact their peers.

3 Ways to stop online hate

  1. Teach them how to report, block and flag abusive content

Apps will come and go, however bad online behavior is human behavior. Whatever app your teen or tween has, they must take the time to read and understand the terms of service as it pertains to abuse and harassment.

This helps them to become stronger reporters of online hate and what constitutes abusive content.

2. Don’t perpetrate hate

What would you do if you saw hateful or harmful content?

Our young people need to understand by engaging in cyber-combat, it’s a reflection of your character. Your online reputation is everything today – and it will impact your future.

1. Report and flag abusive content.

2. Don’t forward, share or retweet cruel content.

3. Liking a harmful post is equal to endorsing it.

4. Don’t engage in cyber-combat.

Energizing hate gives it life or credence.

3. Critical thinking: Stop spreading misinformation, gossip and fake news

When people spread wrongful information it can lead to cyberbullying, shaming and harassment. It’s important to help our young people to develop critical thinking skills to decipher posts that they may believe is not truthful before forwarding them or sharing them.

The C.R.A.P. Detection Test, by Howard Rheingold, is one way that can help us determine fact from fiction (or at least) give us some guidance:

  • Currency: How recent or up-to-date is the information.
  • Reliability: Is the content opinion based or balanced? Does it provide references or sources for data?
  • Authority: Who is the author or source, and are they reputable?
  • Point of view: Does the poster have an agenda or are they trying to sell something?

posted by on Digital Parenting, Uncategorized

Texting Trivia

While we are all living in this new normal, it seems our devices are our main source of communication. This is an an oldie but goodie post that I think is very interesting — especially now as we are all attached to our phones.

You probably already have a few pretty good ideas about text messaging and how they can impact our lives – the good and not so good ways.

For instance, you know walking while texting can be tricky, and distracted driving (whether it’s texting or reading your messages while driving) can be deadly. You didn’t need a study to tell you so, but researchers went ahead and did them anyway. But not all the research done on the subject can be filed under “obvious.”

15 scholarly facts about texting that you may not have suspected:

  1. Getting a text makes you happier: It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that receiving a text message from a close friend makes you happier, but now we have the research to confirm it. Berkeley psychologists found even sending a text message makes people feel more connected and causes an upswing in mood.
  2. Hypertexters are less healthy: Texting may make you happier, but those who do it too much seem prone to unhealthy habits. Case Western Reserve School of Medicine concluded a study in 2010 that found “hypertexting” — sending more than 120 messages a day — can “have dangerous health effects on teenagers.” Hypertexters were found to be more likely to engage in harmful behaviors like binge drinking (43% more likely) and drug use (41% more likely).
  3. Texting behind the wheel is even riskier than we thought: Few things are as distracting to a motorist as trying to read or send a text message. Researchers at Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute now say, based on their study, that texting while driving double’s a driver’s reaction time. In the test, drivers using their phones were 11 times more likely to miss a flashing traffic light than focused drivers.
  4. Texting while driving killed 16,000 in a six-year period: Exactly measuring the number of traffic deaths caused by texting is impossible, but researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center have put the number at 16,000 between 2001 and 2007. Their findings were compiled based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and were published in the American Journal of Public Health. They estimated that in 2008 alone, 5,870 people died as a result of drivers distracted by texting.
  5. Texters use fewer abbreviations than we thought: Three universities are currently partnering to determine whether it’s true that cell phone communication is really ruining the way we write. The study began in December 2011, and head researcher Christian Guilbault of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia says the research has already revealed some interesting info. It turns out people don’t resort to shorthand as often as we might think. “See you” is used four times as often as “C U,” and of 12 variations of the word “OK,” “okay” is the most common.
  6. Black people send the most text messages: The Nielsen Company looked at monthly cell phone bills of 60,000 users in the U.S. and determined that African-Americans send more texts than Hispanics, whites, and Asian-Americans. The 790 text messages they send per month, on average, is more than twice the amount sent by Asian-Americans, who send an average of 384 per month.
  7. Texting helps HIV sufferers take their meds: A study that recently appeared in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that sending HIV patients weekly text messages to remind them to take medicine and to ask them how they are doing can help them stick to their antiretroviral therapy treatment plans. Researchers at UC-San Francisco’s Global Health Sciences recommend hospitals text patients on the treatment, which has tough side effects, but is also critical to survival.
  8. Texters don’t believe that’s a word: Blame it on autocorrect. A University of Calgary student did a study of texters and word usage, expecting to find that texting encouraged “unrestrained language.” Instead, the results showed people who text more are more likely to reject new words rather than accepting them as possible words. The people who were more open to a range of new words were readers of traditional media like magazines and books.
  9. Texting makes it easier to lie: The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia recently published the results of their study that paired students playing roles of stockbroker and buyer, with the stockbroker needing to unload a stock that will soon lose 50% of its value. Deals done via texting were 31% more likely to involve lies than those by face-to-face talks. And buyers who were lied to via text proved to be much angrier than buyers lied to in person.
  10. Many people are addicted to texting: Researchers at the University of Maryland studied 200 students after 24 hours of no texting or other media. They found many of them were basically experiencing withdrawal, anxiety, and difficulty functioning. Dr. David Greenfield of the Center for Internet Behavior has compared constant texting and checking email to gambling addiction.
  11. Most people still prefer a phone call: Nearly three-fourths of American adults text. However, while 31% say they prefer to be contacted by text message, fully half of adults still prefer a good old phone call. The findings were the result of a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the first such time the group has polled Americans’ on their contact method of choice.
  12. Banning texting while driving is not the answer: At least one group of researchers is making a case against laws banning texting while driving. Researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute found that driver education is more effective than a ban, partly because people would disobey a law and partly because hands-free devices meant to replace texting as a safer alternative do not actually lower crash figures.
  13. Female teens text the most: Perhaps the only surprising thing here is that it’s older teenage girls, not pre-teen girls, who send the most texts of any group. Girls 14-17 send a median of 100 texts a day. Pew’s Internet and American Life Project also discovered that 87% of all teens in this age group have a cell phone, while only 57% of 12- and 13-year-olds have one.
  14. Texting has spawned its own injury: Texting is convenient, but it could also be a pain in the neck. Dr. Dean Fishman has trademarked the phrase “text neck” to describe an ailment he is seeing conflicting more and more patients. He even started the Text Neck Institute in Florida to treat pain in the neck, back, arms, and shoulders of frequent texters. “Forward head posture” pain, his original diagnosis, did not catch on.
  15. Predictive texting changes children’s brains: Using the built-in dictionary when texting on a cell phone makes children prone to making more mistakes. An epidemiologist from Monash University in Melbourne studied children ages 11-14 who sent 20 texts a week and found that the autocorrect technology makes children more impulsive and less accurate in their learning.

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Finding Your Teen’s Passion

Does your teen love writing, film, arts, graphics, creativity?

It’s been a difficult past six months, especially for teenagers. From boredom, to anxiety and even depression, young people are emotionally struggling with this new normal.

Now they are facing the new classroom. Online and distance learning can be challenging, so if you can find something that they are interested in — it can help motivate and inspire them.

You can’t simply take a traditional class and put it online and expect students to just adapt, it’s not happening. But I believe if you can get them interested (excited) in one area, it makes it much easier to excite them in other areas, as well.

The Expert

Bonnie Garvin, with decades of experience as a writer, producer and professor – understands that storytelling is the key to understanding the world we live in–whether it’s understanding how to tell a story, interpret as story or write one.

She has spent thousands of hours teaching thousands of students, from college students to adults, she knows what’s required to attain, hold and sustain attention. Now she is expanding her new classroom to younger students starting at 16 years old.

Bonnie has created a six week, wholly unique course offering a multimedia approach to storytelling that spans the disciplines. It teaches a range of skills applicable to multiple fields of study.

This course is not only FUN and intellectually stimulating it has an added bonus: inspiring and enhancing communication within the family. 

The Storytelling Lab

How it works

Using film, graphic novel, and documentary storytelling, students will learn to translate what they’re watching into a broader life experience. Each class will encompass topics such as theme, metaphor, character development, and interpersonal relationships.

Each story will be examined through a broader lens to include history, culture, art, gender, race, music, etc.  Students will be challenged to form and express their ideas and opinions through writing assignments and verbal weekly “debates.”

The lab will be a cohort model, consisting of only six students. The intimacy enables students to form a cohesive group where everyone can contribute, and no one hides or gets lost. The atmosphere promotes a safe environment to express thoughts and ideas. 

Having been marooned together at the dinner table, the class will have to encourage meaningful table talk. Students will receive a weekly suggested topic relating to the broader issues addressed in the film.

This course is recommended for ages 16 years-old and up.

Attain New Skills

Your teen and young adult will have the opportunity to:

  • Analyze and deconstruct the elements of storytelling
  • Enhance and hone writing skills 
  • Build confidence and ability 
  • Expand and improve verbal communication
  • Learn how to contextualize and express ideas
  • Promote cultural awareness and understanding
  • Open new intellectual pathways 
  • Stimulate imagination and creativity
  • Understand and appreciate film in a broader context

Contact Bonnie at [email protected] for more information and visit STORYTELLING LAB.

posted by on Privacy

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The New Classroom

Credit: Pexels, Julia M. Cameron

Imagine it is fall and your child is smiling away in in her new Zoom classroom, hair a mess, pajama shirt still on. From the corner of your eye, you notice another parent in another child’s square hold up her iPhone, poised to take a picture of the class.

Would you be surprised?



Chances are that your reaction would likely vary based on your own comfort level with sharing pictures of you children with others. While there has been much discussion about tech privacy features in the age of COVID-19, most have focused on “Zoom bombing,” data collection, and what teachers share about kids, not on what other parents share about other kids online.

Any while iPhone pictures of Zoom classrooms are becoming as popular as back to school pictures in front of homes, there is one big difference – many of the parents in your child’s Zoom classroom may not view privacy in the same way that you do.

Laws surrounding children’s privacy in the online classroom focus on common occurrences in a pre-pandemic world. In those instances, administrators were more likely to have taken the time to check for FERPA compliance and to analyze potential risks before setting up the technology in virtual classroom settings.

But in a world where everything from student government to sports are taking place in online settings, perhaps we need to think not only about how the technology itself poses dangers to student privacy, but also to consider whether we should be more concerned with how others in the virtual classroom are able to use information about our children.

I have been researching children’s privacy on social media for the past five years, and my work on sharenting found its genesis in self-reflection. I did not realize I was oversharing until I found myself doing it regularly, and I had to take a step back and try to do better. Even now, as my book Growing Up Shared makes its way into the world, I still rethink, analyze, and talk to other parents to refine how I can best keep my family safe in a no-privacy world. These steps can help parents get started as they start to prepare for our students to return to their online classrooms.

  1. Know the school’s privacy policies. Ask administrators for clear guidance before logging your child onto online platforms. Many have had the summer to think through these issues, and its important that parents insist on school districts “showing their work” when it comes to establishing systems that protect their children’s information online.
  • Talk to other parents. Many parents are slowly considering how online learning could impact our children’s digital footprints. Can schools publicly share your child’s grades? Can they share their class rosters? What about your child’s group art project without asking first? When we think about these questions in the context of brick and mortar classrooms, we can logically reason how they might be answered online. But answers may differ based on local interpretations of norms, policies, and laws.
  • Set Expectations. If the situation mentioned in the first paragraph gives you uncomfortable chills, speak up and share your concerns with teachers before the situation arises. Teachers have so much on their plate right now, and they might appreciate you raising the issue early in the school year, so that when there is a potential concern, it is already on their radar.
  • Talk to Your Kids. For many of us, we will be working on our own laptops as our kids plug away at schoolwork in the other room. Help your kids understand how classroom rules in their traditional school apply in their new online classroom. Many of us are starting to think more about the backgrounds in our own Zoom meetings. Can you see a bed? A personal document? A sibling? Kids may want to take control of their virtual background, and as we plan out our school supplies, we can help them think about their virtual spaces. Parents can also have conversations about appropriate clothing and other hygiene basics to consider for when they virtually “show up” in class.

There are excellent scholars and attorneys already looking at issues surrounding student data collection and privacy, and their work is critical to these conversations. More work is needed in this area, as opportunities for student data exploitation will likely only continue to grow as we continue to move our children’s academic interactions online. As policy makers work to integrate the research into our new COVID realities, parents can start thinking through these issues as well, helping to keep their kids safe in the virtual classrooms they may sit in next month.

Order on Amazon today.

Stacey Steinberg is a legal-skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and the author of the new book, Growing Up Shared.

posted by on Digital Parenting, Online Safety, Parenting

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Ten reasons kids should be online at an early age

Credit: Pixabay, Jason ONeill

Much has been made of the potentially hazardous landscape for children that is the internet, and rightly so. Parents do need to be concerned about how their children make use of this valuable tool, and a valuable tool it surely is.

No longer a luxury but a basic necessity that each person will need to familiarize himself with in order to function in our society. That’s why it’s important that new generations become tech savvy at as early an age as is practical.

Let’s look at ten reasons kids should be online at an early age:

  1. Research Tool – For school studies, projects or as a general educational aid, there is just no substitute for the worldwide web. It’s the primary means by which information is disseminated in the 21st century. Kids need to know how to use it as soon as possible.
  2. Social Networking – Like it or not, more of a child’s socializing will occur online with each passing year. It should never fully subjugate personal interaction, of course, but we cannot ignore the significance of the internet in today’s society, especially as it applies to young people.
  3. Getting Acquainted – Like anything else a kid is expected to master, navigating the internet safely should be something that a parent and child can work on together. If a child becomes acclimated to the internet early on under supervision, she will have less chance of stumbling into trouble later out of ignorance or naiveté.
  4. Interest Groups – Your child can benefit from involvement with the right kind of crowds when he meets other kids with similar interests in forums or on websites where they gather and share information.
  5. It Will Demystify the Web – The sooner a child is inducted into cyberspace, the better equipped she will be to incorporate it into her life later as she matures and needs to rely on it more.
  6. It’s a perfect Vehicle For a Child to Discover Interests – and possibly a lifelong vocation. Prior generations could go years without ever having heard about fields of study or interests that might appeal to them. It can be done in a matter of days, if not hours, online.
  7. Education – Beyond its functionality as a study aid, the internet can be an instructional tool for itself as well. That is, children can learn the protocols and hazards related to its use, both in formal training at school and at home with their parents.
  8. Balanced Perspective – The alternative to addressing an area of concern early on – as in the case of sex ed or drugs –  is for a child to learn on his own, via his peers, or at best, through an education that comes too late to avert the consequences of his ignorance. A child with an early introduction to the internet at least starts off with some frame of reference with which to work later.
  9. Cyberbullying – The unfortunate reality is that a lot of cruelty and mean-spirited behavior is prevalent online. It stands to reason that children who learn to use the internet for social networking at an early age can better identify, with the help of parents and teachers, the situations they should avoid.
  10. E-commerce – Kids will be growing up in a world where conducting business of every kind, from paying utility bills to buying groceries, will be done on the web. They need to learn the ropes as soon as possible.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook, Facebook safety, Online Life, Online reputation, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

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7 ways to help your teen avoid bad habits on social media.

You had to have seen this one coming: kids are picking up bad habits from their extensive use of social media. This can’t come as too big of a surprise though, because it stands to reason that something so popular and fun would be bound to have some ill effects.

Not that we’re condemning social media, mind you, but there are a few potential pitfalls to watch out for regarding your child’s usage.

The following are seven bad habits that teens pick up from social media platforms:

  1. TMI – To be honest, many of us are already guilty of grossly over-sharing our personal lives on social media. When you have a place to update your status 24/7, though, it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that eventually one’s entire personal life is right there for anyone and everyone to read on their profile.
  2. Inappropriate Friending – It tends to be an automatic reaction for some to “friend” someone after they’ve added you, accompanied by the friend confirmation request, whether this person is someone you know well or not. While they may not like the idea of saying ‘no’, safety should have a higher priority than popularity. Keep in mind, most platforms don’t inform people when you decline their request. Remind your child, it’s about quality over quantity.
  3. Posting Inappropriate Photos – Inappropriate photographs always seem to find their way onto people’s social pages. For that matter, taking such photos in the first place is ill-advised, to say the least. Coupled with the prospect of being friended by stalkers and strangers, not to mention being available for any potential employers or school officials, this makes for a very dangerous mix.
  4. Poor Time Management – It’s very easy to lose track of one’s time while socializing on many networks, and hours at a time can be lost without even realizing it, often at the expense of more important things like homework, chores, etc. It may be wise to install a filter software that can monitor use and block certain sites during specified time periods to ensure that your kids don’t spend too much time on the website.
  5. Indiscriminate Downloading – Many social sites are notorious for third party apps that seek to gain access to personal data and the friend lists of members who use them. There’s a large risk associated with accepting gifts via some of these app, unfortunately, that could end up compromising your personal information.
  6. Poor Grammar – As with chat rooms, IM’s, and text messaging, all of which came prior to social media, posts (comments) can tend toward cyber shorthand, whether it’s in the interest of brevity or simply born out of sheer laziness. Although it’s acceptable – even necessary in some cases – to limit character usage, it’s very easy for this habit to leak over to your child’s more formal writing and correspondence. Never forget, your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.
  7. Not Safeguarding Personal Info – Social platforms provides varying levels of privacy settings for its users. Members can share everything with anyone, or limit access to their profile to just friends and/or family. Kids today have become ok and even lax with the safeguarding of their personal information, and identity theft, stalking or harassment can end up being one of the penalties for your child being too open with his or her personal information. Encourage your kids to review their privacy settings on all the apps they are engaged on. This should be repeated monthly – since many networks update their technology frequently and we have seen loopholes happen.

Finally, don’t forget it’s important to set boundaries on screen-time. As a matter of fact, studies has proven the majority of children want their parent’s to give them limits.

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

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Online activity, Online Life, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Online Shaming, Oversharing, Reputation Management

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Online Reputation: A reflection of your character both online and offline.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay: Mohammad Hassan

As we are witnessing unemployment rise, people are becoming more and more anxious and stressed about their future. This is all completely understandable — the unknown can be scary especially when it concerns money, jobs and careers.

More time online

During this quarantine life, we’re not only seeing more kids online, adults (parents) are also finding social media as a place to communicate with friends and family.

What everyone (teens and adults alike) need to realize, is what you post today, can potentially affect your future. Especially if you are someone that will be searching for a job or applying to colleges, it’s imperative that you are mindful with not only your online behavior (during this COVID19 health crisis) but also offline.

You don’t want to be someone that is caught on video breaching your state orders, treating someone unkindly at a store or harassing people online. We all have to remember, we’re all a click away from digital disgrace. Your online reputation, today, it typically the first impression someone will have of you.

Pause…. before you post

As social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences. In a 2018 CareerBuilders survey, some of the primary reasons that employers didn’t hire job candidates after an internet search was the following:

  • 40% Posted inappropriate photographs, videos or information
  • 36% Posted information about them drinking or using drugs
  • 31% Had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 30% Was linked to criminal behavior
  • 27% Had poor communication skills
  • 25% Bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
  • 22% Screen name was unprofessional
  • 20% shared confidential information from previous employers

It’s important to note, if you were laid-off, be very careful not to disparage your previous employer or co-workers, or share their information. No one wins. You won’t score any brownie points, as your potential employer will realize if you are doing this to them, there’s a good possibility if things don’t work out with a new company, that same behavior would happen again.

Bye, bye to silly emails names. Especially for young people out there, or even adults that haven’t retired their old email addresses, such as chillinbeanz[at] – it’s time to implement your name as your email account. If it’s already taken, find a professional variation.

Online behavior

As I said, it’s not only more kids online, there are more people in general online. This means more business owners, college admissions and others that could potentially be part of your future.

The way you behave online is a reflection of not only your character (online and offline), it truly is the first impression people will have of you.

5 Ways to improve our digital behavior:

  1. Become an up-stander when you witness cyber-hate.
  2. Think twice, post once. 15 minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation. There’s a difference between clever and cruel – especially online.
  3. Guidelines for safe sharing online.
  4. Be constructive with your comments, not combative. (Hate can perpetuates hate, click out if you can’t control yourself). Anger is temporary, the internet is forever.
  5. Report, flag and talk about harassment. (Make sure your kids know these features too).

We many not be mingling much in person, but there’s no doubt social media is getting a lot of traction. Be sure you’re putting your best digital footprint forward. Online reputation is everything today.