posted by on Cyberbullying, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Sexting, Uncategorized

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In an age where sending nudes has become normalized, we must educate young people on how to handle sexual content; sexting.

A JAMA Pediatrics study showed that 1 in 4 teens say they’re sexting—witness the sexting scandals that have popped up in small towns across America, from Duxbury, Massachusetts, to Cañon City, Colorado. The activity is also more common as young people get older, the study authors report.

Almost on a weekly basis we read headlines of adults being caught sexting minors or inappropriately, causing them to land in legal ramifications, not to mention losing their jobs. This is a perfect example that anyone (everyone) needs to be educated on using their devices safely when it pertains to sexual content.

Sexting is always about sex

When writing Shame Nation book, we interviewed a teenager that was involved in the sexting scandal in Duxbury, MA. Shockingly she said that sending nudes was common among girls.

“Girls were happy that their pictures were put there,” said Ginny (name changed for privacy. “It made them feel like all the boys loved them.”

Although there were some young people that were embarrassed and upset, when you talk to the girls directly, you find that what they dreaded most was not the reality that their naked bodies were circulating online, but the news getting out to the adults. “I don’t think the girls were all that embarrassed,” Ginny says. “They just were afraid of getting in trouble and sent to the police station with their parents.”

Safely handling sexual content

Hopefully you talk to your teen or tween (yes, tween) offline about online safety which probably includes how to handle inappropriate content when they receive it. Have you considered talking to them straight forward about handling sexual content – sexting – safely?

Cyberbullying Research Center founders, Drs. Hinduja and Patchin, understand, teens sexting is a problem, so “It is Time to Teach Safe Sexting.”

Hinduja and Patchin do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.

“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”

Strategies for Safe Sexting

1. If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to—or show—anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).

2. If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing“— where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts)—happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.

3. Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.

4. Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.

5. Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.

6. Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.

7. Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.

8. If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.

9. Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.

10. Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone—a parent, the police, a hacker—will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online harassment, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Security, Sexting

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Study: Kids as young as 10 are being exposed to sexting.

When to give your child a cellphone has been a big question for years. There really isn’t any right answer, as it really depends on your child’s level of maturity and responsibility. What we do know is according to a PEW Research survey, 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone and almost half of them, (45 percent) say they’re online constantly.

Sexting: It could be your child

Don’t be a parent in denial when it comes to technology. Whether they are sending or receiving sexual content, talking offline to your child about online safety and security is imperative. We don’t give our teen key’s to a car without teaching them to drive one – let’s not hand them a smartphone without the same precautions.

By the age of 10, nearly 15 percent of children who own a smartphone will be exposed to sexting according to a recent report titled Sexting and Minors. As you child reaches 13 years old, the statistics go up, with over 36 percent now experiencing sexting.

Sexting and Minors report also shared that sexting was mostly mutual. Between the ages of 10 and 17, nearly 60 percent of all sexting involves interactions where both parties were involved. Although request for sexual pictures or videos reach their height in mid-adolescence, 24 percent of children that own smartphones also take part in these discussions.

Girls verses boys

First we should treat boys and girls equally on this topic, since the risks and consequences can be the same.  However by the age of 8, over 15 percent of girls who smartphones were exposed to sexting in some fashion. Boys’ sexting peaks at age 14, while girls’ sexting remains high consistently through their teenage years according to this latest report.

Being a proactive parent

Most people know offline conversations are key to online safety, but they are not always easy to get started.

Why do kids send nudes?

Reality is, they believe this is normal and everyone is doing it! What they don’t understand is the risks or real-life consequences that can be attached to it. This is where your offline chats are needed to help them realize the long-term costs:

Legal ramifications depending on where you live.

-Online reputation that can cost them their future college admissions or potential employment.

-Emotional distress that can have long-lasting mental health issues into adulthood from humiliation or embarrassment.

In a recent Parentology article, founder of the Institute of Responsible Cellphone Communication (IROC2), Richard Guerry shared his thoughts about young people when they share without thinking;

“At some point, should they wish to go to college, get a job, join politics or whatever their future holds – these [now] kids will be interacting with many people who don’t see sending nudes as normal.”

The ‘sext’ talk

It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. But how can parents approach “sext education”?

• Start talking: When your kids hear news of sext crime cases or blunders online (especially when they involve adults too) initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults.

• Just do it: You may not get a perfect time to break the ice, but don’t wait for an incident to happen. Be proactive and use the recent Sexting and Minors report to open the lines of communication.

• Make it real: Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable.

• Address peer pressure: Teach your kids to be self-confident and take pride in their individuality – but more importantly – social media doesn’t define them. ‘Am I pretty enough?’ is a burning question for many young girls today. It takes just a few keystrokes to help them feel good about themselves — or exponentially worse. Acknowledge that social pressure to participate in sexting can be strong. But remind kids that public humiliation stemming from it can be a million times worse.

• Give them control: If kids receive unwanted sexually-charged messages or pictures, they should know what to do next: Be the solution. They should tell you or another trusted adult, and never forward or share those messages with friends.

Order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, helping teens choose kindness in a world of incivility. This book is one you can read and discuss together promoting online safety and making better digital decisions.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Kindness Counts, Online education, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting tips, Reputation Management, Uncategorized

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Why is the tech talk is more difficult than the sex talk?

Your ongoing offline conversations are what helps keep your teen in-check online. It’s important that you don’t loose your cool and keep those lines of communication open, many of us realize this isn’t always easy.

“Your teen may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom whispering in their head as their struggling with difficult online challenges.”

Remember when parents cringed at the thought of the sex talk? Reality is – they still aren’t comfortable with it, but the fact is, kids are probably finding more out about sex from their devices before the parents can even have that one big discussion.

There shouldn’t be a debate, both the tech and sex chat are imperative to all kids today. The major difference is that the tech conversation needs to be ongoing.

Digital civility starts offline

The majority of parents (93%) believe they discuss responsible online behavior with their teen, while a new report was just released contradicts this. Sixty percent of teens say they rarely or never have had discussions with their parents about online behavior.

” Parents who aren’t having conversations with their kids about appropriate online behavior shared assumptions that their kids already know what they’re doing or don’t need such conversations for a multitude of reasons (limited access to internet, no concerns being voiced, etc.). “ – Survey

For most of us adults, we know never to assume, especially when it pertains to our children. The survey continues:

At the same time, parents are convinced their kids would turn to them for help if something bad, like online bullying, happens. Teens, on the other hand, are more likely to report their online bullying concerns to the platform or speak to another adult. ” -Survey

Cyberbullying

Digital Civility Survey revealed that although most parents (91%) believe their kids are likely to come to them if they are being bullied or harassed online, the report said that teens are more teens are more likely to report such issues to the platform where they occurred (53%) or tell another adult (33%) than talk to their parents (26%). When asked to share advice with their younger peers, teens recommend reporting bad behavior, blocking strangers, or telling someone who can help such.

Tech talk, 5 ways to stay engaged

Did you know that 58% of teens say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate online behavior. So it’s not only about what you say, but it’s what you do that matters.

  1. Shoulder to shoulder. Never miss an opportunity if you are side by side to chat with your teen about their online life, especially if you saw questionable behavior. Usually when you are riding the car or sitting watching a sports game – you tend to be more relaxed. Casually spark a conversation about something you may have seen on their social feed.
  2. Be interested. Does your teen assume you trust them online, or are you engaged with them about digital behavior? Get involved! When you see those headlines of students losing college scholarships or admissions due to inappropriate behavior – talk about it. These are great opportunities to open dialogue.
  3. Cyber-critique, offline. Another way to help your teen to better understand responsible digital citizenship is setting time aside to go online together. Review posts, comments, memes, threads of your friends, family or even acquaintances. Are you noticing someone is constantly oversharing? Maybe your friend made a snarky comment or forwarded a cruel meme. Remind your teen that online translates differently offline – and there is a very fine line between clever and cruel.
  4. Online reputation. It’s everything today! Your digital landscape is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your character. More and more studies reveal that it’s not only about the content you post, but how you treat others online. From college admission offices to potential employers to even love interests – have no doubt, your online behavior will be judged by someone that matters to you. Remind your teen, what goes online today (can and will) come back to haunt them later. There’s no rewind online.
  5. Walk the talk. Have you reviewed the digital you lately? Make it a habit to go through your own social media threads to be sure you haven’t crossed the line of inappropriate behavior. It’s too often the headlines of adults acting badly are popping up on a weekly basis. On the same note, be sure you’re also reaching out to those that need a cyber-hug or smile. Leading by example doesn’t only mean to be sure your being a respectful on your threads – it also means you’re reaching out to people in need. Being an upstander.

Never doubt, you are your child’s greatest influence online and offline.

Want to have a educational conversation about the do’s and don’ts of online behavior? Pick up my latest book, Shame Nation: Helping Teens Choose Kindness In An Age of Trolling and Cruelty from Amazon or your favorite bookstore. There are examples of how real people made cyber-blunders – how to recover and survive online hate and more. This is a book for both parents and teens. Order today.

Order on Amazon today.

posted by on Online Life, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety, Social media, Social Networking, Teen Depression

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Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and more.

The CyberSmile Foundation released their Social America report. As many people are anxiously waiting to hear if the ‘like‘ button will be removed on both Facebook and Instagram, over 20,000 young people (both Gen Z and Millennials) were surveyed about their favorite (and not so favorite) social media platforms.

The 20,000+ respondents between the ages of 13 and 34 a series of twenty questions in regards to their perspectives of various social media platforms with a focus on popularity, safety, relevance, growth and perceived decline.

Respondents were asked to provide their answers through multiple choice and open text questions, with the option to select different social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube among others.

Instagram wins – Instagram loses

Instagram comes in as the front-runner overall as everyone’s favorite social media platform at 44 percent. Then why did I say it loses? Well if you are the most visited site, it’s likely it’s where people will say they have the biggest problem of online bullying and abuse. After-all they are spending the most time there. According to this report, Gen Z’s said that Instagram was the worst at 32 percent, whereas the older ‘young’ people said that they struggled with online hate and cyberbullying on Facebook at 35 percent.

The good news is, Instagram is taking steps to curb cyberbullying and online hate with their latest feature, Restrict. Restrict allows users to —restrict who can see comments posted to images.  Facebook, over the past couple of years, has also taken steps to limit digital hate with new features and tools.

The social media platforms with the least amount of cyberbullying overall are Pinterest (30 percent), LinkedIn (13 percent) and interestingly SnapChat comes in third place at 12 percent.

Safety and cyberbullying

When asked what social media platform young people feel least safe using when it comes to cyberbullying, we finally see Twitter come into the top three tied with Instagram in second place. Facebook took first place, overall, as the social hot-spot for digital harassment.

Below are some of the key findings from the Social America report:

  • TikTok was identified as the fastest growing social media platform in terms of popularity, along with Instagram in second place and Snapchat third by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Facebook was identified as the social media platform that is becoming less popular, along with Tumblr in second place by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Gen Z identified Facebook as the least relevant platform for young people in contrast to Millennials who identified LinkedIn as the least relevant.
  • Instagram was identified as the favorite social media platform by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Gen Z identified Snapchat as the platform they feel safest using when it comes to cyberbullying, with Millennials identifying Pinterest.
  • Instagram was recognized as the platform that both Gen Z and Millennials feel least safe using when it comes to cyberbullying.
  • Snapchat was identified as the second favorite social media platform for Gen Z after Instagram.
  • Over three quarters of respondents indicated that they did not want governments to regulate social media companies more.
  • Facebook was identified as the platform with the biggest cyberbullying and abuse problem by Millennials, with Gen Z identifying Instagram as the platform with the biggest problem.
  • Instagram was identified first, and Snapchat second by both Gen Z and Millennials as the social media platform most relevant to young people.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Parenting, Revenge Porn

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Power Pervs, When Troll Armies Attack, A$$holes in Charge, Swipe Right for Stalking… are some of the chapter titles in this empowering and brilliantly written book, Nobody’s Victim by Carrie Goldberg.

As a victim (and survivor) of internet defamation, cyberbullying and online shaming, I consider myself very fortunate.

Nobody’s Victim outlines some of the darkest and cruelest ways people use their keypad to inflict pain on others and destroy lives. The author herself shares her most intimate story of sexual assault and humiliation, her tenacity to fight back – not only for herself, but for literally thousands of others like her, is absolutely captivating.

Every chapter has a story of a victim that has not only impacted Carrie’s life, but she has changed their’s in a positive direction. When you read this book, you will learn just how prevalent revenge porn, non-consensual pornography, sextortion, swatting, doxing and other outrageous behavior of human scum exists in this world.

Carrie Goldberg writes a book that everyone can understand – one that is a page-turner (I literally finished it in two-days) since I couldn’t put it down. She doesn’t write above the average person, as a lawyer, some people tend to write in legalese that will bore you or you will find yourself searching the meaning of too many of the words – and it’s not an enjoyable read. That’s not the case with this book.

Nobody’s Victim is quite the opposite. She is talking to all of us. She is relating to your daughter, to your neighbor, a family member, maybe a teacher or even your own parent. This can happen to anyone – no one is immune to bad things happening to good people.

Carrie Goldberg speaks with Soledad O’Brien

One of my favorite sections is how she addresses young people (teens especially) being pressured into sending nudes or other sexual images. As many of us know, this is a major concern for parents and schools as we have witnessed many headlines of sexting scandals and slut pages.

However Carrie makes it clear when it comes to being pressured to send sexual content, this is coercion. Let’ me quote her from page 61 in her book:

Let’s be clear: Coercing someone into sending an intimate picture and then distributing that image without consent isn’t “sexting.” It’s a violation and a crime. And the first step to protecting young people from this kind of abuse is to teach them about consent.

Carrie Goldberg continues with an excellent explanation that every parent and adult need to understand:

Yes, asking a girl over and over again to send you a nude is PRESSURE. And, Someone threatening to dump you if you don’t send a pic is COERCION. And, Sharing threatening someone else’s naked pics with your friends without their consent in many states is a f–king crime.

Thank you Carrie. Your book is must read for all parents with teens with smartphones. According to the latest PEW survey – that’s about 95 percent.

Order on Amazon today.

posted by on Internet profile, Online Life, Online Privacy, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Uncategorized

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Your online reputation can determine your future

Are you Google ready?

There’s no denying it, there will be a time when your name is put through a Google rinse cycle. Someone will be searching you on the internet. Here are some facts that survey’s have uncovered:

  • 70 percent of employers use social media to screen potential job candidates before hiring or even interviewing them – CareerBuilders
  • 75 percent of colleges consider a students’ social media behavior when reviewing applicants for admission – AACRAO
  • 56 percent of Americans will search a person online before they date them – YouGov

Recently I contributed to Social Graces for the Chicago Tribune, when I was asked if parents should look up their child’s teachers’ online.

Without hesitation, my answer is absolutely!

It’s back to school time, your child just found out who their teacher(s) are going to be. In my generation my mother would call her friends and ask about the teacher’s name (that we just received by mail), to get as much background as possible on him or her. Especially if she never heard of them. As the oldest, I always seemed to have teachers my parents were unfamiliar with.

Let’s remember in those days the type of background we would get on a teacher would be is how strict (or easy) they were, or if they gave out a lot homework etc.

Today, we now live in a world where practically everything is searchable with a click – and that’s why we all need to be Google-ready if (or when) someone decides to put our name through the Internet rinse cycle. You can literally find out where the teacher vacations, their children’s names, siblings and more with enough cyber-digging.

Isn’t it human nature, especially as a parent, to want to know who your child will be spending their school year with? Who will be responsible for educating them? Who will they be with them for more than 5 hours daily?

Teacher’s are probably one of the most vulnerable since I would imagine most parents do take the time to search them online. As someone that is an advocate to maintain your online presence and behavior, it’s especially critical for teachers to be mindful of their social media feeds, tweets as well as secure their privacy settings. At the same time, keep in mind, we can’t always rely on them so post with care and consideration.

Your online behavior is never off-the-clock.

Parents also have to be smart digital citizens, understanding that teachers are humans too. Know how to separate the cyber-fact from what seems to be cyber-fiction. Or if your teacher has a common name, be sure you have the correct Mary Smith before jumping to conclusions. If in doubt, go straight to the source. Ask the teacher. I’m sure they would appreciate it rather than you assuming the worse.

Should you look up your kid’s teacher on social media? In my opinion, yes. 

It’s not only teachers at risk, we all need to maintain our online presence. If you’re applying to schools, interviewing for jobs, own a business or simply online dating – the chances of your name being sifted through an internet search is very high. Many people don’t take the time to decipher fact from fiction and will simply move on to another candidate, applicant or date.

Going off grid isn’t an option

For those that believe having zero online image is the answer, think again. Studies have shown that business will actually pass over potential candidates they can’t find online because of the following reasons:

  1. Are they hiding something.
  2. Do they have an alias.
  3. Maybe they aren’t that tech savvy. Even if it’s not a tech job, everyone should be able to use email.

When it comes to colleges, it’s also been proven that if admissions can see where applicants have built up their digital landscape to showcase their interests, sportsmanship, community service, etc – it helps them have an edge over other students that have no online presence.

How will you be proactive in building your digital resume? Keep in mind, your online reputation is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your offline character… it all matters.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying

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Online hate, sexting scandals, ugly poll contests, cyberbullying… we can turn it around!

The majority of people, including teens, own smartphones today. This means that most of us are digitally connected and likely to have witnessed some form of online hate or cyber-combat. I probably could give you the stats (over 50 percent of young people have experienced some type of online harassment, while 41 percent of adults have faced it), but I’m sure most of you reading this know it already.

It can be an ugly world in cyberspace, but it can also be a place where we are meeting so many great friends, advocates and people that genuinely care about each other.

We often hear the word upstander as it pertains to bullying or cyberbullying. It’s time to take this word and turn it around. Let’s all start to stand-up for our cyber-place and reclaim civility. Of course, that means being an upstander, but maybe by re-phrasing it – people will realize it has to do with all of us, not only students or children.

Stand-up: Be your digital best

If you are tired, or feel you’re not at your best (maybe you’re emotionally stressed out), it might be better to unplug. Take a digital break. We all make blunders when we’re exhausted or not thinking clearly. Waking up to a post regret could be costly.

5 Ways to reclaim your civility online:

  1. Your words and tone matters. Let’s remember, things online can be taken out of context and don’t always translate as we intend them to, especially your words and tone. Re-evaluate what you posted and be sure what you post is not offensive to people reading them. Hint: Review the post as if you were a 20 – 40 – or 60 years old reading them. If all three age groups won’t be offended, you’re good.
  2. Be interested in people and friends. Social media is a two-way highway. It’s important to be engaged with others online. Don’t be one-sided where you’re constantly talking about yourself and never asking about others. Interact with friends, comment on their posts and pictures. Hint: If you notice a friend promoting a service or product, ask how you can help, or be there to wish them the best. You never know when you will need them for the same. Being kind starts with us.
  3. 3 C’s of Online Behavior starts with civility.  1) Conduct: Be more self-aware of what what you’re about to post. Never put a temporary emotion on the permanent internet. Anger is temporary, online is forever. 2) Content: Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? You don’t want a tweet regret or post remorse moment haunting you or hurting someone. 3) Caring: Care enough about yourself to know when it’s time to click-out. Are you about to leave a snarky comment? Turn-it-off. Think twice – post once.
  4. Re-think how you share online. Social media is not a diary or a venting machine. Not everything offline needs to be shared online. Know when it’s time to go and have a session of whine and wine with your real-life friends – offline. Do you disagree with someone online? Don’t be combative, be constructive. You can have healthy debates – but when if it turns nasty, know when to politely step away. Keep in mind, this is always a reflection of your character. Be careful not to share inappropriate content such as nudity, drugs, profanity or other irresponsible posts.
  5. Kindness is contagious, it starts with us. What have you done for your cyber-friends lately? As a role-model online, your kids or others are watching. Did someone lose a pet? A loved one? Maybe you were an upstander when you saw someone struggling with harassment. Did you reach-out to someone when they posted about a bad day? Hint: While scrolling through your social feeds, you may see some missed opportunities, however it’s never too late for kindness.

This starts with us, we are responsible for our own cyberplace and space. We are also role-models for others. Never doubt, people are watching you online – from potential employers, relationships, careers, if you’re a teenager – it could be colleges and more. Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character. It’s a part of your online reputation.

Shame Nation

As we head into another contentious political year, don’t forget to pick up Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate for more insights on preventing, overcoming and surviving digital warfare.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Depression, Digital Parenting, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting, Uncategorized

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For teens, online bullying worsens sleep and depression according to a 2019 study.

As long as there are smartphones and digital devices, sadly we will probably always be dealing with online hate and harassment. The fact is, this is human behavior – it’s not something that we can raise money for, find a cure and finally eradicate, like we are about to witness with polio.

New research is showing a rise in cyberbullying and this is causing emotional and physical concerns for young people. Nearly one third of teens have experienced symptoms of depression, which, in addition to changes in sleep pattern, include persistent irritability, anger and social withdrawal, according to the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health.

In a recent University of Buffalo study, nearly 15 percent of US high school students report being bullied electronically. At severe levels, depression may lead to disrupted school performance, harmed relationships or suicide.

Misol Kwon, the first author of this recent research said:

“Cyber victimization on the internet and social media is a unique form of peer victimization and emerging mental health concern among teens who are digital natives.” said Kwon. “Understanding these associations supports the need to provide sleep hygiene education and risk prevention and interventions to mistreated kids who show signs and symptoms of depression.”

Being an educated digital parent

How would you know if your child is being harassed online? Here are a few signs parent’s need to be aware of:

  • He/she suddenly stops using the computer or phone, even though he’s always enjoyed it before.
  • He/she doesn’t want to use the computer/phone in a place where you can see it.
  • He/she turns off the computer monitor or changes screens every time you walk by.
  • He/she seems nervous or jumpy when he gets an instant message, text or email.
  • He/she alludes to bullying indirectly by saying something like “there’s a lot of drama at school” or “I have no friends.”
  • He/she doesn’t want to go to school or appears uneasy about going.
  • He/she becomes withdrawn.
  • He/she changes eating habits.

It helps to understand why some tweens and teens don’t tell parents when bad things happen:

1)  Fear of consequences: Your child’s online existence is a critical part of their social life. With all their friends online, being excluded would be devastating them. They don’t want to risk you banning them from their friends and their digital lives.

2)  Humiliation and embarrassment: Our kids are human and have feelings. Although some kids portray a tough persona and believe they are invincible, deep down everyone feels hurt by cruel keystrokes. Your child may fear looking stupid or weak.

3)  Fear of making it worse: We have taught our children well so they understand that bullies are looking for attention. By reporting the incident of cyberbullying to a parent, your child may fear it could anger the bully and make matters worse for them online. In some cases bullies will enlist more online trolls to cyber-mob your child. Of course the child’s dreaded fear is his or her parent reporting it to their school or camp and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.

Developing digital resilience

Today our kids consider their digital life as important as their lives offline, so it’s important to give them as much knowledge and encouragement to know they are not alone when they are faced with cyber-hate.

  1. Prepare them for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them it could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
  2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”
  3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step – understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.
  4. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind online, once it’s posted it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.
  5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

Never doubt, your kids might be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your offline parenting wisdom.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online Safety, Parenting Teens

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Parenting on the tech-battle field as teens spend more time online.

The technology is becoming more acceptable among the masses. Billions of people use smartphones and have internet access. Those who were not digitally connected are now getting connections for internet. Various companies are providing free internet to the people living in far off and impoverished areas. This has led to the digital revolution which has affected every connected person’s life.

However, this phenomenon has created serious challenges for the people. But for the parents, it has many issues which are actually troublesome. There are a number of issues for the parents. Smartphones, internet, social media and dating sites are the major sources for the teens who spend their time. This led to the addiction of screens among the teens.

Talk to kids

In order to deal with the kids and beat their screen addiction, the parents should talk to their kids. Parents know their children better than anyone else. This method can be actually fruitful to help the teens get rid of screen time and spend their time on more productive stuff.  

If parents ignore this thing, it will lead to many serious issues which will harm the kids and destroy their upbringing. Such teens will perform worse in their studies and their mental health will also be damaged.

Set Rules at home

Experts believe that rules can be helpful for the kids when it comes to dealing with their screen addiction. We know that governments create rules to handle the public. Due to the rules and laws, people behave within their limits. This should be the case with the kids at home.

Even every person at home should follow the rules so that kids don’t get bad impressions of the rules. Parents should set examples for the kids so that they can follow them easily. Rules should be regarding the use of smartphones and internet to deal with screen addiction.

Get Psychological Help

In many cases, the parents are unable to handle their kids and prevent screen use in the teens. This is seriously challenging. Such parents should get psychological help from the experts. Kids need help at this age because they don’t know how harmful this can be for their health and future. That is why parents should provide them support in every possible way.

The psychological assistance will help understand the kids and their issues. Then, parents can take robust measure to ensure their kids don’t spend more than a certain limit of time on their devices.

Educate the Teens

Apart from this, education can also be helpful for the parents as well as kids. In this option, the parents will be educating their kids and teens. Guidance regarding the use of smartphones, internet and social media will be provided. Examples should be shared in order to help teens understand.

Furthermore, parents should tell the kids about the possible dangers of technology and screen addiction. Kids should understand how it can affect their mental health and brain development. This way, they will be more conscious about the harms and dangers of screen addiction which can be then controlled.

Limit Screen Time

Limiting screen time is a great option that many parents don’t know about. It is the best possible idea to deal with screen addiction. Most of the new smartphones and gadgets have this feature. According to this option, the kids can use phones and devices to some time. After that, the device will be locked.

This way, the parents can have better control over their kids and deal with the screen addiction. Limiting screen time has become a popular feature among the parents. Less tech-savvy guardians should also use this feature if they want to handle the screen addiction in their kids.

Use Latest Tools to Handle it

Lastly, technology has provided us with a good number of options and tools to help ourselves against the screen addiction. Such apps can be of great help for the parents who are worried about their teens and kids. It will provide parents with a tool to manage the screen time, set parental control options and reduce screen addiction. This way parents will feel more relaxed and satisfied about their kids.

Author Bio:
Lina Jackie is a Web Content Writer at BlurSPY. She’s relationship adviser and parental control experts. Most recently her focus has shifted towards the cell phone tracker app which is making waves in the technology world today.

posted by on Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting Teens, Uncategorized

Our kids and teens may always be an app ahead of us, but make no doubt about it, they will always need our parenting wisdom.

As technology has taken over our lives (almost literally), we have witnessed a rise in online hate, a dip in empathy and compassion and most of all — parents struggling to keep up.

Let’s review three of the best parenting books that have been helping navigate these digital times, both online and off.

Teens want boundaries. Help them unplug and get connected offline with friends.

Socializing in real-life helps kids and teens develop empathy.

UnSelfie: Why Emphatic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World by Dr. Michele Borba

Teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy.

Order on Amazon.

In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it.

The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.

What goes online, stays online.

Public and Permanent: Creating a Mindset Through Our Digital Actions Are Public and Permanent® by Richard Guerry

Public and Permanent is a life changing philosophical guide providing the knowledge that all users of digital technology must know as citizens of a rapidly evolving digital village. 

This information will help to protect you and your family from making life and legacy altering mistakes online or with any digital technology. 

Order on Amazon.

Students, parents and teachers across the globe are using this book to learn and reinforce a powerful and effective method for reducing: 

-Cyberbullying
-Sexting
-Sextortion
Sextcasting
-Poor Social Media behavior

And many other cyber issues many are not yet aware of!

If your school or community hasn’t booked one of Richard’s workshops (Institute for Responsible Online & Cell Phone Communication), they are super-engaging and educational. Sign-up today. You won’t be disappointed! Building and developing consiousness™.

Raising the device generation starts with a sturdy foundation.

Raising Digital Humans In A Digital World by Diana Graber

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands. While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities.

Order on Amazon.

Raising Humans in a Digital World shows how digital kids must learn to navigate this environment, through

  • developing social-emotional skills
  • balancing virtual and real life
  • building safe and healthy relationships
  • avoiding cyberbullies and online predators
  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content
  • becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

Pick these books up online and be sure to share with them your family and friends. Being an educated parent helps us all to have safer communities.

Find these authors online and follow them! You will be forever learning as technology and kids continue to grow in ways we may never understand but will definitely be able to parent.